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Let Us Be Thankful

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Many of us go through our daily lives without even stopping to think of the countless daily blessings that we have, so much so that we even take them for granted. In this ‘must have’ world many of us wrongly think that money and worldly possessions are the only things to be considered and we ignore the other daily blessings such as hearing, sight, sanity, living in peace and yes, we are alive.

In addition, have we ever stopped to think, of the countless other everyday things and blessings, to name but a few, our health, the roof over our heads, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the car that we own, etc. "And if you were to count the blessings of Allah, you will never be able to count them." {14: 34}. ‘Truly man is a most ungrateful creature (Quran 22: 66)
We may not get or have everything that we desire, want, wish or hope for. But for all those blessings that we have we should be very grateful to our Creator for He expects nothing from us except our gratitude and gratefulness by worshipping and glorifying Him. ‘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 from all wants, worthy of all praise’. (Qur’an 31: 12)

If we were to look around just to witness the war, killings, destruction, hunger and suffering that we see elsewhere. We are so fortunate that we do not have a fraction of the problems that people suffer from elsewhere, so much so, that we take our peace for granted. Across the world, millions of people do not have such blessings. Just think about it, most of us are fortunate that we can see, walk, hear and talk; but there are other people in our own communities who are unfortunate in that they are blind, cannot walk, are deaf or cannot even talk.

It is only when a calamity strikes us that we are jogged into realising how blessed and fortunate we are. We may not realise it or maybe reluctant to admit it but these are gifts and favours that our Creator has graced us with. But we have to admit the Almighty has given us so many blessings that we take for granted. ‘….your Lord is full of Grace to mankind; yet most of them are ungrateful’ (Quran 27: 73)

So what is thankfulness? We have to first recognise and acknowledge those Blessings, it is only then that we can be grateful and show appreciation, gratitude, and to admit those blessings that we have been given. In our daily living and in our religious perspective, it is to acknowledge that Allah, has blessed us and our submission to Him is part of that acknowledgment. The favours that we receive are countless and come in many forms. The Quran says: "And whatever blessings and good you have, it is from Allah…" (Quran 16: 53}.

This sincere admittance and realisation of our bounties will kick start us to change our mind set and this will be reflected in our actual behaviour and conduct. We have to learn that if we live with an attitude of gratitude for our blessings, we will then be able to lay the foundations of harmony between the heart and the soul but importantly it will be a sign that we are grateful to Allah for the whole spectrum of our blessings. This gratefulness will be acknowledged by our Creator. ’And remember with gratitude Allah’s favours upon you.’ (Qur’an 3: 103). ‘If you are grateful, I will add more favours unto you, but if show ingratitude…. My punishment is terrible indeed’ (Qur’an 14: 7)

We need to get closer to our Lord and Creator, He asks us Muslims to express our thankfulness to Him by offering the five-time prayers: “…..and celebrate constantly the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before it’s setting and glorify Him during some hours of the night and at two ends of the day.” (Quran 20:130). These five-time prayers assume a new meaning to our lives if we keep in mind that each time we pray, we fulfil our obligation to thank Allah for having given us these blessings.


We should seriously think about the disobedient behaviour and lifestyle that go against our moral and religious teachings. We should start our reformation with those ‘small’ things that lead us astray. If we do so with sincerity we will be able to conquer them and climb to up to the phase of our reformation. We have to start at the bottom of the ladder if we are to ascend to greater heights. I read the following very interesting piece recently that covers and conveys the message in a manner that I cannot ever hope to do: It shows us the importance of the ‘small’ things in life that make such a difference to and in our lives.

“On an average: Buffalos kill around 7 people a year: Lions kill about 100 people every year: Hippos kill about 120 people every year: Spiders kill about 5000 people every year: Scorpions kill about 7000 people every year: Snakes kill about 1000 people every year: And then, surprisingly, mosquitoes kill 2.7 million people every year. Yes the smallest are the deadliest! So what is the message? Yes and so it is, It’s the small ones that are the deadliest. The ‘small sins’ in our lives, hardly noticed by many, that are the most deadly to your spiritual life

Avoid excuses for not praying and allotting a few moments of your day to your Creator. Sins of omission are just as deadly as sins of commission. Gossiping and small lies are committed more frequently and are deadly. Mind those little compromises that you do daily. They are the ones that will bring your downfall. Successful people have two things on their lips, smile and silence. A smile can solve problems, while silence can avoid problems. Sugar and salt may be mixed together, but ants will reject the salt and carry away only the sugar.

Select the right people in life and make your life better and sweeter. If you failed to achieve your dreams, change your ways not your Creator. Remember trees change their leaves not their roots. You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks at you. Haters will see you walking on water and say it’s because you can’t swim. Even if you dance on water, your enemies will accuse you of raising dust. Make your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands. If you must miss any place, don’t miss paradise.” (End quote)

There is a verse in the Quran that gives us the road: “The Believers must eventually win through – Those who humble themselves in prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sexual relations, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond;…..those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants; and who strictly guard their prayers – these will be the heirs who will inherit Paradise; they will dwell therein forever. (Quran 23: 1 – 11)

Let us change our outlook in life and appreciate what has been bestowed upon us then only can we lead a life of contentment and happiness for our daily blessings. In a Quranic verse that shows the various Blessings and favours that the Almighty has endowed mankind with, in it Allah frequently asks this question: ‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’ (Quran: 55: 1- 78)

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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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