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Live with an attitude of gratitude

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Each and every one of us has many things that we should be thankful for, to use a simple example, if you are reading this it is more than likely that you had money in your pocket to buy this newspaper. But think about those millions of others who don’t even have the price of this paper in their pockets to buy food for the day nor do they know where their next meal will be coming from.

The Almighty is our creator and has given us all the various things in our life including our life itself, every day we wake up in the morning to live another day due to His grace. This life on Earth is precious as it is the only region where spiritual practice can be done to attain the ultimate purpose of life. When any person does something for us we feel gratitude. However most of us are not used to expressing gratitude to God for all the things He has given us. Expressing gratefulness to God for all the various things He does for us is called gratitude in spiritual practice. The ability to live in this feeling of gratitude is an important and intrinsic part of a seeker’s spiritual journey.

We may not have everything that we wish for but Almighty Allah has given us so many blessings that we sometimes forget and take them for granted. We go from ‘womb to tomb’ but how many of us ever stop to say ‘Thank You Lord for the Blessings that you have favoured me with’? The best way of Glorifying our Creator is to be grateful to Him, and this attitude of gratitude will enable us to develop spiritually.

‘If you are grateful, I will add more favours unto you, but if show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed’ (Qur’an 14 : 7).’And remember with gratitude Allah’s favours upon you.’ (Qur’an 3 : 103) .The Bible also has verses: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you…..” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34
 

There are countless everyday things that most of us regard as mundane and take for granted, those that we should be grateful to our Lord for; to name but a few, our health, the roof over our heads, the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the car that we own, the safe drinking water from our taps, the peaceful life that we enjoy and not the war and strife seen elsewhere, our access to health care, education and many other services that millions of people across the world do not have.  We may not realise it or maybe reluctant to admit it but these are gifts and favours that our Creator has graced us with.

We may not have the best or get everything that we desire, but without doubt there are many in our communities who do not enjoy the same level of blessings in life that some of us enjoy and take for granted. Having travelled to many parts of the world, I have seen the everyday suffering and struggles that people across the world endure believe me, ours pale in comparison. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Do not compare yourself against nor envy those who have more than you, but rather compare yourselves to those who are less fortunate or have less than you, in that way you will appreciate the favours of your Lord’.

For all these we should be ever grateful to the Almighty Allah, He expects nothing in return from us except our gratitude and gratefulness by Glorifying and Worshipping Him alone. Showing gratitude and gratefulness is to acknowledge the favours and the good that our Benefactor has sent our way, this leads to a state of contentment and happiness. Contentment is a great virtue in a human being because it brings about that inner peace of heart and mind and that is essential for leading a happy life; this in turn saves us from the unnecessary stress, worries and troubles that one gets from discontentment. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment’.

Just to tease you, think about this: Did you get up feeling grumpy and grotty when the alarm clock went off this morning? Be thankful, for it means that you can hear and that your hearing is not impaired, more importantly that you are alive – maybe not feeling on top of the world, but alive. As we approach the summer season many of us face the prospect of facing hot temperatures of 40 degrees C and more.

Wherever I go there are people moaning about the heat; in my wry sense of wit and humour I like to tell them; “This heat is just a message from our Lord and Creator for us to take as a warning. We should take it as a reminder when we complain about the hot temperatures nowadays – think about the burning fires of Hell which will be even ‘hotter’ than what we are witnessing today. So our Lord is sending us a message that we should change our daily lifestyles and turn to our religious beliefs and practices.

We tend to moan and groan about everything, think about some of these examples quoted; some wives will comment about the husband who sits in front of the TV watching sport all day – but think about it, be thankful that at least he’s at home with you instead of running around out with friends or even at the bar for those who drink. You are hungry and  the wife says ‘We will only have soup made for dinner tonight’ – be thankful she’s cooked for you and is at home with you and not with someone else. Are your clothes fitting rather too snugly round the waist?  Be thankful because it may be because you have more than enough to eat hence your ‘swollen’ waist.

Complaining about not finding a good parking spot? Be thankful that you can afford to have a car. Tired and bored of walking and hanging around the malls? Be thankful you can walk and you are not confined to a wheelchair. Complaining of the sun being too bright for your eyes because you forgot your Versace sunglasses at home? Be thankful you have sight and are not blind.

These are just a few examples of the countless blessings in the ordinary everyday things that we take for granted without any thought on how blessed we are as compared to others. It is only when a calamity strikes us that we are jogged into realising how blessed and fortunate we actually are.Let us think and ponder over the great gift that Allah Almighty has gifted us with; the power of thought – the main difference between man and animal.

‘Show thy gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul, but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free from all wants, worthy of all praise’. (Qur’an 31: 12). Indeed, to live with an attitude of gratitude is to bring harmony between the heart and the soul.

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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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