Over this past week Muslims from across the world have converged on the Holy City of Makkah, in Saudi Arabia in order to fulfil the Hajj (Pilgrimage). Every year there are between two and three million people who undertake this sacred journey. Hajj is performed during the period from the 8th through the 13th of Dhul Hijjah (the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar).
The Hajj has been ordained by Allah Almighty in the Quran: “Pilgrimage to the House (of Allah) is a duty which men owe to Allah, (that is) those who can afford the journey; but if they deny faith, Allah stands not in need (of the services) of any of His creatures”. (Quran 3: 97). Performing the Hajj is the spiritual high point of a Muslims life. It also brings about on a Muslim the assurance that he has performed the fifth pillar of Islam by following in the footsteps of both Prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon them them) but also the realisation that he is part of an Ummah (the nation of Islam) that is more than one billion strong and spread across the globe.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is a major if not the most significant expression of Islamic faith and unity. Undertaking the Hajj (Pilgrimage) at least once in a life time is a duty for all Muslims who are financially and physically capable to make the journey to Makkah. The emphasis on financial ability is meant to ensure that a one takes care of his family that he may leave behind and has also sufficient means for the actual journey. The requirement that one must be healthy and physically capable of undertaking the Hajj is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigors of travel.
Undertaking Hajj is not meant for any personal ends rather it is undertaken with the sole intention of pleasing Allah and the fulfilment of the duty prescribed by Him. ‘And complete the Hajj in the service of Allah’ (Quran 2: 196). The love of our Creator is heightened as one starts preparing for the pilgrimage journey. With the heart longing to reach that goal, we try to become purer in intention, thought and deed. We repent for past sins, seek forgiveness from people whom we might have wronged, and all that is necessary to get the prayers of blessings from others so as not to undertake Hajj burdened with injustices that may have be done to fellow human beings.
Hajj is one of the greatest deeds that a Muslim can accomplish in his or her lifetime and is something that every Muslim dreams of undertaking. The journey of Hajj is different in nature to any other journeys that we would normally undertake, for a holiday, sight-seeing etc. because the entire journey forms an act of worship. It is not meant for any personal ends but rather it is undertaken solely to seek the Grace of the Almighty and the fulfilment of the duty prescribed to us by Him. Nobody can be prepared to undertake this journey until and unless he has true and deep love of his Creator in his heart, as well as fear of Him, and is convinced that Allah wants him to do what he is doing.
The Almighty commanded Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to build the structure of the Holy Kaabah in Mecca. He fulfilled the command and when he had completed building, Allah told him to call the people (mankind) to observe pilgrimage to it. Abraham (pbuh) pleaded “O Allah! How shall my voice reach all the people (all over the world)? Allah told him that his duty was to make the call and it was Allah Almighty who would make it reach the people. Abraham (pbuh) then climbed Mount Arafah and called out in as loud a voice as he could, “O people! Verily Allah has prescribed upon you the Hajj, so perform the Hajj”. Allah Almighty records this in the Qur’an “And proclaim the Hajj among mankind. They will come to thee on foot and on every lean mount (or some mode of transport) through deep and distant mountain high-ways…” (Quran 22: 27)
To this day, each year, millions upon millions of Muslims continue to answer the call of The Almighty made through His Great Messenger and Prophet – Abraham (pbuh). Haj is a turning point in the spiritual development of a believer because it is full of submission and universal prayer, where we shed our normal dress and every pilgrim wears the same unstitched pieces of cloth – male pilgrims wear two white seamless pieces of cloth. This dress called the ‘ihram’ reminds us of the burial shroud that Muslims are buried in. This demonstrates the concept of equality of mankind. The only preference in the eyes of Allah is piety as stated in the Quran: "The best amongst you in the eyes of Allah is most righteous."
Among the rites of Hajj include circling the Ka’ba seven times, chanting prayers and asking Allah for forgiveness. ‘Our Lord give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the fire……….celebrate the praises of Allah during the appointed days’ (Quran: 2: 201 – 203)
An interesting aspect of this occasion is that the Hajj is a demonstration of the universality of Islam and the brotherhood and equality of Muslims. All pilgrims are required to wear the same unstitched pieces of cloth during the Haj. The white cloth is symbolic of innocence, piety and cleanliness of body and soul. There is no distinction whatsoever between the poor and the rich, the young and the old, regardless of colour, race, nationality and language all similarly dressed, gather together at the same place and at the same time, for the same purpose – a practical demonstration of equality, brotherhood and unity. Hajj is, most definitely, the largest single gathering of people in one place, at one time, for one purpose – to show their allegiance to Allah.
Hajj brings into focus and makes people realise our daily evil misdeeds and mistakes, which are as a result of either our weakness of faith, lack of consciousness of God Almighty and the general neglect of His commands and the way of life taught by His Messengers. A Muslim does not earn an acceptable Pilgrimage except by casting away our sinful behaviour.
While falling into sin is prohibited at all times, Allah gives a specific order to the pilgrims to abstain from all forms of wrong doing and sins. “Hajj is (during) well known months, so whoever has decided to undertake the Hajj therein, there shall be (for him) no obscenity and no transgression and no disputing during Hajj”. (Quran 2: 197). This verse emphasises the sacredness of the occasion and greatness of the place.
The performance of Hajj (in the correct prescribed manner) washes away all the sins of a person. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said, “Whoever performs Hajj and does not indulge in any obscenity or transgression he returns (free from all sins) as the day his mother bore him.” There are many blessings in the performing of Hajj; in the Holy Quran where Allah Almighty instructs Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to invite mankind to come to Hajj, He summarises the matter by declaring: “So that they may witness the numerous benefits for themselves”. (Quran 22: 28).
Hence, the real blessings of Hajj can only be experienced by those who actually perform it. Going for Hajj entails sacrifice of time, sacrifice of money, sacrifice of comfort, and sacrifice of many physical desires and pleasures and all this simply for the sake of Allah Almighty, with no worldly or selfish motive. Thus the entire journey constitutes an act of worship.
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.
… 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.
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”!