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The Weak, the Needy and Underprivileged

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The Quran in many verses highlights and emphasises the need for each one of us on whom Allah has bestowed His bounties, to be considerate of, and to share those blessings, by being generous towards those who are less privileged or in a state of need.

There are varying needs for each group – like the orphans, widows, elderly, sick, the wayfarer, the poor and the needy, etc. But the underlying factor is that we should not remain indifferent to the plight of these sections of our community.

Islam teaches us that these people have a kind of a ‘right’ on the rest of the community and society. Like it or not, we all experience emotions, feelings, hurt and we belong to the same human species. In the Quran Allah Almighty declares

“Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are related, neighbours who are strangers, the wayfarer……” (Quran 4:  36). We can see from this verse that our responsibility is not limited to our immediate families only but spreads out to the community at large.

In the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) the importance of respect for the rights of the weaker and poorer sections of society, like those mentioned above have been stressed.  To care for their needs and look after their well- being has been described as a virtue of the highest order and the Prophet (pbuh) has given the promise of rewards in this regard.

‘So give what is due to kindred, the needy, and the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek the Countenance of Allah, and it is they who will prosper’ (Quran 30: 38)

Some may say that they also have inadequate resources for themselves so it would be difficult to help others. But help and charity does not only come in financial terms, it could also include relieving other people’s distress. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘There are many doors to goodness. (Saying) ‘glory and praise be to Allah, enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf (until you understand them), leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the weak with the strength of one’s arms – all of these are (forms of) charity prescribed for you.’

Caring for the orphan

According to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), the best home is the one wherein an orphan is supported and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst is that home wherein an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.

He said: "Whoever supports an orphan from among his own or any other family, he will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are close to each other", showing his index and middle fingers This explains the status, in the Hereafter, of that person who accepts the responsibility of supporting an orphan.

In another of his teachings he said that even if one is unable to take full care of an orphan but merely shows love and compassion, he will attain great blessing from The Almighty. "Whoever caresses the head of an orphan (with affection), solely for the sake of The Almighty (with no ulterior motive), a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand."  

Attending to the needs of the widow and the needy

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said "Whoever strives to relieve (the distress of) the widow and the needy, is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers (in terms of reward and blessings)"
For a Muslim the act of spending one's days in fasting and nights in prayer carry great rewards. These acts of worship are the best in terms of drawing closer to the Almighty and serving Him. So are the rewards of helping by any means like easing their plight by spending on them, simple acts of kindness by way of consoling words or by sincerely trying to draw the attention of others to their problems and difficulties are great.

Visiting and caring for the sick

The Prophet (pbuh) regularly encouraged the faithful by saying:  "Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives."  So, besides feeding the hungry – which is a deed of compassion and kind heartedness, there is also mention of visiting the sick and obtaining the freedom of those who are (unlawfully) held in captivity. Visiting the sick could simply mean enquiring after one's health but in a broader sense includes also the caring and arranging of treatment for the sick, if necessary if one is able to do so.

For those who show compassion for the less fortunate and are willing to help them in any possible manner the rewards and blessing for these types of deeds are great.
Respect and honour for the elderly  

In all societies we have those who are senior in age and others who are young. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) also explained in his teachings what their mutual behaviour should be. The way we behave in our social conduct, might not mean much and may appear insignificant to some people, it plays an important part in promoting a happier and more peaceful life, both at family and community levels. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘He is not of us who is not merciful to our younger people nor respects and honours the old among us’.

Anyone who professes faith in Allah, it is a duty upon us to make sure that the elderly and infirm whether they are of one’s family or not, are always treated with due respect, honour and tolerance. This is also part of our traditional upbringing and culture.  

In another teaching we are told "For the young man who honours the old because of their age, The Almighty will appoint others who will in turn honour him during in his old age."

We see that, although the eventual reward for showing good manners and respect to one's elders will not only be in the Hereafter but will also be bestowed to such people in this world too.

It is therefore our responsibility as people to show love, kindness, compassion and to render assistance to those less fortunate than ourselves.

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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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