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Iqbal Ebrahim

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.

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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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