As the month of fasting (Ramadan) slowly draws to a close, the last ten days, are considered to be very virtuous and special days and nights. Among the high points of Ramadan is itikaf, an act of worship in which a person secludes himself in a mosque to devote his time entirely to worshipping and remembering Allah. In every Muslim community there are some people that go to the mosque and spend the entire last ten days of Ramadan. Among the unique virtues of these special nights is that of Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power or Honour) is among them.
What makes these last ten days of Ramadan so ‘special’? During the last ten days there falls that ‘special’ night of Laylat al-Qadr, which many believe to be among the ‘odd’ nights, 21st, 23rd, 25th 27th, ,29th in which Allah has given this night special characteristics which make it so unique. It is mostly believed to be the twenty – seventh night, when Allah sent down the first verses of the Quran: The comprehensive message and revelation which was sent to mankind through Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), brought to him by via the Archangel Gabriel also happened during one such night.
‘By the manifest Book (this Quran) that makes things clear. We sent it down on a Blessed night (the Night of Al-Qadr) in the month of Ramadan. Verily, We are ever warning mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments. As a Command this Quran or the Decree of every matter from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messengers), as a mercy from your Lord, For He hears and knows all things’. (Quran 44:1-6)
So it was on this night on which the first verses of the Quran were sent down and revealed to the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) in stages according to events over a period of twenty-three years.
A further verse says:
‘We have indeed revealed this Message (Quran) in the Night of Al-Qadr (Power). And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the Angels and the Spirit by the Permission of their Lord, on every errand; (All that night), there is peace and goodness from Allah to His believing slaves until the appearance of dawn.’ (Quran 97:1-5)
The interpretation of and message of this verse is that this night is better than a thousand months, in other words worshipping Allah in that night is equivalent / better than worshipping Him a thousand months, (about 83 years). Therefore this Divine announcement says that this night is better than one thousand months, which equates roughly to the ‘average’ human life span. The prayers made during this night have greater value than an entire life of supplication. On this night angels descend to earth carrying God’s bounties and instructions. From these two verses that talk about the glory of this night, the Holy Message in the Quran clarifies that it is Allah who revealed the message through Mohammad and other prophets (PBUT).
One may be wonder why this night is worth a thousand months of prayer. Think about it, in the old days we are told that Prophet Noah lived for close to a thousand years; ‘We sent Noah to his people, and he tarried among them a thousand years less fifty….’ Quran 29: 14)
The Bible concurs: “And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years and he died.” (Genesis 9: 29)
So does it mean that the people of the time lived ten times as many years as we of this day and age? Was reaching that great age only him or was that the achievable age for all the people of that era? For arguments sake, let me stir your thinking by speculating and say that those people of old had ten times more chances and the opportunities to live a life in prayer and in service to our Lord and Creator than we would. They had a long life to achieve the goal to live in a manner that would lead them to Heaven.
Fast forward to the Day of Judgement; those whose scale of good deeds is ‘light’ may be tempted to use the excuse to say that ‘the people of Noah had more than 900 years but we only had an average lifespan of 70 – 80 years’. Sorry mate, Allah is All Knowing as the earlier verse above says: ‘……For He hears and knows all things’. Has an answer for those who want to play that card. Why didn’t you use the special night of Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months, to increase your blessings!
In the verses above the phrase “therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” means, on that night the destiny of all living creatures for the coming year is decided and decreed. On this night Allah’s decrees are decided and written down on this night. What is meant is that the destiny of all creatures is decided on this night and they are passed on the Angels to carry out the instructions as and when they have been decreed to happen.
The decrees contain, who will live, who will die, who will be saved, who will be doomed, who will be destined for Paradise, who will be destined for Hell, who will be granted honour, who will be humiliated, where drought and famine will occur, and everything else that Allah wills in that year.
Further the Night has special honour and status as it is a night that is respected and valued because of its special characteristics and because the one who stays up in prayer and worship during this night receives great blessings and many sins and faults are forgiven during this night, making it the night for seeking forgiveness, Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) said: “Whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
It is for this reason that Muslims will be looking forward to this special night during the last ten days of Ramadan so that they can earn the special Blessings and forgiveness that has been promised by Allah.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.