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Treatment of the Elderly

Iqbal Ebrahim

Allah Almighty declares in the Holy Quran: “Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents.  If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them.  And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small.’” (Quran 17:  23-24)

Islam has given the elderly a special status, as there are numerous texts, both Divine and Prophetic, which urge the Believers to respect and honour the elderly. Islam teaches compassion and justice, morals and forbids bad conduct. It grants man his dignity, if he adheres to the laws of The Almighty in all aspects of life.

In many traditions and cultures and via our religious upbringing many of us were taught the values of respect and care for the elders, not only in the family but in society at large. However, that is slowly being washed away as we begin to embrace different cultures and values.

In a society where elders aren’t respected and properly looked after, the social fabric will tear apart and break down. Islam advocates a system in which peace, cordiality and fraternity in a society that has social inter-action in which juniors are loved and seniors are respected.  Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) explained this principle of his teachings in the following words: “He is not of us who is not merciful to our younger people, nor honours the old among us.

Therefore Islam attaches so much importance to paying respect to elders that it is equated with glorifying The Almighty. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Certainly of the glorification of Allah Almighty, is the honour shown to an old person.”

It follows that to honour the elderly, is to glorify and praise The Almighty! We all know that this world is a preparatory ground for the next world. It is here that we can attain perfection for the next. We cannot achieve perfection except through our interaction with society, that is, by living with other human beings of all ages.

We all gain the qualities of knowledge, wisdom and experience in our journey towards old age and senility. ’It is Allah who creates you and takes your souls at death; and of you there are some who are sent to a feeble age, so that they know nothing after having known much : Allah is indeed All-Knowing, The Almighty.” (Ch 16 : v 70)

Even the Bible shows the respect for elders: ‘Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren.’  (1Timothy 5:1). But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ (1Timothy 5:8). ‘Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea all of you be subject to one another, and be clothed with humility for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5)

There is a saying: “There is only one thing that age can give you, and that is, Wisdom.”  Therefore because of this distinction of wisdom makes the elderly among us worthy of reverence.

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “The advice of old-men is dearer than the bravery of young men.”

Respect for elders can take different forms, like: helping them in their day-to-day chores, speaking to them with a degree of politeness, overlooking their mistakes, following their advice, looking after their socio-economic needs, saving them from physical hardship.

Many of the elderly need special care and attention. Islam advises us to invoke The Almighty’s help and mercy for the aged parents. Allah gives prayer to humankind thus: “And call out “O my Lord (Creator) have mercy on them both (parents) as they cared for me when I was little’. (Quran: 17: 24)

We must remember that it is these our parents who nourished, cared, nurtured and helped us become the adults we are today. It is easy for some to forget the struggle and sacrifices that our parents have been through. It is their love that guided us through the rough waters of childhood, our teenage years and then adulthood and beyond to make us the educated and privileged individuals of today.

Fast forward to today’s modern and fast paced world, we find a sad state of affairs whereby when parents reach an advanced age, they are “dumped” in old-age homes. Just because the “children” now want freedom and independence!

They lived life and probably spent a lot of their energy and time for their families and for this world, and now those that they spent their wealth, energy and time on, those that they nurtured and cared have abandoned them in their time of greatest need and left them alone and helpless.

Let us ponder, very sincerely, on the state of the elderly person who is in an old age home. From the life they previously lived to what they are going through. Obviously they have become fragile, dependant, and possibly a confused person. In many cases, they are demented, i.e. having little or no reasoning, intellect or personality. They are immobile, some have no control over their bowels or bladder and neither can they feed or care for themselves. There is little social contact and in such an environment they can become very depressed. Yet at some point they were young once and had the same aspirations or dreams as all of us. They went through being a child, a sibling, a spouse, a parent or a grandparent. We need to give this our deep and sincere consideration and reflection.

The message is treat your elders with respect and dignity because it is by the will of Allah Almighty that they have lived to this age and into a state of fragility but they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that you too will also come to acquire and know with time, your youth will never last forever. Learn from the elders around you and harness your energy, resources and time for the good of mankind, while you still have your faculties intact. We must also keep the remembrance of The Almighty and pray to Him that He has mercy on all of us when we reach old age so that we can pass through that stage in a dignified manner.

Today’s life and living makes us forget that one day, we too may reach that stage. Whilst many societies, including Islamic communities, do look after their elderly folk, the great fear is that as time progresses and the world moves on, many of these societies may adopt the “inhumane” ways of the so-called “enlightened” or “civilised” world (who think that they are really advanced), whereby our elders end up in a similar fate as mentioned above.

Let us show love and compassion for and to our elders.

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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

… 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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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    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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