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Live The Quranic Values (2)

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Death is our constant companion, there is no escaping it, from the day we are born the only certainty is that this life is of a temporary nature as each one of us will one day taste death. ‘Every soul shall have a taste of death; and we test you by evil and good by way of trial. To Us will you be returned’ (Quran 21: 35)

Every one of us believers, no matter which faith we belong to, have been given a set of guidelines and values that we are supposed to live by and infuse into our lives. This means that we have to live a life of piety and one that is in congruence with those teachings.
 
In the journey of life there are two paths; one leading to God and the other is filled with many detours that lead to different destinations, away from the Path of God. We therefore have to be aware of the deviations that are there so that we can avoid them and follow God-oriented path to salvation.

We have to mould our lives and live the teachings and values contained in our religious scripts if we are to achieve salvation. Among the eternal values and behavioural patterns are the strength of our beliefs, how we live our lives and how we treat those around us.



Humility is a noble human trait but unfortunately in very short supply. Humility and modesty go hand in hand because you cannot be one without the other. Humility can be a difficult because we tend to think that because of our worldly wealth or our positions or stations in life we are above others.

We tend to walk around puffed up in our own self-importance behaving insolently and pushing our weight around boasting of our material achievements in life. These arrogant feelings of superiority can make us look down upon and talk down to others.  


‘Swell not thy cheek (with pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not any arrogant boaster.’ (Quran 31:18) ‘Exult not, for Allah loves not those who exult (in riches). (Quran 28:76) ‘The servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility…..’ (Quran 25:63)


Kindness is another of those desirable qualities – kindness reflects itself in many ways; it flows through our thoughts, speech and actions. Kindness starts in the home, if we do not show any respect or kindness towards our parents how then will we show any towards the rest society? Kindness coupled with love towards the whole family will engender within us a caring attitude this is what forms the solid foundation for a loving family unit.   


’Be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.' (Quran 17:23-24)


Kindness is not limited to our family and those around us; it is one of those human values that should be spread to every one we come into contact with including strangers. Even a simple smile or greeting to a stranger can be considered an act of kindness and charity. ‘Allah loves those who are kind’. (Quran 5:13)


Courtesy and kindness are linked and often go together. We have all been brought up via our traditions and culture to be courteous and to show respect towards others. We were taught to show respect to our elders; words like please, thank you, excuse me; talking to our elders in a respectable tone without harshness.  


Today rudeness and uncouth behaviour is the order of the day and it makes one wonder if in this day and age these types of values are still being taught and instilled to the younger generation by their parents. ‘When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things.’ (Quran 4:86)

Another of those values is that of discipline and self-restraint. For a Muslim Islam has provided us with many avenues to learn discipline and self-restraint, because this is via our daily forms of prayer, worship and action. To start with, Muslims have to offer their Prayers (Salah) five times daily.

These are interspaced throughout the day. This is a form of discipline that teaches that though we have our daily chores to attend to we have to remind ourselves that we have to turn to our Lord in Prayer regardless.

"Bow down, prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord; and do good; that ye may prosper. And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline)." (Quran 22:77-78)

During the month of fasting in Ramadan we refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. This is a form of discipline because we ‘deny’ ourselves the daily requirements to obey our Creator. Thus discipline and self-restraint are the natural outcomes of fasting. ‘Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.’ (Quran 2:183).

Integrity, honesty, truthfulness, fair dealing, trust worthiness and sincerity and they are all part the list of positive qualities that make up our personalities. We must be aware of the constant presence of Allah in our daily life. Whatever one thinks, does or says, in the open or in private are all known to our Creator. ‘He knows what is in the heavens or the earth; and He knows you conceal and what you reveal; yes, Allah well the secrets of all hearts.’ (Quran 64: 4)

Therefore our thoughts, actions, and behaviour are in congruence to our religious beliefs and we are aware that no secret is hidden from Allah. This means that in every sphere of our lives we need to be honest and truthful. ‘O, you who believe, be conscious of Allah and be with the truthful.’ (9:119).

"Truly many are the partners (in business) who wrong each other: Not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and how few are they?" (38:24). "Woe to those that deal in fraud, – Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due." (83:1-3)

These are but a handful of values that are common to every religion, we have to bring them into our lives so that we live the path of righteousness.

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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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