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Marduk Vs Adad

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Babylon rebounds after 325 years of Assyria overrule

With the return of planet Nibiru into visibility near-at-hand, the context of every war waged by a worthwhile power (under the banner of their respective gods) in the Middle East was Nibiru.   Every war was about who would control the space-related sites of Baalbek in Lebanon and Mission Control Centre in Jerusalem in the main as Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, was expected to land at the Nazca spaceport in South America; be flown to Baalbek; and finally ferried to Jerusalem, which he would officially declare the Navel of the Earth, that is, the geopolitical hub of the planet, since Sumeria’s Nippur.

The main contenders for the space-related sites were Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, with Assyria exhibiting the greatest resolve in line with the ultra-ambitious bent of their patron god Ishkur-Adad. In their conquer-and-tame campaign, the Assyrians first targeted Harran in today’s southern Turkey, which was at once a trade and religious centre and whose patron god was Nannar-Sin, Enlil-Jehovah’s second-born son.  Thereafter, they set their sights on La-Ba-An, today’s Lebanon.

The object of their acquisitive thrust here was Baalbek. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser III, who reigned from 859–824 BC, was later to erect a commemorative stela on Baalbek to broadcast to the world at large that it belonged to Assyria. He called it Bit Adini, meaning “Place where Eden is Located”. Mankind regarded Baalbek as a gateway to Paradise and when the King of Tyre was given the nod to visit there and “move within its fiery stones” (ride in a rocket), he upon his return set about boasting to his subjects and fellow kings   that he had become a “god” (Anunnaki), which earned him a scathing rebuke from the prophet Ezekiel.  

The Assyrians had also captured the Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos under Shalmaneser III’s predecessor Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled from 883-859 BC.  It seems in the quest to secure hegemony over the Middle East, Ishkur-Adad had the upper hand. His client nation, the Assyrians, now laid claim to Baalbek, Phoenicia, and Harran, and his other client nation, the Israelites, controlled Jerusalem. Sin and Utu-Shamash, who was the patron god of Lebanon, were trailing by far in the space-related site stakes.

ASSYRIA BLINDFOLDS BABYLON

With Baalbek in the bag, the Assyrians now had their eyes trained on the ultimate prize – Jerusalem. In the push to acquire Jerusalem, Assyria’s main rival was Babylon.  Assyria wanted Jerusalem wholly to itself and so Babylon had to be kept well at bay. This required tact. Exactly how? The trick the Assyrians came up with was to join forces with Babylon in the short-term. THEY WOULD PRETEND TO HAVE COMMON CAUSE WITH BABYLON AND WHEN TIME WAS RIPE OVERRUN BABYLON ALTOGETHER: that way, they would be the only power standing in the Middle East. 

Apparently, the first to make such an overture to Babylon was Shalmaneser III. In the ensuing pact, the kings of Babylon and Assyria not only were regarded as allies but as equal partners. What that meant was that if, for instance, Shalmaneser went off at a tangent in his imperialistic forays, the Babylonian king would leave him to his own devices and not interfere.   On the other hand, if the one was wracked with internal turmoil, the other would  rush over to help defuse the crisis by hook or crook.

That was the loophole the Assyrians used to basically colonise Babylon. In 851 BC, for instance, Shalmaneser descended on Babylon when the incumbent king faced ouster by his younger brother. The rebel brother was captured and put to the sword by Shalmaneser. In due course, Shalmaneser bullied his way into the Canaanite area unilaterally and captured all the Phoenician cities that lined the Mediterranean coast. He then proceeded to bully his way into the Kingdom of Israel. However, he did not annex Israel but turned it into a vassal state. In his annals, he boasts of receiving tribute from King Jehu of Israel.

The credit for the last and greatest phase of Assyrian expansion, however, belongs to Tiglath-Pileser III, who ruled from 745-727 BC. In 733 BC, Pileser invaded the Kingdom of Israel and captured the province of Galilee. The population of Galilee was rounded up and deported to Assyria. This was the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.  Meanwhile, Israel’s King was deposed, killed, and replaced by a puppet King called Hoshea. The Kingdom of Judah, which was ruled by King Ahaz, a vassal of Assyria, was spared.

Even then, the Assyrians were simply biding their time, poised to strike at a most opportune time given the centrality of the Judean-based Jerusalem in the context of the returning Nibiru. Pileser also seized and subjected Syria to his rule. In 729 BC, Pileser, like Shalmaneser before him, was called upon to intervene in Babylon when its king was deposed by a Chaldean chieftain – a foreigner. 

Pileser marched into Babylon and unseated the usurper. But he did not annex Babylonian territories and turn them into provinces under the control of his governors, by then the established Assyrian practice. Instead, in keeping with earlier practice, he assumed the throne of Babylon directly and claimed the title of "King of Sumer and Akkad". Pileser’s acceptance by the Babylonians was mixed but the priests of Marduk duly recognised him as Babylon’s King. He thus became the first Assyrian king to “take the hand of Marduk” and partake of the god’s sacramental meal.

SARGON II SENDS THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL INTO OBLIVION

Upon his demise in 727 BC, Tiglath-Pileser III was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V as King of both Babylon and Assyria. Like all his predecessors, Shalmaneser’s principal focus was Palestine. Both Palestine and the surrounding countries had to be firmly under the control of Assyria by the time King Anu touched down on planet Earth. Although Jerusalem in Judah was the ultimate quest, it was vitally important to rule over the neighbouring states as well lest they become a menace in the foreseeable future as Nibiru neared. The overrule could be direct (taking over completely, with an Assyrian governor in place) or indirect (installing a client King with unquestioning allegiance to the Assyrian crown).

In Pileser’s time, Hoshea, the King of Israel, dutifully paid tribute to Assyria. But when Shalmaneser ascended to the throne, Hoshea reneged on his obligations by allying himself with Pharaoh Osorkon IV of Egypt. Like Assyria, Egypt had imperial designs over Palestine. Shalmaneser’s retributive response was immediate and drastic.

He directed his forces at Israel with a view to rendering it desolate. The forces, however, were met with fierce resistance. As such, it took three years for Israel to fall. But no sooner had Shalmaneser had Israel routed than he was deposed by his own younger brother, who took the throne as Sargon II. This was in 722 BC.

Although Shalmaneser V tried hard to hold his father’s empire together and expand on it, which he succeeded in to a degree, his military exploits were not carried out with the speed and efficiency that had marked his father’s reign and his taxation and labour policies were unpopular with the people,  who he subjected to grueling, unrewarded toil. Sargon II abolished the taxation and labour policies, and ended the sieges his brother’s administration had prolonged. With these charitable measures, Sargon II was endorsed by the Babylonian priesthood as in 705 BC, he too was granted the privilege of taking the hand of the god Marduk.

Like Shalmaneser, Sargon II was determined to deal with Israel once and for all.  Laying siege to the country, he emptied it of all its inhabitants and deported them to the provinces of Assyria. Altogether, this was about 30,000 Jewish exiles.  The emptied former Kingdom of Israel was resettled with people from Babylon and four regions of Assyria. They were to become known as Samaritans.

The deported Israelites became known as the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel” (that is, all the Jewish tribes except the tribe of Judah and Benjamin) in that they diffused into other nations, over time venturing as far afield as Europe and the Caucasus, losing their Jewish identity and culture in the process.  Their whereabouts remain a mystery to date. The dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel by Sargon II meant that Hoshea was the last Jewish King of Israel. The Kingdom of Judah, on the other hand, continued to flourish and proved a loyal ally of Assyria till the death of Sargon II in 705 BC.

SENNACHERIB DESTROYS BABYLON

Sargon II was succeeded by his son Sennacherib. Sennacherib’s first major headache took the form of Babylonia and Judah. The Babylonian problem was Merodach, a Babylonian patriot who in 721 BC seized power not long after Sargon II had deposed Shalmaneser V. For the next 10 years, Babylonia was thus independent of Assyrian rule. Sargon II was in the meantime busy trying to neutralise the Elamites, a power in the ascendant who were by and large Merodach’s bulwark. 

In 710 BC, Sargon finally vanquished the Elamites, after which he marched on Babylon. Without the Elamite prop, Merodach was a sitting duck and so he fled for dear life. Babylonia once again had been caught back in the powerful orbit of Assyria.  However, following the death of Sargon, Merodach re-emerged. He coaxed King Hezekiah of Judah, the most important state between Assyria and Egypt, into fomenting unrest against Sennacherib, to which Hezekiah paid due heed. 

The Judean revolt had a contagion effect on Babylon and once again, Merodach seized the throne in 703 BC. But he was in power for only 9 months, whereupon Sennacherib drove him away from the country. Sennacherib was measured in his ravaging of Babylon: although he sacked it, he did not destroy it. Meanwhile, Hezekiah had cultivated new alliances, one of whom was Egypt. Buoyed by this association with a great power, he took a stand against Sennacherib and stopped paying tribute.

In 701 BC, Sennacherib’s troops descended on Judah. The Assyrian army laid waste to Judah’s 46 cities and had Hezekiah “trapped like a caged bird” in Jerusalem but still they were unable to capture the city. Hezekiah was therefore not dethroned; instead, he resumed his status as Assyria’s vassal king. Now, unlike his predecessors who tried their utmost to ingratiate themselves with the Babylonians, the Assyrian subjects, Sennacherib didn’t care an iota about what the Babylonians thought about him and was never in awe of its religious institutions.

For instance, when he became king in 705 BC, he disdained the prestigious ceremony whereby he was supposed to take the hand of Marduk both as a sign of respect for the god and as a confirmation of his legitimacy as overarching King of Babylonia. All he did was send word that he now called the shots in Babylonia without even bothering to visit its capital, the city of Babylon.  He never took part in key ceremonies where the King was supposed to preside, such as the New Year ritual.

After he had expelled Merodach from Babylon in 702 BC, he installed an Assyrian puppet king but later replaced him with his favourite son and chosen heir Ashur. He just didn’t want to take a direct part in the affairs of Babylon at all. In 698 BC, Ashur was abducted by the Elamites, who now declared Babylonia as their colony. This precipitated a four-year-war between Assyria on the one hand and Elam and Babylonia on the other. Assyria lost the war and Ashur was presumed dead.

Then in 689 BC, the Elamite king died, at which point Sennacherib decided to pounce on Babylon.  The city fell, and he sent the pretender to the throne back to Nineveh in chains. He had spent more time during his reign dealing with Babylon and the Elamites, and had expended more men and resources on dealing with the city, than on any other campaign. His patience had run out, and so he ordered the city to be razed to the ground. Sennacherib went on to commit acts of sacrilege. He plundered and destroyed all the temples and carried the statue of Marduk back to Nineveh, his Assyrian capital, as a war trophy. 
 
ESARHADDON REBUILDS BABYLON

In 681 BC, Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons who were loath to the fact that he had anointed his youngest son, Esarhaddon, as his heir at their expense. But in the ensuing six-week civil war, Esarhaddon emerged victorious and was crowned King. Cognizant of the fact that his father had lost much of his popularity both in Babylon and Assyria because of what he did to Babylon, Esarhaddon’s first priority and preoccupation was to rebuild Babylon and revitalise its religious institutions.

He straightaway set course for Babylon, took the hand of Marduk, and declared his allegiance to both Marduk and Ishkur-Adad, who was known as Ashur to the Assyrians. In fact, more often than not, he would swear by Marduk and his son Nabu rather than by Adad. In his endeavour to restore Babylon to its past glory, the first thing Esarhaddon did was to rebuild the Esagil, Marduk’s iconic temple. Meanwhile, he was not oblivious to the matter of the Return (of planet Nibiru).

Under the tutelage of the gods Adad and Utu-Shamash, so he documents in his annals, he set up an astronomical observatory in Ashur, Assyria’s cult centre, specifically geared to the Nibiru watch.  On an array of monuments, he had depicted all planets of the solar system, including Nibiru, to underscore Assyria’s Return expectations. A new monumental gate reminiscent of King Anu’s palatial gateway on Nibiru was erected at Esarhaddon’s sacred precincts.   

In 675, Egypt, which was vying with Assyria for supremacy over the Middle East, more so over Jerusalem, stirred the Phoenician city of Tyre to revolt against Assyria.  Esarhaddon responded by declaring war on Egypt forthwith. The campaign already had the blessings of Marduk and Adad but Esarhaddon wanted a full complement of blessings. So   on his way to Egypt, he detoured to Harran, the cult city of the god Nannar-Sin. He found the god with his chief messenger Nusku reclining on a couch in his temple. The god gave the campaign his nod too.

It took four years, however, for Esarhaddon to conquer a plucky Egypt. In fact, little more than a year later, the deposed Egyptian Pharaoh Taharqa staged a renewed putsch in 669 BC and Esarhaddon was on his way to crack down on the rebellion when he fell ill and passed away. He was succeeded by his son Ashurbanipal. Meanwhile, Esarhaddon had the all-important Kingdom of Judah firmly under his thumb. When its king, Manasseh, at one time tried to misbehave, Esarhaddon had him apprehended and kept prisoner for some time in Babylon.

NABUPOLASSAR RESTORES BABYLON TO GREATNESS
   
Ashurbanipal was the last powerful defender and expander of the  Assyrian empire. He reigned from 668-627 BC, with his younger brother Shamash-Shum-Ukin given charge of Babylon but subordinate to him. The Assyrian empire was at its strongest during the rule of Ashurbanipal but it grew too large for its own good, comprising of today’s Iraq, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Palestine.

Vast but finite resources were expended just to maintain it and there weren’t enough troops to garrison the empire. In the event, some parts of the empire decided to exploit this weakness by declaring independence. Egypt was one of the nations that did so in 652 BC, although it  continued to maintain friendly relations with Assyria. In that same year,  Shamash-Shum-Ukin also rose against his brother in a bid to make Babylon independent of Assyria. The resulting civil war went on for years, when Shamash-Shum-Ukin was cornered by the forces of his brother and committed suicide. There were further pockets of rebellion in the empire but Ashurbanipal was able to contain them for as long as he lived.

Then following his death in 627 BC, the empire began to unravel. Three kings ruled after him in close succession following coups and counter-coups. In 625 BC, a Babylonian general going by the name Nabupolassar, rebelled and prised Babylonia away from Assyria. A Babylonian tablet says thus of his coronation: “The princes of the land were assembled; they blessed Nabupolassar; opening their fists, they declared him sovereign; Marduk in the assembly of the gods gave the Standard of Power to Nabupolassar.”

In 616 BC, Nabupolassar allied with the Persians, who resented the Assyrian yoke like the plague, and together they attacked Assyria and Sinsharishkun, the Assyrian king, was killed.  Taking advantage of the power vacuum, his general took the throne under the name Ashur-uballit II.  Ashur-uballit II cultivated an alliance with the Egyptians and with their help he held on until 609 BC, when the Babylonians-Persian alliance defeated the former. 

Ashur-uballit II fled to Harran, where he now deferred to a relation of  Sinsharishkun who had sought citadel there after the latter was ousted.  Ashur-uballit II and remnants of the Assyrian army declared the relation King of Assyria in  exile but to no avail. Ashur-uballit II had hoped to secure the blessings of the god Sin in this regard but the god snubbed him.  That same year, a combined Babylonian and Persian forces led siege to and captured Harran.

It was all over: the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which had been existence  for 325 years and grew to become the largest empire ever hitherto, was no more.  Babylon was the new superpower of the globe thanks to the exploits of Nabupolassar and the Neo-Babylonian Empire had begun. Marduk had triumphed over Adad.

 NEXT WEEK:   THE END OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

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Technology saves Lions from angry Okavango villagers

22nd November 2022

Villagers in the eastern Okavango region are now using an alert system which warns them when collared lions approach livestock areas. The new technology is now regarded as a panacea to the human/wildlife conflict in the area as it has reduced mass poisoning and killing of lions by farmers.

The technology is being implemented by an NGO, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS) within the five villages of Seronga, Gunutsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the eastern part of the Okavango delta.

A Carnivore Ecologist from CLAWS, Dr Andrew Stein explained that around 2013, villagers in the eastern Okavango were having significant problems with losses of their cattle to predators specifically lions, so the villagers resorted to using poison and shooting the lions in order to reduce their numbers.

He highlighted that as a form of progressive intervention, they designed a programme to reduce the conflicts and promote coexistence. Another component of the programme is communal herding, introduced in 2018 to reduce the conflict by increasing efficiency whereby certified herders monitor livestock health and protect them from predators, allowing community members to engage in other livelihood activities knowing that their livestock are safe.

They are now two herds with 600 and 230 cattle respectively with plan to expand the programme to other neighbouring villages. Currently the programme is being piloted in Eretsha, one of the areas with most conflict incidences per year.

Dr Stein explained that they have developed the first of its kind alert system whereby when the lions get within three or five kilometers of a cattllepost or a homestead upon the five villages, then it will release an alert system going directly to the cellphones of individuals living within the affected area or community.

‘So, if a colored lion gets to about five kilometers of Eretsha village or any villagers in the Eretsha that has signed up for, the system will receive an SMS of the name of the lion and its distance to or from the village”, he stated. He added that this enables villagers to take preventative action to reduce conflicts before its starts.

Dr Stein noted that some respond by gathering their cattle and put them in a kraal or put them in an enclosure making sure that the enclosure is secure while some people will gather firewood and light small fires around edges of the kraal to prevent lions from coming closer and some when they receive the SMS they send their livestock to the neighbours alerting them about the presence of lions.

He noted that 125 people have signed to receive the alert system within Seronga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gunutsoga and Gudigwa. He added that each homestead is about five people and this means more than 600 people immediately receive the messages about lions when they approach their villages. He also noted that last year they dispersed over 12 000 alerts, adding that this year is a bit higher as about 20 000 alerts have been sent so far across these villages.

Stein further noted that they have been significant changes in the behavior of the villagers as they are now tolerant to lions. “85 percent were happy with the SMS and people are becoming more tolerant with living with lions because they have more information to reduce the conflicts,” he stressed.

Stein noted that since the start of the programme in 2014 they have seen lion populations rebounds almost completely to a level before and they have not recorded cases of lion poisoning in the last three years which is commendable effort.

Monnaleso Sanga from Eretsha village applauded the programme by CLAWS noting that farmers in the area are benefiting through the alert system and take preventative measures to reduce human/lion conflict which has been persistent in the area. He added that numbers of cattle killed by lions have reduced immensely. He also admitted that they are now tolerant to lions and they no longer kill nor poison them.

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THE IDEAL QUALITY OF A MUSLIM

8th September 2022

A Muslim is supposed to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (the teachings and living examples of Prophet Muhammed (SAW – Peace be upon Him). We should follow these in all affairs, relations, and situations – starting with our relationship with our Lord, our own self, our family and the people around us. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of the Almighty Allah.

A Muslim should know and feel that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private.

His attitude towards his body, mind and soul

The Muslim pays attention to his body’s physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He takes good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. He shouldn’t eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says “…Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Quran 7: 31]

The Muslim should keep away from alcohol and drugs. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently. The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.

As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: “…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Quran 20: 114

The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.

His attitude towards people

The Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them. Allah Says “And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [Quran 4: 36]

With his wife, the Muslim should exemplify good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties.

With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.

With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.

 

With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment, kindness and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to his neighbour’s faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is loyal and does not betray them; he is sincere and does not cheat them; he is gentle, tolerant and forgiving; he is generous and he supplicates for them.

In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfils his promises and is cheerful. He is patient and avoids slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him. He refrains from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoids false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.

The Muslim should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a sycophant or a show-off. He should not boast about his deeds and achievements. He should be straightforward and never devious or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.

These are the standards by which the (ideal) Muslim is expected to structure his life on. Now how do I measure up and fit into all this? Can I honestly say that I really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can I really call myself a true Muslim?

For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ and the ‘male’ gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to every female and male Muslim.

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OUR BELOVED CHILDREN

29th August 2022

“Homicide and suicide kill almost 7000 children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves…..children’s potential lost to spirit crushing poverty….children’s hearts lost in divorce and custody battles….children’s lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself, as we fail our children.” “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” (Quotation taken from a book written by Hillary Clinton).

These words may well apply to us here in Botswana; We are also experiencing a series of challenges in many spheres of development and endeavour but none as challenging as the long term effects of what is going to happen to our youth of today. One of the greatest challenges facing us as parents today is how to guide our youth to become the responsible adults that we wish them to be, tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the moral and religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement. Parents must inculcate God-consciousness in their children from an early age, whereby the children will gain an understanding of duty to The Creator.

 

The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: V6). This verse places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to ensure that training and guidance begin at home. The goal is to mould the child into a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behavior so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioral standards.

But what do we have instead? Believers of all Religious persuasions will agree that we have children growing up without parental guidance, a stable home environment, without role models, being brought up in surroundings that are not conducive to proper upbringing and moulding of well-adjusted children. These children are being brought up devoid of any parental guidance and increasingly the desperate situation of orphaned children having to raise their siblings (children raising children) because their parents have succumbed to the scourge of AIDS.

It is becoming common that more and more girls still in their schooling years are now falling pregnant, most of them unwanted, with the attendant responsibilities and difficulties.

Observe the many young ladies who are with children barely in their teens having illegitimate children. In the recent past there was a campaign focused on the ‘girl-child’; this campaign targeted this group of young females who had fallen pregnant and were now mothers. The situation is that the mother still being just a ‘child’ and not even having tasted adulthood, now has the onerous responsibility of raising her own child most of the time on her own because either the father has simply disappeared, refuses to takes responsibility, or in some cases not even known.

We cannot place the entire blame on these young mothers; as parents and society as a whole stand accused because we have shirked our responsibilities and worse still we ourselves are poor role models. The virtual breakdown of the extended family system and of the family unit in many homes means that there are no longer those safe havens of peace and tranquility that we once knew. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere?

Alcohol has become socially acceptable and is consumed by many of our youth and alarmingly they are now turning to drugs. Alcohol is becoming so acceptable that it is easily accessible even at home where some parents share drinks with their children or buying it for them. This is not confined only to low income families it is becoming prevalent amongst our youth across the board.

 

It is frightening to witness how our youth are being influenced by blatantly suggestive pop culture messages over television, music videos and other social media. Children who are not properly grounded in being able to make rational and informed decisions between what is right and what is wrong are easily swayed by this very powerful medium.

 

So what do we do as parents? We first have to lead by example; it is no longer the parental privilege to tell the child ‘do as I say not as I do’- that no longer works. The ball is in the court of every religious leader (not some of the charlatans who masquerade as religious leaders), true adherents and responsible parents. We cannot ignore the situation we have to take an active lead in guiding and moulding our youth for a better tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.”  Children should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.

Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15)

The message is clear and needs to be taken by all of us: Parents let us rise to the occasion – we owe it to our children and their future.

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