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Test of our Moral Character

‘You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and your personal selves; and shall certainly hear much that will grieve you……..but if you persevere patiently and guard against evil – then that will be the determining factor in all affairs’ (Quran 3: 186)

Morality, integrity and upright conduct and behaviour are held in high esteem by all people in their customs, traditions and behaviour in all religions. But regrettably in this day and age many of us seem to be ‘pushing’ them away and placing them to the ‘rear’.

Despite the fact that these are a fundamental part of the Message of all the Prophets of The Almighty (peace be upon them all), so much so that the last of the Prophets – Muhammad (pbuh) – said: “I was sent (specifically) to perfect good moral character.”

Morality and moral character and behaviour is something that we all ‘agree’ with but regrettably in today’s world many of us seem to be putting this aside. You find that even those who campaign against moral character and act immorally and unscrupulously would admittedly speak highly of moral character and admit to its virtue.

No need to make a show

A person might adopt good manners under certain circumstances, simply because they are fundamental or he might do so little by little. Even this is something good. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh): “Knowledge is attained only through learning and gentleness is attained only through being gentle. Whoever is intent on attaining goodness will be given it and whoever keeps away from evil will be spared it.”

However, it is not at all praiseworthy for a person to make a ‘public’ show of good character in order to take advantage of others or win them over for some personal benefit or ulterior motive. The true test of a person’s moral fibre is constancy. This is why the old Arabic saying goes: “You see the true character of people when you travel with them.”

First test of moral character

A person’s true character shows forth when he is at home in how he deals with his wife through the long years, during hardship and ease, when things are going well and when things go wrong. This is where he has to hold himself together and where his patience is tested. His ability to keep clear of pride and arrogance, to remain gentle and tolerant, and to exhibit good conduct are all tested during his married life and his family life.

The same can be said regarding friendships when a person is constant and sincere regardless of the ever changing circumstances. How often does a person see his friend as the one whom he can rely on in need, only to find that “friend” adds to his hardships when that time of need arrives? Long term acquaintance and association reveal how shallow and superficial a person’s moral character really is.

The test of power

There is another important test of moral character that shows how true or false a person’s morals are, and that is the test of power. A person who is weak might exhibit good moral conduct and present a passive, gentle personality and character. He does not do so because it is part of his nature, but simply because he does not have the power to behave in any other way.

An Arab poet once said: ‘Oppression is human nature, so if you find someone abstaining from it, there is some reason why’. These words also echo what was said by Aristotle who said: “Oppression is part of human nature. Only one of two reasons withholds people from it: religiousness or fear of reprisal.”

When a person is in a position of strength, then his true moral character shows forth. If a person who attains power, wealth, or prestige continues to uphold his moral values, maintains his affection for others, remains humble, and shows mercy and kindness to those who ‘ill’ treat him, this is a sign of the true decency of his character and the true goodness of his person. Alas, how often do we find people who are not corrupted by power, fame, and sudden wealth?

How to behave in disagreement?

A third test of moral character is disagreement. Most people exhibit good conduct with those who agree with them and share their way of thinking, on account of their common interests. However, when differences arise, whether ideological or material, people tend to expose their true selves.

A person of dignity and good character will remain composed and sensible. He will express and express his disagreements in a clear and precise manner. Moreover, he will be respectful when doing so and avoid accusatory, insulting, and offensive language.

His moral character will prevent him from conducting himself in a mean and lowly fashion, so he will be able to retain his composure while talking to others, in spite of his disagreement with them. He will not react emotionally in a way that detracts from his character and merely demonstrates his inability to prevail on the strength of his opinion.

However some of us in the same situation, will start cursing and hurling accusations at our opponents, acting as if only we are right and everyone else is wrong. Our misplaced anger will destroy the ‘face’ of our good character. We may go so far to invent and create lies and make false claims. We might even resort to deceptive arguments to make our opponents stumble and deliberately take the words of others out of context.

People like to say that disagreements do not spoil their interpersonal relationships and it is good that they say so, but what really counts is how they conduct themselves in actual practice, not just in theory. “And do not let the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is nearer to piety.” (Quran 5: 8)

We must learn how to translate our moral values and principles from ‘theory’ into a practical way of life, into something that endures in our hearts, minds and actions throughout our lives and our relationships, no matter how long they last.

They must be values that stay with us even if we become powerful ‘big shots’ or attain to high administrative office, or a prominent media spot, or social prestige, or success in business. We must learn to tolerate even when we disagree with one another, so we do not have to be always faced with the choice of either destroying our relationships or remaining silent whenever we disagree or see someone making a mistake.

Morality is the foundation of our life.

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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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