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Treatment of the Elderly

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

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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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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