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Thankfulness in islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

In today’s world there seems to be less thankfulness and more of a don’t-care attitude bordering on thanklessness. However if we were to just stop to think about the bounties and blessings that we enjoy not only as a country but as individuals we will begin to appreciate our lives. Were we just to look around and see the suffering throughout the world and look closer to home, around us, there are problems everywhere. We may not want to notice them but they are there.

From the beginning of Man's creation, gratefulness and thankfulness to our Creator, Allah was highlighted. In the Quran, after the creation of Adam all the Angels bowed to Adam except Satan who refused to do so. When chastised by Allah and cast out from Heaven, Satan said, ‘I will lie in wait for them…I will assault them from before them and from behind them, and from the right and their left, and You (Allah) shall not find gratitude in most of them for Your mercies.’ (Quran 7:17)

There are many verses in the Quran and other religious scriptures like the Bible that stress the importance of our showing gratefulness to our Lord and Creator. But as the above verse reflects: Satan has gotten hold of us because all we tend to be less grateful of what we have and concern ourselves with what we don’t have. 

The very fact that we got up this morning, had something to eat, have clothes to wear, water to bathe ourselves, that we have homes to shelter us from the elements, that we have our health etc., etc., these are all favours from our Lord and Creator. We should take none of it for granted, or become arrogant enough to believe that we have any of them because of our own efforts. Unfortunately as mere mortals we tend to concentrate more on what we don’t have and are forget what we have been blessed with. We are troubled by a lack of wealth, yet we have the key to happiness and many blessings that we should be thankful for. ‘And if you count the favours and graces of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.’ (Quran 14:34)

We tend to overlook the favours of Allah upon us, health, safety, nourishment, clothing, air, and water – these all point to the world being ours, yet we do not realize it. We possess many of the things that life has to offer, yet we remain ignorant and maybe some of us, arrogant. This is a serious illness in many of us, and we have been given the cure by Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh). He reminded us that in terms of worldly things if we always look to those who are less fortunate than us, this will keep us thankful. Therefore the best way to stay thankful to Allah is to count His Favours in our lives every day. ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83)

Thankfulness frees the heart from greed, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy toward us, and this in return makes us better persons, calms us, humbles us and improves our characters. ‘We have shown him the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful, rests on his will.’ (Quran 76:3).

As Muslims we have also been informed been guided to offer prayers of thankfulness day in and day out. Many people wonder as to why Muslims offer prayers five times daily. This is a practical demonstration of our thankfulness, and it is in compliance of this Quranic verse that we offer the obligatory five-times daily prayers. This is because Allah asks us to express our thankfulness to Him by offering the five-time prayers: ‘Celebrate constantly the praises of your Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yes celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day; that you may have spiritual joy’ (Quran 20 ; 130)  

Further Allah says: ‘Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. (Quran 2:152). Hence the five-time daily prayers are a significant reminder that each time we pray, we fulfil our obligation to thank Allah for having made us the best of His creations.
But it is also a reminder for a person to reflect on Allah’s benevolence in having created him / her as a human being. As a result we owe a debt to the Creator which we can hardly repay except by offering prayers to Allah. The actions of our five time prayers consist of standing up, bowing with hands on the knees and then sitting down on our knees, then bowing down with our forehead touching the ground indicating our humility and lowliness before Allah.

Unfortunately, we have fallen into that trap of Satan, and have become so caught up in our daily lives, that we very rarely take the time to reflect on the Favours of Allah and to thank Him for them all. We are so busy conducting our daily lives that we forget who is really in-charge, and from where our daily sustenance comes.

We have become so immersed in the ‘if I only had’ syndrome; If I only had a bigger house, a better car, more money, a better job, if I only had a happier marriage. We are constantly focusing on the things we don't have, instead of being grateful to Allah for the things we do have.

We forget about our good health, think about it; can you picture yourself trying to walk without feet? We sleep soundly on our comfy bed while many people sleep on the floor, or even outdoors because they have no home. Don’t forget that we fill ourselves with both, delicious dishes and cool drinks / water while that pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to poverty sickness and disease.

Look around and see the hungry people walking around bare foot, searching dustbins looking for something to eat, torn clothing; the elderly folk who totter around with the help of walking sticks; the wheel chair bound; the blind, the sick and the lame; consider our faculties of hearing and seeing with which we have been blessed while others are blind or deaf. What about those who have to carry buckets of water to use at home, when we just have to open the tap; the list is endless. When we see their suffering it should be a reminder to us to be thankful for all the ‘little things’ in our lives that we take for granted. This should be a stark reminder to remember and to thank the Almighty for our Blessings.

Despite the blessings of daily food, water, easy sleep, and good health, we remain despondent and depressed. ‘Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you deny?’ (Quran 55:13). I am sure that if we search deep within ourselves we are aware that our Blessings are from our Maker but we prefer not to think about it: ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83)

The faithful are thankful people and the unfaithful are ungrateful people. The Quran spells it out for us: ‘Show (thy) gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.’ (31:12). ‘And remember when your Lord proclaimed, If ye are grateful, I will add more favours unto you; but if ye show ingratitude, truly My torment is terrible indeed.’ (14:7)

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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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