There are a basic set of human values, principles and commitments for every Muslim, as an individual and as people that make up the principles and the universal values of Islam. When followed they bring justice, peace and happiness in this world and success and salvation in the Hereafter.
However think about it, regardless of your religion, culture, social background, heritage, your status in life and all those classifications that we have created, there is one thing for certain -That, in our upbringing and in our lives there have always been a basic set of universal values and principles that were taught and infused into us by our parents. But do they still exist today?
There are or shall I say there were certain values that were taught and practiced and they became part of our daily lives. If we were all to live by and practice those as part and parcel of our daily lives this world would surely be a better place. Unfortunately in our haste to become ‘westernized’ we have forgotten or have thrown away all those values. These principles may have been written about in my previous articles, but, since they are so important to bring into our lives, please let us all try to make these our daily commitments.
Just to show that these principles are universal I will quote verses from both the Quran and the Bible. To worship Allah alone: This means to recognize Allah as the Lord, with no partners, to worship Him with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of life. A Muslim’s life is nothing but total commitment to Allah; He is the centre of our life and He is our total and ultimate concern. ‘Your Lord hath decreed that you worship none but Him…. (Quran 17:23)
Similarly when one looks at a like verses from the Bible ‘I alone am the Lord your God. No other god may share my glory; I will not let idols share my praise. (Isaiah 42:8). “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20: 2-3);
To be respectful and kind to the parents: This is to acknowledge the compassion and kindness of the parents, to be grateful to them and to do our utmost to reciprocate that love and compassion they gave to us in our years of growing up. After all they brought us into this world therefore respect and kindness to parents is not just a social duty for us; it is our religious duty and obligation. Today the manner in which children speak to their elders shows a certain lack of respect, disregard and disdain for them.
Just a simple example that I like to use: before when we greeted parents we would hold our hands together and make a small ‘bow’ to greet them. Today it is just a passing ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. ‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth… (Quran 46:15).
‘….And that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour……’ Quran 17: 23-24. And: ’We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents…show gratitude to Me and your parents’. (Quran 31: 14).
In the Bible: “Honour your father and mother” (Exodus 20: 12);
Being good to your relatives, neighbours, to the poor and to the needy; Our responsibilities are not only towards ourselves and our immediate families, but also to society at large. We are all in need of each other as we are all fellow travellers in this path of life. Muslims have to live a life of social responsibility. That responsibility begins with our immediate family, other relatives and it includes all those who are in need. ‘Show kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, the orphans, the needy, and unto the neighbour……. (Quran 4:36).‘And render to the kindred their due rights, as also to those in want and to the wayfarer…’ (Quran 17: 27)
The Bible says: “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:7). “… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Taking good care of your children: As we recognize the rights of the parents, we should also recognize the rights of children upon us. Our children are our future therefore we must see that we raise healthy, intelligent and morally responsible children.
Our commitment should be to raise them in safe and healthy environment. We must protect their life as well as their sprit and mind, their morals and manners, this, is in addition to our other responsibilities such as providing food, shelter, clothing and giving them the best education possible. For our children to grow into responsible adults it is necessary that we as parents ensure that our actions and behaviour have to be exemplary. As oft stated children may not follow what you tell them but they will find it easier follow your example.
‘Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas God, with Him is a great reward (Paradise).’ (Quran 64:15) ‘O, you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) (Quran 66:6) Prophet Muhammad said: ‘No father can give a better gift to his child than good manners’ The Bible says: “Lo children are the heritage of the Lord”…Psalms 127:3. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be peace oft thy children” Isaiah 54:13
Taking care of the orphans: Orphans are vulnerable and must be taken care of. Their rights upon us must be recognized and they should be shown kindness and be protected. Due to the scourge of AIDS and other factors there are many orphans in our midst who are in dire need of our support. This support can be in many forms; from financial, material and right down to showing them love, caring and compassion. The plight of orphans cannot be underestimated nor can we who have families understand what they go through. We cannot even begin to imagine the emotional turmoil and stress their young minds go through without the guidance, care and support of a loving family structure that many of us have been fortunate enough to enjoy.
We need to do more to show love and compassion towards orphans – they have lost their parents; they need a sense of belonging and of being wanted, but most of all they need, role models, ‘parental’ care and love. One of the attitudes believers have to adopt is to do good for orphans and "never to treat them harshly".
‘See you one who denies the Judgement to come? Then such is the man who repulses the orphan with harshness, and encourages not the feeding on the indigent’. (Quran 107: 1-7). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: Whosoever passes his hand over the head of an orphan, but for the sake of Allah, shall have the blessings for every hair over which hand passes.“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1:27) These are some of the fundamental and basic universal values and principles that make up humankind and we need to ensure that we practice them in our daily lives so that we live the life that the Almighty has defined for us.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.