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Is this the beginning of the end?

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Despite many Quranic and Biblical verses pointing to the end times, the world seems to be in a ‘relaxed’ or shall we say in a nonchalant and indifferent mode. These verses do not say that the world will end today or tomorrow; but give an indication of the precursors and signs of the end times of this worldly life as we know it.  The mere fact is that the clock’s ticking. 

There is no avoiding this unpleasant fact, we are born into this world, live our appointed time and thereafter will die and will be raised on the Day of Reckoning  for that Grand Assembly at which we will be rewarded or answer for our actions or lack of in this worldly life. We know that every living thing in this world be it, human, animal, plant or micro-organism that has a life will at one time or another die.

Every main stream religion teaches about the Last Hour and the Last Day but we tend to avoid thinking about it. There are some who deny that day, but Allah reveals in the Qur’an; ‘and the hour is coming without any doubt’ (22:7). And, ‘We did not create the Heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The hour is certainly coming’. (15: 85).

The Qur’an contains verses that describe the end of the world: When the sky bursts open’…, ‘When the oceans surge into each other’……., ‘When Mountains are pulverized’….., ‘when the sun is compacted into darkness…’. It is inevitable that the world will end, but when? ‘They ask you about the Hour; when will it come?…..’Knowledge of it rests with my Lord’.

Many religious texts and preaching have predicted what some have termed Doomsday will be the end of the world. Some even believe that we are now entering the countdown to the ‘end times’ and are looking forward to and preparing for the ‘second coming’ of Isa / Jesus (PBUH), who will lead us into the Dawn of the Golden Age.

When will this happen? When will the ‘Second Coming’ take place? In Islam the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his Hadith (sayings and preaching), over 1400 years ago made several predictions of the signs of the end times. These Hadiths describe in detail those signs and their occurrences, more often than not those predictions paint a portrait that describes and almost mirrors the events and the times that we live in today – is this the beginning of the end? Read and ponder…..

The Islamic belief is that there are two stages; the first is one in which spiritual and moral decay will take root and material trials will afflict the world; and the second will be the Golden age when the supremacy of moral teachings and behaviour will overtake the period of social decline. This is when the Last Hour will be at hand.

Looking at the times of today and we have to think seriously about it. Did we ever expect HIV – Aids to hit the world? Fast track to today we have the outbreak of Corona virus hitting the world. Are these precursors to the beginning of the end?
I will quote some of those Hadiths that talk about the end times;

War and Anarchy: ‘The hour will come when violence, bloodshed and anarchy will become common’ and ‘The world will not come to an end until a day would come to people on which there will be general massacre and bloodshed’. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) described chaos, conflicts, murder, war and anarchy will involve the whole earth and these are signs of the Last days. Look around you……

The Destruction of Cities: ‘Great cities will be ruined and it will be as if they had not existed the day before’. Hiroshima was destroyed by the atom bomb, look at the cities in the Middle East that have and are being bombed and almost raised to the ground. We regularly hear of natural disasters such hurricanes, storms, typhoons, heavy rains, floods that cause mudslides and other such calamities that have such a destructive effect in many parts of the world. Just look around you……. 

He further said: ‘The Hour will not be established until…earthquakes will be frequent’. We hear regularly of earthquakes that shake the world, remember sometime ago Kobe in Japan, the tsunami that struck the south east Asian nations; the ones that struck Japan a few years ago causing a deluge that wiped out cities and levelled many areas. Almost monthly there are reports of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Just look around and observe…..

Poverty: ‘The poor will grow in number’ and ‘Gains will be shared out only among the rich with no benefit to the poor’. Despite the great advances and possibilities afforded in technology, poverty has reached grave proportions in this world of ours where there is lack of food, shelter, and the access to clean drinking water, clothing, health and sanitation services and other basic needs. There are vast areas of the world where famine is a constant companion of those less fortunate. Just look  around you…….

Globalisation and the insatiable greed of many of the developed countries are widening the divide between the worlds rich and poor.  ‘There will come a time when man will not care about how he gets things, whether lawful or unlawful’. Financial greed and corruption has led to a serious imbalance in income distribution throughout the world, be they first world, developed, developing or under developed countries. Even in the world’s richest countries will you still find homeless people who sleep in the street and scratching in dustbins looking for food yet the ‘rich’ live a life of luxury. Just look around you……

Rejection of Religious and Moral Values: ‘There will come a time upon the Ummah (believers) when people will recite the Qur’an, but it will not go further than their throats, (into their hearts)’.  Today in many areas of the world many people have moved away from their religion so much so that many people are proud to openly reject religion and call themselves atheists and agnostics. People nowadays have very little faith in their hearts and perform worship for show, but follow their own lusts and desires that are against their inner most values.

Social conflict: There is so much meanness, greed and dishonesty in this modern world of ours, coupled with that is the loss of respect and love between the young and the old that has reached an all-time low; ‘When the old have no compassions for the young, when the young show no respect to the old….when children grow angry…..Judgement is at hand’.
 

And, ‘meanness and greed will multiply’. And ‘There will be an abundance of critics, tale carriers, back biters and those who taunt in society’. Are these just signs of modernity or the new world? Whatever you think it to be, but these Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made 1400 years ago, and they are happening around us today. Just look around and observe…… 
(To be continued)

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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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