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THE GREAT JOURNEY AHEAD

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

This week’s message carries with it a sombre yet an uncomfortable reminder to each one and every one of us. There is something that we all seem to overlook and prefer not to think about, and that is the prospect of us, one day or the other, having to leave this physical world and move on to the world of the Hereafter.

Even though death remains a fearful word and a frightening prospect to most of us, the simple fact is that there is no escaping it – Death is our constant companion and it is also the only certainty in our lives.

The sad truth is that from the moment we are born into this world the clock starts to countdown when we will leave this world. No matter you be a Muslim, a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, believer, non-believer, atheist, agnostic, the ruler, the ruled, the rich, the poor, the young, the old, men, women, death is a great leveller because every living thing will one day perish.

The Quran says: ‘Every soul shall have a taste of death, in the end shall you be brought back to Us’. (Quran 29: 57). ‘It is Allah that gives life and death, and Allah sees well all that you do’. (Quran 3: 156)

Believers of virtually every faith on this earth share the same belief; that death is the end of physical life as such and the beginning of a higher form of spiritual life in the Hereafter. In Islam the belief is that the power over life and death rests entirely with Allah; no one can delay it or advance it, save with the wish of the Almighty. The Quran constantly reminds the faithful that everyone shall taste of death and exhorts us to prepare in this physical life for the life in the Hereafter. But unfortunately humans prefer the glitter of this earthly life with scant attention being paid to the life hereafter.

‘Because they love the life of this world better than the Hereafter; Allah will not guide those who reject faith’. (Quran 16: 107).  

We therefore need to prepare ourselves for the life beyond by living a life in the ways of our Lord. For those preparations Muslims are constantly reminded that life is uncertain and that there is no guarantee of a tomorrow therefore they are reminded and urged that while we have our days on this earth we have to prepare during this lifetime for the life in the Hereafter. This means that we should get closer to our Lord and Creator so that we live our lives in the true spirit of our religious beliefs. If we follow in the true path of guidance then we will have no fear of the afterlife where we will be judged for our deeds and actions.

The Bible says: ‘For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; whether we die we die unto the Lord….therefore we are the Lords’ (Romans 14:8)

Upon death all our deeds will come to an end except the following:  any acts of charity that we had done that are of continuous benefit to the others left behind e.g. building a clinic, a borehole, or even having planted a tree which benefits others by providing shade; any knowledge that benefits humanity, and righteous children who offer prayers for your soul.

‘He Who created life and death, that He may try which of you is the best in deed… (Qur’an 67: 2).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ’Take benefit of: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’

In one way or the other we have all received the following message, and one of these days it will be delivered to us personally so we need to prepare and act upon the contents of that message in preparation for our travel. Using this ‘light-hearted’ yet very powerful reminder / message it is hoped that we will begin to see and understand the message it conveys.  
 

TICKET: One-way (regrettably return ticket not available)
COST: absolutely free
RESERVATION: no need for it as your booking has been made and confirmed
ELIGIBILITY: Tickets will be issued to the following:
Name: Every Child of Adam and Eve
Identification: made from a piece of clay – every living being
Address: Any place on the Surface of the Earth

DETAILS OF JOURNEY:
Departure Point: Anywhere on Earth
Destination: Second World (Hereafter)
Hotel to be temporarily accommodated: two meters space
Duration: few seconds or few minutes (will be advised)
Time of Departure: Time of Death

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS:

All passengers are requested to keep in mind that the tickets are pre-booked, pre-paid, non -negotiable and non -transferable. Therefore, everyone must be ready and keep an eye to the pilot of the plane – Izraeel – (The Angel of death).

For more information in preparing for the journey, read instructions to be found in the Holy Quran, the Sunnah and all the religious books and teachings. You can also consult the learned religious scholars, Imaams, Priests and …… IT IS IMPORTANT this is done as soon as possible. You are reminded no oxygen mask will be given as it is not required, in fact your respiratory system will be closed down before the journey begins.

LUGGAGE:

Even though each plane carries only one passenger, restrictions are imposed on the luggage that can be taken with you. For Muslims you are allowed to carry 5 meters of white cloth which will be used for covering your body with and small amount of cotton.

The real luggage must be good deeds, good conduct, time spent in inviting mankind to good deeds and prohibiting evil, Religious knowledge(Ilm) obtained, followed and used properly, family and children raised and educated to be good Muslims. Apart from these and luggage of these types, other luggage will be at your own risk.

There is no need for any boarding pass, passport or other travel formalities and documents, just get ready. To get ready attendance of the 5 daily prayers in the Mosque or with Jamaat (congregation) is highly recommended. Study the Quran and Sunnah (the teachings of Prophet Muhammad pbuh) and put them into practice. This ticket may be called in at any time so prepare now! We hope you have a pleasant journey to the world beyond.

Let us all pray that when our time does come we will die in a state of piety and be ready to meet with our Maker. It is not too late to change our lifestyles and follow the righteous path that our respective religions have guided us to follow.

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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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