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The Underprivileged and the Needy

Author: Iqbal Ebrahim

In every community and society there those who are in need, be they the destitute, the needy, the elderly, the lonely, the sick, the orphans, the widows and a whole host of others that are in desperate need of help and assistance. Their circumstances and needs may differ, but their suffering is real and we should not remain indifferent to the plight of these sections of our community. Equally every religion stresses upon the need for those who are able to, to assist in alleviating their suffering.

Islam teaches that these people have a kind of a ‘right” on the rest of community and society. After all we are all of the same humankind and experience the same human emotions, and feelings. The Quran highlights and emphasises the need for each and every one whom Allah has bestowed with any of His bounties, to be considerate of and generous towards those who may be less privileged or in a state of need.

The Quran declares “Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him. And be kind and do good to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are related, neighbours who are strangers, way-farers……”  (Quran 4: 36). ‘It is righteousness that you believe in Allah….to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy……’ (2: 177): “and in their wealth there is an acknowledged portion for the needy and the deprived” (Quran 70: 25)

From the above verse we see that our responsibility ranges from our parents and right down to others in community who have “rights” upon us.


“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9). “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor and to thy needy, in thy land.” (Deut. 15:11)

In the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) the importance of respect for the rights of the weaker and poorer sections of society, – the orphans, the widows, the needy, the destitute and downtrodden etc. – has also been stressed.  To care for their needs and look after their well-being is a virtue of the highest order and a reward in the Hereafter.

‘Establish regular prayer and give regular charity; ……..and whatever good you send forth for your souls you shall find it in Allah’s presence, better and greater in reward. (Quran 73:20). The believers, men and women are protectors of one another, they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity …..on them, will Allah pour His mercy.’ (Quran 9:71)


Caring for the orphan  

According to the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), the best home is the one wherein an orphan is supported and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst is that home wherein an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.

He once declared "Whoever supports an orphan from among his own or any other family, he will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are close to each other" And: "Whoever caresses the head of an orphan (in affection), solely for the sake of The Almighty (with no ulterior motive), a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand."

Therefore if one is unable to take full care of an orphan but merely shows love and compassion, he will attain great blessing from The Almighty.

As to the righteous ….they feed for the love of Allah the indigent, the orphan…. (76:8)  ….do not treat the orphan with harshness (93:9). Do you see one who denies the Judgement to come? Then such is one who repulses the orphan with harshness, and does not encourage the feeding of the indigent. (107:2)

The Bible says: “Defend the poor and the fatherless, do justice to the poor and the needy” Psalms 82:3

Attending to the needs of the widow and the needy

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said "Whoever strives to relieve (the distress of) the widow and the needy, is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers (in terms of reward and blessings)"

The act of spending one's days in fasting and nights in prayer is greatly rewardable. These acts of worship are the best in terms of drawing closer to the Almighty and serving Him,   but we are taught that the same is the worth, value and reward of a person who takes pains to assist and comfort the widow or those in need – by any means like spending his wealth on them, simple acts of kindness by way of consoling words or by sincerely trying to draw the attention of others to their problems and difficulties.

Visiting and caring for the sick

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged the faithful by saying: "Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives."  Besides feeding the hungry – which is a deed of compassion and kind heartedness, it goes further to visiting the sick and obtaining the freedom of those who are (unlawfully) held in captivity. 'Visiting the sick' even includes enquiring after one's health but in a broader sense, includes also the caring and arranging of treatment for the sick, if necessary and if one is able to do so.

The rewards and blessing for these deeds is (once again) very great, and enviable indeed is the lot of those who feel for the less fortunate and are willing to help them in any possible manner.

Respect and honour for the elderly and infirm

Your Lord has decreed…….that you be kind to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age, say not a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour’. (Quran 17:23),

This treatment of the elders starts at home, once we are able to do this then we will find it easier to respect the elders in our society. It is important that the elderly are always treated with respect and tolerance. This has always been part of our traditional culture and values, but sadly it is slowly being whittled away. This aspect of social conduct, may appear insignificant or ‘old fashioned’ to some people, but it plays an important part in promoting a happy and peaceful life, both at family and community levels.

The Prophet (pbuh) stated that "He is not of us, who is not affectionate to those who are younger than him and is not respectful to those who are older." And: "For the young man who will honour an old person because of his age, The Almighty will appoint men who will honour him in his old age." The reward for showing good manners and respect to one's elders will be in the Hereafter from The Almighty Himself, The Almighty bestows His favours to such people in this world too.

What all this boils down to is that we need to be of a more compassionate, humane, caring and of a charitable nature to alleviate the plight of those who are in desperate need. Some of us may feel that they would love to assist but don’t have the funds to do so. Don’t worry, get involved with a charitable organisation and assist them in their work, or even to pay a visit to a sick family member, a neighbour, or someone in hospital. How about going to one of the child centres or shelters and assist those looking already after them. We could even join the kids in playing football or some games just to occupy their time. Putting a smile on their faces would be an act of charity.


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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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