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The Brotherhood of Humanity

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The Almighty has given humankind dignity and honour, and breathed into him of His own spirit. Since we have all been created by one and the same God, for this reason we belong to one brotherhood. As such we are all united in Him and through Him, and apart from our other human attributes, we are substantially the same and no tangible and actual distinction can be made among us, on account of our differences such as nationality, colour or race.  

The Holy Qur’an declares: “O mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female; and have placed you in groups and tribes so that you may have mutual recognition. Indeed the most honourable of you, in the sight of the Almighty is he who is most God-conscious!” (Quran 49:  13)

After all, humankind originates from one source – Adam and Eve – and as such we have to accept that the next person is not only of the same “species” as ourselves, but they experience the same feelings, emotions, anxieties, etc. like us. Therefore we are one community of brotherhood in the sight of our Lord and Creator. The human race is inter-connected regardless of our race, tribe, colour, creed, ethnic, linguistic and all the other so-called differences. Despite these differences we have to learn to accept the oneness and the brotherhood of mankind. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "All creatures are of the ‘family’ of The Almighty and the most beloved to Him, amongst His creatures, is the one who is best (in treatment) towards His ‘family’ – i.e. creatures.”

If we look even closer especially at the founding religious beliefs of the great religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, we will begin to realize that they share many common beliefs so much so that they can be considered ‘sister’ faiths because they have common roots of geographical, ethnic and linguistic origins of the Middle East. They share the same lineage of the great Prophets; Prophet Abraham had two sons Ishmael and Isaac. The great Prophet Moses and Jesus Christ were from Isaac’s ancestry and In Islam, Prophet Muhammad was from Ishmael’s ancestry. May Peace be upon them All.

This closeness is further borne out in a Quranic verse: ‘we Muslims believe in Allah, and the Revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to all the Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between one and another of them and we submit to Allah (Quran 2:136).

Once we accept that there is a common thread in humanity we have to live a life that reflects and shows the brotherhood of the human race. This means that we should promote a feeling of fellowship by showing and treating others with respect, kindness compassion and all the brotherliness as if we were like members of the same large family after all, we are all of the same species of creation.

This is borne out and is part of our religious upbringing, guidance, teachings and edicts. Spreading it wider, all the traditional and cultural values and upbringing of virtually every race of the planet, has always reflected those brotherly traits. Modern man has deviated from this and we each tend to live in our own isolated ‘bubble’ as it were. Almost echoing (as recorded in the Bible) what Cain said; ‘am I my brother’s keeper?’ when asked by our Lord ‘where is thy brother Abel’.    

Unfortunately we have drifted away from living as a community to, living for me and my family. We have literally built walls around ourselves. This is in stark contrast to the Setswana saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It has now become; each one for himself and God for us all.   

We need to bring back that ‘community spirit’ back into our societies so as to bring back the mutual respect, tolerance, neighbourliness and compassion that were the foundations of our upbringing. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said "Those whose hearts are devoid of mercy for others, will not obtain the mercy of Allah Almighty."
 
‘…..the giving of food in a day of hardship to the orphan…or to the indigent down in the dust……… He will be of those who believe and enjoin patience, constancy and self-restraint and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the companions of the Right Hand’ (Quran 90: 15-18)
Our indifference to one another's plight contributes to the cause of most of today’s problems in the world. It sometimes is the root cause of all trouble, at the various levels social, economic, legal, educational, political, etc. – due to our disregard of the rights of others by not fulfilling them or attaching any importance to them. There can be no real peace and happiness, until we attach an equal importance to the rights and claims of others upon us, as we attach to our rights and claims on them.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said "The Most-Merciful Lord will have mercy on those who are merciful.  Show mercy and compassion to the dwellers of the earth, then the One in the heavens (The Almighty) will show mercy and compassion to you!" 

In applying this we will need to go beyond the ties of kinship of blood, racial superiority, linguistics and economic privileges to a level of accepting the brotherhood of mankind. Our societies have many strata of people from the rich and famous to the poor and forgotten; the strong to the weak; the young and the old; the well fed and the hungry; the leaders and the followers; the arrogant down to the modest; and so it goes. We therefore have to ensure that we protect the rights of those we consider ‘lesser’ than us.

There has to be a degree of mutual respect and cordial feelings, this will in turn promote peace and harmony between us. We need not only to protect their rights but ensure that we do everything to assist them in whatever way possible.

Let us thus protect the rights of the weak and the downtrodden: Let us not take undue advantage of the women, the children, the old, the sick and the ailing. Let us show the greatest respect for our women’s chastity and honour under all circumstances. Let us feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and  treat medically the wounded or diseased, irrespective of whether they belong to the one’s own community or not.  

Let us recognise that we are one community and as such we should respect the rights of humanity as a whole. We must observe and practice righteousness at all times – as a duty to God Almighty. Class, creed or ethnicity does not matter in the sight of our Lord – these are only manmade distinctions between us. 

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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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