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What does it mean to be a Muslim?

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

 

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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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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