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Belief in one supreme God

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


God Almighty has gifted every living creature with the natural instinct of life. If not how would a hen know how to sit on its eggs for them to hatch, a baby to know how to suckle milk from its mother or even a bird to build its own nest? Likewise, as humans we have been gifted with the basic knowledge of believing in a Supreme Being.   


No matter which Revelation you believe in, be it, the Quran, The Bible or the Torah, there is one thing that unites believers. That is the belief in Supreme Being of One God. Call Him Allah, God, Eloi, Jehovah, Modimo, Dieu, Heere, or whatever name one may call the Almighty in their own language.


The cornerstone of each of all these faiths / religions is that they share core similarities: the first one is monotheism that is, based on the belief that there is One Supreme Being; the Master of the Universe, that He has no partners to share in His Divinity; that we worship Him alone, that we turn to Him for help and guidance.

That we obey and follow His Commands; that we will die and be raised on the Day of Resurrection when we will be answerable to Him for the evil and mischief that we may have spread in this world. We will also be rewarded for the good that we will have done.   


The Quran says: “Those who believe, the Muslims, the Jews, the Christians…. whosoever believes in God and the Last day and do good deeds, they shall have their reward from their Lord, shall have nothing to fear, nor shall they come to grief.” (Quran 22:17).


A Muslim will never join or associate partners with Allah; it is a major sin and a step closer to unbelief. The Islamic creed contains: ‘There is no object worthy of worship (deity) except Allah…..’  There are many verses in the Quran that instruct us: ‘Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him’. (Quran 4:36). ‘to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed’ (Quran 4:48). ‘Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him.’  (Quran 17: 23). Further it says: ‘….Worship none but Allah’ (Quran 2:83).


The Bible contains similar guidance and instruction: ‘When Jesus was asked; which commandment is the most important of all? He replied: the most important one is this, the Lord our God is one Lord’. (Mark 12: 28-29) Further it says: ‘The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love him with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30). ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thy serve.’ (Mat 4: 10).


This is not surprising to a Muslim because we believe that Islam is a ‘sister’ faith to Christianity and Judaism because the Qur’an says: ‘…..We Muslims believe in Allah, and the Revelations given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between one and another of them. And we submit to Allah’ (Qur’an 2:136).


This verse and others in the Qur’an show a common link between Islam, Christianity and Judaism – the Qur’an even refers to Christians and Jews as ‘Ahle Qitaab’ – the People of the Book. The Qur’an mentions the names of 25 Prophets of the Bible.  Further these three faiths have a common link via the great Patriarch Prophet Abraham (pbuh) who had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. The great Prophets Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) were from Isaac’s ancestry and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was from Ishmael’s ancestry.


Hence Muslims, Christians and Jews not only share many common roots, beginnings and history as it were, but similar beliefs, practices, values, moral injunctions, and principles of behaviour. This is further cemented by another of the corner stones of all these faiths because they are based on the moral codes and goals of the ‘Ten Commandments’. These Commandments form the basis of our belief, faith, moral guidance, living and our interaction with the world around us.


Not only are these commandments the guiding light for ‘the religious people’ but they are part and parcel of all of humanities cultural, traditional and moral codes of all societies. The belief in the One God, aims to benefit the human beings in their relations with 'others'. That faith in the One God has immediate consequences for inter-human relations.


When one looks at the world today, there is so much hatred, strife, misery, war, killings and whole host of other human savagery perpetrated by one group onto the other. This shows that we have departed from one of the basic anchors of humanity, that of ‘brotherhood’, which translates into love and respect for our neighbour. Neighbourliness is one of the key pillars of society that helps build solid, stable and happy communities. Therefore, dealing with neighbours is a starting point in dealing with 'others.'

The Quran states: ‘Serve Allah and join not partners with Him and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer you meet…. (Quran 4: 36).  And: ‘It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, in the Angels, and the Book and the Messenger; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask….Such are the people of truth, those who fear Allah’ (Quran 2: 176)    


Prophet Muhammad said: ‘No man truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself’. And, ‘He is not a true believer who eats his fill while his neighbour goes hungry’.


The Bible also gives the same message: ‘….And Jesus answered him, the first commandment is the Lord our God is one Lord; thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy soul…..this is the first commandment…..the second is thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these’. (Mark 12: 29 – 31).


Since this world has ‘shrunk’ and has become one ‘neighbourhood’, for believers these Quranic and Biblical verses show us that next to the belief in the One God and the worship of Him alone, come the consequences that this faith has for all human relations, starting with the family, our neighbours and going to all human beings whose lives, families and properties should be secure from any violation.


If we do that we enrich ourselves through the element of botho and underline this by reflecting the golden rule taught by all religions, traditions and cultures, and that is: ‘love thy neighbour’.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

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.

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