This week let’s tackle an issue that cuts across all religious, social, cultural, economic and ethnic barriers. This issue has been simmering for some time now but it has become so hot an issue that as a nation we should take urgent steps to halt this scourge otherwise we will have not only failed but lost an entire generation.
What is happening to the youth of today? For example, just look at the type of content and programming that TV entertainment / music channels churn out nowadays. These programs are filled with suggestive images that promote a promiscuous culture and a lifestyle completely alien to our traditional, cultural, religious and moral upbringing and values. Pick up any newspaper, listen to the news, watch television and you will come across an article/item that refers to our youth involved in – suicide, killings, drug taking, alcohol abuse, violence, unruly behaviour, indecent and immoral behaviour, teenage pregnancies, rape, foul language, etc.
As parents we should be alarmed at the breakdown of societal values that these alien cultures have brought to our shores. Included in these are subtle and often blatant messages that promote promiscuous behaviour and the use of alcohol and drugs, thereby nullifying the best intentions and efforts of parents.
In Islam children are an ‘Amanah’, (a sacred trust), from the Almighty entrusted to us to raise, nurture, guide, and prepare them for the life ahead. As parents and guardians we have been given that responsibility to equip them with the tools to become responsible adults. Our goal is to equip the child with a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behaviour so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioural standards.
The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: 6). ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’ said the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As parents some of us seem to have missed – or should I say messed up, the opportunity to inculcate and instil morals, ethics, values and all those time honoured cultural and traditional family values that formed the basis of our own upbringing and social interaction.
Too many of today’s parents take a laissez faire attitude and role in moulding and bringing up their children in becoming responsible adults of tomorrow. Not only that, homes are no longer the havens of peace, tranquillity and comfort that we once knew. Homes today are filled with family strife, domestic violence, vulgar language, the lack of respect, and a whole host of modern day ills. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in such a poisoned atmosphere?
In Islam we are expected to teach our children from a young age the religious responsibilities such as learning to read and memorize verses of or even the whole Qur’an, the performance of Salaah (daily Prayer), and all the other Islamic etiquettes that are a standard part of any Muslim’s daily activity. Included in this training is proper respect, obedience and consideration towards one’s parents and the behaviour and attitude towards society in general. .. What has gone wrong?
Is it because we have become a modernised society, and the western influence has caught up with us? In our haste we are too busy chasing and trying to play catch up with the rest of the world, thus easily neglect our cultural, traditional and most importantly our spiritual upbringing. Virtually every part of the world is confused by the pull of conflicting values and societal pressures therefore the youth of today face many challenges and problems, more so teens today have to face peer pressure.
To make matters worse they have become obsessed and pre occupied with MXit, Twitter, Facebook, texting and other forms of social media; whilst these social media forums are cutting edge and relevant they can also be a very destructive medium if misused. Violence in schools is increasing – schools especially in the West have placed metal detectors at school entrances because students are bringing knives and other offensive weapons to school. Some schools even have armed guards patrolling their premises. Recently a student in the USA shot and killed his fellow students.
Many parents may not realize it but our youth are tempted by the greatest evils of this day and age: alcohol and drugs. Make no mistake our youth have fallen prey to alcohol and alarmingly are experimenting with drugs. The fact is that hard drugs are now being peddled to our kids everywhere in Botswana. These drug peddlers nullify all the parenting efforts in an instant. As parents we have to be aware of the dangers that our children face and we should try to counteract these negative influences by being more sensitive to parenting our children.
Whilst most parents do their utmost to raise well-adjusted children, others are somewhat oblivious to fact that the youth of today are facing a serious challenge in terms of societal and peer pressure of having to ‘conform’ to the current youth culture. Regrettably most of our youth try to emulate foreign cultures that are based on the worst elements of the youth culture imported from overseas.
Teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol and may become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of being left out of the crowd or through boredom and depression. Teens can express their depression through hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behaviour. But such behaviours only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroy relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.
Our children are our future they carry with them our hopes and our desires into the future. Every parent therefore wishes and desires only what is best for the children. But this requires guidance and training; this training is should not only consist of a set of directives but the parents should be a living example of those directives.
It is therefore the parents’ responsibility to ensure that we bring up our children in a manner that will inculcate in them the values and virtues that have been the anchor of our religious and traditional beliefs and upbringing. It is a sad fact that some parents are to blame for the current state of affairs because they are disassociated from their children’s upbringing. It is a case of absent parenting done by remote control.
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.