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What does it mean to be a Muslim?

Iqbal Ebrahim


Allah reveals in Verse 17 of the Quran: ’We gave Moses the Book and made it a guide to the Children of Israel………… And later after the Revelation of the Quran it says: ‘Verily this Quran guides to that which is most right and gives the glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness that they shall have a magnificent reward………. Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit; who goes astray does so to his own loss’ (Quran 17: 2 – 16)


In this verse, shortened due to limited column space, Allah mentions some basic commitments not only for Muslims but to humanity as a whole. Without fulfilling these commitments, no individual can succeed. We have to live by these values and should invite humanity to these principles. These principles are not limited to any one ‘religion’, race, tribe, or group; they are universal in their scope and application. If followed properly, they are capable of increasing the goodness and wisdom of all people.


These principles are as follows:


1. To worship Allah alone

"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him." *(Qur'an, 17:23)


This means to recognize Allah as the Lord, to worship Him alone with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of our life. A Muslim's life is nothing but total commitment to Allah. He is the centre of our life and to Him is our total commitment.


2. To be respectful and kind to parents


"And that you be dutiful to your parents; If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young." (Qur'an, 17:23-24)


Respect, love, compassion and kindness to parents is not just a social duty for us; it is our moral, religious duty and an obligation for us.


3. To be good to relatives, to the poor, and to travellers


"…And give to the kinsman his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer." (Qur'an, 17:26)


This is to remember that we are interconnected in this world. Our responsibilities are not only towards ourselves and our immediate families, but also to other relatives and to the society at large. We are all fellow travellers in this path of life. We must see what we can do for others. We are to live a socially responsible life. Social responsibility begins with the family and other relatives and it includes all those who are in need.


4. To be careful with money and not waste resources


"…But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Satan, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord. And let not your hand be tied (like a miser’s) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach like a spendthrift, so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty. Truly, your Lord provides sustenance to whom He pleases in a just manner. Verily, He is All-Knowing and All-Seeing. (Qur'an, 17:26-27, 29-30)


Extravagance is not right, but also one should not be stingy, miserly nor should one be a spendthrift,  a Muslim is committed to a balanced life style.


Money should be earned in halal (lawful) ways and it should be spent in the right manner. This principle is applied to all resources that Allah has given us. Wise and conscious use of resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.


5. To take good care of children


"And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin." *(Qur'an, 17:31)*


As we recognize the rights of the parents, we should also recognize the rights of children. Our children are our future. We must see that we raise healthy, intelligent and morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy environment. We must protect their life as well as their spirit and mind, their morals and manners.


6. To steer clear of adultery and illicit relations


"…And come not near to the adultery unlawful sexual intercourse for it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road to other evils. (Qur'an, 17:32)


Islam teaches that one should not come even close to adultery or fornication. These perversions bring the greatest harm to individuals and societies. Observing the proper rules in this matter, leads to health, happiness and a good moral society therefore Muslims are expected to lead a pure, clean, and socially responsible lifestyle.


7. To respect every life and not to kill anyone unless in the pursuit of justice


"…And do not kill anyone whose killing Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause." (Qur'an, 17:33)


This means that one should recognize the sanctity of all life and should not do anything that may jeopardize life. One should avoid aggression and violence, because these things lead to murder. Every Muslim must be committed to peaceful ways. Conflicts should be resolved through dialogue

and negotiations, not by killings and murders. However, justice must be maintained, because just punishment brings safety and protects life.


8. To take care of the orphans


"…And come not near to the orphan's property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength." (Qur'an, 17:34)


Orphans and all those who are vulnerable must be taken care of. Their rights must be recognized and they should be protected from all harm. A Muslim must be committed to the care of the young, poor, infirm, and handicapped. Kindness and compassion is the basic commitment of a Muslim. It includes everyone and includes even the animals.


9. To fulfil promises and commitments


"And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant, will be questioned about." (Qur'an, 17:34)


Promises and contracts are an important part of human life and human civilization. When promises are not kept, people lose trust in each other and the whole society becomes weak. Muslims must be true to their words. Our commitment must be to speak the truth and to be honest and when we make a pledge we must do our best to fulfil our pledges.


10. To be honest in business dealings


"…And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is good (advantageous) and better in the end." (Qur'an, 17:35)


Honest business brings progress, success, and blessings. All business, whether commercial, social, or political, must be done with a sense of justice and fairness. A Muslim is committed to fair dealing in everything and with everyone.


Dealing with a Muslim means dealing with full confidence. A Muslim businessman should be the most truthful businessman. A Muslim worker should be the most honest worker. A Muslim in any profession should bring honour to that profession.


11. To act upon knowledge and not follow hearsay or act on half-truths


"…And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those one will be questioned (by Allah)." *(Qur'an, 17:36)


Information agencies, the media, have a great responsibility. A lot of injustice is done when misinformation is given or information is misused. Muslims should be committed to truth in information. They should promote truthful and honest reporting about everyone, including their enemies. A report coming from a Muslim source should be the most trustworthy report. In

a similar way, Muslims should be extremely careful with their actions and reactions. They should not react against everyone without proper evidence.


12. To be humble and have no arrogance


"…And walk not on the earth with insolence; for you cannot rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height" (Qur'an, 17:37)


Moderation and balance is best in one's behaviour as well as in one's attitude toward others. A Muslim should be a dignified and also a humble person. He should not be boastful, arrogant, or conceited, always thanking Allah for all His Blessings.


These are some of the basic commitments of Muslims as individuals and as a people. But they are applicable to a follower of any religious faith. They express the principles and universal values of Islam. When they are followed, they bring justice, peace, and happiness in this world and they will indeed bring success and salvation in the Hereafter. Let us all try to make these our real commitments.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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”


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.”


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.


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)


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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