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What a Great Creator!

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

“Allah! There is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to slumber, nor sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His seat of authority encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent.” (Quran 2: 255)

He is Allah, The Supreme, and The Unique, Our Creator and Sustainer. The existence of Allah the Almighty is obvious, if we ignore this, we would be bringing about the beginning of the greatest damage we could ever do to ourselves. That is simply because Allah the Almighty is in no need of anything. He is the One Who shows His greatness in all things and in all ways. He is the owner of everything; from the heavens to the earth. We learn the attributes of the Almighty Allah from the Qur'an.

In which, Allah Almighty declares: “Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the skies, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.” (Quran 2: 164)

This brings to mind some crucial questions: Yes we are in this world living our daily lives and the challenges they bring. However, if we take a step back, and start to think of the conditions that make our existence possible, we will step out of our usual and routine thinking and start to reason deeply: How does the atmosphere serve as a protective ceiling for the earth? How does each one of the billions of cells in our human body know and perform its individual tasks? How does this amazing ecological balance exist on earth? How does our heart beat? And a million other such questions.

When we start seeking answers to these questions we will surely proceed on the right path. We will become sensitive to all the things that are happening around us, and we will begin to see the extraordinary nature of the world.  When we reflect on these questions we will realize that on every inch of the planet, a plan and an order reigns: How did this amazing order of the entire universe come into being? Who provided the delicate balances in the world? How did living beings, very diversified in nature, emerge and come into being?

In every sector of this very different and diverse world, people will find proof of their Creator. Allah, the owner of everything in the entire universe, introduces Himself to us through the perfect and flawless design of His creation. Everything surrounding us, our lives, our beating hearts, the birth of a child or the existence of the sun in the sky, even the insects and birds in flight, is evidence of the power of Almighty Allah and His creation.

What each person must do is to understand and accept this fact. An intelligent person notices that a plan, design and wisdom, exists in every detail of this extremely different and varied world. This should draw each and every thinking person to recognize the Creator. Therefore, we cannot plead ignorance to the fact that all beings, living or non-living, show the existence and greatness of Allah the Almighty.

Look at all the things around you and do your best to show recognition and appreciation in the best manner for the noticeable and great magnificence of Allah the Almighty. The verse quoted above captures the necessities of life. Signs of The Creator are abundantly clear, but have we ever given thought to some of the following:

Our Need for air/oxygen: From the moment when we are born as human beings open our eyes in this world we are surrounded by great order. We need oxygen to survive and it is interesting that the atmosphere of the planet on which we live provides us with just the right amount of oxygen we need. In this way, a person breathes without any difficulty – but unfortunately as humans we foul the atmosphere with carbon emissions from motor cars and other such things polluting the environment thus creating a ‘poorer’ atmosphere.

Our Need for heat/energy and water: For life to exist on this planet, it is important that there is a source of heat. Just think about it, in response to this need, the Sun is located at just the right distance to emit just the exact amount of heat and energy that is needed by living beings. We may find it ‘hot’ on some days, but remember that the sun moves between the southern and northern hemisphere giving us summer (warm climate) and winter (colder climate) depending on its location.

During this movement we have the rainy season and the dry season giving us the opportunity to plant and reap the benefits of growing crops for food. We may be situated in a dryer part of the world but there are countries that have an abundance of water because of greater rainfall. Every human being and living creature in this world needs water. Not surprisingly, three-quarters of the planet is covered with water.

Our Need for shelter and protection: All living beings need shelter, and in this world there is land that is suitable to build on as well as all sorts of materials to make shelters. We build over homes, houses and whatever shelter we can afford for our needs and protect us from the environment outside.  

Our Need for nourishment/food and other necessities: Think about it, all living beings and living creature needs regular nourishment to survive, so every corner of the world is amazingly diversified in the provision of food and other necessities in life that humans can plant, grow and produce different crops to suit their needs.

There are thousands of other issues that we can think of but not immediately find the answers to, except by serious reflection. Serious thinking  and trying to answer these questions will result in a clear recognition that everything in the universe, its order, each living being and structure is a component of a plan; a product of design.

Every detail, the excellent structure of an insect's wing, the system that enables a tree to carry tons of water to its topmost branches, the order of the planets, and the ratio of gases in the atmosphere, these are all unique examples of perfection. These are only a few among billions of details that make life possible on earth. In brief, we live on a planet that is perfectly designed for our survival. This is certainly a planet that has been created for the service of human beings. And this can only be through the glory and the will of our Creator and Lord.

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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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