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Weakness of morals or lack of faith?

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


‘Do those who seek after evil ways think the We shall hold them equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds?’ (Quran 45:21)


Surely our Faith cannot be perfect without morality because these two are inter-twinned. This column has repeatedly alluded to the fact that we seem to have misplaced our morality somewhere along the line. This translates into the uncomfortable truth that we may have also placed our religious faith ‘on hold’ too. ‘Those who reject faith after they have accepted it……..are those who have gone astray’ (Quran 3:90)


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "Modesty and faith are twins. One who gives up one has to lose the other too’. Here too, modesty is part and parcel of morality. Can we have religiousness without good morality? For example is it possible that a man claim to belong to Allah and yet at the same time deal in say, corruption?


This encapsulates the concept that when faith is firm and belief is strong, then strong and lasting morals will be developed, and if the moral character is low then faith will accordingly be weak. Faith is such a power and a driving force that it keeps us away from sin and evil acts, and encourages us to achieve higher morals.


Our lives must be built around faith in our Lord and Creator and follow in the path of righteousness: ‘Those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden; therein shall they abide forever’ (Quran 2:82). ‘Is there not a home in hell for those who reject faith?’ (Quran 29:68)


One wonders, where is our ‘faith’ and belief today, any sign of it? We just have to pause and look around us to witness the immoral behaviour that seems to have gripped humanity. Our communities are suffering from the curses of rape, nudity, pornography, prostitution, drugs and alcohol abuse. On the home front marriages are no longer sacred because we have adultery (extra marital affairs), children born out of wedlock, domestic violence especially against women and now increasing against children. Even more worrying is that our children are no longer safe as paedophilia is on the increase worldwide.


Today’s homes are filled with domestic violence, vulgar language, family strife, the lack of respect and a whole host of modern day ills. As a result of this homes are no longer the havens of safety, peace, tranquillity and comfort that we knew.    


There is an increase in all sorts of violent crime like robberies and murder, so that no one feels safe any longer. On a wider scale worldwide, there is so much wickedness as shown by wars, killings and all sorts of violent acts that bear testament to man’s inhumanity to man. Not only that, we have also moved away from the solid values that were embedded in our traditional and cultural upbringing that gave us a solid grounding. All these show that mankind has moved away from our true religious faith and beliefs, as a result we have lost the moral high ground.


Allah calls us towards virtue and to refrain from evil which is an essential requirement of faith in our hearts, but do we listen? “O, you who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are true in word and deed (9; 119)


However, we will find people thinking themselves as good Muslims or good Christians, yet they violate the basics of their religious teachings. This relationship between faith and morality is clearly shown in the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he said: "The man who has these three habits is a hypocrite even if he observes fast, offers prayers, performs Umra (pilgrimage), and calls himself a Muslim: when he talks he speaks untruth, when he makes a promise he does not keep it, and when he is given something in trust, he commits dishonesty."


Yes we find those people who show an ‘air of piety’, offering prayers or performing certain forms of worship, but immediately after that perform certain evil deeds, or even behave rudely with the people, treat the poor and helpless people cruelly, how then can such a person be righteous?  ‘Miserable is the price they have sold their souls…..and humiliating the punishment of those who reject faith’. (Quran 2: 90).


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has explained by quoting an example. He said that ‘the best moral character melts errors like water, and bad morals spoil man's record just as vinegar spoils honey’. It becomes quite clear that faith, goodness and morality are all dependent on each other, they are interconnected. Therefore the onus is upon us to build on our faith so that we can reap the benefits of the goodness that has been promised us. ‘Whoever works an act of righteousness and has faith, his endeavour will not be rejected; We shall record it in his favour’. (Quran 21: 94)


Just to show how far evil has crept into society, last week there was a headline article in the Voice which reported of a release onto social media of pornographic material showing two boys and a girl performing acts of a sexual nature. Is there no shame anymore? People who are immodest and ill-mannered and who adopt bad and sinful habits without shame cannot be on the right path. Can you imagine the harm that this has caused the parents and families of those children? Where do we draw the line between evil and good or between morals and faith?


To send out a clear message to others the authorities must act and have these kids arrested and sent to the Kgotla where they can be punished for distributing pornographic material, they should be given long community service sentences as a warning to others. They should also be sent for counselling and compulsory HIV testing. Regrettably these are the signs of the times that show that humanity is depraved and on the road to self-destruction. Even the Bible says: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15)   


Let alone the children, but to us adults too the message that we should be echoing is that we should turn our backs on the evil ways of this world and turn to our Lord and Saviour with sincere faith, belief and action, otherwise we are on the slippery road to damnation. ‘They are on true guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper. As to those who reject faith, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe’. (Quran 2:6)


Some may not believe it but there is a Quranic verse that reads: ‘Jesus said; fear Allah if you have faith’ (Quran 5: 112).

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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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Columns

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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