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Benefits of fasting

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Muslims worldwide are two thirds through their fasting during the Ramadan month, and our bodies are slowly getting used to having no food, anything to drink or even engaging in smoking from sunrise to sunset. Allah states: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self-restraint." (Quran, 2:183)

As indicated in last week’s article, Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims because believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection from the Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator.  Muslims look forward to the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins by having to change their whole physical and emotional selves during these 30 long days of fasting. It is a very special month for various reasons.

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days; (Make up for it later) God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful". (Quran: 2 : 185)


It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his faith and allegiance to his Creator, to purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him in his daily life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Said, "Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven," "Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven."  The rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.

Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship; there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly.

Yes there are some who claim to be fasting yet will eat in private. During this month, the blessings received for a good deed is equal to the blessings of a compulsory (fardh) act of any other month. This is the month of patience and the reward of this patience is Heavenly bliss in the Hereafter. This month also teaches the lesson of kindness towards others. In this month, the blessings upon a Muslim are increased.

In this month, the first ten days are to seek mercy, second ten days are to seek forgiveness and the last ten days are of seeking to be freed from Hell because there is a special night known as Laylathul Qadr (the Night of Blessings), whose blessings are better than 1000 months. In this month, the Qur'an was sent down to us. Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) via the arch-Angel Gibraeel (Gabriel) during this month.

"The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed as a guidance for humanity, as a clear proof of that guidance, and as a criterion for distinguishing between right and wrong" (2: 185). This divine Book deals with the questions of our life in total: the creed, moral instructions, the manner in which we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives.  The Qur'an teaches us how to live our lives as complete human beings. It teaches us how to live with respect, dignity, honour, and love.

It further teaches us that the Almighty Allah is a divinity that embraces the concerns of all humanity. Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the frequent recitation of the Quran. Ramadan cannot be complete without a great deal of reading of the Book of Allah.
Undoubtedly the Quran is the most read book in the world, this is because it is so often read and memorised in its original form of Arabic. During this month there is a ‘longer’ evening congregational prayer that is offered after the breaking of the fast. During this prayer the entire Quran is recited over the course of the thirty days by a ‘Hafiz’, this is a person who has who has memorized the entire Quran, word for word, from cover to cover.

In addition, Muslims individually read the Quran during this august month of Ramadan.  By so doing the believer cherishes the privilege of directly conversing with our Creator, and, it also affords a believer a better chance of graduating to a higher spiritual level by getting closer to our Creator. One may ask what are the virtues of fasting? Firstly during the month the entire lifestyle of Muslims undergoes a dramatic change, it teaches us Taqwa (self-restraint, piety and the consciousness of Allah).

This leads to behaviour modification because a fasting person has to control or change his or her daily habits; fasting is that training ground. This is because high standard of self-restraint is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our daily physical desires.

Patience: Fasting helps in conditioning the heart, the soul, and the body on the virtues of patience, determination, and firmness in the face of adversity. Patience is the peak of self- control, discipline and spirituality. Patience is to turn the phrase "I can't" into "I can."
Social Benefits: Socially, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family and the whole society.

This is a period in which those of us who are ‘better off’ because we can afford daily meals to have first-hand experience of what it is to be poor, the pains the poor and needy suffer in normal living conditions. A fasting Muslim can really sympathize with the starving people everywhere in the world and see the hardship that they go through every day of their lives.

Apart from the piety aspect fasting builds important Islamic values, such as compassion, consciousness, firmness, affection, fear of Allah, trust in Allah, and many other qualities such as developing good habits and suppress or eliminate bad habits Fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor. It opens avenues to give alms to the poor and the needy.

Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind toward your relatives and kinsfolk. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. To those who have never fasted why not give it a try it could change your entire life.

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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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