In every race, tribe, culture or society morality is the cornerstone of their traditional, cultural and religious belief. Taking it further, morality is one of the fundamental sources of any nation’s strength, just as immorality is one of the main causes of a nation’s moral decline.
On a personal level this also applies to our own personal behaviour in our daily lives. On a day to day basis Islam guides us to a comprehensive way of life, and has morality as one of its foundation cornerstones. Islam has established some universal fundamental rules and rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed in all circumstances. To uphold these rights, Islam has provided not only legal safeguards, but also a comprehensive moral system.
This is based on the principle that whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society and does not oppose any principles of the religion is morally good and whatever is harmful is morally bad. Islam supports morality and matters that lead to a healthy society, and stands in the way of such vices and matters that lead to it. The guiding principle for the behaviour of a Believer is “Virtuous Deeds”. This covers all deeds, not only acts of worship. The final judge of all deeds is Allah Almighty Himself so we need to be constantly aware of this.
The basic fundamental characteristic of a Believer are piety and humility. A Believer must be humble with God and with other people – God Almighty declares in the Holy Quran: “And turn not your face away from people (with pride), nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah does not like any arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all sounds is the braying of the donkey.” (Quran 31: 18-19)
Principles of morality in Islam
The Almighty sums up righteousness in the flowing Quranic verse: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but righteousness is (for one) to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; the one who spends of his wealth, in spite of love for it, giving to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, to the needy, to the wayfarer, to those who ask and for the freeing of slaves; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives Zakaat (Alms); and those who fulfil their covenants which they made; and who are patient and perseverant in poverty and ailment and throughout all periods of tribulation. Such are the people of truth, the pious.” (Quran 2: 177)
This verse shows us and teaches us that righteousness and piety are based on a true and sincere faith. The key to virtue and good conduct is a strong relation with God Almighty, who sees all, at all times and everywhere. He (The Almighty) knows the secrets of the hearts and the intentions behind all actions. Therefore, a Believer must be moral in all circumstances; God Almighty is definitely aware of each one when no one else is.
We may deceive everyone, we cannot deceive Him. We can flee from anyone, but not from Him. “Allah knows what you conceal and what you reveal”. (Quran 16: 19). The love and continuous awareness of God and the Day of Judgement enables a person to be moral in conduct and sincere in intention, with honest devotion and dedication: “Indeed, the most honourable among you in the sight of God is the most God-conscious.” (Holy Quran 49: 13)
Thereafter comes the deeds of charity to others, especially sharing and giving of the things which we become attached to and even love. This, just like acts of mandatory worship and prayer, is an integral part of worship. A righteous person must also be reliable and trustworthy. Finally, faith must be firm and should not wane when faced with adversity. Morality must be strong to vanquish corruption: “And God loves those who are firm and steadfast.” (Quran 3: 146)
Patience is often hardest yet in the sight of Allah it is most beautiful when it is observed against one’s own intentions, desires or anger. The Holy Quran lays this out very clearly: “And march forth toward forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise (which is ) as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend (in the way of God) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon people; verily, God loves the doers of the good deeds.” (Quran 3: 133)
These three acts are among the hardest things for most of us, but they are also the keys to forgiveness from The Almighty and for entry into Paradise. Can we be one of those who are able to give charity when we are in need ourselves, control ourselves when we are angry and even to forgive others when they have wronged us? This is the standard by which actions are judged as good or bad. By making our main objective of pleasing Allah Islam has set these high standards of morality.
Control of our passions and desires:
A Believer should not become attached to the temporary pleasures of this world. While most of us allow the material world to fill our hearts, Believers should keep God Almighty in their hearts and the material world in their hand. Instead of being attached to the car and the job and the diploma and the bank account, all these things should become tools to make us better people. In the Holy Quran, God Almighty reminds us of this in this wakeup call: “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to God a sound heart (firm in faith).” (Quran 26 : 88-89)
The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) summarised the conduct required of a true Believer when he said: “My Creator and Sustainer (The Almighty) has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of Him (God Almighty) whether in private or in public; to speak justly whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich; to reunite bonds of relationship with those who have broken off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should (always) command what is right.”
Thus morality in Islam addresses every aspect of life, from greetings to international relations. It is broad based and universal in its scope and in its application. Morality reigns in our selfish desires, vanity and bad habits. Believers must not only be virtuous, but they must also spread virtue. They must not only refrain from evil and vice, but they must also forbid them. In other words, they must not only be morally healthy, but they must also contribute to the moral health of society as a whole.
God Almighty declares in the Holy Quran: “You (as Believers) are the best of peoples……..enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah. If only the people of the Book had faith, it is best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” (Quran 3: 110). The basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Believer’s life cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct as well as his social responsibilities.
Next week this column will elaborate further on a Muslim’s Morality, manners and duties in their everyday life.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.