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The Wheel of Life


Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


Life is very unpredictable and it has its ups and downs. We all belong to the wheel of life as such our lives can be compared to that of a wheel: just as a wheel turns, one moment we are on top but soon we are at the bottom; but we may not remain there for long because as it turns we will be up there again, and so it goes. Like it or not, life has its ups and downs.

These ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because any doctor will tell you that a straight line in an E.C.G. means we are not alive.

Despite us having our individual hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future, life is not easy nor is it predictable, however there is one thing that is predictable and that is we will all have to face the tests of life; the path of life can be smooth one moment, but filled with pot holes, diversions and an array of ‘traffic’ signals, stop, go, caution……. But that is the way life goes.

‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “we believe”, and they will not be tested?’ (Quran 29: 2) ‘You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves…………’ (Quran 3: 186)  
Each one of us will on some days be tested in different ways. These challenges will either make us or break us. Some of us cannot stand the pressures, stresses and other challenges that these bring to us, but we need to learn how to cope with and respond to them. Remember: We may not be responsible for falling down. But we are responsible for getting up. Life must go on. We need to take a broad outlook in life and most importantly we have to recognize that many of these are tests.

Working and striving for a living in this worldly existence of ours is an important part of our daily life and practice. Islam teaches us and encourages us to work for and earn a living for ourselves and also by improving our standards of living be it by possessing homes, cars, land and other needs. But it does require a Muslim to keep a proper perspective so that things of this life do not become the main objective of his existence. Unfortunately many of us have become slaves to the modern lifestyles based on a culture of greed and gathering of wealth.

‘Alluring to men is the love of the things they covet – women, sons, hoarded treasures of gold and silver, highly bred horses, cattle and land. This is the provision of this world’s life. Yet with Allah is a better Abode’ (Qur’an 3:14)
 
There is nothing against people building a prosperous life, buying the things that make life easier, and improving their status in this world nor is it wrong to have these things but we must not allow greed for these possessions to become our sole objective in life. What is meant here is that the things we now live our lives for, are supposed to be “tools” to help us live our life in a way that is meaningful before Allah. We must not lose sight of the meaning and of our purpose in this life.

Apart from our lives as individuals, let us look at ourselves as a nation. We must admit that we as a nation are currently on the upper rungs of the wheel of life.  Despite the myriad of problems we face in Botswana we are truly Blessed. We do not suffer the pains of grinding poverty, instability, war, strife, killings and all the other human sufferings that are the scourge of many nations. For this, we must truly be grateful to our Lord because since Independence, 50 years ago, we have lived in a state of peace, prosperity and the countless other blessings that are the envy of many nations.

For these favours and blessings, let us not forget: “If you were to count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them” (Quran 14:34). And: ‘If you count the favours of Allah, never would you be able to number them’ (Quran 16: 18)
 
Let me attempt to illustrate just a tiny fraction of those blessings: think about it, how many countries are fortunate enough and can boast of access to virtually free education from Primary school to University level? Not only that, it is a known fact that some of the students are also given monthly allowances for their immediate needs.

We also have virtually free access to medical facilities and treatment. This includes free medication, hospitalisation and any surgery if necessary. Going even further, those who suffer the scourge of AIDS can access ARV’s and they are available to them without charge, they even have free follow up visits for their blood tests to ascertain their CD 4 cell counts.

There is no doubt about that we have many poverty stricken people amongst us who suffer daily to find their sustenance. But if we compare them to other people around the world we will see that the scale and the depth of absolute poverty are not as widespread. Make no mistake I am in no way suggesting that that all is well and am trying to downplay their suffering. No doubt there are people in our communities that endure this daily suffering. What is being said is that the situation is not as dire as it is other parts of the world. We are also fortunate to have programmes, some may argue that they are inadequate, but they are there to assist the poor and needy.

Throughout Chapter 55 of the Quran, Allah continually asks: ‘Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’
 
It is human nature for us to take these blessings and favours for granted however it can create in our minds various negative traits and characteristics and false perceptions that can lead to a culture of dependency and expectation wherein we think is our ‘right’ to these things. We could even develop a streak of arrogance within ourselves whereby we think we are better than other people because of what we have been blessed with.  

Remember the wheel of life will turn one day and it will be our turn to be at the bottom and others will be above us. Are we prepared for that Day?

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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