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Roadblocks to Reformation

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


(THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS)

Last week, we touched on what is commonly known as the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and their effects on us. These bad traits are sometimes a stumbling block in our desire to reform in order to achieve peace of heart, mind and soul. We need to control those inner feelings if we are to get onto the highway to that goal. We have already covered: pride, greed and envy; but as with every one of these sins there is an opposite and more beneficial way for us. This week we touch on the others.   

Gluttony
Making a glutton of oneself means that we consume more than that which one requires, commonly the excess in eating and drinking, but it can spread elsewhere. How many times do we gobble up our food and still go for more when we are literally full to the brim? Moderation and balance are desirable traits that we should develop. While we are gobbling up the food, have we ever stopped to think about the poor people who have no food to eat?
 
How often do we see people, even here in Botswana scratching around in dustbins to find some scraps to eat? Surely we must suffer a pinch of conscience when we see the suffering of those millions of people who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from let alone what they can eat now. Gluttony in this case should not only be limited to the intake of food and drink, but in our desires for the things in this world.

Moderation is the most desirable thing in all our affairs. Be it in food, drink, in our spending, our daily living, literally in every facet of our lives. ‘It is best for them to be modest; Allah is the one who sees and knows all things’ (Quran 24: 60). Prophet Muhamad (PBUH) said: ‘He is not a Muslim who eats his fill and leaves his neighbour hungry’.


A Biblical verse says: ‘for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags’ (Proverbs 23:21)

Therefore before we allow gluttony to kick in we should let our conscience remind us of those less fortunate than us and what we can do to ease their suffering. This should bring about a change in our outlook as we begin to appreciate our own blessings, but more importantly it can make us more receptive to the plight of the poor.

Anger    
We are human and are fallible to say and do things that upset others including ourselves. Anger is one of the emotions that many of us display at one time or another; we get angry with our spouses, children, friends and others. This anger uncontrolled leads to rage, quarrels, hatred, violence and a host of other evils. ‘…..and lower your voice, for the harshest sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass’. (Quran 31:19)


Sometimes things do happen that can make us angry, but we need learn how to control our feelings and emotions. Anger once manifested in us can turn out to be a nasty experience because there is a fine line between anger, rage, fury and wrath.


The unfortunate outcomes of unrestrained anger can lead to saying harsh and hurtful things that we may regret later or it may lead to uncharacteristically violent behaviour. Many families and homes have been broken because of uncontrolled fit of anger. But we should learn to control ourselves and forgive and forget. ‘Those…… when they are angry even then forgive…..the recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto, but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah’ (Quran 42: 37-40)

The Bible also echoes a similar message: ‘……An eye for an eye……..but I say to you…. Whosoever smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other’ (Matthew 5:38-39). And: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (PROVERBS 15:1) 
  


LAZINESS / SLOTH
Yes we all suffer from this occasionally, that’s fair enough, some days are just worse than others and we need to take a break and just ‘chill’. But we should not become too comfortable with the laid back style because laziness can become a regular habit and we can fall into that downward spiral to a slovenly lifestyle.

When this happens we get into what I have coined as the Kgantile’ syndrome, when nothing becomes urgent and everything can wait till tomorrow. This often leads to the avoidance of physical or our spiritual duties and obligations.  

In Islam the performance of the obligatory five times daily prayers brings into the lives of Muslims the process of disciplining the mind towards ‘time keeping’ because of the specified timings of the prayers. These prayers are offered at varying times because most are linked to timings of sunrise and sunset – this subconsciously sets up the mind into the mode of time keeping.


Prophet Muhamad (PBUH) said that we should offer this prayer: ‘O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness…….’


“The way of the slothful is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19) â€¨
LUST

Lust is to have an intense desire or need for something but often we translate it to mean the desire to satisfy our carnal instincts. To lust for something is just like greed and it includes the desire to have status, fame, recognition, wealth and a whole host of worldly wishes including to satisfy our ‘fleshy’ carnal desires.

Unfortunately when we lust for something the desire can become so intense that we tend to throw caution to the winds and can and will do things that are uncommon to our nature. ‘Know that they only follow their own lusts; and who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, devoid of guidance from Allah?  (Quran 28:50).  ‘…..nor follow the lusts of your heart, for they will mislead you from the path of Allah’. (Quran 38:26). ‘Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty’. (Quran 24:30)



The Bible echoes similar advice: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
  


The so-called Seven Deadly Sins are not the only bad traits that we all have in one way or the other, tucked away within ourselves. But they are the ones that we can easily identify if we are honest with ourselves, once done, only then can we work on them to change our outlook in life. Remember that ‘life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change’.

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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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