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The divine revealed scriptures


When  writing this column I had expressed to readers that my personal acceptance and philosophy in life was that ‘I may say two plus two are four; on the other hand others will say three plus one is four, eight divided by two is four, or even the square root of sixteen is four or many other combinations; we may use different approaches, do things in a different manner and maybe interpret things differently but the bottom line is that we all come up with and have the ‘same’ answer.

Over the time span of writing for this column I have made frequent references to Qur’anic and Biblical verses that relay similar guidance and messages. However there are many of the actions, beliefs and practices in Islam that have a similarity with those in the Bible and other religious scriptures. Some readers may have been surprised at the parallels, yet on the other hand, there may be some who may have wondered if there is any real connection or linkages between them as I had alluded to.

These parallels and similarities exist because as Muslims we believe in the previous Scriptures revealed in their original form and text. These similarities signify that the Revealed Books have a common Divine source and the continuation of the basic message of a belief on one God.  Many people think of the Quran as a radically different book from the Bible. Moreover, according to this view, even though Muslims and Christians (and Jews) all believe in the same God, these religions are different in a way and have distinct traditions.

An argument can be made, however, that the similarities between the Bible and the Quran are actually much more intimate than one might think, and that Islam, Judaism and Christianity are closer to being different interpretations of a shared religious culture than totally distinct traditions. The fact is that Muslims and Christian all believe in one true God, and not the concept of Trinity.

The Quran says: ‘Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. Quran 112:1-4 â€¨‘And your God is One God. There is no God but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.’ Quran 2:163
The Bible says: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and the Lord your God is to be loved with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Which law is the first of all?” Jesus said in answer, “The first is, Give ear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you are to have love for the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:28-30
Many people may wonder what Muslims have to do with the Bible, given the view that the Bible is the Holy book of the Christians and Islam is a ‘different’ religion altogether. The truth however is that Muslims and Christians share a great deal in common and share many beliefs like; the belief in One God, His Messengers and Prophets, the Divine Revelations sent to them, the Day of Judgement, Heaven and hell and other beliefs.

Most of the teachings, guidance, events and stories bear the virtually the same basic message but at times there may be a slight difference in their emphasis and interpretation because these Divine Books were revealed in their original languages; the Torah in Hebrew, The Bible in Aramaic, and the Qur’an in Arabic; these languages share common roots of the different languages of the middle East.     

The four revelations from Allah mentioned in the Qur’an are: the Torah, the Law of Moses; the Zaboor, the Psalms of David; the Injeel , the Good News revealed to Jesus; and the final Message to humanity, as the seal of the revealed Divine scriptures, the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad, (May peace be upon them all). It is an article of faith for every Muslim to believe in all the Prophets of Allah / God and all the Revelations of sent down to us. The Qur’an confirms the revelation of these Scriptures in the following verses:

‘And before this was the Scripture of Moses as a guide and a mercy, And the Qur’an confirms it in the Arabic tongue, to warn wrongdoers and as a glad tiding to those who do good’. (Qur’an 46:12) ‘And in their footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary….. we gave him the Injeel (the Gospel) therein was a guidance and a light and confirmation of what is in hand of the Taurat (Torah), a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah’. (Quran 5:46)

‘It is He who revealed to thee (Muhammad) the Scripture (the Qur’an). Confirming what went before it (of the Scriptures). And He revealed the Taurat and the Injeel before this as a guidance to mankind. And He revealed the Criterion (of judgement between what is right and wrong)’…(Quran 3: 3-4). As can be seen from these verses of the Qur’an confirming the Messages given to the various Prophets contain Allah’s guidance to mankind in the form of revealed books or scriptures that formed the basis of and for the teachings of the Great Prophets of Allah.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the final revelation that confirms and seals the Divine Message to all Humanity. ’O ye who Believe! Believe in Allah and His Apostle, and the Scripture which He has sent to His Apostle and the Scripture which He sent to those before him, and whoso denies Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles and the Day of Judgement has gone far, far astray’ (Quran 4:136).Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the final Book and that there will be no new Divine revelations thereafter.

With this in mind it is therefore no surprise to find that in the Qur’an there are various teachings and incidents that have a significant resemblance to those contained in the Revealed Books as mentioned above. The teachings of the Prophets professed the same message; that all mankind must submit to the One and Only, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Hearing, All-Mighty Allah, God, Modimo or whatever people call their God in the language of choice. As a result we find that many of the Prophets mentioned in the Bible and the Torah are also mentioned in the Qur’an.

The Qur’an mentions twenty six such Biblical Prophets among them (in no particular order); Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Aaron, Elias, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah, John, and Jesus (May Peace and Blessings be upon them All). The Qur’an echoes many of their messages and also some of their trials and tribulations, including notable events like the parting of the sea (Moses), the flood (Noah), the events in the Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve), Jonah (and the whale), the trial of Abraham (when he was ready to sacrifice his son), Lot (and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah), the story of Joseph and many others (May peace and Blessings be upon them all).

Many readers may be surprised to learn that in the Qur’an contains verses on the miraculous birth of Jesus including the miracles performed by Jesus (PBUH). Today over two billion Muslims in the world, love, respect and revere this great Messenger of Allah. So it goes without saying that Muslims and Christians have the same set of beliefs but regrettably some of us tend to look at the slight differences rather than the similarities.

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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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