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Charity – The Upper Hand

Iqbal Ebrahim

A long while back this column carried an article with a similar title, but I feel it is necessary to repeat the message that the article had conveyed. The reason being that nowadays when we talk of the ‘upper’ hand the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a position of advantage in a given situation or simply put you are ‘in charge’. But in Islam the upper hand is seen as the one that is helpful and charitable.


Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said, "The upper hand is better than the lower hand. The upper hand is the one that gives, and the lower hand is the one that receives". The Quran encourages the Believer to spend of his wealth for the sake of The Almighty whenever possible and it stresses the great virtues of giving in charity. 'The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah's sake is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah cares for all and is All Knowing' (Qur’an 2: 261).

Therefore Believers have this great opportunity and must strive to do as much good as they can. However in doing so they must be aware that Islam has etiquettes and manners in the giving of charity and stresses on the importance and the virtues of giving that charity and encourages us to do so. Hence it is important to know of those etiquettes and manners of giving so that we do so in the proper spirit.

To be charitable does not necessarily mean giving money; look around you, there are so many people who need assistance, this could not necessarily be in monetary terms but it could be doing things like giving assistance to an invalid person to cross the road, a friendly smile, lending an ear to a stressed person, visiting the sick and the elderly who need company, there are so many orphans in society, how about paying them a visit and other such works.  

Money does not decrease by giving it in charity: charity enlarges the blessing in one's fortune. In the Hereafter, the charity no matter how small may just help in protecting oneself from Hell-Fire. For those who spend in charity Allah has promised multiplied rewards for their charity.  'Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?' (2: 245). What we now spend as a charity for Allah's sake is what remains with us after death.

However, for the charity to be accepted and to achieve its goals it is essential that whatever is spent, must be given from money that is earned in a lawful manner. 'O ye who believe, spend from what you (lawfully) earned' (Qur’an 2: 267).  It is also important that when giving a charity, we must have purity of intention and it must be for the sole purpose of gaining Allah's pleasure and not for worldly benefits or fame. The Prophet (PBUH) said, 'All deeds are based on the intention and everyone will be rewarded according to what he intended (from his action)'

The Almighty praised those who give for His sake without expecting any benefit from the people who receive the charity: 'And they feed for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive. Saying; we feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you. We only fear a Day of distressful wrath from the side of our Lord'. (Qur’an 76: 8 – 9). Any of the things we do daily could be turned into an act of worship if it is done purely for Allah's sake, and, vice versa, any such activity could be rejected by Allah if it is done for any ulterior motive other than to pleasing Him.

Due to life’s uncertainty it is much better for the Muslim to give away in charity during his lifetime before death overcomes him. Believers are urged to hurry with giving the charity and should not delay it unnecessarily. The Prophet (PBUH) was once asked about the best of all charities, so he said; 'The best charity is what you give during your life while you are in need of it.'

It is also fitting to give the charity from our ‘better’ possessions that we like rather than giving away not our old rusty possessions as if we are trying to get rid of them. This is not to say that we should not give away old things, because what I don’t need might be a welcome possession for another person.


It is the intention behind the gesture. 'By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well.' (Qur’an 3: 92).  'Whoever does an atom weight of good he shall see it (in his book), and whoever does an atom weight of evil he shall see it' (Qur’an 99: 7 – 8).

It is better for the believer do his best not to let anyone know about it so as to avoid doing so for the sake of showing up one's good deeds other than for Allah's Sake. ‘If you give alms openly, it is well, and if you give it to the poor secretly, it is better for you’ (Qur’an 2 : 271) The Prophet (PBUH) said: '……….a man who gives a charity, hiding it, so that even his left hand does not know what his right hand has spent'. This saying is a form of expression that indicates how careful you should be when giving a charity where possible not letting anyone notice what you're doing.

The believer also should not follow up his charity by hurting the feelings of the one who receives it, for example by reminding him of the generosity. Doing so would only nullify the reward of the charity. 'O you who believe, cancel not your charities by reminders of your generosity, or by harm' (Qur’an 2: 264).

When one is unable to or may for some reason, not want to give charity to a person who is asking for it, he should kindly tell him without hurting his feelings. 'Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury' (Qur’an 2: 263). In this life, charity enlarges the blessings in one's fortune. Unlike what most people think, the reality is that wealth increases as long as the person is giving in charity. This is as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) stated, ‘Charity does not lessen one's wealth’. Muslims believe that charity gives rise to multiple increases both in this world and in the Hereafter.

These are some of the Islamic etiquettes of giving charity, in the final analysis anyone who gives charity with a good intention always feels the inner peace and pleasure of having helped someone less fortunate. It is also a reminder that we should be thankful to our Creator for being blessed for being more fortunate than others.  

In the Quran The Almighty has promised those who believe and observe righteous deeds, to multiply the rewards of their good deeds.  ‘Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.’  (Quran 16: 97).

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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