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Whatever happened to manners?

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

It seems that in the world of today many of us have forgotten some of the so-called old school manners that our parents, grandparents, and teachers taught us. This is the teaching of manners or good conduct that is instilled into us by our parents. But today many of us seem to have forgotten out time honoured ‘manners’.

For example look around today, when young people do not bother to greet elderly relatives living in their homes, some may not even stand up to offer an elder a chair to sit on. As elders when we go to work and come back without checking up someone who lives a few steps from our back door, is it any wonder that the children do not bother to do so either. We don’t even bother to check on our frail and elderly family members and friends.

A child learns by watching, seeing and hearing what those around him do.  In this increasingly chaotic world, making a good impression is vital, and good manners and respect for others can go a long way to ensuring that you do. As parents some of us seem to have missed – or should I say messed up, the opportunity to inculcate and instil morals, ethics, values and all those time honoured cultural and traditional family values that formed the basis of our own upbringing and social interaction. Too many of today’s parents take a don’t care attitude and role in moulding and bringing up their children in becoming responsible adults of tomorrow.

Not only that, homes are no longer the havens of peace, tranquillity and comfort that we once knew. Homes today are filled with family strife, domestic violence, vulgar language, the lack of respect, and a whole host of modern day ills. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in such a poisoned atmosphere?

But when you look around us there are signs of rot in our society with moral decay and degeneration having taken root. What was once a healthy society is now facing a crisis as a result of the rapid social deterioration and degradation of those religious, social and moral values that form the basis of a healthy society have being swept away. Why is it so and what has gone wrong?

Simple, what do children see today? All sorts of serious crimes, corruption, drugs, alcohol, rape, pornography, prostitution, premarital and extra marital sex, nudity, gays and lesbians, same sex marriages, sexual harassment, adultery, and crime increasingly committed by and also against youth and children. Read any newspaper; grannies as old as 80 years and children as young as 4 years are being raped. Has the human race descended to such low levels of depravity?

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘When promiscuous behaviour becomes rampant in a nation, Allah will send upon them such (strange) diseases that their own ancestors never heard of.’ Let alone ancestors, a generation ago no one ever heard of or even dreamt of the dreaded scourge of AIDS that is so prevalent and taking so many lives in our society today.

Morals have a very high status in Islam; they are what define the standards of ‘goodness’ or the ‘badness’ of a person. If our morals are good then our intentions and actions are good, however if they are bad then our actions and intentions are corrupted and this flows into our corrupted lifestyles.

The moral degeneration establishes itself and filters down in two levels, via us adults and down to our youth. The simple truth is that the errant and deviant behaviour of adults flows through and makes an impression on the younger generation. As the saying goes children may not listen to what you say but they will certainly watch and follow what you do. In other words children may forget words…..but will easily follow footsteps, thus the examples of behaviour of the adults are what is picked up by the youth. It is therefore important to teach them values even just by leading through example.

In Islam we are told by the Almighty: ‘You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Prophet Muhammed PBUH) a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day’.  (Quran 33: 21)  
For Muslims this is our perfect example; in fact, we are commanded by Allah to follow the Sunnah (life and teachings of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), and if we do, we cannot go wrong. Allah says:  O Mohammed, call to mankind; “Say, If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is forgiving and Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah does not love those who reject faith.’ Quran: 3: 31-32.

In Islam children are an ‘Amanah’, (a sacred trust), from the Almighty entrusted to us to raise, nurture, guide, and prepare them for the life ahead. As parents and guardians we have been given that responsibility to equip them with the tools to become responsible adults. Our goal is to equip the child with a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behaviour so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioural standards.

The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: 6). ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’ said the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). 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) 

This is a crisis of massive proportions we need to do something. We cannot turn a blind eye to this crisis we need to speak out loudly against this moral degeneration within our midst. We need to act swiftly before we lose our children to this maelstrom and vortex of evil. It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and their behaviour, however, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the commandments of Allah and follow the teachings of our Prophet (PBUH).

That is what responsible parenting is about: guiding, training them and also being the living example of the type of righteous person we want them to be when they grow up. It is said; the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crises. The choice is in our hands, the Quran says: ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls) – (Qur’an 13:11)

I found these beautiful words that I have quoted on occasion because they encapsulate on how we should deal with our child in order to have a desirable end result:

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: "The dearest of you to me are those who have good manners. The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is the best in conduct.”
The Ball is in our court.

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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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