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Iqbal Ebrahim

‘O you who believe, when the call is made for prayer…..…hasten to the remembrance of Allah’ (Quran 62:9)

Some have asked me what the significance of the Islamic call that is made five times a day at every Mosque or any other place where congregational prayers are held. This is the call to prayer that can be heard by anyone passing near a Mosque in any part of the world just prior to any of the daily five times prayers.  Usually the Azaan is relayed over a public address / loud speaker system.

For their obligatory five times daily prayers Muslims wait for the call to prayer – the Adhaan (pronounced Azaan) which is called out loudly informing us that it is time for prayer and inviting us to join the congregation. This call to  (Azaan) is akin to the church bells in Christianity; many of the larger mainstream churches have bells, and when that bell is rung like it is on Sundays it signifies the time for worshippers to go to church for the service. Or when it is rung at other times it is for a wedding ceremony, funeral, or some other such service.

In the Bible it says: ‘The Lord said to Moses: Make these two trumpets of hammered silver to use for calling people together…when long blasts are sounded on both trumpets… All shall assemble themselves…at the door of the tent of My presence’. (Numbers 10:1-3). Over time people started using the church bells as an alternative to bring the congregation together.

Before modern communication methods, and even before watches came into common use by most of us (in the old days, times were tough and many of us could not even afford watches!), in many communities the use of church bells was the easiest way to call the congregation together for many purposes, both sacred and secular. In some places where there were no church bells a piece of metal like a small rail track was often beaten with a metal piece to call the faithful to church.

Times have really changed; today when the Azaan is called it can also be relayed via a transmitter so that if one has a receiver at home, the call to prayer is heard simultaneously. For Muslims we are urged to perform our prayers in congregation whenever possible so if we live nearby we can get to the Mosque in time or for those who for any reason cannot join the congregational prayer know that the time for prayer has come and they can perform it wherever they are.

It has been noticed that on some occasions there are some people who tend to make fun of and ‘mock’ the Azaan call, the Quran tells us about such people: ‘When you proclaim your call to prayer, they take it but as a mockery and sport; that is because they are a people without understanding’  (Quran 5: 58)

In Islam none of the five times daily prayers can proceed without the Azaan being called out in Arabic. Translated the call to prayer is as follows: Allah is the Greatest (4 times). I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah (twice). I bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah (twice). Hasten to worship (Salah / prayer) (twice). Hasten to success (twice). Prayer is better than sleep (twice – this phrase is only recited for the pre-dawn prayer). Allah is the Greatest (2 times). There is no deity but Allah (2 times).

Only thereafter the individual or congregational can the prayers begin. An Abyssinian called Bilaal was given that great honour by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be the first person to call Azaan. Bilaal became the first official Muezzin (the person who gives the call for prayers), of the Islamic faith.

An interesting fact, about the Azaan without us realising it, is that the name of Allah is proclaimed and recited continuously and constantly every second of the day universally without fail. Let me explain; this is because of the timings of prayers are dictated by the movement of the sun. For example, when it is the time for the sunset prayer for us here, the Azaan is called; yet on the other side of the world for example in Australia it might be time for the pre-dawn prayer, but on the other hand in the United States of America it may be the time for the post noon prayer.

The reason is that the east to west movement of the sun along the longitudes that run from the north to the south, is measured in degrees, minutes and seconds, the local time is different at every location along this longitude. Hence each area will along that line will have a time zone difference. Also with the differing seasons between the northern and the southern hemisphere the sunrise and sunset times are not constant during the different seasons. In summer the sun sets later for us than it does in winter and vice versa for northern hemisphere, it for this reason that the call of Azaan is recited at different times but overlapping in time globally.

Just to make sense of what I am saying, using a local example, assume the sun sets in Francistown at 6 pm, in Tutume it may set at 6.01, maybe 6.02 in Nata, in Maun at 6.03 and so on; so going from east to west the sunset will be seconds later, but this time difference will also be the same for all areas from north to south along that longitude. The same applies for those areas in the latitudes in the northern and southern hemisphere because of the seasonal changes as described above. Because of this we Muslims begin to realise that the name of Allah is proclaimed every second of the day – somewhere in the world, be it here, Siberia, in Australia or in the Arctic or elsewhere.

When a Muslim child is born it is a Sunnah (practice of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) for the Azaan to be recited in the new arrivals ears. This is that child’s first ‘contact’ with their faith as it were. Therefore the Azaan is a very special call to a Muslim the entire life through.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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