‘You know that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying in rivalry among yourselves, riches and children… and what is the life of this world but goods and chattels of deception?’ (Quran 57: 20)
Over the past few weeks this column has touched on the subject of moral decay in societies the world over. We are being deceived, lured and waylaid by the glitter of this life. Regardless of our colour, ethnicity, tribe, nationality or religious belief there has been a noticeable decline in the morality and standards of behaviour over the past few years.
Some people put it down to ‘globalisation’ and the easy and unlimited access to social and other media beaming their foreign lifestyles into our daily lives. Many of us who do not have a firm and moral upbringing fall easy prey to such alluring, deceptive yet evil lifestyles that are being glamorised. There are some of us who may have low self-esteem and feel insecure with or about ourselves will try to ape the worst those ‘first world/ western’ standards of behaviour.
The world has dramatically changed beyond recognition; we have a series of challenges that have negative implications that mislead our youth and adults, onto the downward path to self-destruction. Among the problems we have are; alcohol and substance abuse, drugs, poor moral standards of behaviour cyber bullying, devil worship and a plethora of physical and psychological challenges and temptations that this modern world has brought to their doorsteps.
We need to be aware of these things and the effect they have on our families; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘ HYPERLINK "http://www.hilalplaza.com/allah.aspx" o "Allah" Allah will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household’. And, ‘Every one of your (people) is responsible, and everyone is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility. A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them’.
To many of us who have been brought up with those time honoured cultural and traditional values, and of course with a religious upbringing (some may be tempted to label it the old fashioned way) find ourselves at a loss for words at what we see happening in a society that has deserted those values. The social structure of our society is crumbling and, as responsible parents we need to act in order to stop it from further degeneration and destruction.
All married couples desire to have children and a Muslim parent prays: "Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous." (Quran 25:74) But it also tells us: ‘Your riches and your children may be but a trial, but in the Presence of Allah, are the highest reward’. (Quran 64: 15)
Once blessed with offspring, parents hold an enormous responsibility in terms of what they teach their children and accordingly how their children grow up to be adults. Children should be raised to understand their own rights, obligations and responsibilities as Muslims as well as of their parents, community, society and ultimately the world itself. Therefore children have the right, to be raised as responsible Muslim adults and parents must ensure and fulfil that right appropriately.
Parents have to take an active role in guiding their children and families onto the path of righteousness. Islam holds parents responsible for steering their children’s upbringing according to the guidelines of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) teachings.
One might ask how do we fulfil this obligation, how can we ensure that our children are raised in a proper manner, so what must we do? Let us start with the family first. The basic unit of any society is the family unit therefore the first step is to establish the family and household on the right footing and as adults and parents we are the torch bearers.
We have to provide for our children a healthy environment for their upbringing and training so that they can grow up to become responsible adults. This requires parents to actively maintain an atmosphere at home that is conducive to positive learning and upbringing.
Children need role models, and parents are their primary examples. To be good role models themselves, parents must also have models or mentors of their own whose example they can emulate. This means that parents, too, must model their lives according to the Islamic way of life.
Children can get conflicting messages and thus can get confused when they do not see parents and elders following the instructions that they give to them. As quoted many times before, children may not always follow what you say but they will easily follow in the footsteps of what you do.
It is a fact that children, who are raised in dysfunctional homes where there is constant bickering, arguments, conflict and abuse, not only learn less but are more prone to develop personality disorders, hence the need to establish a family unit based on love, respect, trust, peace and on a ‘religious’ footing.
A happy home, comfort, care and love, providing the necessities of life and a good education are some of the responsibilities that parents are required to fulfil. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ‘ whoever is not kind to young people is not one of us and the best teaching that a parent can give a child is the teaching of good manners and character’.
Besides teaching children the rituals of worship they should be taught Islamic morals, character, and etiquettes from an early age so that it becomes part of their lives and habits. Children should be taught the principles of humility, of being honest and truthful, gentle and polite, helpful and considerate, patient and tolerant. These personality traits can help will them in their later lives.
For example, teaching them about patience and tolerance and in dealing with tough situations, when they encounter such challenges in their lives, they will value that training and be thankful to you for having given them that learning earlier on in life.
Among the virtues and habits they should develop is that of cleanliness. In Islam being clean, neat, tidy and looking after our personal hygiene and cleanliness are of great importance and essential elements in offering the five times daily prayers.
Children raised in an Islamic manner will have learnt and will be able to follow the injunction of the Quran which says: ‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they did bring me up when I was young." (Quran 17:23-24)
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.