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Being thankful to Allah

Iqbal Ebrahim

We just have to look around and see the suffering throughout the world and look closer to home, around us everywhere. We may not want to notice it but it is there.

The underfed little children walking around bare foot, searching dustbins looking for something to eat, torn clothing; the elderly folk who totter around with the help of walking sticks; the wheel chair bound who suffer to navigate our very wheelchair unfriendly streets; the blind, the sick and the lame; those who have to cart buckets of water to use at home, the list is endless. When you realise their suffering it should be a reminder to us to be thankful for all the ‘little things’ in our lives that we take for granted. This should be a stark reminder to remember and to thank the Almighty for our Blessings.

The Qur’anic word for thanks and thankfulness is shukr. This is a very important principle in Islam. It is mentioned many times in the Qur’an. It must be the quality of human beings as it is also the quality of Allah. It is an acknowledgement and an appreciation of a favour.
 From the very beginning of Man's creation, the issue of gratefulness and thankfulness to Allah was brought to the fore. In the Quran, after the creation of Adam all the Angels bowed to Adam except Satan who refused to do so. When chastised by Allah and cast out from Heaven, Satan said, ‘I will lie in wait for them…I will assault them from before them and from behind them, and from the right and their left, and You (Allah) shall not find gratitude in most of them for Your mercies.’ (Quran 7:17)

Unfortunately, we have fallen into that trap of Satan, and have become so caught up in our daily lives, that we very rarely take the time to reflect on the Favours of Allah and to thank Him for them all. We are so busy conducting our daily lives that we forget who is really in-charge, and from where our daily sustenance comes. Allah says, ‘Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. (Quran 2:152)

Unfortunately we are immersed in the ‘if I only had’ syndrome; If I only had a bigger house, a better car, more money, a better job, if I only had a happier marriage, I would be grateful, if I only had more sons instead of daughters, and the list goes on and on. We are constantly focusing on the things we don't have, instead of being grateful to Allah for the things we do have.

Think about it, can you picture yourself trying to walk without feet? We take it lightly that we slumber soundly on our comfy bed while misery hinders the sleep of many because they have to sleep on the floor, or even outdoors because they have no home. Don’t forget that we fill ourselves with both, delicious dishes and cool drinks / water while that pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to poverty sickness and disease. I read a saying that captures it: “We live in a strange world, where the poor walk miles to get food, and the rich walk miles to digest food”.       

Surely deep within we are aware that our Blessings are from our Maker but we prefer not to think about it: ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83) Consider our faculties of hearing and seeing with which we have been endowed. Look at your healthy skin and be grateful that you have been saved from diseases that attack it.

Reflect on your powers of reasoning and remember those that suffer from mental ailments. Would you ever sell your ability to hear, or to speak for huge amounts of money? We have been so Blessed to be given abundant favours, yet we feign ignorance. Despite the blessings of daily food, water, easy sleep, and good health, we remain despondent and depressed. ‘Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you deny?’ (Quran 55:13)

Our minds think about what we don’t have and are ungrateful for what we have been given. We are troubled by a lack of wealth, yet we have the key to happiness and many blessings. Contemplate and be thankful. ‘And if you count the favours and graces of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.’ (Quran 14:34)

The very fact that we got up this morning, that we can offer our daily pre-dawn morning prayer (Salah), that we had breakfast, that we have clothes to wear, water to bathe ourselves, that we have homes to shelter us from the elements, that we have our health, our families, etc., etc., these are all favours from our Lord and Creator. We should take none of it for granted, or become arrogant enough to believe that we attained any of them because of our own efforts.

We tend to forget the favours of Allah upon us and how they are given and surround us from above and below – indeed, from every direction. Health, safety, nourishment, clothing, air, and water – these all point to the world being ours, yet we do not realize it. We possess all that life has to offer, yet we remain ignorant and maybe some of us, arrogant.

This is a serious illness in many of us, and we have been given the cure by Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh). He reminded us that in terms of worldly things if we always look to those who are less fortunate than us, this will keep us thankful. Therefore the best way to stay thankful to Allah is to count His Favours in our lives every day. ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83)

Thankfulness frees the heart from greed, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy toward us, and this in return makes us better persons, calms us, humbles us and improves our characters. ‘We have shown him the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful, rests on his will.’ (Quran 76:3).

Allah has described His Prophets and Messengers among those who were thankful people. They have always expressed their gratefulness as recorded in various verses:
 Among some of the Prophets described in the Quran Prophet Noah (pbuh) as: ‘Verily he was a devotee most grateful’ (17: 3): Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was described as: ‘Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to Allah and true in faith…..He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah’. (16: 120 – 121): Prophet David (pbuh) and his family were told: ‘You work, sons of David, with thanks. But few of my servants are grateful’ (34:13). Allah told Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): ‘Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks’. (39:66).

Most of us are fortunate have at our disposal two eyes, a tongue, lips, two hands, and two legs. Reflect upon your life, upon yourself, your family, your friends, and the entire world that is around you and you will find the blessings we have. Islam does not only teach us to thank Allah, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses, our friends, our neighbours, and all those who do any good to us.

The faithful are thankful people and the unfaithful are ungrateful people. The Quran spells it out for us: ‘Show (thy) gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.’ (31:12). ‘And remember when your Lord proclaimed, If ye are grateful, I will add more favours unto you; but if ye show ingratitude, truly My torment is terrible indeed.’ (14:7)

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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

… 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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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    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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