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End times approaching?

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Many months back this column carried articles titled ‘Signs of the Last Days’ that asked if these were signs of the beginning of the end. What prompted the repeat of this question are the events that are currently happening or taking place in this world.

All religions or faiths have all taught us that the Last Hour and the Last Day will approach us one day, we cannot deny this fact. The Quran says: ‘’ and the hour is coming without any doubt’ (22:7). And: ‘the hour is certainly coming’ (15:85), ‘….they ask you about the hour; when will it come…….knowledge of it rests with my Lord’. (7:187)

If one has to look at the Bible, it also says: ‘…that day and hour knoweth no man’ (Mat 24:36) and ‘….that day and that hour knoweth no man …but the Father’ (Mark 13:32). There is no way that I am saying the end times have arrived, but if we look at many of the signs that we are witnessing today have been part of the predications as contained in the Quran and in the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).   

Recently we have witnessed many natural disasters among them earthquakes, hurricanes, storms, typhoons, heavy rains and flooding and many other calamities that that have left destruction in many parts of the world. Some years ago there were earthquakes in Japan and Nepal that left a trail of destruction and deaths. Many homes and buildings were reduced to rubble there were also many deaths and thousands of people were left homeless.

In describing the beginning of the end the Qur’an contains verses that describe some of these events: ‘When the sky bursts open’…, ‘When the oceans surge into each other’……., ‘When Mountains are pulverized’…… Further Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said this about the end times: ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’ He further said: ‘The Hour will not be established until…earthquakes will be frequent’.

No doubt we have had strange climatic occurrences recently the hurricane IRMA caused massive floods that hit parts of Texas, Caribbean islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other places. In some areas river levels rose by 26 feet (approx. 8 metres), rising water levels destroyed homes, crops, infrastructure, and took lives. In some islands 90% of the homes were totally destroyed. The wind speeds were up to 250kms/ hour and some places, in ONE DAY had more than 100 inches of rain, 2500cms!! That is TEN times the average rainfall that we get in Botswana for the WHOLE year.

Earlier some parts of the US were struck by tornadoes and strong winds that were so violent that they blew away houses and overturned motor vehicles leaving widespread destruction in their wake. There were even massive wildfires in California. India and Bangladesh also suffered massive flooding earlier leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Even in Italy there was a deluge of 250mm of rain in one day! A week ago there was a very strong earthquake in the ocean off the coast of Mexico and the tremors were felt on land. Lives were lost and many buildings and homes were totally destroyed.

Are these the precursor warning signs to the approach of the end times or am I being overly pessimistic? The Islamic belief is that there are two stages; the first is one in which there will be such natural calamities and also a serious increase in spiritual and moral degradation and decay that will afflict the world; this will be in setting in motion the early stages of the ‘second coming’ of Isa / Jesus (PBUH), who will lead us into the Dawn of the Golden Age. Prophet Muhammed said: The hour will not be established until the son of Maryam (Jesus pbuh) descends among you as a just ruler’. Some may be surprised to hear that Muslims also believe in the second coming of Jesus (Isaa pbuh).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his Hadith (sayings and preaching), over 1400 years ago made numerous references to the signs of the end times. They describe in detail the signs and their occurrences that describe and mirror the events and the times that we live in today – is this the beginning of the end? When will this happen? Is this start to the ‘Second Coming’ I will quote some of those Hadiths that talk about the end times; Read and ponder…..

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’. Hiroshima was destroyed by the atom bomb, look at the cities in the Middle East that have and are being bombed and almost raised to the ground. We regularly hear of natural disasters such hurricanes, storms, typhoons, heavy rains, floods that cause mudslides and other such calamities that have such a destructive effect in many parts of the world. If we look at the news reports on CNN, BBC, Sky News and other media we will see the utter devastation that these hurricanes have brought upon places in Florida, like Miami, etc.  

He further said: ‘The Hour will not be established until…earthquakes will be frequent’. We hear regularly of earthquakes that shake the world, remember, Kobe in Japan, the tsunami that struck the south east Asian nations; the ones that struck Japan a few years ago causing a deluge that wiped out cities and levelled many areas. Almost monthly there are reports of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Think about it recently we have even had ‘earth tremors’ in our own backyard of Botswana, something that we have never ever experienced or felt before.

To quote the Bible: ‘…..days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another…..but ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified; for these things must come to pass…..and great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines and pestilences and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven’ (Luke 21: 6 – 11) and (Matthew 24:7).

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) further said: ‘The hour will come when violence, bloodshed and anarchy will become common’ and ‘The world will not come to an end until a day would come to people on which there will be general massacre and bloodshed’. He described the chaos, conflicts, murder, war and anarchy will involve the whole earth and these are the tell-tale signs of the Last days. Look around you…… you will witness the savagery and barbarous behaviour all around the world. Look at the murders and killings of innocent people in our own communities no one appears to be safe today.

Apart from the violence we have and increasing number of broken homes, broken families, the increase in divorces and illegitimate children, stress, worry, suicides, violence, etc. there seems to be no end. This has increased because we have forgotten our religious beliefs, practices and our morality. Prophet Muhammed said: ‘Divorces will be a daily occurrence’ and ‘There will be an abundance of illegitimate children’ and ’The last hour will not be established until murder will increase’.

Taking it further, we have all sorts of serious crimes, corruption, drugs, alcohol, rape, pornography, prostitution, premarital and extra marital sex, nudity, gays and lesbians, same sex marriages, sexual harassment, adultery, and crime increasingly committed by and also against youth and children. Many of the above contribute to the alarming spread in sexually related diseases including the dreaded scourge of AIDS. Prophet Muhammad’s Hadiths were very explicit: ‘The Hour will come when adultery becomes widespread’ and ‘There will be a prevalence of open fornication’ and ‘The Last hour will not be established until they (wicked people) commit adultery (fornicate) in the roads (in the public eye without shame)’.   

 To be continued…..

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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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Columns

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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