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Source of all our bounties

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

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.

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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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