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The Ideal Personal Character

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

 

The essence of an ideal Muslim personality and character is to be conspicuous, distinct and balanced in such a way that his life embodies the teachings and he is expected to live a life that follows the teachings of the Book of Allah (i.e. Quran) and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in all affairs, relations, and situations – starting with his relationship with his Lord, his own self, his family and the people around him.  

This starts with the creed ‘La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadu Rasool Allah’ – This declaration is a statement of belief: ‘There is no deity except Allah, and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah’.  This is the foundation and the most distinguishing feature of belief of an ideal Muslim:  his deep faith in Allah, the Exalted, the Creator, Sustainer of the Universe.

 

Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! You created not this in vain. Glory be to You! Preserve us from the doom of Fire.” (Quran 3: 190-191)

 

This verse coupled with the consciousness and conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls us, only happens through the will and the decree of Allah. Therefore a Muslim should be closely connected to Allah, through worship and constantly remembering Him, putting our trust in Him and showing obedience towards Him.

 

This will guide us to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private. ‘Worship’ in its broader meaning is not only confined to the so-called religious observances such as praying and fasting, but, everything that we do in our daily lives is line in keeping with His Commands.  

 

This begins with respect for and the acceptance of all of God’s Creation – starting with the ‘family of man’. Despite the obvious differences of colour, races, language and other external differences – these are signs of Allah’s wondrous creation.

 

‘O mankind, We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you my know each other, and not that you may despise each other. Verily the most honoured amongst you in the sight of Allah is he who is most righteous amongst you’ (Quran 49: 13)

 

Worldly considerations such as wealth, status, family, power, education are not a reason for looking up to or despising other individuals. They do not count in the sight of our Creator except when they are used in a way that brings a person to follow His guidance, teachings to seek His pleasure.

 

‘And do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers…’ (Quran 4:36). This verse shows that we need to create a proper interlink and interface starting with our close families, spreading out to our neighbours and humanity at large.   

 

We are expected to treat our parents with kindness, compassion and respect. They after all brought us into this world through good times and bad, through difficult trials and tribulations they nurtured us and showered us with parental love and compassion.

 

So it is our duty to ensure that we return that love and compassion throughout their lives and unto their dying days. It is a sad fact that in the times of today some of us tend to keep our parents at ‘arms-length’ almost as if they are a burden onto us.

 

‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give birth to him…. At length when he reaches the age of full strength, he says: O my Lord grant me that I may be grateful for the favour that You have granted upon me and both my parents….(Quran 46; 15)   

 

With his wife, the Muslim house must be filled with love exemplified by good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties. 

 

‘And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquillity with them, and He had put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.’ (Quran 30:21

Prophet Muhammad pbuh said: "Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. 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”

 

In Islam children are considered a valuable gift and a trust from Allah. They should be loved and in raising those children we should always remember our obligations and responsibilities placed upon us by our Creator. The Quran says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Quran 66: 6).

 

Therefore Islamic training  has to begin at an early age when the child is taught the religious responsibilities, these include learning to read and memorize verses of or even the whole Qur’an, the performance of Salah (daily Prayer), and all the other Islamic etiquettes of life.

 

We are also required to give them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society.  It is also essential part that this training should include the proper respect, obedience and consideration towards one’s parents and the behaviour and attitude towards society in general. . ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’ so said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

 

With his relatives, the Muslim is to maintain the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. We should give a high status to relatives in which we keep in regular touch with them. ‘Blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allah’. (Quran 33: 6)

 

With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He puts up with mistreatment and turns a blind eye to his neighbour’s faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself.

 

With society at large in our social relationships with people, a Muslim is to be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant, be civil, noble, patient and cheerful and behave by the attitudes which Islam encourages. We are not to envy others and we are required to fulfil our promises.

 

And we should avoid slandering or uttering obscenities and not unjustly accuse others nor interfere in their affairs that do not concern us. We are to refrain from gossiping and stirring up trouble, avoiding false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He does not make fun of anyone. He respects his elders.

 

He mixes with the best of people.  He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He calls others to Islam with wisdom and beautiful preaching. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them.

 

The above look like a difficult call, tough and unachievable but with consciousness and a daily effort we can make some of them part of our character. For the older generation these were the basics that they were taught as part of our upbringing via cultural, traditional and religious teachings and they became part of our lives. Regrettably the world has changed and these values appear to have little been ‘lost’ along the way.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

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.

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