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The Universality of Islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The principles of Islam are all universal. There are many similarities between the true beliefs of many religions. They are not limited to any one race, colour or nationality.

The Almighty gave His guidance to humanity through many prophets and messengers. Allah's guidance is for all people, in all places and at all times. Islam is the way to which Allah guided all human beings. As this column reiterates: I say 2 plus 2 is 4, others will say 2 times 2 is four, others may say 5 minus 1 is 4 and so on to come up with the answer 4. We may do things differently but in the final analysis we come up with the same answer.

This religion did not begin with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Islamic guidance is the same that came with the first couple of humanity when they arrived on this earth. When Allah sent Adam and Eve to this earth He told them: "We said: 'Get down you all from here: and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.'" (Quran 2:38)

Over time this Guidance was sent via all the Prophets to name but a few; Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and right down to the last of the Messengers, Prophet Muhammed – May peace be upon them all. Not surprisingly, Muslims believe in the original Religious Scriptures of the Torah (Tawraah given to Moses) The Zaboor (Psalms of David), the Injeel (Good News to Jesus Christ), the scriptures given to Abraham and Moses and the final revelation, the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (PBUT).This shows the common thread between Islamic religious beliefs, values and practices that also have roots within those Scriptures (in their original form) as Divine Revelations.

The Qur'an, the Bible and the Torah all tell us that Allah (God) created everything and He has guided everything: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form, and further, He gave (it) guidance." (Quran 20:50) "Glorify the name of your Lord, Most High, Who created, then shaped in proper proportion; and he determined the way, then He granted guidance." (Quran 87:1-3)
‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2: 7). ‘Male and female created He them, and blessed them….’ (Genesis 5; 2)

In addition to the names mentioned above, the Quran also mentions by name twenty five Prophets of the Bible, their lives and their message. The Quran further covers other similarities and incidents, and these include the creation of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and their fall from grace, the Prophets Noah, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Jonah, Solomon and others. Mentioned in the Quran are the incidents of; Noah’s Ark, Moses and the parting of the sea, the tests of Abraham, Joseph and his brothers, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and many similar / like references that are both in the Quran and Bible.   

Some people may not believe it but a Muslims faith is incomplete if he does not believe in Jesus (PBUH) and the Divine Gospel (Injeel) revealed to him by the Almighty. As the Quran states: The Quran says: ‘His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter and of the company of those nearest to Allah’. (Quran 3:45).
‘And we sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed upon him the Gospel’ (Quran 57:27).
 

Muslims also have great respect for Mary (Mariam), mother of Jesus; they believe in the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. The Qur’an has even honoured her with an entire chapter titled Surah Mariam. Mary is a much respected figure in the Muslim belief system: ‘And lo!

The Angels said, O Mary Allah has selected you and made you pure, and raised you above the women of all nations’ …………’Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name shall be Christ Jesus…held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of the company of those nearest to Allah’…….’She said “O my Lord, how shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” He said: Even so Allah creates what He wills, when he has decreed a plan he say but to it ’Be’ and it is. (Qur’an 3:42-47)

This is also echoed in the Bible: ‘And the Angel said unto her, ‘and behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call him Jesus….said Mary to the Angel ‘how shall this be seeing that I know no man? The Angel answered: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the Power of the Highest shall overcome thee…’…..‘for with God nothing shall be impossible’  (Luke 1: 31-37).

Therefore there is also congruence in the belief of His miraculous birth, the miracles performed and the message that he brought to all mankind. Since no more Prophets or Messengers will come, by prophets I do not mean the so-called preachers of today who go under the guise and call themselves ‘prophets’, or better still ‘profits’ because that is all they are interested in. Who can and will give this guidance to the world? It is upon each and every one of us who have to take up this task.

As Muslims we have a role in giving the message of Islam to the world. But our message and voices will be heard more and will be more effective if we mould our lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam but this should be done with great care and wisdom. But we cannot do it unless:  we practice Islam in our own lives. We cannot be guides unless we ourselves are guided. We must take Islam seriously in our individual life as well as collective life we must work to keep ourselves on the right path.

This also means we should start at home where we must pay attention to our families. Allah says: "O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from Fire ". (Quran 66:6). We should be the role models of truth, justice, and righteousness in our personal lives, in our families, communities, in our countries.

We should be united and we should take care of people wherever they are suffering. We must show kindness and courtesy to each other. We must observe the human rights of people. We should be in the forefront of movements of peace and justice in the whole world for all people. We must see that the world is out from the grips of immorality, drugs, narcotics, hatred, violence, racism and all kinds of injustices.

However, in this day and age when people hear the word Islam they become uncomfortable that is because the name of Islam has been ‘tainted’ by the actions of wayward individuals and groups under the ‘guise’ of Islam. There is no need to be apologetic about Islam or any other religion for that matter because they do not promote terror and killing. But going further there is no need to be aggressive when presenting the message of Allah. We must try to reach to the hearts and souls of the people to bring them closer to Allah and His blessed way of life by being exemplary.

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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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