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Morality: Does it still exist?

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The basic teachings of every religion, culture and traditional values are based on a system of morality. In religion, these teachings touch on every area of a Believer’s life and they cover a broad spectrum of personal moral conduct as well as our social responsibilities.

Where there is a lack of morality the community suffers many different types of ills. When we look around; there appears to be more evil than there is good in society and in the world at large. Without doubt there is a noticeable decline in moral conduct throughout the world.
“Evil and good are not equal, even though the abundance of evil may be pleasing to you. Have fear of Allah, you who are endowed with understanding, so that you may triumph”. (Quran 5: 100).

Islam and indeed almost all faiths have laid down some basic universal moral standards for humanity to follow, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad.  In other words the rights of society take precedence over the rights of an individual. I read a quote recently that said, ‘Morality is one of the fundamental sources of a nation’s strength, just as immorality is one of the main causes of a nation’s decline’

Morality in Islam addresses every aspect of life, from greetings to international relations.  It is universal and broad in its application.  Morality reigns in selfish desires, vanity, bad habits and vices.  Believers must not only be virtuous, but they must also encourage virtue.  They must not only refrain from evil and vice, but they must also forbid them.  In other words, they must not only be morally healthy, but they must also contribute to the moral health of society as a whole.

An essential part of morality is the control of our vices, passions and desires. Look around there is a noticeable decline in the standard moral behaviour and conduct the world over. For example read any newspaper of the daily on goings on in our society; frighteningly the increase in the number of rape and other crimes related to sexual offences, spouse abuse, family, domestic and public violence. What has happened to our moral fibre, are we no longer God-fearing?

One of the many verses of the Quran that deals with our daily conduct in our affairs is a stepping stone to building our moral values: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces (in prayer) to the East or the West, but righteous is the one who believes in God and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets; and gives his wealth for love of Him (God) to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set free those in bondage; and observes proper worship (daily prayer) and pays the charity due;  And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress; such are those who are sincere. Such are the God fearing.” (Quran 2:  177)

Islam attaches great importance to the love of God and to the love of our fellow humans and this verse sets some of the standards for the righteous and God-fearing believer. These standards should help us build the foundation around which our moral conduct should revolve. However we should not forget the highest quality of a Believer: God-consciousness.

The key to virtue and good conduct is to create a strong relationship with the Almighty, who sees all what we do, at all times and everywhere. The Almighty knows the secrets of our hearts and the intentions behind all our actions. Therefore, a Believer must be moral in all circumstances; we can deceive everyone around us but we cannot deceive the Almighty.  We can flee and hide from anyone, but not from Him. This continuous awareness of Allah and the Day of Judgement creates within us a system of moral conduct and sincere intentions: ‘Does he not know that Allah sees all that he does?’ (Quran 96: 14). ‘Indeed, the most honourable among you in the sight of God is the most God-conscious.’ (Quran 49: 13)

The combination of moral conduct together with social responsibilities, are based on compassion and consideration of others.  Part of our behavioural conduct lays emphasis on specific acts like, kindness and it defines the responsibilities and rights of our various relationships. After we have established our relationship with our Creator, in the ever widening circle of relationships, our first obligation thereafter is to our immediate family – parents, husband or wife and children, then to other relatives, neighbours friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Believers, all our fellow human beings the world over.

“And turn not your face away from people (with pride), nor walk in insolence through the earth.  Verily, God does not like any arrogant boaster.  And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice.  Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the donkey (Quran 31:18-19)

Islam has set for us some universal standards of human behaviour which are to be observed and practiced in all circumstances. It has made morality as one of its cornerstones and to uphold these, it has provided not only safeguards, but also an effective moral system.
However, these standards by themselves are not sufficient without being accompanied by among other things, by the following: Our faith should be true and sincere; but in addition the other important moral characteristics of humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, honesty, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one’s promises, are all moral values which are emphasised over and over again in the Quran. 

Sometimes our love for the ‘temporary’ material pleasures of this world makes us forget our morality as we become attached to worldly gains instead of our yearn for a better world in the Hereafter. Instead of being attached to the car, the job, the diploma and the bank account, all these things should become tools to make us better people. The Holy Qur’an reminds us that: “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to God a sound heart (firm in faith).” (Quran 26: 88-89)

Regrettably in this day and age we have people shouting for the rights of the individual – the demand is that an individual can do whatever he wants to because it is his ‘right’ to do so. They forget that in exercising their rights they should be aware that those rights end when they start infringing upon the rights of others. Islam takes the view that the rights of the individual do not take precedence over the rights of society as a whole. In Islam whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society and does not oppose any principles of the religion is morally good, and whatever is harmful is morally bad.

Believers must not only be virtuous, but they must also enjoin virtue.  They must not only refrain from evil and vice, but they must also forbid them.  In other words, they must not only be morally healthy, but they must also contribute to the moral health of society as a whole.
Remember: ‘If anyone does a righteous deed, it is to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against his own soul. In the end you will all be brought back to your Lord’ (Quran 45: 15)

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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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