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Showing kindness and compassion

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

In the world of today kindness and compassion seems to be going down the drain. Kindness seems to have become a ‘rare’ commodity in this day and age because many people tend to live their lives with an don’t care attitude towards their family members, partners, loved ones and even their parents.

Today rudeness and uncouth behaviour is the order of the day because we see a noticeable decline in these values as shown by the behaviour of some adults and even in new the generation of youngsters. I am not sure that if in this day and age these types of values are still being taught and instilled to the younger generation by their parents. Remember the Quran says: ‘Allah loves those who are kind’ (Quran 5: 13)

Kindness is one of those admirable and desirable qualities – kindness has many features and components to it; it must exist in our thoughts, speech and actions. Kindness starts in the home, if we do not show any respect or kindness towards our parents how then will we show any towards the rest society? Kindness coupled with love towards the whole family will generate within us a caring attitude this is what forms the solid foundation for a loving family unit.  

The conditions, circumstances and needs may be different in each category – like orphans, widows, elderly, sick, needy, etc. The Qur’an declares ‘Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are related, neighbours who are strangers…’ (Qur’an 4: 36)

Kindness is not limited to our family and those around us; it is one of those human values that should be spread to everyone we come into contact with including strangers. Even a simple smile or greeting to a stranger can be considered an act of kindness and charity.
The Quran throughout emphasises the need for every one of us whom Allah has bestowed with His bounties, to be compassionate, considerate and generous towards those who may be less privileged or in a state of need.

The showing of compassion and kindness to those who are less fortunate than us is firmly rooted in Islam. It doesn’t end there it goes beyond those less fortunate in terms of the destitute and the needy, it covers a wider spectrum of showing kindness, mercy, respect, and to assist those who are in distress, sick or in want, even if it is just a smile or a word of encouragement.   

’Be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.' (Quran 17:23-24)

The Quran in many verses stresses the importance of parents and the need to show, compassion, love and kindness towards them. The mother has an even more special bond and link with each one of us because she brought us into this life through the trying times of birth and the subsequent sleepless nights nurturing and protecting us as we eased ourselves into this world. There is nothing that can replace a mother’s cherishing love for her child.

Yet today children scream and curse their mothers; when we are supposed to shower them with our special love. ‘We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning.’ (Quran 31:14)
In every society we have our elders – the ‘older’ people. Many of the elders go through challenges such as loneliness, poor health, lack of food, difficulty in walking and moving around and a whole host of problems.

We should assist them wherever and whenever possible. A greeting, a smile, a kind word and any small assistance can ease their burden and make their life easier and making them feel better. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has explained in his teachings what our behaviour should be. He is reported to have stated that ‘He is not of us, who is not affectionate to those who are younger than him and is not respectful to those who are older.’ He further said: ‘For the young man who will honour an old man because of his age, The Almighty will appoint men who will honour him in his old age’.

Courtesy and kindness are the hallmarks of a good upbringing. We have all been brought up through our cultural and traditional values to be courteous and to show respect towards others. We were taught to show respect to our elders; words like please, thank you, excuse me; talking to our elders in a respectable tone without harshness.  ‘When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things.’ (Quran 4:86)

Unfortunately in this modern world of ours we tend to relegate our compassion and kindness and even respect for our elders as old fashioned virtues, never thinking that one day the tables may be turned and we too will be old or may be in dire need. Growing older is unavoidable and not optional, like it or not the only other alternative to growing older is death. Only when we are old ourselves, will we realise the value of a helping hand, a kindly word, or just a smile from family, friends and or even that of a stranger.

This doesn’t end there, taking it wider and further, how about we consider with compassion and respect for the weaker and poorer sections of society, the needy, the destitute and downtrodden. Let us take for example, visiting and caring for the sick, assisting a disabled person, assisting and attending to the needs of a widow and the needy in society, showing compassion and caring for an orphan.

‘Do not treat the orphan with harshness…..’ (Quran 93:9)

To care for those in need and to assist in their well-being has been described as a virtue of high order in Islam.

In the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) he said:

‘Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives’.  So, besides feeding the hungry – which is a deed of compassion and kind heartedness, visiting the sick and obtaining the freedom of those who are (unlawfully) held in captivity are also virtuous acts
‘Whoever supports an orphan from among his own or any other family, he will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are close to each other’. He made a motion of his index and middle fingers close together while he said this. This is the close status, in the Hereafter, of that person who takes on the responsibility of supporting an orphan.

Even if one is unable to take full care of an orphan but merely shows affection and compassion, he will attain great blessing from The Almighty. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated:
– ‘Whosoever caresses the head of an orphan (in mercy and affection), solely for the sake of The Almighty (with no ulterior motive), a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand’.

‘Whoever strives to relieve (the distress of) the widow and the needy, in terms of reward and blessings, is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers’. Blessed are those who feel for the less fortunate and are willing to help them in any possible manner because the rewards and blessing for these deeds are very great in this world and the Hereafter.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

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.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… 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.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

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”!

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