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Hajj Pilgrimage – Part 2

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The last article mentioned the importance of performing of Hajj in the life of a Muslim and also mentioned some of the religious observances and rites – added herewith are others.  

Among the rites is one of walking between two hillocks of Safa and Marwa, re-enacting the search for water by Hagar (Hajira), the wife of Abraham for her baby son. She ran seven times back and forth between the two hills, looking for water. It is recorded that when she ran out of water for her and her young son, Hagar went searching for water, prayed to the Almighty. Her prayers were answered when miraculously water was provided via a spring where the baby scraped the ground with his feet, where suddenly water started oozing out. Allah provided them with water via a spring that flows to this day. Millions of pilgrims still drink water from this well called Zam Zam.

The Bible also records this incident: ‘And the water was spent in the bottle…. and God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad drink’ (Genesis 21: 15 – 19)  Each year at the end of the Hajj is also the celebration of Eid-ul Ad’haa, (Festival of Sacrifice). Muslims the world over, commemorate the ‘Sacrifice’ of one of the Great Messengers of Allah – Abraham (pbuh).

Abraham (pbuh) was put through various tests and trials by Allah Almighty and he proved to be most dedicated, sincere and steadfast in all cases and at all times. He was chosen and selected by The Almighty yet he was put to a severe test. Through his determination and courage he remained steadfast and took things in his stride. The greatest off all these trials was when he was instructed by Allah Almighty to sacrifice his most beloved son Ismail (pbuh), for the sake of the Almighty. The Qur’anic version, is different from the version in others scriptures, because it records that Abraham (pbuh) had a dream in which he saw himself slaughtering his son Ishmael. He believed the dream as being from Allah.

Then on his way to tell his son of the dream, he was confronted by the devil who tried to convince him that he should not sacrifice his son. But Prophet Abraham remained steadfast and was convinced that he had this command from the Almighty. The then took stones and threw them at the ‘devil’ and went on his way. This gives rise to another practice / ritual that all those who go for Hajj undertake, the symbolic ‘pelting of Satan’, which symbolises the resisting of the temptations that Satan put upon Abraham, but also unto us in our daily lives to disobey Allah.

Prophet Abraham decided not to disobey Allah and continued on his way to tell his son. The Quran says: “……. he said ‘O my son. I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice. Now see what is your view‘. (The son) said ‘O my father. Do as you have been commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, to be of those who are patient‘. So when they both submitted their wills to Allah and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice We called out to him ‘O Ibraheem (Abraham)’ you already have fulfilled the vision. Thus indeed we reward those who do right. So this was obviously a trial, then we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice …….and We left this blessing among the generations to come in later times”.  (Quran 37: 102-108)
 

We have been taught that as Abraham was just about to sacrifice his son, the Lord called out to him and a ram was presented for slaughter. This is also in the Bible: ‘Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son…the Angel called out…..seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son…….Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a ram…..took the ram and offered  it up for sacrifice’ (Genesis 10 – 13)

At the end of the Hajj, this is symbolised by each pilgrim arranging for the slaughter (Qurbani) of a sheep, goat, cow in commemoration of Prophet Abraham who showed his readiness to sacrifice his son, in obedience to God’s command. Even those who have not undertaken the Hajj slaughter an animal and the meat is distributed between themselves, their family and friends and to the needy. This can give rise to some misconceptions and misunderstanding in the minds of some non-Muslims who may unwittingly misinterpret the significance and wisdom behind such a ‘sacrificial act’ of worship in Islam.

The sacrifice of an animal is not a pillar of Islam. Allah says: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, it is your piety that reaches Him. He has thus made them (animals) subject to you that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right. (Quran 22: 37) There are many blessings in the performance of Hajj in the Quran Allah instructs Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to invite mankind to come to Hajj and the Quran summarises this by the Almighty declaring:  “So that they may witness the numerous benefits for themselves”. (Quran 22: 28).  Therefore, the real blessings of Hajj can only be experienced by those who actually perform it.

It is important to note that a Muslim does not earn Hajj Mabroor (accepted Pilgrimage) except by casting away all sins. While falling into sin is prohibited at all times. In performing of Hajj (in the correct prescribed manner) washes away all the sins of a person. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Whoever performs Hajj and does not indulge in any obscenity or transgression he returns (free from all sins) as the day his mother bore him.” The Quran declares: “Hajj is (during) well known months, so whoever has decided to undertake the Hajj therein, there shall be (for him) no obscenity and no transgression and no disputing during Hajj”. (Quran 2: 197).

Hajj is one of the greatest deeds that one can accomplish in his or her lifetime and is something that a Muslim dreams of undertaking. The journey of Hajj is different in nature to any other journeys that we would normally undertake, for a holiday etc. because the entire journey constitutes an act of worship. It is not meant for any personal ends but rather it is undertaken solely to seek the Grace of the Almighty and the fulfilment of the duty prescribed to us by Him. Nobody can be prepared to undertake this journey until and unless he has true and deep love of his Creator in his heart, as well as fear of Him, and is convinced that Allah wants him to do what he is doing.

The love of Allah heightens as one starts preparing for the pilgrimage journey with the sole intention of pleasing Allah. With the heart longing to reach that goal, one becomes purer in thought and deed. One repents from past sins, seeks forgiveness from people whom he might have wronged, and tries to render that which is due to others including debt, where necessary, so as not burdened with injustices that we may have done to our fellow human beings. In general, the aim is to do good deeds and slowly the abhorrence of doing evil increases. This is a journey whereby a Muslim attains a purification of one’s inner self.

Thus the entire journey is one of the Pillars of Islam and constitutes an act of worship.

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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