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Is Religion Antiquated?

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


In the world of today is religion old-fashioned, obsolete, archaic, outdated or old fashioned? I ask this question because when we look at the world of today and at humanity we see a very bleak picture of the degeneration in all spheres of our lives.


Unfortunately mankind of today boasts of enlightenment on one hand but on the other fails to note that it has degenerated, degraded and sunk to such a low moral point that there are some sceptics who are asking if religion still has relevance or a place in this new scientific world that we live in, thereby suggesting that religion is outmoded and antiquated.


‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90)


There is a noticeable moral vacuum in our societies because we seem to have lost our moral compass somewhere along the line. Goodness seems to have been placed on the back burner because the world is full of evil, violence, war, strife, poverty, immorality, broken homes, abuse of women and children, rape, adultery, alcoholism and drug/ substance abuse, and the other evils so common in our society today. These social evils are as a result of man’s inhumanity to man and that we have literally given in to our greed, vices and passions.  


Many of us have separated and compartmentalized our daily lives away from our faith, as such, it has become increasingly difficult for us to make time for religion let alone live by our religious and moral values. We seem to be so besotted with our worldly lives, the amassing of wealth and other earthly material desires that we seem to have forgotten our true purpose in this world. This obsession with the material world and its trappings has challenged our religious beliefs, teachings and our morality.


Almighty Allah has warned us of our infatuation with achieving material possessions: ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90)


The Bible is also clear: “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (1 Timothy 6; 10)
But as mankind we have been blessed with the power of reason and thought this distinguishes us from animals, also we have been brought up with moral values in our traditional structure that is in congruence with our religious beliefs. Religion among other things teaches us love, sympathy, universal brotherhood, and equips us for the hard struggle of life; these are elements that are essential in bringing peace, prosperity and progress to all nations.


We have to realise that we need to return to our religious foundations if we are to find peace of mind. We have to choose the path of righteousness that will lead us to success in this world and the next: The Almighty Allah tells believers: ‘This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour on you and have chosen Islam as a religion.’ (Quran 5:3)


Whilst Islam is very clear about the belief of an individual, as stated in the Quran: ‘Let there be no compulsion in Religion; truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks’ (Quran 2: 256)


The above verse says that there is no compulsion, but if you are a believer you have to live your life as a true Muslim, because, religion, faith, belief is not only based on a set of rituals and performing certain duties, but it is an all-embracing system that we should take and live as a way of life. It means that our intentions, deeds and actions must be based on firm faith, belief, good intentions and the constant awareness that the Almighty Allah is Omnipresent. But unfortunately many of us have moved away from our basic practices and teachings and we seem to literally pick and choose when and how we want to live our lives.

Among the many edicts, a Muslim is required to perform his five compulsory daily prayers, but many of us think that our once a week attendance to our Friday prayers is sufficient. But as with any religion we have our fair share of those who take their religious beliefs and practices lightly, happily picking and choosing when and how we want to follow our faith. Let us not forget that one day we all have to die and will be called to account for our actions and behaviour. ‘As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help’ (Qur’an 3: 56)
A Muslim is also required to comply with certain practices and behaviours, but we also seem to default on those too. For a Muslim Islam is not only a religion per se, but a complete way of life. This means that our daily living, actions, thoughts, behaviour and in fact the conduct of our lives must conform to our beliefs and the guidance of the Quran and teachings of our Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Only in doing so will we find comfort and peace in our hearts, minds and lives.

Going further it is a duty of the believer to make every effort to guide people to the right path by reminding them of their duty to their Creator; by spreading the ‘good word’ but more especially leading by example. Sadly in many parts of the world today we have people who vehemently reject any religious belief and deny the existence of our Lord and Creator and openly claim that they are atheists. Alas, for the likes of those there is very little we can do:  ‘……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’. (Qur’an 2:6)
The true believers should polish their hearts and minds to follow the Divine Guidance, and that requires us to learn to accept that in this quest there will be good, bad and trying times but we have to accept that these challenges are sent to try us. Remember that the journey is uphill and there are no short cuts, but for those who put their trust in the Lord there will always be salvation and a special place in the Hereafter.     

This world is but a passing phase we therefore have to change our lifestyles and bring God back into our lives, failure to do so will bring us eternal damnation ….’and if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear them no fruit in this life and the Hereafter; they will be the companions of the fire and will abide therein’. (Qur’an 2:217).

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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