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Let us change 4 – patience / steadfastness

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Following in the series of the values and qualities that make up the character of an ideal Muslim, this column will continue with another aspect of this personality that we should all aspire to mould our lives around. However change comes from within and it may not be an overnight thing but something of a ‘journey’.

Patience / Steadfastness

There is a saying that surely many of us may have heard and still remember; it goes like this, ‘patience is a virtue’, without doubt it is a virtue that we all have to develop over time. However it is easier said than done because it requires a strong belief in our Creator, a belief in ourselves and the ability to remain calm when all else seems to be collapsing around us. It revolves around will power, our ability to bear misfortunes in times of hardship and the acceptance of Allah’s Divine Decree and Fate. Regardless of your religion, faith or belief we must remember that whatever happens in our daily lives we have to turn to our Lord be it during good times or during trying times.

‘And We shall undoubtedly test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss of wealth and lives and fruits. But give glad tidings to the patient who say when afflicted with calamity, ‘to Allah we belong and to Him is our return’. They are those upon whom is Allah’s Blessing and Mercy, and they are the ones who are guided (Quran 2:155-157).

Without doubt it will be difficult to find a person who can truthfully say that they have not been confronted and challenged with periods of misfortune, hardship and adversity. Be it sickness, a tragedy in the family, marital problems or even  a marriage break up, losing one’s livelihood, losing one’s home, family problems and all the other daily challenges that life brings or throws our way. Some of us are mentally stronger, thus better equipped to face those challenges, naturally there are those of us who are unable to cope with them.

These are the trying times and in these situations Islam teaches us to bear life’s challenges with fortitude and courage, remain firm of heart and put our trust in Allah Almighty. … …be firm and patient in pain or suffering and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah fearing (Quran 2:177). The bible says Romans 12; 12: ‘… rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing in prayer’.

As humans undoubtedly from cradle to grave, life will every now and then throw curve balls our way, it will have its challenges, adversities and hardships bringing with it challenging times – but then again let’s not forget that when fortune smiles upon us, there will be periods of comfort, ease, joy and happiness – that is life with its roller coaster of ups and downs.

Let us honestly consider this; when things are going tough many of us rightly turn to our Lord in prayer, we become steadfastly ‘religious’, set aside a lot of time to pray, regularly go to our places of worship and do all the good things. There are times when our problems seem so insurmountable and of such magnitude and difficulty that some of us are liable to become extremely worried, breakdown, cry, beat our chests, become frantic or are even tempted to say, ‘why me Lord?’

Let’s face it our everyday life has its challenges, twists and turns but they are to be expected in this life of ours.  But Islam and every other religion / faith teaches us to be unwavering and place our trust in the Lord, because Allah says: ‘O ye who believe seek help with patient perseverance and prayer for Allah is with those who patiently persevere’ (Quran 2:153) and further ‘On no shoulder does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear ‘(Quran 2:286).   

But when our prayers are answered and the Lord eases our burdens, Lo and behold, we tend to lose our steadfastness, forget how we prayed, pleaded and cried to our Lord and we then revert back to our usual carefree lifestyles as if nothing ever happened. ‘When trouble touches a man, he cries unto us in all postures – lying down, on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have solved his trouble, he passes on his way as if he had never cried to Us for a trouble that touched him! (Quran 10 : 12)

Even in the Bible in Galatians, patience is listed as part of the "fruit of the Spirit" which includes: ‘….love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law". (Galatians 5:21-23).

However think about it, when we have live a prosperous life, with good health and of happiness, ease, comfort and joy, how many of us ever pause to count our Blessings or even to say ‘Thank You Lord for Blessing me with the good things in my life and for the ease in my life’? Not many of us unfortunately, because as mere mortals some of us tend to forget easily, or sometimes at the extreme end, we get delusions of grandeur and put our good fortune down to our own achievements in having attained worldly wealth and status.    

The message of Islam is simple: when your life is going well and you seem to have no problems, be grateful to the Lord for His Blessings…….’ Verily Allah is full of Grace and Bounty to men; yet most men give no thanks. (Quran 40:61)….’if good befalls them, they are therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces; they lose both this world and the Hereafter (Quran 22: 11). Therefore when you are faced with trials and tribulations, we have to instil patience into our lives, and face those challenges with patience, to be steadfast and turn to our Lord with sincere faith and prayer. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘patience is half Imaan (faith)’.

No matter who you are or what station you may hold in life the fact is that our daily life has its ups and downs but we must always remember that all things in life are temporary. If things are going well, be thankful and enjoy them because they cannot last forever. If they are going wrong, be patient, have faith and don’t worry, they can’t last long either. Turn to your Lord in prayer, guidance and comfort because yesterday is gone, today is here and tomorrow is yet to come.

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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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