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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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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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