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modesty and moderation

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Modesty and moderation are qualities that are virtually intertwined but are important symbols and qualities in the true character of a person. As they stand they both impart on that person humility and humbleness added with dignity, respect, confidence and a sense of peace.

The fact is should we lose either of these traits we tend to lose our character and we are in danger of falling onto that slippery path to becoming filled with a sense of self-importance and arrogance whereby we begin to forget our values, be they religious, moral or societal. Modesty and moderation helps to protect us from the so called seven deadly sins of greed, envy, gluttonous, pride, lust, anger and sadness. Look around you and do some people watching and quietly observe and watch people especially their actions and reactions on life’s daily challenges.

The following verse of the Quran captures it well; Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, forbid what is wrong; Bear with patience and constancy whatever betides thee…………… And swell not thy cheek with pride for men. Nor walk with insolence through the earth; for God loveth not the arrogant boaster. And be moderate in thy pace and lower thy voice for the harshest sounds without doubt is the braying of an ass. (31: 17-19)

Every religious belief preaches modesty and moderation in the way we conduct every aspect of our lives; moderation in our behaviour, what we eat and drink, what we spend, the way we dress, our worldly possessions, and our personal conduct in our daily lives. This brings about an inner consciousness within us that there are people out there who are less fortunate than us and are in dire need of even the basic essentials of daily life. With this consciousness comes compassion, but without it we become blind to the plight of others and walk through this world with unconcerned pride. That leads to an erosion of the very essence of our cultural and moral values.

We may not realize it but wealth and all the good things in life are in themselves a test from our Lord to see how we maintain our righteousness. The Almighty warns us: ‘Swell not thy cheek with pride at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not the arrogant boaster’ (Quran 31:18). And ‘Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious’. (Quran 4:36). Yet despite these warnings we still carry on with our exaggerated self-importance. Little do we realise that whatever we have in this world, is a gift from Allah; we are but temporary custodians and these worldly blessings are a mere test for us and that He can take them back at any time.

Even in Christianity arrogance and haughtiness are frowned upon because in this instance where Jesus (PBUH) says: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, so that you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach……" Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their religious garb wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'…….The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12).

Regrettably for some of us our wealth tends to inflate our egos and make us feel a cut above the rest and we tend to lose our moral and religious upbringing. Let us take one example, today there is fierce competition among some of our ‘nouveaux riche’ (the ‘newly rich’) who have made it in this world of materialism who take every opportunity to let the world know that they have ‘arrived’. This can be done in many ways; they buy top of the range flashy cars, live in ultra -posh homes, some like it known that they wear only designer label clothes and shoes; eat the best and for some they drink only the ‘finest’ wines etc. You know the type I am talking of, no tap water for me, I only drink bottled water, forgetting that we grew up drinking water directly from wells or scooped from the river. They are the ones who are prone to walk around puffed up with pride and look down their noses at those ‘poowah’ (poor) people.

Don’t think me of being unfair, jealous, or maybe sounding so working class; and no I not am questioning the right of people to enjoy the fruits of their labour. There is nothing wrong with enjoying what we have been blessed with, and let’s face it one time or the other every one of us is guilty of this type of behaviour, me included, when we strut about and wallow in our own self-importance. The point I am trying to drive home is that when we behave in this manner we tend to throw modesty and moderation out of the window and arrogance sets in. We seem to live by the phrase; ‘if you have it, flaunt it’.

But remember even the Bible also warns in Mark 10: 25: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’. The Qur’an has a long verse that broadly tells and warns us of this: ‘O ye who believe! 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: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.

O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and races, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran 49: 11-13)

So are we ready to get off our high horses and live a life humility and humbleness because in the grand scheme of God’s creations we are but an minute particle in creation, and without doubt, rich or poor, haughty or humble, we all have to die one day, there is no escaping death. In Islam our equality goes further, rich or poor, the ruler or the ruled, the high and mighty or the lowest among us; we all leave this world to be buried wrapped, in a simple cotton shroud – no fancy coffins. What more proof do you want that we are equal and no better than the others?

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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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