Connect with us
Advertisement

It’s the time for change

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

How long will we be on this earth for? Seldom do we stop to think about this very sensitive subject. Only a handful of us may be lucky to live to a ripe old age of 100, but most of us won’t even get that near that.

As humans we all have our hopes, dreams, ambitions and plans for the future, but life is full of uncertainty; From the day we are born the countdown starts for the day of our departure from this transitory world; we never know when the Angel of death will come knocking at our door – there is no denying it, only time will tell when.

While we all know that our life in this world is of a temporary nature and that the life to come is eternal, many of us spare little thought to what we can do to earn a Heavenly life in the Hereafter. The Qur’an says: ‘Short is the enjoyment of this world; the Hereafter is the best for those who do right’ (Qur’an 4: 77). And; ‘Little is the comfort of this life as compared to the Hereafter…Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter?’ (Qur’an 9: 38).

There are many verses in the Qur’an that describe: ‘the beautiful mansions in the Gardens of perpetual bliss’ (Qur’an 9:72), in the Hereafter as opposed to this fleeting life. The question that we should be tackling in our minds is what can and should we do to be among those who will be given that Eternal abode?

We need to recognize that we are but a traveller in transit, just passing through this world and the length of our time on this earth is uncertain and only known to our Lord, therefore we should take every opportunity to ensure that we make the time and effort to secure our place in the Hereafter. Time marches on, so do we, towards meeting our Maker.

But while we make efforts towards our Eternal life, we should not forget the value of time in this world. We are so ‘busy’, we go through our days involved in our daily chores that we cannot even do a simple thing like spending quality time with our families. It is true that we have the stresses of our employment, office and other worldly commitments – but we need to step back and bring a balance into our lives by acknowledging the value of time. When we have something to do, how often are we prone to postpone it, (yes that includes me) and say ‘I will do it later / tomorrow / next week’ without realising that we may not be around to do so.

But we know that we should be adding the words ‘Insha Allah’ – meaning (if Allah so Wills). The Qur’an reminds us ‘nor say anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding if Allah so Wills’ (Qur’an 18: 23). There is also verse in the Bible that speaks of the same message when it says: “you don’t even know what your life will be tomorrow. You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this ‘if the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that’.” (James 4: 14-16)

So while we involve ourselves in our daily struggles and chores we should also be setting aside time in the remembrance of our Lord and Creator. Setting aside time on a daily basis for remembrance of Allah, to pray to, to thank and to seek the blessings of our Lord is what we should be aiming to do.  

Some may think that it is a difficult thing to do, but this does not necessarily mean that we should leave our daily work obligations and other stations that we occupy in life and spend all our time in prayer. What is meant is that we should infuse into our daily lives and occupations the proper conduct and behaviour, morals, ethics, values and that all our actions are within the bounds of our religious belief and guidance. We have to set aside time on a daily basis to remember and to thank our Creator for our daily blessings.  

Even the Bible reminds us of this: “…..Give to God what belongs to God.” Mk 12:17. Mat. 22:21. In other words we should always remember our Lord and Creator, there is a time for us and a time for our Lord. In Islam, a Muslim is constantly reminded through his obligatory five times daily prayers that there is a time for us and there is a time for our Maker.

These five times daily prayers are inter-spaced during specified times of the day – as result the message is clear to us, as it is a constant reminder that brings our consciousness to the fore that even during our busy daily schedules we have religious obligations to fulfil. Hence it trains us for the need to balance our time in such a manner that we are able to fulfil both our spiritual and secular obligations.

Apart from the obligatory prayers at specific times, a Muslim is expected to recite verses from the Quran be it directly or from those that they have memorised. There are many other small prayers and supplications that we can continuously recite whilst we are working, walking about, jogging or whenever – this window of time allows us via this constant remembrance to bring us closer to our Lord.

But apart from these physical acts of worship a Muslim is obliged to lead a life that is in congruence with the guidance of the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I once read some words that capture the value of time beautifully and I cannot recall if I had previously shared them with readers. But even so I still want to share them with readers because they carry a very valuable message and capture the value and importance of time.

To realize the value of ten years: Ask a newly Divorced couple.
To realize the value of four years: Ask a graduate.
To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
To realize the value of nine months: Ask a mother who gave birth to a still born.
To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one day: ask the editor of a daily newspaper.
To realize the value of one hour: Ask those who are waiting to meet their loved ones.
To realize the value of one minute: Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
To realize the value of one-second: Ask a person who has survived an accident…
To realize the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics
To realize the value of time; think of the time spent with a loved one that you have lost
To realize the value of a friend: Lose one.

Time waits for no one. Therefore we have to savour and treasure every moment that we have. We will treasure and value it even more if we can share it with those special people around us. All these are worldly things and will always pass – they are not infinite like the Hereafter…..

Continue Reading

Columns

DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

Continue Reading

Columns

The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

Columns

Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!