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IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Whether we are rich or poor, the high and the mighty or just a commoner, our final call will be death. This is because we have an unseen ‘companion’ close to us called death. Therefore each and every one of us life should be seen as and counted as the most precious of all gifts even though its loss can be and is grievous to those around us, no one can doubt that just as surely as every human being and living thing embarks on this life involuntarily to spend some time in this temporary guesthouse which we call the world, but that day will surely arrive.

In the end each and every one will ultimately be confronted with death when our time is up in this world. The Qur’an and every religious Scripture and belief mentions the inevitability of the end of our life’s journey, the end of life in this world through death. The Qur’an says; “Every living thing must taste death and surely each will then be recompensed on the Day of Resurrection, so whosoever is saved from the Fire will be admitted to Paradise, such indeed gain the ultimate goal. And what is the life of this world except a provision of vanity. Wherever you are death will surely overtake you”. Verse 3:184 and 4:78.

Among the Biblical verses: ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ (1Cor. 15; 32). “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to breakdown, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…..’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 22)

Many of us in our daily lives try not to think about the inevitability of death, this is quite natural to put such thoughts aside. This could be because we lack the awareness or possibly because of the absence of faith and our failure to grasp the nature of death. This in turn creates fear and insecurity in many of us for we see death as a terrible nightmare rather than the fact that our existence will come to an end one day or the other. But if we remain faithful to our beliefs and resist from breaking the Laws of Allah and repent we will feel more comfortable.


“Those who indulge in evil and those who do not mend their wrongful ways tend to fear death more than others” (Qur’an 62-7.) “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 46). “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9: 27)

The fact is that what we need to appreciate and understand that life is not restricted to this present worldly existence of ours; from the moment we are born to the moment of our death. In Islam and in all religions there are basically three stages to our existence: 

In the first stage we have the life of this physical world in which we live in. In this life we have to lead a life that is in line with our religious beliefs, teachings and commands of our Lord and Creator. As humans we are very fortunate to have been granted with the power of reasoning, conscience and instinct to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. As such we can either accrue good or evil deeds by virtue of this Blessing that has been dispensed by Almighty Allah.

The next stage is upon death from our physical life of this earth and the transit stage between our existence on this earth in the physical sense and resurrection in the Hereafter. The Hereafter is the state in which the mortal life / condition of a human being is dissolved and the soul and body are separated. The body is buried and the soul is without the body is not able to do anything to accrue good and evil.

Then we come to the final stage, this is at the time of resurrection, the time of the Day of Reckoning and judgment, where we will receive recompense based on our worldly actions and life in this world. This will be the deciding moment for our final abode, the torment of hell or Heavenly Peace. We therefore need to start preparing for those times.

The Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: ‘No person will pass the Day of Judgment without being questioned about: our youth and what we did through it; our knowledge and what we did with it; our wealth how we acquired and spent it; and his body how he used or abused it.’

He further said: ‘Only those foolish ones hoard for this world who have no real intellect, for only such consider this world as a real abode who have no true abode.’ And: ‘A dead person is followed to his grave by three things, two of which return and one remains; his relatives, his property and his deeds follow him to the grave; the relatives and property return, while his deeds remain with him.’

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “Does man not know that we have created him from a mere drop of sperm injected in the womb? He then becomes a persistent disputer. He forgets the process of his own creation, but challenges the Supreme Being. He asks how a person shall be revived after his bones have decayed and who has the power to revive him. Tell him, He, Who created creation the first time will indeed be able to revive them”. (Qur’an 36: 78-80).

We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives. We usually open a savings account at the bank to save money for our old age, but why don’t we also open a parallel ‘savings account’ to ‘deposit’ our good deeds so that they stand for us when the day of Judgement arrives?

Faith and piety are the starting points in our lives that will change our outlook. Allah has reminded all creation that the standard defining human excellence is Taqwa (Piety) – a quality that springs forth and emanates from our internal purity of intention which then expresses itself through our righteous conduct.

The highest expression of faith is “that you love for humanity that which you love for yourself and despise for humanity that which you dislike for yourself.” “Whatever we have is a gift from Allah and it is an Amanat (trust). The more we have the greater responsibility and accountability we are entrusted with. With knowledge we teach and we guide, with wealth we help and relieve, with authority we dispense justice and with faith we establish and show goodness.”

Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point of changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord.

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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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