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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In the world of today is religion old-fashioned, obsolete, archaic, outdated or old fashioned?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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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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