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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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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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