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RELIGION: A commercial undertaking???

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Allah Almighty declares in the Holy Qur’an: O people of the book….worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we do not erect, from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah. (Quran 3: 64).  Do not, then, claim that there is any power that could rival God, when you know the truth.” (Qur’an 2 : 21-22)

In this verse of the Holy Qur’an, The Almighty speaks of the futility of worshipping others besides Him.  He addresses humanity to direct all acts of worship to Him alone. He is their Creator and Lord. Allah is the One who created us into being out of nothingness. Whilst Islam is very clear about the belief of an individual, as stated in the following verse in the Quran: ‘Let there be no compulsion in Religion; truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks’ (Quran 2: 256)

Lately we have witnessed an ‘explosion’ in the number of so-called ‘New’ churches being formed – these are the subject of focus, not the older established ones that have existed and have been known for years. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke of the proliferation of false prophets and imposters when he said: “In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves”. And, “The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)”.

Read what the Bible says: “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people”. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)
Are we entering the ‘last days’? How do you explain the explosion in the number of those claiming to be prophets?

Yes, we all know about those people. Just look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men and women of God.  The Qur’an warns these people; ‘Who can be more wicked than one who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….if you could see how the wicked fare in the throes of death….a penalty of shame that you used to tell lies against Allah….(Quran 6:93).  

The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).

Whilst it is the constitutional right of anyone to follow his / her own belief; there arises a problem because it appears that the objective of some of the founding fathers of these new churches is just to bleed their gullible congregation dry of their money. Many have been formed just to ‘raise’ money for the church founders and leaders.  Remember you cannot buy God’s favour with money, I remind them to read the Bible: “Thy money perishes with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money”. (Acts 8; 20).  Surely, God is not in need of money or any form of wealth – so where does it go to is a question that adherents should ask.      

It is amazing the number of ‘churches’ that are springing up in Botswana and their leaders  laying claim to being a ‘prophet’, ‘prophetess’, bishop, minister, and even claiming to be the ‘chosen one’ and the word ‘anointed’ often creeps up. The word anointed amuses me whenever I read it because it means; to be ‘smeared’, rubbed with oil; there was even one who sprayed the congregants with Doom insect spray. One can only label him as the Prophet of Doom. The only anointment that some of these fake ‘prophets’ need is to be tarred and feathered like In the days of old, when any person who was a nuisance to society was publicly smeared with tar and feathered!

Today we have ‘priests’ of dubious credentials, who overnight establish these churches – unfortunately many of them are nothing but business ventures disguised as ‘a church’ and indirectly smear the name of Christianity as a religious belief and tradition. Nowhere in the religious texts does it say that we should collect money to fund the lavish lifestyle of a church leader

We only have to look at these church leaders high and expensive lifestyles; leaders who promise ‘miraculous riches’ to their followers and in return literally siphon thousands of pula from their (gullible) adherents. What they are doing is to sell the name of God for the miserable price of a personal gain. “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (Bible: 1 Timothy 6; 10). Think about this one: He who serves God only for money will serve the devil for a better wage.

Has mankind degenerated and sunk to such a low moral point that there are some who are willing to use God’s name for their personal benefit? Have they forgetting that one day we all have to die and they will be called to account for their actions.  ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90)

Apart from preaching a ‘Gospel of Prosperity’, (for themselves), we also read with disgust of the antics of some of these religious leaders who have illegal love affairs with members of their congregation; It is frightening that some of these new found churches are led by, of course with a few exceptions, charlatans with loose morals and this is directly against Biblical teachings.
 

Religion is not only a set of rituals and of performing certain duties; it is an all-embracing system that Believers take as a way of life. It means that our intentions, deeds and actions must be based on firm belief, good intentions and the awareness of our Creator. It is therefore a duty of the believer to make every effort to guide people to the right path by reminding them of their duty to their Creator; by spreading the ‘good word’ but more especially leading by example.

This world is but a passing phase we therefore have to change our lifestyles and bring God back into our lives, failure to do so will bring us eternal damnation ….’and if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear them no fruit in this life and the Hereafter; they will be the companions of the fire and will abide therein’. (Qur’an 2:217). People! Let us find our way to God Almighty through genuine and sincere prayer not through the promise of purchasing His favours via your ‘donation’ – God asks for your heart and soul, not your money.

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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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