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Universal Islamic Values

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Islam teaches us basic values, commitments and principles that are universal in their scope and application because they also form the natural part of the fundamental teachings of virtually every religion and faith including those of traditional and cultural values and upbringing. 

Muslims are expected to put them into practice, adhere to and live by these values and should invite humanity to these principles. These are called hikmah (teachings of wisdom). They are basic and simple for anyone to follow. In an effort to show the universality of these basic principles, Readers will note the use of Biblical references to show that Islam is universal. Some of those values are:

First and foremost is to worship Allah alone

‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him’. (Quran: 17:23). And ‘…do not join in worship others with Allah; for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing (Quran 31: 13). ‘….Worship none but Allah’ (Quran 2:83). In Islam it is an article of faith and belief that Allah is One, the Lord and Creator, who has no partners to share His Divinity; and to only worship Him with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of our lives. Simply put this means that all praise and worship is due to Allah alone:

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. The Bible says: ‘The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love him with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30).

To be respectful and kind to parents

‘….And that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour……’ Quran 17: 23-24. And: ’We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents…show gratitude to Me and your parents’. (Quran 31: 14).

For Muslims respect and kindness to parents is not just a social responsibility but it is our religious duty and obligation. Our parents deserve to be treated with love, kindness and compassion because not only did they bring us into this world but they also raised and cared for us through our transition from childhood to adulthood. It is our religious obligation to give in return that type of love and commitment.  

Today it is frightening to observe how some ‘children’ (this word children includes adults) treat their elderly parents, shouting, cursing them and even using mental and physical abuse against them. Many parents are seen as a burden and are just ‘dumped’ and left to fend for themselves. It is becoming more common in the so-called developed countries for elderly parents to be seen as a burden to their children and the easiest option is to ‘dump’ them into old age or retirement homes with the lame excuse that ‘they will be better off in the company of people their own age’;

only to visit them on their birthdays or on special occasions, if ever. What a sorry state of affairs. The Bible is also clear about respect for parents; in the Ten Commandments the instruction is ‘honour thy father and thy mother’ and further, ‘Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord’ (Col 3:20)

To be good to relatives, to the poor, to neighbours and to the travellers

‘And render to the kindred their due rights, as also to those in want and to the wayfarer…’ (Quran 17: 27) This is to remind us that we are interconnected as one brotherhood in this world. Social responsibility begins with the family and relatives and it also includes all those who are in need. Therefore our responsibilities extend beyond ourselves and our immediate family members and relatives and but to the society at large.

We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this road through life. Muslims must live a socially responsible life. We must assist others where possible, as Martin Luther King Jnr. Said: An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. The Bible says: ‘… and to love his neighbour as himself’ (Mark 12:33). ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have a treasure in Heaven’. (Matt 19:21)

To take good care of children

‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Quran 66: 6)
In Islam children are much loved, wanted and are regarded as a valuable gift and a trust (amanah) from Allah and we should give grateful thanks to Allah for that Blessing. In raising those children we should always remember our obligations and responsibilities placed upon us by our Creator.  Our children are our future therefore they should be taught Islamic morals, characters, and etiquette from an early age so that it becomes part of their habits.

Children should be taught the principles of humility, tolerance, patience, and other such behavioural traits so that they become morally responsible children. Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy Islamic environment to protect their life as well as their spirit and mind, their morals and manners. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it’. (Proverbs 22: 6)

To spend money wisely and not waste resources

‘…but squander not you wealth in a manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones; and the evil one is ungrateful…… (Quran 17: 27). ‘And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who… when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes).’ (Quran 25:63-67)

To some who have spare money extravagance (for mere ‘show’) becomes an inherent streak within them. Muslims should be moderate in their spending habits and neither should they be tight-fisted nor too loose with money. We should aim for a balanced life style so that while being careful of and watching our spending habits we should not become miserly and stingy.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Observe the middle course whereby you will attain your objective (that is paradise).” Moderation is the opposite of extravagance. Every individual is meant to earn in a lawful (Halaal) and dignified manner and to spend it in a wise and careful manner. One should never try to impress upon others by living beyond one’s means. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, ‘Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant’. (Quran 7: 31).

This principle can be applied to all resources that Allah has given us. Wise and conscientious use of natural resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.On the love of wealth the Bible says: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some covet after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’.  (1 Timothy 6: 10)

 (Continued next week)

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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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