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Live in peace – 3

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Final in the series:

Peace of mind is difficult to achieve if we worry more about other issues rather than looking within ourselves to see what we can dispose and dump some of the mess and disorder in our own lives. Without doubt the daily stress to put food on our tables is bad enough but somehow we seem to shift the focus to other areas such as worrying and complaining about how we are fare against others, how we can keep up with the others, etc.

Life isn’t ‘fair’ all the time, life is like a wheel in motion, and one minute you are on top and the next you are at the bottom. We must try to learn to adjust to the changing circumstances to be optimistic and count the other Blessings that we have when we are down. There is a saying: the Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change; The Realist adjusts the sails to catch the best of the wind!

This means we must try to move from the negatives to the positives to achieve a certain level of stress relief. The real secret to peace of mind is to make peace with God, yourself and with the world around you. Most importantly turn to your Lord, and for the Muslim it is the absolute submission and trust in the will of Allah believing that; ‘My prayer, my sacrifice and my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds’ (Quran 6:162). Hope and faith are the remedies for fear and worry.

Try these few steps and you will notice the difference.

Treat people with kindness and respect: The manner in which you treat others will normally get you reciprocal treatment in return. Kindness and respect are the basis of our religious and cultural upbringing and teachings. Sadly in today’s world kindness and respect are difficult to find. ‘Show kindness unto parents, and unto kindred, and orphans, and the needy and unto thy neighbour…… for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious (Qur’an 4:36) ‘…and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion (Qur’an 90:17). And, ‘We have enjoined man kindness to his parents (Qur’an 29:8).


Sincerity and humbleness: Sincerity in word and deed is one of the great virtues in anyone. Do your duties honourably and sincerely, while seeking the pleasure of Allah through prayer and constant remembrance. Humility is also a great human trait because nobody loves an egoist. ‘And swell not thy cheek with pride at men, nor walk with insolence through the earth, for Allah does not love the arrogant boaster’ (Qur’an 31:18). Also,’……. the servants of Allah, Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth with humility’. (25:63)

Positive attitude – smile: when we look at life in a positive manner it brings back a feeling of calmness, peace and confidence. Taking the view that ‘this too shall pass’ works wonders for our confidence. The trust that we place in our Creator will never be misplaced. ‘If Allah is your helper none can overcome you, and if He withdraws His help from you, who is there who can help you? In Allah let believers put their trust’ (Qur’an 3:160)

Charity / charitable work – Many people think that charity consists only of donating money. Charity can even be donating your time. There are many charitable organisations out there that need volunteers who only need you to donate your time and effort, just to assist say, in fund raising, in distributing food, visiting the sick and elderly, the orphans – Get involved why don’t you donate your time?  Your visit could have the effect of putting a smile on someone’s face or making them feel that someone cares, it works wonders. It also does wonders for your own peace of mind and a means for spiritual progress. ‘Those who humble themselves in prayer…who are active in deeds of charity…will inherit Paradise’ (Qur’an 23: 1-10)  

Family time – serenity: many of us have forgotten the value of quality time spent with the family. Parents who spend time with their children help to give them a sense of stability, belonging and family bonding. Simple things, like taking them out for an ice cream treat, being there during meal times (there is a saying: a family that eats together stays together), can bring much family love and serenity. Bring back that loving family feeling into your home.

Your mind is like a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds. An empty mind is the devil's workshop. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile. Take up a hobby, do social or religious work or something that holds your interest. Decide what you value more: money or peace of mind. Your hobby, may not earn you more money, but you will have a sense of fulfilment and achievement. Even when you are resting physically, why not read the Qur’an or make Zikr- remembering Allah’s name using the tasbeeh (rosary). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘If you are mindful of Allah He will be mindful of you; and if you are mindful of Allah you will find Him before you’. ‘For without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction’. (Qur’an 13:28).

Never Regret: We spend time wondering, "Should I or shouldn't I?" But we can never plan enough because we are unable to anticipate the future. The past is gone, do not spend time and energy worrying about it or fearing the future. Live in the present, this is where it happens. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. DO NOT REGRET. Whatever happened was destined to happen. Why cry over spilt milk? ‘Be not weary or faint hearted, crying for peace, when you should be uppermost; for Allah is with you, and will never put you in a loss for your (good) deeds’. (Qur’an 47:35)

Let me share some words of wisdom that I shared previously in this column. They capture the mood of positive encouragement especially when we are feeling low and looking for a way out.

Remember:

If you plant dishonesty, you will reap distrust
If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness
If you plant pride, you will reap destruction
If you plant envy, you will reap trouble
If you plant laziness, you will reap stagnation
If you plant bitterness, you will reap isolation
If you plant greed, you will reap loss
If you plant gossip, you will reap enemies
If you plant worries, you will reap wrinkles
If you plant sin, you will reap guilt  
On the other hand:
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap respect
If you plant perseverance, you will reap goals
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
If you plant faith in Allah, you will reap a bountiful harvest in this life and in the Hereafter.

So be careful what you plant today, for it will determine what you will reap tomorrow, the seeds you scatter, will make your life worse or better. Yes, someday, you will enjoy the fruits, or you will pay for the choices you plant today because "Whatever You Give To Life, Life Gives Back To You". ‘But those will prosper who purify themselves, and Glorify the name of their Guardian Lord, and lift their hearts in prayer, but nay, you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring’ (Qur’an 87:14-15)

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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