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transformation – our purpose in life

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

There is a very fundamental and important question that we need to remind and ask ourselves: “What is the goal and purpose of life?” “Why and what are we on this earth for?” The answer lies in the Quranic verse below in which our Creator says: “And I did not create the Jinn (Spiritual beings) and mankind except that they should serve and worship Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me. For Allah is He who gives all sustenance” (Quran 51: 56).  

However, in most cases, we are bound to get many different answers as to what is our purpose in life, many of us will simply say what someone else said: What my parents said, what the Imaam / priest said, what my teacher in school said, what my friend said, etc. is the purpose of life.

Think about it. Is our purpose in this world simply to eat, sleep, dress, work, acquire some material things and enjoy ourselves? Is this our purpose? Why are we born? What is the object of our existence? What is the wisdom behind the creation of man and this tremendous universe? Think about those questions.

So what is our purpose in this life? There can be different answers for each one of us: making a comfortable life for us and our families; amassing wealth and worldly possessions; getting a better education; climbing higher up the ladder of success; etc. and other such worldly desires – no problem for those ambitions. But our true purpose in addition to these worldly desires should be to achieve and create a better afterlife for us upon our death. This means that when that time comes we will have to account for our daily deeds.

Either we haven’t thought about it, or are we confused or we don’t really know. But if we were to ask about the purpose of eating or why do we eat, everyone will say in one way or another that they are hungry or it is for nutritional purposes, because eating sustains our life. If we ask anyone why they work, they will say because it’s a necessity in order to support themselves to provide for the needs of their families or to buy a home or a car etc. If we ask anyone why they sleep, why they wash, why they dress, etc., they will answer with appropriate answers, for these are common necessities for all human beings.

If we continue with this line of questioning and ask anyone why they work, they will say because it’s a necessity in order to support ourselves, and to provide for the needs of their families. Why is it when we ask the question, “What is the goal and purpose of life?” We get all sorts of different answers. Is it because we are confused; some of us don’t really know because we have not given it much thought.

Whether we thought about it or not, or even accept it or not, but our purpose in this life is to recognise The Creator, to worship Him, to be grateful to Him, to surrender ourselves to Him and to obey the laws that He has determined for us. It means worship is our purpose in life. Whatever we do in the course of that worship, (i.e., the eating, the sleeping, the dressing, the working, the enjoying,) between birth and death is should be in line with our belief in God. Therefore the main reason for our creation is to worship and obey the Laws of the Almighty.

Virtually every religion or faith has the belief that upon death and the on the Day of Reckoning / Resurrection every soul will be called to account for his or her life on this worldly existence of ours. If we have lived a righteous life in the way of our Lord we will be rewarded with entry into Paradise – on the other hand is our life was spent in the way of Satan – we will face the wrath of the burning fires of Hell.

Therefore we need to create and establish a closer relationship with our Lord and Creator through sincere faith and right conduct in order to live our lives in His way. In doing so, we will discover true happiness in this life and in the Hereafter. What we need to do is to link up with Him to make ourselves worthy of His Grace, Mercy and Blessings. ‘If you remember Me, I will remember you……seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere’ (Quran 2: 152-153) 

This is why we need to transform ourselves: ‘….Because Allah will never change the Grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their own souls’ (Quran 8: 53). Many of us believe that happiness comes from material possessions; while this is true that we need some material possessions to make our lives more comfortable, it should not become our sole objective in life to amass wealth and possessions. No doubt about it, wealth does make life easier but it cannot always bring happiness because money can buy you medicine, but it cannot buy your health. As Allah says in the Quran; ‘Your riches and your children may be but a trial’. (64:15).
 

‘Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tested? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars. (Quran 29:1-3)
We need to stop every now and then and take a breather to consider focusing on making life changing goals to our inner self. We can achieve many goals materially and spiritually if we follow the Guidance of our Lord. So our worldly possessions are just a blessing in this temporary life – we should not forget that whilst we may be blessed with them, many others may not be as fortunate as us.
 

Unfortunately in this life we become conditioned to accept these great blessings without ever thinking about them or even being grateful for them – ‘To Allah belongs the mystery of the heavens and the earth…… It is He who brought forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; and He gave you hearing, sight, intelligence and affections; that you may give thanks to Allah’ (Quran 16:78) ‘ Verily Allah is full of Grace and Bounty to men yet most of them give no thanks’ (Quran 40;61). As the verse states not many of us ever stop to say ‘thank you Lord for our Blessings’.

So while we have the energy and life within us we should take this opportunity to transform ourselves and should we not also show gratitude to Him and say “thank you”? Once we establish, base and live our lives on the edicts of our religious, commands, Scriptures and beliefs we will be on the road to achieving the goal of Paradise. It is a long road that is filled with many challenges and as one saying goes: This world is a prison for the Faithful, but a Paradise for unbelievers.

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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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