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Social Teachings of Islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

In the Islamic value system, good social conduct and commendable manners are what should occupy a prime position in the daily life of a Muslim built on the foundation of our full and undivided on submission to Allah.  

Islam teaches us some basic values, commitments and principles that are universal because they also contained and form the basis of the fundamental teachings of most religions and faiths. These go further and are included in our own traditional and cultural value systems and upbringing.  Muslims are expected to adhere to and live by them and putting them into practice into our daily lives.

It is the basic article of faith for a Muslim that requires that our first duty and obligation is to declare and affirm our full submission to the Lord and Creator of the universe, Allah. This right to be worshipped and obeyed belongs to Allah and to Him alone. Allah is the centre of our life and He is our total and ultimate concern. His commands and injunctions have to be observed and obeyed by a believer in all situations. A Muslim’s life is nothing but total commitment to Allah. A Muslim does not recognise nor pay homage to any other deity.

‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him’. (Quran: 17:23). And ‘…do not join in worship others with Allah; for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing (Quran 31: 13). ‘….Worship none but Allah’ (Quran 2:83). Even for our Christian brothers the Bible says: ‘The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love him with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment’  (Mark 12:30).

In Islam the responsibility to fulfil the commands of The Almighty applies equally to all regardless of race, colour or creed – male and female, leaders and the led, wealthy and the needy, literate and the illiterate. We are all equal in front of the laws and regulations -what is allowed is for all people and what is forbidden, is so upon all people. Each one has a personal responsibility for his/her actions and deeds and will be dealt with accordingly by The Almighty:

“Whoever practices a good righteous deed so it will be to his own benefit and whoever does wrong/ bad then that will against his own self, and surely your Creator (God Almighty) is in no way unjust towards the worshippers.”  (Qur’an 41: 46). The Almighty further declares “Whoever practices righteousness man or woman and has faith, verily to him will We give a good life, (that is good and pure) and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.”  (Qur’an 16:97)

After our duty to Our Creator, a Muslim must discharge his duty to his fellow human beings. We have to be aware of the duty that we owe to other human beings beginning with parents, relatives, neighbours and going on to the community at large and our interaction with them. Regrettably in this world of today we seem to have developed a culture of ‘me first’ in other words it is all about me, me and me. We tend to leave very little time for those around us and the needs of others.

Islam requires us to maintain cordial relations with each other and to render all help and support to those who may be in any form of hardship, difficulty or distress.  Great reward awaits those who help their fellow humans who are weak, disadvantaged and suffer any hardship. Allah Almighty says: “And do good, that you may prosper”. (Qur’an 27:77).

We have to start with our immediate family because respect and kindness to our parents is a duty and an obligation for each one of us. : ’We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents…show gratitude to Me and your parents’. (Quran 31: 14). And: ‘….and that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour……’ Quran 17: 23-24. And The Bible is also clear about respect for parents; in the Ten Commandments the instruction is ‘honour thy father and thy mother’ and further, ‘Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord’ (Col 3:20)

In Islam we cast the net wider in our social responsibility to include to relatives, to the poor, to neighbours and to the travellers and the society at large. We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this path through life. ‘And render to the kindred their due rights, as also to those in want and to the wayfarer…’ (Quran 17: 27)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:  ‘one who fulfils the need and removes the difficulty of another, will get Allah’s help in his own difficulty’. Muslims see themselves as one ‘Ummah’ (a united brotherhood) and we are urged to show kindness and assist our fellow Muslims wherever possible.  “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” The Bible says: ‘… and to love his neighbour as himself’ (Mark 12:33). ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have a treasure in Heaven’. (Matt 19:21)

As Martin Luther King Jnr. Said: An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Another area that some of us tend to overlook is that of taking good care of children. In Islam children are to be loved and regarded as a valuable gift and a trust (amanah) from Allah and we should give grateful thanks to Allah for that Blessing.

In raising those children we should always remember our obligations and responsibilities placed upon us by our Creator.  Our children are our future therefore they should be taught Islamic morals, characters, and etiquette from an early age so that it becomes part of their habits: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Quran 66: 6)

Hence children must be taught the principles of humility, tolerance, patience, and other such behavioural traits so that they become morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy Islamic environment to protect their life as well as their spirit and mind, their morals and manners. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’. The Bible also says: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it’. (Proverbs 22: 6)

Islam requires us to render help and support to the poor and needy and those who are in distress.  Great reward awaits those who help their fellow humans who are weak, disadvantaged and suffer any hardship. Helping the needy is considered a form worship, and we get great reward in this world as in the next, it helps remove our problems of this world as well as those of the next.  “And do good, that you may prosper”. (Qur’an 27: 77).

Allah also declares in the Quran, “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw (yourselves) into destruction (by refraining from spending in the cause of Allah).  And do good; indeed Allah loves the doers of good.”(Qur’an 2:195). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “Every one of you has a responsibility and every one of you is accountable for his responsibility.” Therefore in life each one has general responsibilities in their particular field, profession, business, family etc. according to the circumstances we find ourselves in. Everyone is rewarded for their contribution towards promoting virtue and goodness within community and for the positive development of mankind in general.

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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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