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Tick-Tock the clocks ticking

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Last week this column covered the topic of whether we are receiving the warning signs that may be signalling the approach of the end times for this world.

Remember a few years ago the turbulence that the world had witnessed with the hurricane that hit Florida and the islands in the Pacific leaving widespread devastation in its wake, we can only wonder whether these are only flashing cautionary yellow lights waiting to turn into red alarm signals is anybody’s guess. In the recent past there was another earthquake in Mexico City destroying buildings (over 2000 schools damaged) and causing many deaths.

Just over a week ago there were serious winds of speeds of over 120 kms per hour blowing across the UK. There were also serious wildfires across Australia. The fact is that we cannot deny the visible turmoil in this world of today.
Continuing with this theme here are additional quotations from the Quran and from the Hadith (teachings) and predictions made by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) some 1400 years ago about the approach of end times.

The family unit is the basic building block of the structure of any society – if there is love, peace and understanding in the home then this spreads out into to the wider community. However, one of the major problems in our societies is the breakdown of the family unit. Unfortunately nowadays there are some people who do not respect elders let alone their parents, they disobey, yell at, swear and curse them ever so often. This goes against our cultural, traditional and importantly our religious beliefs and guidance.

Adding to this problem there are many broken homes because of the increase in single parent homes, divorces and illegitimate children hence the family unit structure as we knew it does not really exist resulting in a breakdown of respect and love especially between the young and the old. The Quran says:  ‘your Lord has decreed that …… you show kindness to your parents….. say not a word of contempt…but address them in terms of honour (Qur’an 17:23). . ‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.’ (Quran 46:15)  

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘Judgement is at hand when the young show no respect for the old….when children grow angry…when the old have no compassion for the young ….. meanness and greed will multiply’. The Bible says: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God given thee’ (Exodus 20:12). The Bible also says: ‘A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is heaviness of his mother’ Proverbs 10: 1

Yet despite all the guidance and teachings on children in the family unit there is a downward slide in their behaviour and respect for their elders. Further there are warnings about the poverty and struggles of many of our people. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: the poor will grow in number….gains will be shared out among the rich with no benefit to the poor…..there will come a time when man will not care about how he gets things, whether lawful or unlawful’.

Despite the many advances in development in this world we still see an increase in poverty and the plight and suffering of many people throughout the world. Meanness, greed and corruption have been added to this simmering pot. We also see today the rejection of religious and moral beliefs and values. Today there are many people out there who openly reject religion and proudly call themselves atheists or agnostics.

Not only that many of us ‘claim’ to be followers of religion but our actions, practices and behaviour speak a different tone. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: ‘There will come a time upon the Ummah (followers) when people will recite the Quran, but it will not go further than their throats (and into their hearts). How true many of us will perform our prayers and other religious rituals but they turn out to be mostly superficial and insincere. Because immediately thereafter our actions go against our inner most moral values because we follow our own lusts and desires.

Here is something taking place throughout the world at large; the proliferation of so-called prophets/prophetesses. Look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men of God promising you worldly riches and all the other things they promise gullible people. Yes, we know them, hear of them and see them everywhere. One cannot walk anywhere in the street without a poster announcing a ‘prophetic’ gathering or meeting.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves’. And, ‘The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)’.

What these so called prophets are doing is to sell the name of God for the miserable price for their own personal gain. ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90). The Bible: “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (1 Timothy 6; 10)

We have read about some of the weird things that these false prophets have made their congregants to do: eat grass, rats, snakes and even sprayed some with Doom the insect killer. Maybe he should be called ‘the prophet of DOOM’. These guys should not be called prophets but rather ‘PROFITS’ – because that is all they are after, but remember one thing – He who serves God only for the money will easily be tempted to serve the devil for a better wage. Surely people cannot be so naïve as to believe in these prophets.

The Qur’an also warns these people; ‘Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….(6:93). The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said something very ‘unusual’ for those early days (1400 years ago) but very relevant in today’s times. ‘The will be no judgement – until very tall structures are constructed’, and, ‘….and the hour will not be established until people compete with one another in constructing high buildings’. We just have to look around to see tall buildings and skyscrapers that are part of urban development throughout the world, so much so that they have become symbols of pride and prestige to many nations. Nowadays we have many countries competing to outdo each other in the building of the tallest structures.     

By no stretch of imagination am I trying to say these are the end times. But these signs have been mentioned in the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Are they a precursor and do they herald the ‘second coming’ of Isa (Jesus pbuh) who will lead the world to the dawn of a new age? Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: The last hour will not come until you see the descent of Isa / Jesus (Pbuh) the son of Maryam /Mary. And; ‘The hour will not be established until the son of Maryam/Mary descends among you as a just ruler’.  

Is the clock ticking?

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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