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THE BIBLE AND THE TORAH IN ISLAM

The Quran says: ‘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).      

From this verse it can be seen that Muslims also believe in the Biblical Prophets and the Revelations given to them. Islam is closely connected to the two other Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism. In fact, the Qur'an explains that the religion of the Jews and Christians is the same as that revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and Allah is God of them all.  

Sadly nowadays, when people hear mention of the words, Islam, Muslims, Sharia and anything connected with the faith of Islam, conjure up uncomfortable feelings. This unfortunately is as a result of the actions of some evil people with demented minds who tarnish the name of Islam by their murderous and un-Islamic actions. And of course we also have the media hype and a well-orchestrated blitz of negative publicity to further tarnish the name of Islam  thus the first thing that is conjured up in peoples’ minds is terrorist, fundamentalist, fear and all those headline grabbing items.

Muslims believe in the Religious Scriptures of the Torah (Tawraah given to Moses) The Zaboor (Psalms of David), the Injeel (Good News to Jesus Christ), the scriptures given to Abraham and Moses and the final revelation, the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (May Peace and Blessings be upon them all).This shows the common thread between Islamic religious beliefs, values and practices that also have roots within those Scriptures (in their original form) as Divine Revelations.
Quran mentions that Allah (God) revealed the following scriptures / books to various nations. They are as follows:

The scripture of Abraham: “…Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book (Scripture) and Al-Hikmah (Divine wisdom/ Revelation to those Prophets not written in the form of a book), and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” (Quran 4:54)

The Torah To Moses: ‘It was We Who revealed the Law to Moses; therein was guidance and light…. And in their footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him; we sent him the Gospel……and to you we sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it.’ (Quran 5: 44 – 48) And: “Indeed, We gave the Book (Torah) to Musa (Moses)…” (Quran 11:110).  

The Psalms of David: “And your Lord knows best all who are in the heavens and the earth. And indeed, We have preferred some of the Prophets above others, and to Dawud (David) We gave the gift of the Zabur (Psalms). (Quran 17:55)

The Gospel: “And we sent Noah and Abraham and established their line of Prophet hood and Revelation….. Then in their wake, We sent after them Our Messengers, and We sent ‘Îsa (Jesus) – son of Maryam (Mary), and gave him the Injeel (Gospel)…” (Quran 57: 26-27)

The Quran: “Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran in order that you may learn wisdom.” (Quran 12:2) "And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book (this Quran) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it…..to each one among you We have prescribed the Law and a Clear Way." (Quran 5:48) And: “And this (The Quran) is a Book which We have revealed as a Blessing; so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy” (Quran 6:155)

The Qur’an mentions many Prophets of the Bible and the Torah that have a special place in Islam. We believe in the message and guidance that they brought to this world. To name but a few: Adam, Job, David, Abraham, Moses, Lot, Noah, Solomon, Jonah, Isaac, Ishmael, Joseph, Zachariah and Jesus (May Peace and Blessings be upon them all).

‘Those who believe in the Quran, and those who follow the Jewish Scriptures, and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’ (Quran 2: 62)

As a result of a Muslims belief in the Revealed Books, Muslims, Christians and the followers of Judaism share many similar beliefs, values, moral injunctions, and principles of behaviour. If one were to compare these Revealed Scriptures they will find many similarities in their message, teaching, guidance, moral and religious principles and values. An obvious case in point would be the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses.

Muslims believe in The Ten Commandments as stated in the Old Testament —with the exception of the one which deals with observance of the day of the Sabbath— which, according to the Qur’an, was specific to Judaism – Muslims observe the Friday. But all the other commandments in essence and spirit constitute an integral part of the Qur’anic ethics and laws. The Ten Commandments are an integral part of almost every religion or faith hence one can conclude that these commandments are of universal relevance meant for all peoples, for all time and all places.

Muslims believe that the Quran is the final revelation that presents itself as a book through which Allah has guided humankind to the noble ways of the previous prophets and messengers, who are to be emulated as the perfect role models of humanity. ‘Allah wishes to make clear to you and to show you the ordinances of those before you’ (Quran 4: 26). Also: ‘This is the Guidance of Allah…….these were the men to who We gave the Book, and Authority, and Prophet hood….. these were the Prophets who received Allah’s guidance…’  (Quran 6: 89-90)

The Prophets and Messengers mentioned above, without doubt, spoke different languages and were raised in various times and places; but they taught essentially the same perennial message. However, these fundamental teachings and commandments, in essence and spirit, belong to the same message and values to these religions. Although these commandments are not enumerated as a single verse in the Qur’an as they are listed in the Old Testament, (Torah), nevertheless, they are detailed and mentioned in different and various verses within the Qur’an.

Therefore the Laws and the Revelations have been sent to us all, so we have to ensure that we follow and practice them as commanded by our Lord and Creator: ‘To each among you we have prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed he would have made you a single people, but His Wisdom is to test you in what He has given you…the goal of you all is to Allah (Quran 5:48)

Our individual beliefs in these various Revelations, shows us that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are ‘closer’ than you may think.

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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