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Carrying Rotten Tomatoes

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Hello, what’s this? This topic has previously been covered by this column, but because of the problems the world faces today, it is necessary to remind ourselves to open our minds. There is so much hatred and animosity in this world that it is important to remind ourselves to look around us and take steps to remove the rotten garbage that we carry.  

You may wonder what the above title has to do with a column on religion, but let me explain. No I have not gone crazy the article does carry an underlying religious theme. I have decided to write a piece that is light hearted and one that makes for easy reading. So I am going to use as a basis the ‘tomato’ idea that I had picked up elsewhere and it has slowly been germinating in my mind. I have taken the liberty to redraft it but I have carried the essential message that it was meant to capture.

In essence it highlights our human frailty of disliking and of hating some people. We all go through this phase at one time or another; we dislike or hate someone for our own reasons, sure we may have a reason to ‘hate’ that someone; you’re not the only one, we all carry some burden hidden within us; sometimes we confuse dislike, anger, resentment and even jealousy with hate, but to some degree we all have that malaise lurking within us and carry that burden through our life. In these situations the Qur’an and the Hadith teach us that if we wish to earn the forgiveness of Allah on the day of Judgement we have to forgive others. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.” [Qur’an 3:133-134]

Now to the tomato game:

A teacher decided to let her class play a game. The teacher told each child to bring along a plastic bag containing a few over-ripe tomatoes. Each tomato will be given a name of a person that the child hates, so the number of tomatoes that a child will put in their plastic bag will depend on the number of people they hate. When the day came, every child brought some tomatoes with the name of the people they hated. Some had 2 tomatoes and some had up to 5 tomatoes. The teacher then told the children to carry the tomatoes in their plastic bags wherever they go for 1 week. 

Days passed and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotting tomatoes. After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended. The teacher asked: How did you feel while carrying the tomatoes with you for 1 week? The children started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly tomatoes wherever they go. Then the teacher told them the moral of the story and the hidden meaning behind the game.

The teacher said: This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred contaminates your heart and you carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten tomatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime? Throw away any hatred for anyone from your heart so that you will not carry sins for a lifetime. Forgiving others relieves you and helps you to lead a happy life. 

 

Each one of us has committed sins, probably made many more mistakes and surely we have done things and wronged others; perhaps by means of deception, untruthfulness or backstabbing. But we tend to focus on other peoples errors while we overlook our own shortcomings? Forgiveness is linked with piety and God-consciousness – is there anybody who is without sin; is there anybody who can be arrogant enough to say that he does not need to forgive; do we not know that Allah forgives those who forgive others? Therefore, we should overlook the failings and faults of others and learn to forgive them. ‘But if you forgive and overlook and cover up their faults, verily Allah is Oft-forgiving and Most merciful. (Qur’an 64: 14)

Just like the rotting tomatoes, anger, dislike, resentment, envy, jealousy and the like can be likened to a long festering wound – if you do not attend to it, it can only get progressively worse. That simmering hatred within you can also make one become anti-social and unlikeable. Carrying around hatred can be emotionally debilitating and it can drive a person to do uncharacteristic things including taking revenge. We should therefore turn to prayer and learn to exercise self- restraint and forgiveness so that we can come to terms with and live in harmony with our emotions and thereby create inner peace. 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ‘To be forgiving and to control yourself in the face of provocation, to give justice to the person who was unfair and unjust to you, to give to someone even though he did not give to you when you were in need and to keep connection with someone who may not have reciprocated your concern, will ensure you a palace in Paradise (as a symbol of reward).’ This means that we should be merciful and forgiving with one another. First of all, we ourselves should avoid doing anything to upset others and then we should forgive those who have upset or made us angry. We simply cannot hope to be strong in faith if we are not able to forgive.

Sometimes it is only our hurt pride and bruised egos that prevent us from forgiving those who have wronged us, unfortunately some of us think that to forgive shows a sign of weakness and is humiliating, and for them it is better to be strong and preserve their honour – but honour in the eyes of Allah lies in forgiveness. “But indeed if any shows patience and forgives that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.”(Qur’an 42:43)

To be strong in faith we have to learn to forgive others; if we cannot find it in our heart to forgive others how do you expect the Almighty to forgive us our own trespasses and sins? It is all about self-control. Every religion teaches self-control, even the Bible says:’ “…. whoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”. Hatred contaminates our life and spiritual well-being…..so we need to get rid of that heavy burden of hate that we have been carrying around with us – learn to forgive and forget: let’s get rid of those ‘smelly rotting tomatoes’ that you have been carrying around with you – it’s over, let’s move forward

 

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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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Columns

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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