Connect with us
Advertisement

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 todays 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 persons 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 persons 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 persons moral character really is.

The test of power

There is another important test of moral character that shows how true or false a persons 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.

Continue Reading

Columns

THE KEY TO HAPPINESS

10th February 2023

Speaking at a mental health breakfast seminar last week I emphasised to the HR managerial audience that you cannot yoga your way out of a toxic work culture. What I meant by that was that as HR practitioners we must avoid tending to look at the soft options to address mental health issues, distractions such as yoga and meditation. That’s like looking for your lost bunch of keys, then opening the front door with the spare under the mat.  You’ve solved the immediate problem, but all the other keys are still missing.   Don’t get me wrong; mindfulness practices, yoga exercise and taking time to smell the roses all have their place in mental wellness but it’s a bit like hacking away at the blight-ridden leaves of the tree instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.

Another point I stressed was that mental health at work shouldn’t be looked at from the individual lens – yet that’s what we do. We have counselling of employees, wellness webinars or talks but if you really want to sort out the mental health crisis that we face in our organisations you HAVE to view this more systemically and that means looking at the system and that starts with the leaders and managers.

Now. shining a light on management may not be welcomed by many. But leaders control the flow of work and set the goals and expectations that others need to live up to. Unrealistic expectations, excessive workloads and tight deadlines increase stress and force people to work longer hours … some of the things which contribute to poor mental health. Actually, we know from research exactly what contributes to a poor working environment – discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity – all of which pose a risk to mental health. The list goes on and is pretty exhaustive but here are the major ones: under-use of skills or being under-skilled for work; excessive workloads or work pace, understaffing; long, unsocial or inflexible hours; lack of control over job design or workload; organizational culture that enables negative behaviours; limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision; discrimination and exclusion; unclear job role; under- or over-promotion; job insecurity.

And to my point no amount of yoga is going to change that.

We can use the word ‘toxic’ to describe dysfunctional work environments and if our workplaces are toxic we have to look at the people who set the tone. Harder et al. (2014) define a toxic work environment as an environment that negatively impacts the viability of an organization. They specify: “It is reasonable to conclude that an organization can be considered toxic if it is ineffective as well as destructive to its employees”.

Micromanagement and/or failure to reward or recognize performance are the most obvious signs of toxic managers. These managers can be controlling, inflexible, rigid,  close-minded, and lacking in self-awareness. And let’s face it managers like those I have just described are plentiful. Generally, however there is often a failure by higher management to address toxic leaders when they are considered to be high performing. This kind of situation can be one of the leading causes of unhappiness in teams. I have coached countless employees who talk about managers with bullying ways which everyone knows about, yet action is never taken. It’s problematic when we overlook unhealthy dynamics and behaviours  because of high productivity or talent as it sends a clear message that the behaviour is acceptable and that others on the team will not be supported by leadership.

And how is the HR Manager viewed when they raise the unacceptable behaviour with the CEO – they are accused of not being a team player, looking for problems or failing to understand business dynamics and the need to get things done.  Toxic management is a systemic problem caused when companies create cultures around high-performance and metrics vs. long-term, sustainable, healthy growth. In such instances the day-to-day dysfunction is often ignored for the sake of speed and output. While short-term gains are rewarded, executives fail to see the long-term impact of protecting a toxic, but high-performing, team or employee. Beyond this, managers promote unhealthy workplace behaviour when they recognize and reward high performers for going above and beyond, even when that means rewarding the road to burnout by praising a lack of professional boundaries (like working during their vacation and after hours).

The challenge for HR Managers is getting managers to be honest with themselves and their teams about the current work environment. Honesty is difficult, I’m afraid, especially with leaders who are overly sensitive, emotional, or cannot set healthy boundaries. But here’s the rub – no growth or change can occur if denial and defensiveness are used to protect egos.  Being honest about these issues helps garner trust among employees, who already know the truth about what day-to-day dynamics are like at work. They will likely be grateful that cultural issues will finally be addressed. Conversely, if they aren’t addressed, retention failure is the cost of protecting egos of those in management.

Toxic workplace culture comes at a huge price: even before the Great Resignation, turnover related to toxic workplaces cost US employers almost $50 billion yearly! I wonder what it’s costing us here.

QUOTE

We can use the word ‘toxic’ to describe dysfunctional work environments and if our workplaces are toxic we have to look at the people who set the tone. Harder et al. (2014) define a toxic work environment as an environment that negatively impacts the viability of an organization. They specify: “It is reasonable to conclude that an organization can be considered toxic if it is ineffective as well as destructive to its employees”.

Continue Reading

Columns

Heartache for Kelly Fisher

9th February 2023
T

o date, Princess Diana, General Atiku, had destroyed one marriage, come close to ruining another one in the offing, and now was poised to wreck yet another marriage that was already in the making. This was between Dodi Fayed and the American model Kelly Fisher.

If there was one common denominator about Diana and Dodi besides their having been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, General, it was that both were divorcees. Dodi’s matrimonial saga, however, was less problematic and acrimonious and lasted an infinitesimal 8 months. This was with yet another American model and film actress going by the name Susanne Gregard.

Dodi met Susanne in 1986, when she was only 26 years old. Like most glamourous women, she proved not to be that easy a catch and to readily incline her towards positively and expeditiously responding to his rather gallant advances, Dodi booked her as a model for the Fayed’s London  mega store Harrods, where he had her travel every weekend by Concorde.  They married at a rather private ceremony at Dodi’s Colorado residence in 1987 on New Year’s Day, without the blessings, bizarrely, of his all-powerful  father.  By September the same year, the marriage was, for reasons that were not publicised but likely due to the fact that his father had not sanctioned it,  kaput.

It would take ten more years for Dodi to propose marriage to another woman, who happened to be Kelly Fisher this time around.

 

DODI HITCHES KELLY FISHER

 

Kelly and Dodi, General, met in Paris in July 1996, when Kelly was only 29 years old. In a sort of whirlwind romance, the duo fell in love, becoming a concretised item in December and formally getting  engaged in February 1997.

Of course the relationship was not only about mutual love: the material element was a significant, if not vital, factor.  Kelly was to give up her modelling  job just  so she could spend a lot more time with  the new man in her life and for that she was to be handed out a compensatory reward amounting to   $500,000. The engagement ring for one, which was a diamond and sapphire affair, set back Dodi in the order of    $230,000. Once they had wedded, on August 9 that very year as per plan, they were to live in a $7 million 5-acre  Malibu Beach mansion in California, which Dodi’s father had bought him for that and an entrepreneurial purpose.  They were already even talking about embarking on making a family from the get-go: according to Kelly, Dodi wanted two boys at the very least.

Kelly naturally had the unambiguous blessings of her father-in-law as there was utterly nothing Dodi could do without the green light from the old man. When Mohamed Al Fayed was contemplating buying the Jonikal, the luxurious yacht, he invited Dodi and Kelly to inspect it too and hear their take  on it.

If there was a tell-tale red flag about Dodi ab initio, General, it had to do with a $200,000 cheque he issued to Kelly as part payment of the pledged $500,000 and which was dishonoured by the bank. Throughout their 13-month-long romance, Dodi made good on only $60,000 of the promised sum.  But love, as they say, General, is blind and Kelly did not care a jot about her beau’s financial indiscretions. It was enough that he was potentially a very wealthy man anyway being heir to his father’s humongous fortune.

 

                                              KELLY CONSIGNED TO “BOAT CAGE”                 

 

In that summer of the year 1997, General, Dodi and Kelly were to while away quality time  on the French Rivierra as well as the Jonikal after Paris. Then Dodi’s dad weighed in and put a damper on this prospect in a telephone call to Dodi on July 14. “Dodi said he was going to London and he’d be back and then we were going to San Tropez,” Kelly told the interviewer in a later TV programme.  “That evening he didn’t call me and I finally got him on his portable phone. I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he said he was in London. I said, ‘Ok, I’ll call you right back at your apartment’. He said, ‘No, no, don’t call me back’. So I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he admitted he was in the south of France. His father had asked him to come down and not bring me, I know now.”

Since Dodi could no longer hide from Kelly and she on her part just could not desist from badgering him, he had no option but to dispatch a private Fayed  jet to pick her up so that she join him forthwith in St. Tropez.  This was on July 16.

Arriving in St. Tropez, Kelly, General, did not lodge at the Fayed’s seaside villa as was her expectation but was somewhat stashed in the Fayed’s maritime fleet, first in the Sakara, and later in the Cujo, which was moored only yards from the Fayed villa. It was in the Cujo Kelly  spent the next two nights with Dodi.  “She (Kelly) felt there was something strange going on as Dodi spent large parts of the day at the family’s villa, Castel St. Helene, but asked her to stay on the boat,” writes Martyn Gregory in The Diana Conspiracy Exposed. “Dodi was sleeping with Kelly at night and was courting Diana by day. His deception was assisted by Kelly Fisher’s modelling assignment on 18-20 July in Nice. The Fayed’s were happy to lend her the Cujo and its crew for three days to take her there.”

Dodi’s behaviour clearly was curious, General. “Dodi would say, ‘I’m going to the house and I’ll be back in half an hour’,” Kelly told Gregory. “And he’d come back three or four hours later. I was furious. I’m sitting on the boat, stuck. And he was having lunch with everyone. So he had me in my little boat cage, and I now know he was seducing Diana. So he had me, and then he would go and try and seduce her, and then he’d come back the next day and it would happen again. I was livid by this point, and I just didn’t understand what was going on. When he was with me, he was so wonderful. He said he loved me, and we talked to my mother, and we were talking about moving into the house in California.”

But as is typical of the rather romantically gullible  tenderer sex, General, Kelly rationalised her man’s stratagems. “I just thought they maybe didn’t want a commoner around the Princess … Dodi kept leaving me behind with the excuse that the Princess didn’t like to meet new people.” During one of those nights, General, Dodi even had unprotected sexual relations with Kelly whilst cooing in her ear that, “I love you so  much and I want you to have my baby.”

 

KELLY USHERED ONTO THE JONIKAL AT LONG LAST

 

On July 20, General, Diana returned to England and it was only then that Dodi allowed Kelly to come aboard the Jonikal.  According to Debbie Gribble, who was the Jonikal’s chief  stewardess, Kelly was kind of grumpy. “I had no idea at the time who she was,  but I felt she acted very spoiled,” she says in Trevor Rees-Jones’ The Bodyguard’s Story. “I remember vividly that she snapped, ‘I want to eat right now. I don’t want a drink, I just want to eat now’. It was quite obvious that she was upset, angry or annoyed about something.”

Kelly’s irascible manner of course was understandable, General,  given the games Dodi had been playing with her since she pitched up in St. Tropez. Granted, what happened to Kelly was very much antithetical to Dodi’s typically well-mannered nature, but the fact of the matter was that she simply was peripheral to the larger agenda, of which Dodi’s father was the one calling the shots.

On July 23, Dodi and Kelly flew to Paris, where they parted as Kelly had some engagements lined up in Los Angeles. Dodi promised to join her there on August 4 to celebrate with her her parents’ marriage anniversary.  Dodi, however, General, did not make good on his promise: though he did candidly own up to the fact that he was at that point in time again with Diana, he also fibbed that he was not alone with her but was partying with her along with Elton John and George Michael. But in a August 6 phone call, he did undertake to Kelly that he would be joining her    in LA in a few days’ time. In the event, anyway, General, Kelly continued to ready herself for her big day, which was slated for August 9 – until she saw “The Kiss”.

 

THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS

 

“The Kiss”, General, first featured in London’s Sunday Mirror on August 10 under that very headline. In truth, General, it was not a definitive, point-blank kiss: it was a fuzzy image of Diana and Dodi embracing on the Jonikal. A friend of Kelly faxed her the newspaper pictures in the middle of the night and Kelly was at once  stunned and convulsed with rage.

But although Kelly was shocked, General, she was not exactly surprised as two or three days prior, British tabloids had already begun rhapsodising on a brewing love affair between Dodi and Diana. That day, Kelly had picked up a phone to demand an immediate explanation from her fiancé. “I started calling him in London because at this time I was expecting his arrival in a day. I called his private line, but there was no answer. So then I called the secretary and asked to speak to him she wouldn’t put me on. So Mohamed got on and in so many horrible words told me to never call back again. I said, ‘He’s my fiancé, what are you talking about?’ He hung up on me and I called back and the secretary said don’t ever call here again, your calls are no longer to be put through. It was so horrible.”

Kelly did at long last manage to reach Dodi but he was quick to protest that, “I can’t talk to you on the phone. I will talk to you in LA.” Perhaps Dodi, General, just at that stage was unable to  muster sufficient  Dutch courage to thrash out the matter with Kelly but a more credible reason he would not talk had to do with his father’s obsessive bugging of every communication device Dodi used and every inch of every property he owned.  The following is what David Icke has to say on the subject in his iconic book The Biggest Secret:

“Ironically, Diana used to have Kensington Palace swept for listening devices and now she was in the clutches of a man for whom bugging was an obsession. The Al Fayed villa in San Tropez was bugged, as were all Fayed properties. Everything Diana said could be heard. Bob Loftus, the former Head of Security at Harrods, said that the bugging there was ‘a very extensive operation’ and was also always under the direction of Al Fayed. Henry Porter, the London Editor of the magazine Vanity Fair, had spent two years investigating Al Fayed and he said they came across his almost obsessive use of eavesdropping devices to tape telephone calls, bug rooms, and film people.”

Through mutual friends, General, Porter warned Diana about Al Fayed’s background and activities ‘because we thought this was quite dangerous for her for obvious reasons’ but Diana apparently felt she could handle it and although she knew Al Fayed could ‘sometimes be a rogue’, he was no threat to her, she thought. “He is rather more than a rogue and rather more often than ‘sometimes,” she apparently told friends. “I know he’s naughty, but that’s all.” The TV programme  Dispatches said they had written evidence that Al Fayed bugged the Ritz Hotel and given his background and the deals that are hatched at the Ritz, it would be uncharacteristic if he did not. Kelly Fisher said that the whole time she was on Fayed property, she just assumed everything was bugged. It was known, she said, and Dodi had told her the bugging was so pervasive.

 

KELLY SUES, ALBEIT VAINLY SO

 

To his credit, General, Dodi was sufficiently concerned about what had transpired in St. Tropez to fly to LA and do his utmost to appease Kelly but Kelly simply was not interested as to her it was obvious enough that Diana was the new woman in his life.

On August 14, Kelly held a press conference in LA, where she announced that she was taking legal action against Dodi for breach of matrimonial contract. Her asking compensation price was £340,000. Of course the suit, General, lapsed automatically with the demise of Dodi in that Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.

Although Kelly did produce evidence of her engagement to Dodi in the form of a pricey and spectacular engagement ring, General, Mohamed Al Fayed was adamant that she never was engaged to his son and that she was no more than a gold digger.

But it is all water under the bridge now, General: Kelly is happily married to a pilot and the couple has a daughter. Her hubby  may not be half as rich as Dodi potentially was but she is fully fulfilled anyway. Happiness, General, comes in all shades and does not necessarily stem from a colossal bank balance or other such trappings of affluence.

Pic Cap

THE SHORT-LIVED TRIANGLE: For about a month or so, Dodi Al Fayed juggled Princess Diana and American model Kelly Fisher, who sported Dodi’s engagement ring.  Of course one of the two had to give and naturally it could not be Diana, who entered the lists in the eleventh hour but was the more precious by virtue of her royal pedigree and surpassing international stature.

NEXT WEEK: FURTHER BONDING BETWEEN DIANA AND DODI

Continue Reading

Columns

EXTRAVAGANCE One of The Scourges in Society.

9th February 2023

Extravagance in recent times has moved from being the practice of some rich and wealthy people of society in general and has regrettably, filtered to all levels of the society. Some of those who have the means are reckless and flaunt their wealth, and consequently, those of us who do not, borrow money to squander it in order to meet their families’ wants of luxuries and unnecessary items. Unfortunately this is a characteristic of human nature.

Adding to those feelings of inadequacy we have countless commercials to whet the consumer’s appetite/desire to buy whatever is advertised, and make him believe that if he does not have those products he will be unhappy, ineffective, worthless and out of tune with the fashion and trend of the times. This practice has reached a stage where many a bread winner resorts to taking loans (from cash loans or banks) with high rates of interest, putting himself in unnecessary debt to buy among other things, furniture, means of transport, dress, food and fancy accommodation, – just to win peoples’ admiration.

Islam and most religions discourage their followers towards wanton consumption. They encourage them to live a life of moderation and to dispense with luxury items so they will not be enslaved by them. Many people today blindly and irresponsibly abandon themselves to excesses and the squandering of wealth in order to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

The Qur’aan makes it clear that allowing free rein to extravagance and exceeding the limits of moderation is an inherent characteristic in man. Allah says, “If Allah were to enlarge the provision for his servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds.” [Holy Qur’aan 42:  27]

 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Observe the middle course whereby you will attain your objective (that is paradise).” –  Moderation is the opposite of extravagance.

Every individual is meant to earn in a dignified manner and then spend in a very wise and careful manner. One should never try to impress upon others by living beyond one’s means. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, “Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7: 31]

The Qur’aan regards wasteful buying of food, extravagant eating that sometimes leads to throwing away of leftovers as absolutely forbidden. Allah says, “Eat of the fruits in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. And waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Holy Qur’aan 6:  141]

Demonstrating wastefulness in dress, means of transport, furniture and any other thing is also forbidden. Allah says, “O children of Adam! Wear your apparel of adornment at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7:  31]

Yet extravagance and the squandering of wealth continue to grow in society, while there are many helpless and deprived peoples who have no food or shelter. Just look around you here in Botswana.

Have you noticed how people squander their wealth on ‘must have’ things like designer label clothes, fancy brand whiskey, fancy top of the range cars, fancy society parties or even costly weddings, just to make a statement? How can we prevent the squandering of such wealth?

How can one go on spending in a reckless manner possibly even on things that have been made forbidden while witnessing the suffering of fellow humans whereby thousands of people starve to death each year. Islam has not forbidden a person to acquire wealth, make it grow and make use of it. In fact Islam encourages one to do so. It is resorting to forbidden ways to acquiring and of squandering that wealth that Islam has clearly declared forbidden. On the Day of Judgment every individual will be asked about his wealth, where he obtained it and how he spent it.

In fact, those who do not have any conscience about their wasteful habits may one day be subjected to Allah’s punishment that may deprive them of such wealth overnight and impoverish them. Many a family has been brought to the brink of poverty after leading a life of affluence. Similarly, many nations have lived a life  of extravagance and their people indulged in such excesses only to be later inflicted by trials and tribulations to such a point that they wished they would only have a little of what they used to possess!

With the festive season and the new year holidays having passed us, for many of us meant ‘one’ thing – spend, spend, spend. With the festivities and the celebrations over only then will the reality set in for many of us that we have overspent, deep in debt with nothing to show for it and that the following months are going to be challenging ones.

Therefore, we should not exceed the bounds when Almighty bestows His bounties upon us. Rather we should show gratefulness to Him by using His bestowments and favours in ways that prove our total obedience to Him and by observing moderation in spending. For this will be better for us in this life and the hereafter.

Continue Reading