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Favours of your Lord

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


There is a Quranic verse titled ‘Rahmaan’ (one of the attributes of Allah, ‘Most Merciful’). This verse shows mankind the various Blessings and favours that the Almighty has endowed them with. In it Allah frequently asks mankind this question: ‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’ (Quran: 55: 1- 78)


We may not have nor get everything that we wish or hope for, or even want. But we must admit the Almighty has given us so many blessings that we take forget and take for granted. We go from ‘womb to tomb’ but how many of us ever stop to say ‘Thank You Lord for the Blessings that you have favoured me with’. In our hurried life we forget to or even don’t bother to do so.


For all these blessings we should be very grateful to our Creator. He expects nothing in return from us except our gratitude and gratefulness by Glorifying and Worshipping Him alone. ‘Show thy gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul, but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free from all wants, worthy of all praise’. (Qur’an 31: 12


If we stopped to think, there are so many everyday things that we take for granted, which we should be grateful for – to name but a few, our health, the roof over our heads, the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the car that we own, the safe drinking water from our taps. On a broader scale; the peaceful life that we enjoy and not the war and strife seen elsewhere, our almost free access to health care, education and many other services that we take for granted. Millions of people across the world do not have such blessings.


These are just a few examples of the countless blessings on ordinary everyday things that we take for granted without any thought on how blessed we are as compared to others. It is only when a calamity strikes us that we are jogged into realising how blessed and fortunate we are. We may not realise it or maybe reluctant to admit it but these are gifts and favours that our Creator has graced us with.  ‘Truly man is a most ungrateful creature (Quran 22: 66)


Let us just ponder over the blessing of water. For a country like ours where water is a precious commodity; when it rains we are happy and when there is less than the usual rainfall (as it this year) we are filled with anxiety and apprehension. Why, because we all rely on water for our everyday life and existence? Rain is one of the blessings from our Lord.


‘We send down water from the sky according to due measure…we cause it to soak in the soil…..with it We grow for you gardens of date palms and vines; in them you have abundant fruits, for you to eat and enjoy…. And it cattle too, we provide from within their bodies We produce milk for you to drink…and of their meat you eat. (Quran 23: 13 – 21).

And ‘We send down pure water from the sky, that with it we may give life to a dead land and slake the thirst of things that We have created……cattle and men in great numbers. And we have distributed the water amongst them in order that they may celebrate our praises, but most men are averse to anything but ingratitude’ (Quran 25: 48-50)


We see tragedies unfolding in parts of the world that are hit by drought; thousands of people die from hunger and thirst due to the lack of rain. Every living creature is reliant on water for its existence.  Science has shown that the basis for every atom in our bodies is water, hence, no matter be it human, animal, plant or any other living seen or unseen organism relies on water for its existence.


The Quran mentioned this even before science concluded the same: ‘And Allah has created every animal from water; of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs, and some that walk on four’ (Quran 24:45). And:  ‘We made from water every living thing, will they not then believe? (Quran 21: 30). ‘Do you bring down the rain from the cloud or do We? Were it Our Will, We could make it salty and unpalatable; then why do you not give thanks’ (56:68)


Showing gratitude and being grateful is to acknowledge the favours and the good that our Benefactor has sent our way and this helps us towards a state of happiness and contentment. Contentment brings about that inner peace of heart and mind and that is essential for leading a happier life; this in turn helps us to develop spiritually and eases us from the stresses and worries that one gets from discontentment. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment’.


In a previous article I asked these ‘silly’ questions just to tease the readers mind. Think about these:


Did you get up feeling grumpy when the alarm clock went off this morning? Be thankful for it means that you can hear and are not deaf, maybe not feeling on top of the world, but more importantly – alive.


Complaining about not finding a parking spot? Be thankful that you can afford to have a car and don’t have to daily walk long distances to and from work.


Tired and bored of walking and hanging around the malls? Be thankful you can walk and you are not confined to a wheelchair or even to bed.


Your clothes fitting rather too snugly round the waist?  Be thankful as this may mean you have more than enough to eat and are not scratching around in the dustbins for scraps of food.


Complaining of the sun being too bright for your eyes because you forgot your Versace sunglasses at home? Be thankful you have sight and are not blind.


I could go on but the message is clear: We may not have all that we desire, but without doubt we are truly Blessed. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Do not compare yourself against nor envy those who have more than you, but rather compare yourselves to those who are less fortunate or have less than you’


If we live with an attitude of gratitude we will experience harmony between the heart and the soul. ‘If you are grateful, I will add more favours unto you, but if show ingratitude…. My punishment is terrible indeed’ (Qur’an 14: 7).’And remember with gratitude Allah’s favours upon you.’ (Qur’an 3: 103)


Now which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?

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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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