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Some basic questions about Islam

Iqbal Ebrahim

Here is a small glimpse into some very basic questions that may assist in bringing about a better understanding of Islam.

What is Islam?
Islam is the name of the religion, or more literally the ‘way of life’, which God (Allah) has revealed and which was practiced by all of Prophets (Quranic and Biblical) and Messengers of God that He sent through time to mankind.

The name Islam is derived from the Arabic word which literally means peace, obedience and submission. The word in its religious sense means complete submission and obedience to the Commands of Allah.

Islam is not merely a set of beliefs or a purely theoretical system but it is a complete way of life. It provides us with a code that guides us to living a life so as to develop spiritually and intellectually in this life, for a higher form of life in the Hereafter.

Who are Muslims?
The Arabic word Muslim literally means someone who is a follower of Islam.  The message of Islam is meant for the entire world, and anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim.  Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, over 80% of the world's Muslims are not Arabs. Even though most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists. 

Being a Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed teachings and laws of God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts basing his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty Allah.  A person’s Islamic faith weakens through sins, willful disobedience, and wrong-doing, and his faith becomes totally nullified by associating partners with God, disbelieving in Him, or rejecting and denying His commands.

Who is Allah?
The meaning of Allah is simply "Almighty God" and it is an exclusive title which no-one else besides Him has been given. The Arabic word Allah is in fact the similar word used in the Old Testament written in Hebrew, and the New Testament written in Aramaic. Therefore the word God came into existence, in the relatively new language of English. If one were to read an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word “Allah” being used where the word “God” is used in English.

This similarity is borne out In the Bible verses Jesus (pbuh) is reported to have cried out: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” Matthew 27:46 and “Eloi, Eloi” in Mark 15:34. Translated the verse means, ‘My Lord, my Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me’.
The word “Allah” is a very specific and unique Arabic word that does not have a plural (like in the case of God and Gods); nor does have a feminine equivalent (like God and Goddess). When we use the word “Allah” we mean the same God that created Adam and Eve, the same God that sent Prophets such as Abraham, Noah, Lot, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (May peace be upon them all).

It is the same God who spoke to Moses, and split the sea for him, the exact same God who saved Noah in the ark and Jonah in the whale. It is also the very same God who created Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Supreme Sovereign, The Creator and Master of the entire universe and all that it contains.

Who is Muhammed?
Islam teaches that the last and final Prophet whom God sent to humanity was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  At the age of forty, he began receiving the Revelations of the Quran, conveyed via Angel Gibraeel (Gabriel) over a twenty three year period. 

He spent his life explaining, practicing and living the teachings of Islam, the religion that was revealed to him.  Since the beginning of time, God sent prophets to the earth, each one to his own specific nation.  Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was sent as the final Messenger to all of humanity.

Do Muslims worship Muhammed (pbuh)?
Muslims do not worship Muhammed (pbuh) in any way.  Muslims believe that he was the last and final Messenger sent by God Almighty, and like all other Prophets and Messengers, he was a human being.  However, some people mistakenly assume that Muslims worship Muhammed and this is one of the reasons that some people erroneously called Muslims, “Mohammedans”.

Muhammed (pbuh) never claimed divine status. He called people to worship Almighty God alone, and in order to prevent his deification, he continually emphasised his humanity by always asked people to refer to himself as “Allah’s Servant and Messenger”.  

Muhammed (peace be upon him) was chosen to be Allah’s final Messenger and to communicate His message to us, not only in words, but also as a living example of its practical application. Muslims respect him as a prophet, a messenger and a leader to all mankind. He is loved and respected because of his impeccable and upright moral character and because of the fact that he diligently conveyed the truth from God – which is the pure monotheism of Islam.

Muslims strive to follow the great example of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) but do not worship him in any way. Islam teaches Muslims to respect all of Allah’s Prophets and Messengers. However, respecting and loving them does not mean worshipping them. Muslims know that all worship and prayer must be directed to Allah alone.

In fact, the worship of Muhammed (pbuh) – or anyone else – along with, or instead of Almighty God is considered an unpardonable sin in Islam.  If a person claims to be Muslim but worships or prays to anyone or anything other than God Almighty, it invalidates one’s claim to Islam.  The Declaration of Faith makes it clear that Muslims must worship Allah alone.

What are the basic teachings of Islam?
The foundation of the Islamic faith is based on 5 pillars: Belief in Monotheism (the Oneness of God, He is One and He has no partner); Also, the firm belief that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is worthy of worship, except Him.

Islam teaches that there are no intermediaries between God and Man, and further teaches that people have to approach God directly as all worship to Him alone. Muslims believe that Almighty God is Most Compassionate, Loving and Merciful. This constitutes the first pillar of Islamic belief.

The others are: 2. the five times daily prayers (Namaaz); 3.Fasting during the month of Ramadhan; 4. Zakaat – a compulsory charity that every Muslim who has extra cash / capital and other belongings over a certain amount is required to give charity based on a formula; 5. Performing Hajj (Pilgrimage) to Makkah, if one is able to, and can afford to do so.

What Divine Books do Muslims believe in?
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).      

Muslims believe in the Religious Scriptures of the Torah (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.

These are but a few of the very basic founding questions that give an insight into what Islam is about.

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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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