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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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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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