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Morality and Ethics in Islam

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.

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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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