Almost a week gone and Muslims are into their month of fasting. One may ask, why fast? The Quran says: ‘O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restraint’. (Quran 2: 183). We fast in order to fulfil the Command of our Lord.
This is a month in which on a physical level we abstain from all food, drink, smoking and fulfilling our marital carnal desires from sunrise to sunset. In addition on a behavioural level we refrain from bad vices like jealousy, vain talk, anger, gossip, and other everyday human traits. It is also a time forgiveness – we should forgive those whom we think have hurt us or done something against us. How can we expect the Lord to forgive us when we don’t forgive our fellow human beings?
During this time we can fulfil our obligations to our Lord and Creator and at the same time to purge and cleanse the mind, the body and souls of the bad vices we have succumbed to. Think about it, throughout the year many of us fall into such bad habits as gorging down our food and overeating thus stressing out our bodies and our internal systems. Fasting gives the body that much needed chance and time to reinvigorate and cleanse itself. Doctors are now discovering the physical benefits of fasting have a wonderful cleansing effect on the body. Many impurities are burned up within the body, thus clearing, cleansing and healing the body.
So, this is the month for Muslims to abandon their bad habits and turn around their lives – as the saying goes; ‘We first make our habits, and then our habits make us’. This is an opportune time to work towards bringing the good habits and practices back into our lives. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.’
As often made reference to, fasting is not only limited to Islam but also is a practice common to many other religions, maybe not as pronounced and specified as in Islam, but it is there in the Scriptures and teachings. The Bible refers to fasting in a number of instances. Fasting is prescribed in almost all religions. The Jews and Christians also fast. Jewish law order a yearly fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I read an item sometime back that said that Orthodox Jews require the bride and groom to fast on the day before their wedding. Many Christians fast during Lent, the period of 40 days that Jesus (pbuh) spent fasting in the wilderness. People of the Buddhist and Hindu faith also fast.
Among the verses in the Bible: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights….. (Matthew 4: 1-4). And: “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1: 4)
For Muslims this month also has a great significance: ‘Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide to mankind and as a clear evidence for guidance and judgement between right and wrong. So whoever among you witnesses this month, let him spend it in fasting….’ (Quran 2: 183 – 185)
For all Muslims from the age of puberty upwards the month long fasting is obligatory and it includes intensive devotional activities. However if one is ill, on a journey or for some reason unable to fast during this month, they can make up for it later. For those who cannot do so for other reasons for example, the regular intake of medicines, they have to make penance or make up for it by feeding the indigent and needy.
Fasting constitutes the third obligatory pillar of faith and worship in Islam and the first lesson fasting brings to us, is that of obedience: we have to learn to cultivate obedience to the orders of Allah. Without this obedience there is little hope of ever changing our inner self to gain piety. This is not about picking and choosing, not about what to obey and what to leave out, but about total submission to Allah. Islam is to submit.
Neither is it only about ‘starvation’ from all food and drink throughout the daylight hours, but it is more than this. With the intensity of the fasting it brings about the opportunity to take stock of our lives, to reflect on what we have been, what we are doing, and what we should have been doing. This should bring into focus an inner reflection of the conduct of our lives.
Muslims also engage in increased devotional activities during this month; in addition to the five times daily prayers, additional prayers are added to the evening prayer. During these additional congregational prayers, the Imaam leads them by reciting (from memory) the entire Quran, from first chapter to the final chapter, spaced over the month. In addition to this many Muslims increase their devotional activities even by reading / reciting the entire Quran at home on their own during this month.
These actions teach us self-discipline, self-control, steadfastness and resilience as they train us to be flexible and adaptable in our habits and thus capable of enduring hardships. For example, throughout the year we can eat and drink anytime all day long but not so during the fasting month. During our fasting month we cannot do so from sunrise to sunset, so we begin to realise that indeed food and drink are precious gifts not to be taken for granted.
This in turn brings about a consciousness of the plight of the poor and needy who constantly experience this state of hunger, from this we learn to appreciate the daily bounties from our Lord that we usually take for granted. This brings about active compassion and the spirit of charity towards the poor and needy.
The intensity of our devotional activities during this month should trigger off in us a deep reflection and a soul searching to identify those weak spots in our spiritual goals and values. This then becomes a unique opportunity to utilize to move and devote ourselves to our spiritual development.
As mentioned earlier amongst other things we should avoid vain talk, gossip, learn to control our temper; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting)". Further: 'Five things break a man's Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze’. And: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor should he raise his voice in anger. If someone verbally attacks or insults him, let him say: "I am fasting!"
To Muslims the world over the message is, Ramadan Mubarak and may you gain the maximum benefits from your actions during this auspicious month.
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.
… 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.
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”!