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Our final destiny depends on us

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

No matter which religion you belong to, they all have one basic universal message, teaching and belief to humanity; Death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this earthly world.

For a believer of any of the existing religions / faiths knows that we are on this earth but for a short stay / sojourn and when we die, without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, Allah, God, Lord, Modimo or whatever you call Him: He is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and to Him is due all worship and obedience. To humanity He sent Divine Revelations and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.

‘It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.’ (Qur’an: 67: 2) Nothing will happen to us except for what Allah has decreed for us, He is our protector, and on Allah let the believers put their trust ” (Qur’an 9: 51) Without doubt all power and mercy belongs to the Almighty – we will have to answer for our actions in this world.  

The bible says: “Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done”. (Luke 22:42). The Christian prayer consists of “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. Each and every one of us born onto this earth has our destiny and fate written down for us. But that does not mean that Allah has predetermined that a person will choose a certain path. It is not a question of whether humans are predestined to enter Paradise or Hell we must remember that Allah is All-Knowing of our past, present and future.

However this ‘destiny’ does not take away from us our freedom of choice and action. Rather it is how we use those choices and thinking for actions that are in harmony with Allah’s will that earns us our reward from Allah. If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, and we live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we are is virtuous.

The concept of a Muslims belief in Divine Decree and in destiny / fate is that when Allah created everything in the universe, He has determined when it would come into existence and when it would cease to exist. Thus He knows in advance which path — good or evil — each individual will choose and what will be his or her final destination — Paradise or Hell. Hence this is in His Knowledge. That is why He sent us the Divine Revelations and guidance through his Messengers / Prophets in order to guide and assist us.

In Islam the view is that man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin, and was blessed with intellect, wisdom and the choice to make life style choices for which we will ultimately be responsible and accountable for.  A sincere believer will always try to live by the Divine injunctions and laws that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, our own self, and with the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency to surrender our religious laws to the laws of man. We translate and interpret them into what fits in with today’s lifestyle.

Humans have been created with two different qualities they are our spiritual side and our physical one. On the one hand we have our mind; we can think anything we want to there are few boundaries to our thinking including the freedom of choice and of thought and the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. But on the physical side it is somewhat limited because of the factor of death and accounting which every human will face for the actions in this world.

Humans for all practical purposes are free to use their logic and thinking to make their own choices and decisions. We have no excuse for making the wrong choice and then blaming Decree/destiny/fate. For example: If I chose to bang my head or slam my fist into a wall I cannot blame the laws of nature. I cannot claim any injustice when it hurts. I know that the wall exists and that it is hard and I am liable to get hurt. That is the reality that I have to deal with. I should know the consequences of my actions and I shouldn’t expect a miracle!

Equally as Allah made moral laws, and we cannot claim any injustice if we get punished for disobeying or ignoring those moral laws when we have been blessed with ability to make those choices – good or bad. We therefore have to make rational choices so that upon our death we will have joy forever instead of grief forever.

We will never know what the future holds for us, and, to a large extent, we cannot control it. But we can make decisions within the limits of what we can control, based on our understanding of the way the world works. For example we do not know what tomorrow will bring for us. We could be severely injured in an accident, falling down stairs, suffer paralysis or lose the use of our limbs and a whole host of such daily occurrences – we will never know till they happen. If it is written or decreed in our fate or destiny that such a thing would happen to us – it is bound to happen.

However we should not worry about what Allah has written for us, since we will never be privy to it. But our duty is to strive to do the best in this world for our reward in the next; we therefore have to lead a life that is in harmony with the religious and moral code of behaviour that the Almighty has shown to us. That responsibility rest squarely with us – but it is not only the action that is important but the intention in our hearts.

Before embarking on anything and hoping for its success Muslims recognise the power of prayer as the most important weapon a believer has for guidance and success. A Muslim utters the words ‘Insha-Allah’ which means ‘if Allah so wills’. “Nor say of anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding ‘if Allah Wills’ (Quran 18:24). It is our acceptance that everything and every action, happens through the will of the Almighty. However this does not mean that we should throw up our hands and resign ourselves to our fate – there are many instances when we are faced with choices – it is how we react to and make those choices, is important.  

Therefore one of man’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety. Because mankind has been bestowed with the power of intellect we enjoy greatness over other creation, but that is comes with a degree of greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know if will live in joy or in grief forever.

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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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