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End Times Approaching (Part II)

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Last week this column covered the topic of whether we are receiving the warning signs that may be signalling the approach of the end times for this world.

The recent turbulence that the world had witnessed with the hurricane that hit Florida and the islands in the Pacific leaving widespread devastation in its wake, we can only wonder whether these are only flashing cautionary yellow lights waiting to turn into red alarm signals is anybody’s guess. Whilst drafting this article there was another earthquake in Mexico City destroying buildings (over 2000 schools damaged) and causing many deaths. Adding to this another hurricane has hit Puerto Rico and the nearby Islands. The fact is that we cannot deny the turmoil in this world of today.

Continuing with this theme here are additional quotations from the Quran and from the Hadith (teachings) and predictions made by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) some 1400 years ago about the approach of end times. The family unit is the basic building block of the structure of any society – if there is love, peace and understanding in the home then this spreads out into to the wider community. However, one of the major problems in our societies is the breakdown of the family unit.

Unfortunately nowadays there are some people who do not respect elders let alone their parents, they disobey, yell at, swear and curse them ever so often. This goes against our cultural, traditional and importantly our religious beliefs and guidance.
Adding to this problem there are many broken homes because of the increase in single parent homes, divorces and illegitimate children hence the family unit structure as we knew it does not really exist resulting in a breakdown of respect and love especially between the young and the old.

The Quran says:  ‘your Lord has decreed that …… you show kindness to your parents….. say not a word of contempt…but address them in terms of honour (Qur’an 17:23). . ‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.’ (Quran 46:15)  

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘Judgement is at hand when the young show no respect for the old….when children grow angry…when the old have no compassion for the young ….. meanness and greed will multiply’. The Bible says: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God given thee’ (Exodus 20:12). The Bible also says: ‘A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is heaviness of his mother’ Proverbs 10: 1

Yet despite all the guidance and teachings on children in the family unit there is a downward slide in their behaviour and respect for their elders. Further there are warnings about the poverty and struggles of many of our people. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: the poor will grow in number….gains will be shared out among the rich with no benefit to the poor…..there will come a time when man will not care about how he gets things, whether lawful or unlawful’.

Despite the many advances in development in this world we still see an increase in poverty and the plight and suffering of many people throughout the world. Meanness, greed and corruption have been added to this simmering pot. We also see today the rejection of religious and moral beliefs and values. Today there are many people out there who openly reject religion and proudly call themselves atheists or agnostics. Not only that many of us ‘claim’ to be followers of religion but our actions, practices and behaviour speak a different tone. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘There will come a time upon the Ummah (followers) when people will recite the Quran, but it will not go further than their throats (and into their hearts).

How true many of us will perform our prayers and other religious rituals but they turn out to be mostly superficial and insincere. Because immediately thereafter our actions go against our inner most moral values because we follow our own lusts and desires. Here is something taking place throughout the world at large; the proliferation of so-called prophets/prophetesses. Look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men of God promising you worldly riches and all the other things they promise gullible people. Yes, we know them, hear of them and see them everywhere. One cannot walk anywhere in the street without a poster announcing a ‘prophetic’ gathering or meeting.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves’. And, ‘The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)’.

It goes without saying that they promise ‘miraculous riches’ to their followers but in return there are some who will fork out their hard earned money for these miracles. What these so called prophets are doing is to sell the name of God for the miserable price for their own personal gain. ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90). The Bible: “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (1 Timothy 6; 10)

We have read about some of the weird things that these false prophets have made their congregants to do: eat grass, rats, snakes and even sprayed some with Doom the insect killer. Maybe he should be called ‘the prophet of DOOM’. These guys should not be called prophets but rather ‘PROFITS’ – because that is all they are after, but remember one thing – He who serves God only for the money will easily be tempted to serve the devil for a better wage. Surely people cannot be so naïve as to believe in these prophets.

The Qur’an also warns these people; ‘Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….(6:93). The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said something very ‘unusual’ for those early days (1400 years ago) but very relevant in today’s times. ‘The will be no judgement – until very tall structures are constructed’, and, ‘….and the hour will not be established until people compete with one another in constructing high buildings’. We just have to look around to see tall buildings and skyscrapers that are part of urban development throughout the world, so much so that they have become symbols of pride and prestige to many nations. Nowadays we have many countries competing to outdo each other in the building of the tallest structures.     

By no stretch of imagination am I trying to say these are the end times. But these signs have been mentioned in the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Are they a precursor and do they herald the ‘second coming’ of Isa (Jesus pbuh) who will lead the world to the dawn of a new age? Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: The last hour will not come until you see the descent of Isa / Jesus (Pbuh) the son of Maryam /Mary. And; ‘The hour will not be established until the son of Maryam/Mary descends among you as a just ruler’.  

Is the clock ticking?

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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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