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The month of joy

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

As approach the mid-point of our fasting early next week, Muslims need to take time out to reflect upon the Blessings and joys of fasting.   

For the Muslim, Ramadan is a time for reflection for us to sort out the priorities in our lives. It is a time to make a new start and to take one’s religion seriously, to be faithful to prayers, to recite the entire Qur’an during this month, more than once if they can, in an effort to give thanks at all times to Allah for His goodness. For the sincere person this brings happiness and comfort to the soul because it helps reign in our passions, brings in and builds the basis for self-control.

For those who are not Muslims may not understand the joy that many of us Muslims feel during the month of fasting (Ramadan). It is somewhat difficult to put into words. One may rightfully ask how is it that people look forward to going without food and drink between dawn and sunset for a whole month because to many it must seem like a severe diet that lasts for a month.  And yet, that is what Muslims do every year during this auspicious month. They have looked forward all year to this one special month in the calendar. Muslims have prepared themselves for the fast, and now Ramadan is half way through and it has entered into mind, body and soul.

Why fast? This is a common but interesting question which a child may ask his/her parents. Non-Muslims may also pose it to Muslims. Here are some of the reasons why Muslims observe a one-month fasting during Ramadan. The main reason for it is simple, to obey Allah's injunction: They have been commanded by Allah Almighty to do so.  “O ye who believe, Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may gain God consciousness.” (Quran 2: 183)

The bottom line is that sincere Muslims must believe in, obey and implement, all the words of Allah contained in the Holy Quran. These injunctions of Allah are regarded as blessings and a mercy. Every Muslim must obey Allah’s injunctions; this is a necessary precondition for being a Muslim and this is one of the true meanings of ISLAM – “submission”


Fasting is compulsory for all able-bodied Muslims who are free from any compelling reasons not to do so. Whoever deliberately forgoes fasting in Ramadan, should know that they have disobeyed Allah’s injunction. As the Quran says: ‘…. whoever of you, who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days; (Make up for it later) God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful".

(Quran: 2: 185)

As previously mentioned, fasting is not something new; it is, indeed, as old as Adam, who was the first to be created and the first to submit to only one Allah. The fact is that virtually every major religion be it Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Bahaism, Buddhism and all the others have fasting as one of the basic beliefs and practice. The Holy Quran mentions that Prophet Musa (Moses) fasted for 40 days and Prophet Muhammad said that Dawood (David) used to fast every alternate day throughout the year.

Also, Prophet 'Issa (Jesus) used to fast for 40 days. (May Peace and Blessings be upon them all).  There are verses can in the Bible that confirm this, a sample of them:  ‘And they said unto him. Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers….’ (Luke 5: 33). ‘Then was Jesus was led up of the Spirit…..and when he had fasted for forty days and forty nights…. (Matthew 4: 1-2)

Since these Prophets had submitted to and followed the commands of the Almighty, it can be seen that by asking Muslims via the Quranic verses to fast, Allah intends to draw their attention to the practice and tradition of those pious prophets and predecessors who attained piety through fasting. Therefore, fasting in Ramadan should be seen as upholding and propagating the tradition approved by Allah for all those who submit to Him.


Let us be honest, by nature all human beings are vulnerable to sin and transgression of Allah's guidance and limits. Generally, Muslims are prohibited from many things but amongst other ‘smaller’ things such as from vain and idle talk like gossiping, backbiting, slandering, hypocrisy, lying, cheating, grudges, etc. as these actions and vices oppose the teachings of the Holy Quran. But Muslims like all human beings err, thus they need to be reminded and coached against these types of social vices from time to time.

Thus Ramadan is the training period which helps Muslims to ‘service’ their minds and bodies to learn to refrain from these vices, and embody those virtues and get closer to Allah. Literally, it is a time to spring-clean one’s spiritual house and invite Allah into every room in that house. 
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) states: "… whoever fasts during Ramadan with sincere faith and hoping for his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven."  Therefore, fasting in Ramadan brings hope for Muslims to attain forgiveness of their past sins from Allah Almighty

When we break our fast and have eaten each day there is a sense of joy and fulfilment. For millions of others the world over, the call to the evening prayer the end of their thirst, nor will it give them an opportunity to eat food, but serves as a reminder as we begin to realize that there are lessons to be learnt. By fasting Muslims are reminded, that as they rejoice and celebrate the end of each day with food and water, they must remember that there are many thousands of poor and needy people in the world that face starvation and even death because they have neither food nor water.

As we learn once more about the countless blessings that Allah showers upon us in Ramadan, we are reminded not to forget our brothers and sisters without food or drink and even those with very little or no possessions. We take many things for granted, like food and drink, like the love of our wives and children, our homes, our material possessions, we live in a peaceful land, we don’t face the war and killings that we see in other countries, etc. This is the opportunity to be grateful every day — not only in Ramadan — for all the good things of this life that Allah has bestowed upon us.

Therefore, Muslims love this month, which is one of endless benefits and blessings. Indeed, no amount of words can truly describe this great month.

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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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