In Chapter 17 of the Quran, in verses 23–39, the Almighty Allah mentions some basic duties and commitments of Muslims. Without fulfilling these commitments, no individual or group can succeed.
Muslims have to live by these values and should invite humanity to these principles. These principles are not limited to one race, tribe, or group; they are universal in their scope and application, they are the teachings of wisdom. It is wise for everyone to follow them. If followed properly, they are capable of increasing the goodness and wisdom of all people. These principles are as follows:
To worship Allah alone
“Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him.” Quran 17:23 This means to recognize Allah as the Lord, to worship Him with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of life. A Muslim's life is nothing but total commitment to Allah. Allah is the centre of our life and He is our total and ultimate concern ‘For thou shalt not worship any other God…’ Exodus 34:14. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20: 2-3);
To be respectful and kind to parents
And (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not "Fie" unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little. Quran 17:23-24
This is to acknowledge the compassion and kindness of parents, to be grateful to them, and to do one's utmost to reciprocate that love and compassion. Love, respect and kindness to parents is not just a social duty for us; it is our religious duty and obligation. The Bible: “Honour your father and mother” (Exodus 20: 12);
To be good to relatives, to the poor, and to the travellers
‘Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer.’’ (Quran 17:26) This is to remind us that we are interconnected in this world. Our responsibilities are not only towards ourselves and our immediate families, but also to other relatives and to the society at large. We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this path of life. We must see what we can do for and to assist others. Social responsibility begins with the family and other relatives and it includes all those who are in need.
To be careful with money and not waste resources
‘And squander not you wealth in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones….. Quran 17;26 … And let not thy hand be chained (like a niggard's) to thy neck nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, lest thou become blameworthy and destitute. Lo! thy Lord enlargeth the provision for whom He will….. (Quran 17: 29-30)
One should be neither too tight fisted with one's money nor too loose with it (wasteful). Extravagance is not right, but also one should not become stingy and miserly. A Muslim is committed to the balanced life style. Money should be earned in halal (lawful) ways and it should be spent in the right manner. This principle is applied to all the resources (natural or other) that Allah has given us. Wise and careful use of resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.
To take good care of children
‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Quran 66: 6). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.” Children should be treated as a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.
Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15) As we recognize the rights of the parents, we should also recognize the rights of children. Our children are our future. We must see that we raise healthy, intelligent and morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy environment. We must protect their life as well as their sprit and mind, their morals and manners.
To steer clear of adultery and illicit relations
And come not near unto fornication. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (Quran 17:32) Sexual perversions bring the greatest harm to individuals and societies. Observing the proper rules in this matter leads to a good and moral society. Muslims must be committed to a pure, clean, and socially responsible lifestyle. Islam teaches that one should not come even close to adultery or fornication. This means proper behaviour in our social relations. In the Bible: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20: 14);
To respect every life and not to kill anyone unless in the pursuit of justice
‘And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden except for a just cause.’ (Quran 17:33) We should recognize the sanctity of all life and should not do anything that may jeopardize life. We should avoid aggression and violence, because these things lead to murder. Every Muslim must be committed to peaceful ways. Conflicts should be resolved by dialogue and negotiations, not by killings and murders. However, justice must be maintained, because just punishment brings safety and protects life. In the Bible: “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13)
To take care of the orphans
‘Come not nigh to the orphan's property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength;’ (Quran 17:34) Orphans and all those who are vulnerable must be taken care of. Their rights must be recognized and they should be protected from all harm. A Muslim must be deeply committed to the care of the young, poor, infirm, and handicapped. Kindness and compassion is the basic commitment of a Muslim. It includes everyone and includes the animals.
To fulfil promises and commitments
‘And keep the covenant. Lo! of the covenant it will be asked.’ (Quran 17:34) Promises and contracts are an important part of human life. When promises are not kept, people lose trust in each other and the whole society becomes weak. Muslims must be true to their words. Our commitment must be to speak the truth and to be honest and when we make a pledge we must do our best to fulfil our pledges.
To be honest in business dealings and not cheat in weight or measurement ‘Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the end.’ (Quran 17:35). Honest business brings progress, success, and blessings. All business, whether commercial or social, must be done with a sense of justice and fairness. A Muslim is committed to fair dealing in everything and with everyone.
Dealing with a Muslim should inspire people that they are dealing with full confidence. A Muslim businessman should be a truthful businessman. A Muslim worker should be an honest worker. A Muslim in any profession should bring honour to that profession.
To be humble and have no arrogance
‘And walk not on the earth exultant. Lo! thou canst not rend the earth, nor canst thou stretch to the height of the mountains.’ (Quran 17:37) Moderation and balance is the best thing in one's behaviour as well as in one's attitude toward others. A Muslim should be a dignified and humble person. A Muslim should not be boastful, arrogant, or conceited.
These are the basic commitments of Muslims as individuals and as people. These are the principles of wisdom and the universal values of Islam. When they are followed, they bring justice, peace, and happiness in this world and they will indeed bring success and salvation in the Hereafter. Let us all try to make these our real commitments.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.