There are many of us from the old days who remember the carefree days we spent in Bechuanaland leading an uncomplicated life of shared simplicity and almost stress free. Life then was different from today; for example, one could leave your car with the keys in the ignition, with the windows open in the street or even overnight, and no one would touch it. But alas times have changed, fast forward to today, it has become a dog eat dog world because of us chasing that pot of money and those elusive dreams.
In today’s competitive world we have the super-rich, the middle-class and the poverty-stricken — these ‘classes’ have always existed in every era since time immemorial. Almighty Allah has distributed sustenance to people according to His infinite wisdom by giving some more than others. This distribution of blessing must be seen as a test for every individual. Those with less have been taught to turn closer to their Lord alone for their needs.
While Islam has not prohibited us from living comfortably if we can afford to do so, our goal should be moderation. Regrettably in this life we hanker for wealth and all the luxuries of this world but the message is that we should strive to live a comfortable life based on simplicity and within limits.
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, in that way you will appreciate the favours of your Lord’. And again: ‘wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment’.
Admittedly some of the stresses that people suffer from today are as a result of our chasing that elusive pot of money. Yes it is important to have money for our basic needs, but once it becomes an obsession to accumulate a mountain of it can lead to problems. This is when we forget our religious upbringing and guidance, tend to throw out our morals, and sell our souls for a ‘few pieces of silver’. Money can buy medicine, but it cannot buy your health or peace of mind.
We will definitely suffer some consequences if we push ourselves too far. The first ‘casualty’ of our earthly desire to gain more wealth will be our abandoning simplicity and will result in one forever hankering after luxuries. Chasing those dreams of wealth and luxury usually results in contentment to be lost. Many of us will attempt to “keep up with the Jones’s.”
While the poor and middle-class will be aspiring to have the luxuries that their wealthy neighbours have, the wealthy will be forever looking for the “latest” and the “ultimate” luxuries. Indeed, we need to adopt simplicity, or else we will suffer some of the consequences.
This attempt to keep up with what others have often leads to sinful behaviour and social problems. If we cannot afford what others have, we will even be tempted to incur the curse of getting into serious debt or even borrowing funds at outlandish rates of interest to just acquire those desired luxuries just to show off. We are willing to sell ourselves just to show the façade of having ‘arrived’. Basically a case of what we do or acquire, is dictated by what others have or what they do.
Another of those social problems or sins is that of greed, it is common that when we are blessed with a certain level of wealth we tend to want more and can become greedy for extra. The desire for more material wealth or gain can become a driving force that can take over our lives and it can cause us to resort to any means to achieve our objectives. ‘To whom I granted resources in abundance……, to whom I made life smooth and comfortable, yet he is greedy that I should add more… by no means, for to our signs he has been rebellious. (Quran 74:12 -16)
Bible quote: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19). And: ‘….yes they are greedy dogs which can never have enough’ (Isiah 56: 11)
Just to show you the types of stresses this can bring; ask any financially hard-pressed parent complaining about finding it hard to provide P10 pocket money for his school-going child. The problem is that other children at school do not bring lunch boxes. Rather they queue up at the tuck shop to buy their snacks. Hence our child is embarrassed to take lunch from home as he would be seen to be the odd one out.
Worse still, I am sure some parents will tell you that their children have asked that they be picked up from school in the luxury family vehicle, not the ‘cheap’ family car. If the car is a cheap one, they would prefer that it stay out of sight of their friends!!
Some of us will buy that special car we hope will make people turn around to notice us. We even have those who play their music so loudly on their car systems that you can hear them coming hundreds of metres away. Their message is simply ‘look at me’. Sometimes don’t you wish that their IQ was just a little higher than the output of their speakers?
Many of us will quite rightly want to build our own homes, but the problem is that we can go over our financial limits in an effort to build a ‘show off’ home, one that looks posh and attracts the envy of others. In so doing some may be tempted to abandon our judgements on our affordability limits by including lavish finishes and furnishings literally building homes within our homes. This can lead to future financial problems as we get into the affordability quagmire as time goes on.
Another consequence of chasing the elusive worldly dreams is that of abandoning simplicity, is that one becomes fashion conscious. When that happens we will start looking only at the label of the garment. This little label certainly adds to the prices of the garments. Not only that, fashions rapidly keep changing, so will one’s expenses are bound to escalate in keeping up with the changing trends.
These are just a few examples. One can extend this to various other day-to-day aspects in one’s life. In short, while enjoying the bounties of Allah, the path of moderation and simplicity must not be forsaken. This means that we should bring back some degree of simplicity into our lives.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.