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Our Trials and Tribulations

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


There is not a day that goes by that we are not tested by our Lord in one way or the other. In some times of crises, these tests may seem impossible for one to pass, yet with patience comes prosperity. Rather that we should call upon and continue to place our trust in Allah and knowing that "On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged." [Quran 23: 62]


 A similar article on this topic was written sometime back but this has been brought to the fore once again as result of the closure of mines many people are in distress because they have lost their jobs and the downturn in the economy has added to their woes. Many of these people were the sole bread earners in the family and they supported an extended family. Not only that, there has been a knock on effect on many of the companies that relied on providing services to the mining sector have had their services terminated and as a result they too have laid off their staff.


“Be sure that We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or fruits of your toil, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (Quran 2: 155)


Indeed there is not a day that goes by that a believer is not tested in one form or another. Sometimes these tests truly are hard upon us but if we do our best to be patient with them then Allah will give us what we desire. There are many challenges that we face in our lifetime and this is just one of the challenges, as critical as it may be we are faced with a plethora of problems in our daily lives. We should not think of these afflictions as something bad and even if their outcome is something bad we should remember that all is Allah's will and that there is wisdom behind everything that he does.


Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden of Bliss without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When will come the help of Allah?' Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is always near. (Quran 2: 214)


Admittedly there are times when everything that we do seems to go ‘wrong’ and we are left wondering why me? Why all these problems? What have I done to deserve all these problems? As difficult as it may seem there are times when we lose all hope we should then turn to our Lord in sincere prayer. We should realise that these trials are a blessing, something to bring us closer to our Lord. This is how we should try to look at our problems and think that Allah is testing us in order for us to become closer and more beloved to him. “You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves” (Quran 3: 186)


Once again as difficult as it may seem the message is that we should take on these tests and challenges and work through them, thanking Allah and asking for his forgiveness throughout the way. For a Muslim this is true righteousness, to be patient in distress and affliction and in times of conflict. That should be true intention and the goal in life for a pious Muslim, to be amongst the ones whom Allah loves. We should strive to be patient and strive to understand that all is in Allah's hands and everything Allah does there is a reason for it, even if we do not understand it.


Our troubles and problems may lead to something glorious for us later in our lives, something that we would have never had a chance to get unless we went through these tests. Surely it is hard and truly it is a test from your Lord, but without patience and understanding there will be no resolution. “This is by the Grace of my Lord – to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful. And if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is for his own soul……” (Quran 27: 40). “O you who believe, seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere” (Quran 2:153).  And indeed those who are patient will have the best rewards, that of eternal happiness and glory.


Sometimes we are left wondering why our problems keep coming back and why they are never solved. If we analyse ourselves we will realize we were the people Allah mentions in the Quran: ‘And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honour and makes him lead an easy life, he says (puffed up): My Lord honours me. But when He tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then he says (in despair): My Lord has humiliated me’. (Quran 89: 15 – 16).


The Lord has not humiliated you nor has He forgotten you – these tests are sent to jolt us into remembering Him and turning to Him in prayer. Even then    our problems may not be solved overnight but that is part of the test from our Creator to see who is best in patience and trust. But remember that Allah says: ‘And if Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He: But if He bestows upon you a favour, remember that He is the Possessor of every power to do all that He wills’. (Quran 6: 17).  


We have and to remember and thank Allah for the all the good has given us. This is the best path, that with will lead to the resolution of our problems. This is the advice of the Lord of All the Worlds, so truly it is sound advice. Through supplication and doing good deeds our problems will be solved and we will be rewarded amply for all that we have done. If we were to keep our tongues wet with the remembrance of Allah than we would be those with solid faith, solid belief in Allah.

 

‘To those whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned, are filled with awe, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend in charity out of what we have bestowed upon them, are the true believers’ (Qur’an 22: 36). Also another verse says: ‘And your Lord says; call on me and I will answer your prayer’. (Qur’an 40: 60)


Admittedly there are some situations when we feel that our problems are insurmountable and that we feel that we do not have any strength to bear those burdens. But never ever despair because the Almighty says: ‘On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ and even then the verse further goes to instruct us to pray ‘……..Our Lord lay not on us a burden greater than the strength we have to bear’.  (Qur’an 2:286). As difficult as it may seem when we have our problems we have to learn that the only solver of our problems is Allah and we should have the faith to put our trust in the Hands of our Creator.

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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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