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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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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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