Depending on the sighting of the new moon Muslims will be celebrating the occasion of Eid – as this marks the end of the month long fasting. By the time you read this the month of fasting will have come to an end. But as we leave the blessed month of Ramadan, with its days and nights that were laden and filled with opportunities for salvation an important question is raised: Will Muslims continue to worship Almighty Allah with the same enthusiasm they have been doing in Ramadan?
We leave the month that was filled with the reading of the Qur'an, Taqwa /piety (God consciousness), patience, inner struggle (jihad), mercy, forgiveness and freedom from hellfire. As we look back we need to ask; have we fulfilled the requirements of God consciousness and graduated from the Ramadhan School with the diploma of the God-fearing and have we drawn closer to our Lord? Have we wrestled our wants and desires and defeated them, or have we been overtaken by our worldly desires, passions, customs and blind imitations ready to return to them immediately the month is over?
Have we observed all our actions in a way that fulfills the conditions for receiving forgiveness, mercy and salvation from the Divine ire and punishment? Many questions and thoughts come to mind but can we answer them truthfully and sincerely? For those of us who are unable to answer will have missed the golden opportunity for soul cleansing in this month.
Ramadhan is a school of Imaan (faith) and a 'pit stop to recharge one's spiritual batteries' – to acquire one's spiritual provisions for the rest of the year. What better time than to take a lesson and change for the better, if not in the Holy month of Ramadhan? The blessed month is a true school of transformation in which we change our actions, habits and manners that are in variance with the Law of Allah. "Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (Qur’an Ch 13: v 11)
If you are from those who benefited from Ramadan, fulfilled the requirements of Taqwa, truly fasted the month, prayed in it with truthfulness, and strove against your soul, then praise and thank Allah, and ask Him for steadfastness upon it until you meet your death. After Ramadan we seem to run short of the commitment and dedication we showed in that Holy month; this can manifest itself in many ways, including: neglecting the five daily prayers, after having observed them diligently in Ramadan; returning to vain and immoral past times, forbidden and indecent behaviour; returning to old ways of lying, backbiting, vulgar speech and argumentative behavior; living with jealousy and hatred towards fellow community members; etc.
We should however be grateful to the Almighty for having given us the opportunity to cleanse our spirit and our hearts, thus we should be resolute and continue to with all the righteous deeds and actions that were our daily companions throughout the month of fasting. Returning to our old ways will just be a sign that we are ungrateful and thankless to the Almighty for the opportunities that were sent our way.
Allah says: "And remember when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]" (Qur’an Ch 14 : v 7). Increase you in good, faith and righteous actions. So if the servant is truly thankful to his Lord, you will see him guided to more obedience and distanced from sinfulness. True thankfulness to The Creator is leaving sins and constantly working towards obedience. "And worship your Lord until the ultimate comes to you [i.e. death]." (Qur’an Ch 15 : v 99)
The Muslim must continuously be in the state of obedience to Allah, firm upon His Law, steadfast upon faith, so that he/she is not of those who worship Allah only during one month or only in one place. Rather, the believer knows that the Lord of Ramadan is also the Lord of other months, and that He is the Lord of all times and places, so he doggedly abides by the laws of Allah. â€¨â€¨Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Say 'I believe in Allah', and then be steadfast."
Righteous actions and good deeds are for all times and all places, so continue to strive. So let us be wary of laziness and remember that as tempting as it may be, we should not fall behind in our religious obligations nor delay them. Neither should we fall into those forbidden and sinful actions and behavior that we avoided for the whole month.
We may be feeling physically tired from getting up earlier than usual, spending more time in the evening at the Mosque, but inside our hearts, there is an oasis of peace refreshing our soul. But as the month has drawn to a close the faithful will not only look forward to it returning next year but I know of some a lot stronger in faith than I am, that have taken it upon themselves to undergo voluntary fasting during the months to come, some of them fasting once or twice a week.
On the day of Eid we start with a congregational prayer, visit the cemetery to pray for the departed souls, in so visiting acts as a constant reminder that we too will undoubtedly follow them some day. Thereafter it is a day of family rejoicing and celebration and of praises to our Lord for helping us complete the fasting and for having given us the opportunity towards self reform. May I take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim brothers and sisters a joyous and peaceful day, and may we all live with the revived spiritual awareness that this Holy month brought to us. Eid Mubarak.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.