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As Long As There is Life… There is Hope!

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

We go through our daily lives with tests and challenges – sometimes we get so overwhelmed by them that we begin to ask ‘why me’. When these things happen our patience is tested and some people go into depression, lose faith and hope and even go as far getting into a state of limbo because we lose rationality.  When the future looks bleak we must remember the saying; ‘every cloud has a silver lining’.

As difficult as it may seem when one faces hardships and tribulations, one should be joyous of the blessing it brings with it. This is because every hardship and suffering is an opportunity because it is more than what you see. And we must always remember that life has its challenges, its ups and downs: The Qur’an says; ‘And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient, Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: “Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall surely return.” Those are they, on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the followers of the right course’. (Quran 2: 155 – 157)

Allah the Exalted states: "And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return; "Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the (rightly) guided. He who created death and life to test you (as to) which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving. (Qur'an 67:2)

When things challenge us we may ask why me, why now. There are a number of reasons why Allah allows hard times to befall us. Even the genuine believers experience hardship and adversity at some stage in their lives in accordance to the Almighty’s wisdom and plan:

Test of Faith

It is Almighty’s design to put the human through hardship and adversity so as to test our faith, our resolve and trust in Him: Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test? We have tested those before them, for God must distinguish those who are truthful, and He must expose the liars. Quran 29:2-3).Also: We will surely test you through some fear, hunger, and loss of money, lives, and crops. Give good news to the steadfast. (2:155)

To pass the test, the believer must maintain his  HYPERLINK "http://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/finding-peace/trusting-allah/how-to-boost-our-trust-in-god/" t "_blank" trust that only God Almighty can relieve his hardship. The believer will maintain his prayer and call onto Him:

2- Cleansing our Soul

Hardship and adversity is an opportunity to cleanse our souls from sins we have already committed. As a result, some of the bad things that happen to us are a direct result of sins we have committed

3- Gratefulness

Hardship and adversity is a reminder for people who tend to take things for granted and forget our blessings. Despite all the blessings given to the human by God, we can be unappreciative. A little reminder in the shape of hardship or adversity may hopefully do the job of teaching the human not to take God’s blessings for granted:

If you count God’s blessings, you can never number them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative. (Quran 14:34) When we bless the human being, he turns away, and drifts farther and farther away, and when he suffers any affliction, he comes full of prolonged prayer (Quran 41: 51)

4- Remembering God

Adversity and hardship is also a very effective reminder for those who are too much absorbed in the worldly life, and thus they may not be as devoted to God as they should be. Due to their being too preoccupied with this worldly life they do not seek God nor call on God as they should:

He is the One who moves you across the land and sea. You get onto the ships, and they sail smoothly in a nice breeze. Then, while rejoicing therein, violent wind blows, and the waves surround them from every side. This is when they implore God, sincerely devoting their prayers to Him alone: “If You only save us this time, we will be eternally appreciative.

But as soon as He saves them, they transgress on earth, and oppose the truth. O people, your transgression is only to the detriment of your own souls. You remain preoccupied with this worldly life, then to us is your ultimate return, then we inform you of everything you had done.(Quran 10; 22-23)

The least we can do is to thank Almighty Allah for having created and given us life. Not only that, we have to thank Him for having created us as human beings with human features. As long as there is life, there is hope… Think about it, you are much better off than others who are born permanently blind, deaf-mute, with cerebral palsy, psychiatric and other incurable diseases, etc. that cannot be treated. The Qur’an says:  And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; to choose is not theirs; glory be to Allah, and exalted be He above what they associate [with Him]. (Quran 28: 68)

Like it or not each one of us will have all sorts of tests in our lives from the Almighty, but during those ‘bad’ moments, we must always remember that Allah will never impose a burden on us more than what we can bear.  ‘On no soul Allah places a burden greater that it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. Pray: Our Lord do not condemn us if we forget or fall into error; our Lord do not lay on us a burden like that which you laid on those before us; our Lord do not lay on us a burden greater than we have the strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness’. (Quran 2: 286).

Each one of us faces or suffers from an assortment of problems and challenges in our daily lives. Let us remember that each and every one of us has come into this earth and we should be thankful because we have our life around us. Think about it we could have been still-born, born in a royal palace or in a slum, as handsome or ugly, as a boy or girl, with high IQ or a lower one, with no genetic deformity or with other hereditary diseases. Every person’s ID card relating to how we are born, how we will look, how we will the other human characteristics his anatomy, are programmed into our bodies whilst we are in the womb.

Therefore we must be thankful to Allah, both in adversity and prosperity, as the Qur’an says. ‘And if We make man taste mercy from Us, then take it off from him, most surely he is despairing, ungrateful. And if We make him taste a favor after distress has afflicted him, he will certainly say: The evils are gone away from me. Most surely he is exulting, boasting; Except those who are patient and do good, they shall have forgiveness and a great reward.’ Quran 11: 9-11:

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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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