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let us change 5 – mind your tongue

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

If you think about it there is something that we have in our mouths that is about 100 mm long, pink, soft, flexible tissue that is even more dangerous and mightier and can cause even more hurt and damage than a ‘weapon’ – it is called the human tongue.

We may not believe or realise it but the tongue is so powerful that it can inflict much hurt and damage through the use of harsh, hurtful, rude and insensitive words that they can penetrate into the very fibre of our body and soul. The wounds of a sword can and may heal over time, but the hurt and anger of words can and also remain within the hearts and minds of some of us for a long time – even to our graves. That is the raw power of the tongue. Yet how many of us are mindful of what we say?

There is a saying that was common some years ago; ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. But let us remember that those hurtful words may not break our bones but they may penetrate into our hearts and minds and remain there for a long time. Without doubt some of us still carry the hurt within us of something that someone has said to us or about us.

 Another saying was that; ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’; meaning that what is written may be more hurtful than a sword. Just like spoken words what is written can also squeeze and wedge into our hearts and in our minds. Nowadays the ‘written’ may not be by pen, but with the new technology that has social media and platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook etc. and if some of the things posted therein erroneously or deliberately can be emotional and hurtful.    

Think about it on a daily basis how many of us are guilty of the doing the following things related to our tongue? Telling lies, back biting, slander, foul language, making fun of and teasing and mocking other people thereby hurting their feelings, idle talk, talking back in a rude manner to one’s parents, breaking some one’s heart…and so many more. That is why one of the important virtues of being a Muslim is guarding his tongue. The Prophet (PBUH) said:” Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say what is good or be silent.”

In Islam mindful, kind and gentleness of speech is a righteous virtue whereas rudeness is a sin. The Quran declares ‘treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need and speak fair to people’ (Quran: 2: 83) Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘to speak politely is piety and a kind of charity’ and ‘to indulge in intemperate language and harsh behaviour is to perpetrate an injustice, and the home of injustice is Hell’.

The way we speak to people, minding what we say, how we say it and in what tone it is said, ‘speaks’ volumes of our character and the inner person that we are. If we speak to people in a polite, genuine, sincere and respectable manner over time it brings about within us many noble and virtuous qualities, some of those qualities are good manners, self-restraint, trust, discipline, humility and sincerity of heart. Whilst these qualities form the basis of religious teaching they are also a given for every parent in the moral upbringing of their children.

The ability to speak and express ourselves is a separation point between us as humans and from animals. The proper use of this great gift or its absence is what further separates us humans from one another.  Anyone of us can be immodest by being explicit, rude, crude and vulgar in speech, but it does take an effort to guard our tongue. More often than not those of us that tend to be loud, boisterous and reckless with the use of words often suffer from or have a low self-esteem and are actually looking for some form of recognition.

These values and qualities are not only confined to any particular religion or faith but also espoused in the values of most cultures. For example in the Bible: ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger’ (Proverbs 15:1)
In African culture, Eastern culture and to a lesser degree in the ‘west’, from observation, children from a young and tender age are taught the values of respect the use of ‘kind’ words and even keeping their voices ‘low’.

Regrettably these are in short supply in today’s society because in our quest to become ‘modernised /westernised’ we are forgetting our upbringing based on the traditional values of ‘Botho’. More so under the mistaken guise of ‘freedom of speech’ some of us tend to take that as a carte blanche licence or a blank cheque to say whatever nonsense, balderdash or drivel that we want to, simply because we take it is our right to do so thereby making a ‘freedom square’ out of our speech.

But in Islam we have to remember that our parents, elders, kith and kin, neighbours and even strangers and the society at large, have certain rights over us – among those rights are the right to be treated with respect including that of being spoken to with dignity. Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Giving a good word is a type of remembrance of Allah, telling the truth, guarding one's own tongue against slandering of others are good deeds.’

The Quran straight forwardly and beautifully describes such people, in chapter 31 verse 19 when it says; ‘And be moderate in thy pace, and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is that of the braying of the ass.’  Yes we have all heard the sound of a donkey braying. Islam reminds us that a person’s greatness lies not in how powerful he is in the use of words but rather in how careful he is in their use.

However we should remember that on the other hand it does not automatically mean that when someone talks in a soft and mild manner that there is sincerity in his heart, after all diplomacy has been described as – the art of telling a person to go to hell in such a nice manner that he even looks forward to the journey. Just a thought: we go to school to learn to read, write and speak a language, but seldom are we taught how to tame and control the raw power of these words or speech – to use it for promoting truth and not falsehood; spreading virtue and not evil.  

Remember: Always keep your words soft and sweet – just in case you have to swallow them. Also remember: be careful of your thoughts when you are alone, and take care of your words when you are with people. So let us learn to control our thoughts and guard our tongues so that we ourselves do not begin to sound like those braying asses mentioned above. What better way than to keep the tongue moist and busy with the remembrance of Allah?

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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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