The Almighty (Allah) is the only Creator, Sustainer, Nourisher and Cherisher of the Universe. Let’s face it we are born into this world owning nothing and we depart from it with no physical assets that we may have acquired or saved. Between our birth and death, we are all utterly dependent on the bounties and Blessings of the Almighty.
As touched on in last week’s article, the bounties of Allah embrace all creation, yet, the main beneficiary of these bounties is none other than the human being. So then a very important question arises: What is the nature of the human and why is he here on earth?
The Holy Quran declares “Such is He (God Almighty), the Knower of all things, hidden and open, The Exalted (in Power), The Merciful; He who has made everything which He has created most good. He began the creation of the human with clay, then, made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of despised fluid. Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His Spirit. And He gave [the faculties of] hearing, sight and understanding (and feelings). Little thanks do you give.” (Quran 32 : 6-9)
From this passage, the nature of the human, despite the first human being created from ‘clay’ and subsequently every human born thereafter is ‘created’ from a fluid that enters the female womb. The human is created with all the physical, intellectual, spiritual, capacity, and mind of a human being that the verse shows.
With these Blessings as humans we have to exercise our hearts and minds so that we begin to understand what we are on this earth for. Think about it, we have been gifted with intellectual capacity. Every human is also gifted with brainpower capacity and the power of reasoning. But reasoning and intellect are insufficient to the ordinary mind to understand all the mysteries of creation.
The Holy Quran says: “Do they not reflect in their own minds? It is only for a just purpose, and for a term appointed, that Allah did create the heavens and the earth, and all between them. Yet, there are indeed many among people who deny the meeting with their Creator (through resurrection)!” (Quran 30: 8) Also: “Do they see nothing in the sovereignty of heavens and the earth and all that Allah has created?” (Quran 7: 185)
Not only have we been gifted not only the intellectual element but also the Spiritual one. Whilst the physical component of our human nature is shared by other living and different creatures humans are Blessed with a ‘thinking mind’; it is only in the case of humans does the Qur'an say that Allah breathed into him something of His spirit. It is that 'breath' which provides the human with inborn spiritual and moral qualities.
It also establishes the unique position of the human as the top of creation in the earthly existence of ours. Allah Himself declares “We have honoured the children of Adam (humankind); provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours above a great part of Our Creation.” (Quran 17: 70)
Since we have been honoured with so many blessings this brings with it a certain responsibility. This position of honour is closely related to the fulfilment of our role as God's trustee and ‘vehicle’ for change. This brings with it a heavy responsibility; one which requires us to make the right choices in our daily existence and lead a life in congruence to the orders and guidance of our Lord through the Quran and His noble Prophets.
Failing to make such a choice leads to the loss of that position of honour and distinction. The human may then even descend to a position, which is less than that of animals. We then become ones whom the Qurans aptly describes as the ones who: “Have hearts [minds] wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, nay more misguided; for they are heedless (of warning).” (Quran 7:179)
We have to learn to live in constant struggle to find the right path because the physical, intellectual and spiritual elements in human existence are not regarded as three different compartments, but interlinked. They are not necessarily opposed either. The human is neither regarded as a fallen angel nor as an ascending animal. Rather, the human is a responsible being with the potential of rising to a position that is higher than that of the angels, or descending to a position that is lower than that of animals.
Despite our daily challenges as individuals and collectively we as humans have been greatly blessed and we need to recognize and appreciate that. We may not have everything that we want, wish or hope for. But for all the other blessings we should be very grateful to our Creator for He expects nothing from us except our gratitude and gratefulness by worshipping and glorifying Him. ‘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)
Think about it, how many of us have wasted water over the year, now that we have what appears to be a delay in our seasonal rainfall, this could result a ‘drought’ and shortages of water. So we need to try to use water sparingly. But throughout the year we took it for granted. Now is the time for us to thank our Lord for the blessings of water and pray for more rain. ‘Do you bring down the rain from the cloud or do We? Were it Our Will, We could make it salty and unpalatable; then why do you not give thanks’ (Quran 56:68)
Think about this one; we enjoy peace in our region and not the war and suffering seen elsewhere, our almost free access to health care, education and many other services that we take for granted. Across the world, millions of people do not have such blessings. But we have to admit the Almighty has given us so many blessings that we take for granted. ‘….your Lord is full of Grace to mankind; yet most of them are ungrateful’ (Quran 27: 73)
Unfortunately in this material world we measure our successes in financial terms. The more we have of it is when we feel that we have truly been blessed. Remember it is a blessing but on the other hand it is also a test for us. It is common that as human beings when we reach a certain level we tend to become ‘arrogant’ because of the money we have. We begin to feel superior to other people, and our wealth becomes our only desire to increase it.
We will show off about it wherever we go, and value people based on their wealth, sadly forgetting to remember that it is a Blessing from Allah. ‘Woe to every kind of slanderer and backbiter and who piles up wealth and lays it by counting it, thinking that his wealth would make him last forever’ (Quran 104: 1 -4)
Therefore we need to show gratitude and be grateful for the favours and the good that our Benefactor has sent our way and this helps us towards a state of happiness and contentment. When we are contented we have inner peace of heart and mind and that helps us in leading a life with less stress and this in turn helps us to develop spiritually.
‘Let them adore the Lord who provides them with food against hunger, and with security against fear or danger.’ (Quran 106: 3-4). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment’. So we have to do our best to succeed in the 'test' of this earthly life, in order not to merely return to an even greater 'garden' after one's physical death, but to enjoy the ultimate bliss of nearness to Allah our Creator.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.