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THE GREATEST MISCONCEPTION OF ISLAM

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

…..continued

Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.Islam encourages terrorism

In this second decade of the 21st century that is probably the biggest myth and misconception about Islam headlined by the events of recent years and without doubt giving rise to Islamophobia by the constant stereotyping and bashing in the media.

Unfortunately, every day we hear the words 'Islamic, Muslim fundamentalist, ISIS etc.' linked with violence. There is so much killing, murder and mayhem in this world: Yet when Muslim civilians are killed when their mosques are targeted and blown up, when missile and drone attacks take place killing them these acts are never attributed to the religion of the perpetrators.  

We hear the words ‘Allah u Akbar’ used by these perpetrators.It literally means ‘God is greater’ or ‘God is the greatest.’ Throughout their day and especially in prayer, Muslims use this term to remind themselves that Allah is greater than the beauty and ugliness of this world.  

Islam literally means 'submission to God' and is derived from a root word meaning 'peace'. Islam is misunderstood in the world of today. Perhaps this is because religion doesn't dominate everyday life of people’s lives in the West, whereas in Islam it is considered a 'way of life' for Muslims and they make no division between secular and sacred in their daily lives. Therefore their lives must be lived as directed in the Quran. 

When it seems that the world has gone mad with the killing of innocents it must be reiterated that the religion of Islam places great value on the sanctity of life, and even sets out very specific rules for war. The latest atrocity being the killing of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, who were mercilessly mowed down by a truck driven by a French / Tunisian.

The people who commit these dastardly acts have their own agenda and they do not represent Islam, they may refer to themselves as an Islamist group but their manner, conduct and actions of this are totally out of sync and contrary to the Quran and teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which constitute the basis of Islamic belief, law and jurisprudence.

The Quran is very specific about killing: "…that if anyone killed a person unless it be for murder, or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind…"  (Quran 5:32)

Nowhere does Islam permit the killing in fact Islam completely forbids the killing of innocents. Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes.  It lays down strict rules of combat, war and self-defence therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. 

The Qur'an says: ‘Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors’. (Qur'an 2:190). ‘If they seek peace, then seek you peace.  And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things.’ (Qur'an 8:61).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prohibited and banned the targeting of non-combatants (the old, the women and children, Priests and other religious leaders etc.) and other non-combatants including people sitting in places of worship. Also during conflict, one cannot destroy property (including places of worship like Churches, Temples or Synagogues), or kill livestock, destroy trees or vegetation.

He went further to say: ‘Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees.  Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not steal from the booty. It is not permissible to kill a person who is not hostile. Spread goodness and do good, for God loves those who do good.’ Hence, Muslims are forbidden to carry out any unjustifiable acts of aggression.

Another misconception is that Jihad means Holy war.

The Arabic word for war is not jihad. The term Jihad is the Arabic word that means to struggle, or to strive. Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The main 'jihad' is the inner struggle of the soul which everyone wages against egotistic desires for the sake of attaining inner peace by living a life that is in congruence to Quranic teachings.  It is also a struggle to build a Muslim community based on social justice and human rights according to Quranic values.

The other meaning is that of a military or armed struggle. The armed struggle can be defensive or offensive.  The defensive jihad is fought when Muslim lands are invaded and the lives of people, their properties and existence are threatened. Muslims may fight back the invading enemy in self-defence. In the offensive jihad those people are fought who suppress the spread of Islam from reaching the people. However there is no compulsion in accepting Islam – it is up to the individual.

The Quran says: ‘Let there be no compulsion in Religion: truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things’. (Quran2:256) And: ‘unto you your religion, unto me my religion’ (109:6). ‘Allah forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for Allah loves those who are just. (Qur'an 60:8)

There was a recent meeting held in Paris. The following is part of a release issued by UNESCO on its findings on religion issued during the first week of July 2016 should make critics of Islam to step back and think a little more deeply.

The United Nations body released a statement that revealed that UNESCO had partnered with International Peace Foundation six months back to study all religions of the world and find out which was most peaceful amongst all.

“After six months of rigorous study and analysis, we have concluded that Islam is the most peaceful religion,” Robert McGee, head of comparative studies wing of International Peace Foundation declared in a press conference that was attended by UNESCO officials too.

When asked about the terror attacks being carried out in the name of Islam, including the recent ones in Dhaka and Baghdad, the UNESCO official denied that it had anything to do with Islam.

“Terror has no religion,” he said, “Islam means peace.”

To document this official recognition, UNESCO will issue certificates to interested Muslim bodies, which can choose to display them at various places …….. etc. (End Quote)

Religious hatred is not a part of Islam, the Qur'an speaks of human equality and how all peoples are equal in the sight of God.  ‘O mankind! We created you from a single pair, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another.  Truly, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you in piety.  And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things’ (Qur'an 49: 13)

Whilst cowardly and dastardly attacks are claimed to be in the name of Islam, the bottom line is that how could one claim to be a Muslim when one disobeys and goes against the decrees and commands of Allah as laid out in the Quran?

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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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