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Welcome 2018

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

We have ushered in the New Year and we should all pray that it will bring with it joy, happiness, peace and goodwill to all mankind.

But we should also reflect on the past year and take note of the lessons that we learnt from it or can learn from it; for some of us it may have been a difficult year and they couldn’t wait for it to be over, but for others it could have been a great year. Similarly with this new-year that we have just entered, some of us will be looking at it with certain trepidation, uncertainty and nervousness but others will be looking forward to it as a promising year.

With the festivities and holidays over we are back at work and in our daily routines in life. During the festivities some of us may have gotten carried away and over indulged, overspent or just threw caution to the winds during the festive holidays. Unfortunately we now have to face reality if we had been somewhat carefree with our spending and our budgets are looking bleak – because the New Year brings with it the usual school fees, books, uniforms and other expenses.

Regardless of whom we are, from the day we come out of the womb we are destined for the tomb, there is no getting away from that fact. It is for this reason that we need to undergo an introspection of our lives to see if we live our lives in congruence with our religious faith and beliefs. Let’s look at a spiritual reawakening from within in order that we learn to take control of our mind, body and soul so that our lives return to those eternal values that were part of our upbringing, our religious beliefs, and human character. We must learn to free ourselves from being slaves of this material world so that we begin to live a life that brings us closer to our Lord and Creator.

We can start in a small way by changing our inner self to have a more positive outlook in life; how about being friendlier, showing kindness, controlling our tempers, jealousy, showing humility, patience and other positive personal traits. These and other qualities bring about a much needed change to our lives.
    

However change has to come from within; it is only when we can love ourselves will we be able to love others; we can touch the hearts of others only once we have opened our own hearts. If we can’t care for ourselves, how can we care about others? If we don’t feel good, how can we do good? If we don’t trust ourselves, how can we trust others? If we are incapable of finding peace within ourselves, it is pointless to search elsewhere. Believe it or not but a change of heart can change everything.

The Quran advises: ‘Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls’. (Quran 13:11). ‘Whoever works righteousness and has faith, verily to him We will give a new life, a life that is good and pure…’ Quran 16:v97

Many of us should try looking forward positively to this New Year with excitement, renewed energy, and hope for a better life, hoping that it will bring us peace and comfort, happiness and most of all a change in our lives, our hearts, minds and souls.
Whilst it is common for many to have made our resolutions for our worldly things and desires, but how many of us have made a resolution to turn our lives around onto the path of righteousness and finding the guiding light to salvation?

Yes we need to remind ourselves to think seriously about those changes in our lives before it is too late. Just for a start, how many of our family members, friends and other people whom we knew passed on last year? Just like us they had their wishes, dreams and ambitions but when to death came knocking at their door,  there was no holding it back, whether they were believers or non- believers. We are fortunate to still be alive and to be able to take life’s lessons since we still have the opportunity to reawaken and turn around our lives if we have not been sincere and faithful in our beliefs.

This reawakening cannot happen overnight but with a conscious daily effort to make small changes so as not to be overwhelmed by the changes. Let us sincerely seek the Hand of our Creator and ask for His Guidance with sincerity. The Qur’an reminds us ‘nor say anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding “Insha Allah” ( if Allah so Wills)’ (Qur’an 18: 23). The Bible similarly echoes: “you don’t even know what your life will be tomorrow.

You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this ‘if the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that’.” (James 4: 14-16). "Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
 If we try to follow any one of the suggestions below, one for each day of the week, and start all over again, we will see a definite change in our character before long.

This year I will seek to be closer to my Lord, remember Him with Prayer, pray in the best manner I can, seek His forgiveness, follow His way. “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”(Quran  13:28)

This year I will be grateful and thankful to the Lord for all the Blessings that He has Bestowed upon me. “And if you count the graces of Allah never could you be able to count them” (Quran 16:18) “So hold that which I have given you and be grateful”(Quran 7.144)

This year I will strive to walk in the path of righteousness, plant goodness in my heart to get rid of pride, jealousy, hatred and hypocrisy. “Let not your hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice” (Quran 5:8). “If any one does a righteous deed. It is to the benefit of his soul; if he does evil it works against his own soul”. (Quran 45:15)

This year I will try to control my temper, I will try to refrain from vain talk, foul language and obscenities. I will try not to backbite. “Woe to every kind of scandalmonger and backbiter (Quran 104:1) “….For Allah does not love the arrogant and vainglorious” (Quran 4:36)

This year I will treat people with respect, be kind to them, smile at them, talk to them in a respectful manner. “Then he will be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, constancy and self-restraint and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion” (Quran 90:17) “ Treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need, speak fair to  people……(Quran 2:83)

This year I will try to help others, to visit the sick, to feed a hungry person and I will be merciful to the elderly and needy. “And do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the wayfarer….”(Quran 4:36)

This year I will try to tone down my behaviour, and ensuring that I am moderate in my walk, talk and actions. “And swell not your cheek with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth, be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice, for the harshest sounds without doubt is the braying of an ass” (Qur’an 31: 18-19)

Life is like a Book. Some chapters are sad, some are happy and some are exciting, but if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter has in store for you – so turn a page today. Similarly our New Year Book is thick and voluminous but with all its pages blank. Therefore it is up to us to write upon each day’s page things that at the end of the year we can look upon with happiness and rejoicing rather than regret. Let us pray that the New Year brings Blessings of peace, joy and happiness in our lives and into our hearts so that this world becomes a better place.

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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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