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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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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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