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The Key to Paradise

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


It is a given that each and every one of us will have to leave his world one day and there will be a time in the Hereafter when we will be called to account for all our deeds during our worldly sojourn. “On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done, and all the evil it has done” (Quran 3: 30).

If we had lived a life that was line with the Commands of Allah and of the teachings of the Quran then we will have achieved the goal of the Gardens of Paradise. However should we have lived a life that was against all our religious teachings then we are destined to that fiery place called Hell. “Give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness that their portion is the Gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (Quran 2: 25)


Unfortunately in today’s world we are almost living in a society that says that obey your desires, so you should eat, drink, and be merry, life is short because tomorrow we die. Do whatever pleases you; indulge in your desires for you live only once, so make the most of it. With this type of attitude in this life it is easy to go astray. But remember one thing: “Whatever deed you may be doing, We are witness thereof. Nor is hidden from thy Lord so much as the weight of an atom, on earth or in heaven” (Quran 10: 61)


We have been shown the path that leads to God and the other that leads to damnation. As human beings we have the freedom of choice; to obey or not to obey the Commands of our Lord. Instead of following the way of our Lord we tend to follow our own lusts and desires. We choose what pleases us and makes us feel good. In our pursuit of wealth, status, power and worldly pleasures we choose to ignore our moral values and ethical principles. “Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah” (Quran 31:33)
 


There are so many ‘attractions’ and different paths in this world of ours that tempt and entice us and sometimes blind us to say the least. Our lives are combinations of good and evil. As mere mortals we are susceptible to both the tendencies of good and of evil. Our goal should be to increase the good and reduce or eliminate the evil. It is through our will and effort or lack of it, that we choose one or the other, making ourselves liable to ultimately receive its reward or punishment, as the case may be.


With so many evil temptations we easily fall into sinful behaviour. “And what is this life of this world but goods and chattels of deception”. (Quran 57:20). Regrettably for many of us in the pursuit of this false hope of happiness can lead us to despair, doom and gloom. This road seldom leads to true happiness, and it never will because this road is filled with many pit falls and is a downhill slope to eternal damnation. No doubt the path to hell looks very attractive and tempting and promises instant satisfaction but is a slippery downhill slope.


Our objectives in life lie not in obeying our lusts and desires but in controlling them in obedience to our Lord and Creator. Our goal should not be to get the maximum pleasures out of this earthly life, but to reach that house of eternal pleasures in life to come. Once we fine tune our minds to embrace this objective, it brings joy to this life as well, but this joy is different kind of joy that one finds in obeying our earthly desires. We therefore need to create a mind-set change that will commit us to change from our evil ways and life styles onto the path of righteousness. “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they first change what is in their hearts”. (Quran 13: 11)
 


We have all been endowed with freedom of choice and also freedom to act, however this does not mean that we can do whatever we want to. We have to ensure that it is that which is permitted by our religious belief and moral codes. All these things are part of the worldly test for all of us: ‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, we believe, and that they will not be tested. Assuredly We tested those before them. Allah knows those who are sincere and knows those who are pretenders.’ (29: 2-3)


Without doubt, the path to paradise is most definitely uphill. It requires sacrifice and self-control; patience and perseverance; obedience and submission to our Creator; hard work and firm commitment. It requires giving up instant satisfaction so we can get eternal satisfaction. It is paved with stumbling blocks and hardships and all the evil temptations that we find in our daily lives. As Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “The Fire has been surrounded by lusts and desires and the Paradise by hardships." In other words if we are attracted and guided by our lusts and desires that road is the one that can lead us to the hellfire.


Unfortunately as humankind we have the have the inbuilt weakness to follow our lusts and desires ignoring the consequences of going against out religious teachings and principles. There are many factors and vices that lead us onto the ‘wrong’ path, among them are; Ignorance, Jealousy, Pride and arrogance, greed, fear, bad companionship and sinful behaviour. Unfortunately these patterns of human behaviour and mind set can be the temporary road blocks in life that can easily cause someone to go astray. What we need is discipline and self-control.


Ignorance: This could be as a result of our not being aware of or being ignorant of our religious and moral obligations. We should go back to our religious teachings for a guide.

Jealousy: Another common vice, envying those who have knowledge, who are popular, who have been blessed with the good fortunes in life. We look with envy at those who live in fancy homes, drive fancy cars and wear fancy clothes. This envy can be very dangerous if uncontrolled as it can lead to jealousy and hatred


Another vice is Pride and Arrogance: Sometimes we have the tendency to rate ourselves above hence better than others so we tend to look down at them. We think that we are better than others


Greed is a major driver in our lives. Sometimes in our greed to obtain worldly desires and gains drives us to do things that are against our religious morals, laws and guidance and also in some cases illegal activities that are against the laws.


Bad Companionship: Our friends can be part of our problems because many of our actions may be driven by our desire to conform to what our ‘buddies’ are doing. Sometimes we are fearful of our; family traditions/expectations, cultural or peer pressure, and these may drive us into doing sinful things. That insecurity on our part can lead to do some strange things just to be seen to be part of the crowd. We should seek good companionship. – These are some of the roadblocks in life.


We are all given tests in this life to warn us about the road that leads to Hell and show us the path that leads to Paradise. All it takes is belief, commitment, and seeking help from Allah and we can overcome the roadblocks. ‘.……….give Glad Tidings to the Believers who work righteous deeds:  that they shall have a goodly Reward…..’ (18: 2).

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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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