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Some of a Muslim’s Responsibitities

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Each one of us has general responsibilities in life it could in our particular field of endeavour, profession, business, family etc. according to the circumstances we find ourselves in. But the greatest responsibility that a believer has is that to his Lord and Creator. Therefore the month of Ramadan is an ideal opportunity to get closer and to initiate and practice those responsibilities.

For every Muslim Believer this means total submission to the Almighty and this is borne out by the fact that we are obliged to first declare and affirm our unflinching submission to Allah Almighty, and to His commands and injunctions, and nobody else’s, they have to be complied with by the believer in all situations. Once we can do that we can follow the trail to improve ourselves.  
 
Our responsibility is to fulfil the commands of the Almighty, this applies equally to all – male and female, leaders and the led, the wealthy and the needy, literate and illiterate. In Islam, all are equal in front of the laws and regulations -what is allowed for all people and what is forbidden as well upon all people.

The obligations are upon everyone, and whoever deserves punishment gets it, regardless. Everyone is rewarded for their contribution towards promoting virtue and goodness within community and for the positive development of mankind in general. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “Every one of you has a responsibility and every one of you is accountable for his responsibility.”
 
Each one has a personal responsibility for his/her actions and deeds and will be dealt with accordingly by The Almighty: “Whoever practices a good righteous deed so it will be to his own benefit and whoever does wrong/ bad then that will against his own self, and surely your Creator (God Almighty) is in no way unjust towards the worshippers.” 

(Qur’an 41: 46). The Almighty further declares “Whoever practices righteousness man or woman and has faith, verily to him will We give a good life, (that is good and pure) and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.”  (Qur’an 16:97)

After our duty to our Creator, a Muslim must discharge his duty and responsibility to his fellow human beings.  Good social conduct and commendable manners occupy a prominent position in the Islamic values system.  As already covered in previous articles, we have a responsibility and a duty that we owe to other human beings beginning with parents, relatives, neighbours and going on to the community at large.                   

Islam requires its adherents to maintain cordial relations with each other and to render all help and support to those who may be in any form of hardship, difficulty or distress.  Great reward awaits those who help their fellow humans who are weak, disadvantaged and suffer any hardship. Allah Almighty says: “And do good, that you may prosper”. (Qur’an 27:77).

For this we need to respect to our fellow humans. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught the golden rules for maintaining peace and goodness within communities when he said: “Do not envy one another, do not harbour malice against one another and do not enter into a commercial transaction when another person has already entered into that (transaction) (Do not under-cut his deal); but be you, brothers (to each other).”

Selfless service to mankind entails worship to The Creator

Showing concern for and trying to help those in any difficulty or in need is regarded as a form Ibadah (worship) because one is fulfilling the requirement of The Almighty to show compassion and concern for our fellow humans. We have been promised a gain in reward in this world as well as in the next and this type of behaviour helps remove our problems of this world as well as those of the next. Only a true believer of The Almighty will be able to serve others in a selfless manner.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have explained that one who fulfils the need and removes the difficulty of another, will get the help of The Almighty in time of his own need or difficulty.  

Allah Almighty declares in the Quran: “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw (yourselves) into destruction (by refraining from spending in the cause of Allah).  And do good; indeed Allah loves the doers of good.”(Qur’an 2: 195).

This spending is not only referring to material wealth but indeed any  and all resources that The Almighty bestows upon a person – wealth, energy, skill, time, and what we have been blessed with.

Islam teaches that Allah is “closer to you than your jugular vein”, therefore a believer must turn to his Creator for guidance, forgiveness and blessings. We must firmly believe that He hears every single one who calls upon

Him and prays to him with total sincerity and purity. The Holy Qur’an says:  “When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them, I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me. So let them call out in prayer to me and render firm faith in Me so that they may be guided (onto the right path).” (Qur’an: 2:186)

Let us pray that as we approach the ‘final lap’ as it were of this Holy month, let us strive to change our ‘bad’ habits so as to build our personality, characters and reputations as honest, sincere, reliable, God fearing people.

We are and become what we repeatedly do. First we make our habits then our habits make us because this pattern puts us on a mental path, which then affects our attitude and our behavior, and these are reflected in our personality and character.

I have read the following sayings that capture the true essence of character and reputation more than I ever could in a hundred lines:

Character is not only the face in the mirror, but the real person behind the face.

Character is the content, reputation is only the wrapping.

Reputation is what you lead others to believe you are, character is what you really are.

Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your tombstone, character is what the angels report about you to Allah.

Come on let’s give it a try, who knows, it may be a life changing experience for us.

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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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