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The beginning of the end?

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


Most faiths teach about the approaches to the Last Hour and the Last Day but as humans we avoid thinking about it. We may deny that day, but Allah reveals in the Qur’an; ‘……and the hour is coming without any doubt’ (22:7). And, ‘We did not create the Heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The hour is certainly coming’. (15: 85).


This column had earlier carried an article that covered the signs that would precede the beginning of the end of the world that may have made for some uncomfortable reading for some. Look around and witness the man-made, climatic and natural disasters that have recently struck various parts of the world, this should make us sit up and think.


Am I being alarmist? Definitely not, I will quote Quranic verses and Biblical ones in order to make the reader to seriously think.


We hear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, storms, typhoons, heavy rains, floods and other such calamities that leave a trail of destruction all over the world. Remember the earthquake that struck Kobe in Japan, the tsunami that struck the south east Asian nations killing more than 100,000 people; the one that struck Japan a few years ago caused a deluge that wiped out cities and levelled many areas. Almost monthly there are reports of earthquakes, earth tremors and other natural disasters; the latest, we hear of volcanoes erupting and spewing forth lava.


Recently there was that violent earthquake that struck Nepal, thousands of lives were lost, homes reduced to rubble, roads and most of the infrastructure destroyed. Kathmandu the capital was literally destroyed. Nepal is a mountainous country and even Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak was violently shaken. Massive rocks and boulders the size of cars came tumbling down the mountain sides. People lost families, homes, businesses, crops and all their worldly possessions, they now live in the streets and in makeshift shelters with International relief agencies working feverishly trying to patch up their lives.  


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said this about the end times: ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’ He further said: ‘The Hour will not be established until…earthquakes will be frequent’.


We have even had strange climatic occurrences, look at the recent events in the United States; the massive floods that hit parts of Texas, some river levels rose by 26 feet (approx. 8 metres), rising water levels destroyed homes, crops, infrastructure, and took lives. At the same time some parts of the US have been struck by tornadoes and strong winds that were so violent that they blew away houses and overturned motor vehicles leaving widespread destruction in their wake.


Some parts of India are experiencing an unprecedented heat wave with temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius being recorded in some areas as a result more than 1300 people have died due to dehydration and other heat related conditions;  the heat has even caused tarred roads to melt. Closer to home, most parts of southern Africa have had less than the average rainfall this last season, pointing to food and water shortages in the months to come.


Without being alarmist, are we entering the countdown to the ‘end times’, is this part of the doomsday predictions that most religious texts and preaching have warned us about?  Is this the beginning of the end?      
The Qur’an contains verses that describe the end of the world: When the sky bursts open’…, ‘When the oceans surge into each other’……., ‘When Mountains are pulverized’…… It is inevitable that the world will end, but when will this be? ‘They ask you about the Hour; when will it come?…..’Knowledge of it rests with my Lord’. (Quran 7: 187)


The Bible says the same: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. (Mark 13:32)


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) described the chaos, conflicts, murder, war and anarchy that will take place all over the world, forerunners pointing to the signs of the Last days: ‘The hour will come when violence, bloodshed and anarchy will become common’ and ‘The world will not come to an end until a day would come to people on which there will be general massacre and bloodshed’. Look around you…… ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’. Hiroshima was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, cities in the Middle East have and are being bombed and almost raised to the ground.


The Bible also says: ‘…..days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another…..but ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified; for these things must come to pass…..and great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines and pestilences and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven’ (Luke 21: 6 – 11) and (Matthew 24:7)


On a different note ponder about this…..


Prophet Muhammad spoke of the proliferation of false prophets and imposters: ‘In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves’. And, ‘The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)’.


Yes, we know them. The Qur’an warns these people; ‘Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….(6:93). Just look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men and women of God.


The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).


The Bible says: “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people”. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)


The above verses from the Quran and the Bible, also from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ring so true, especially when we see the state of the world today. Am I being a scaremonger, alarmist or just pessimistic or are these warning signs to us to change our ways and turn to and get closer to our Lord?

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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