Our Community Mindset

By Sadiq Muraj (Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Our forefathers migrated from India to Africa as Merchants having brilliant Ideas to trade in the Virgin lands of Africa somewhere in 1880’s. Some of the settled in Zanzibar others in Mombasa & others in Merca (Somalia) where the ports were, so the spices & the other merchandises would be easier for them to bring to Africa from India by ship.

At that time they used to say:

(1) UTTAM KHETI (Best is Agriculture)

(2) MADHYAM VEPAAR (Medium is Business)

(3) NEECH NOKRI (Lowest is Employment).

In today’s Information Age:

(1) Agriculture is Manufacturing, Production Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship.

(2) Business is Buying & Selling either it’s a product or service, in Shops or Online.

(3) Employment is where the Employer is becoming Rich & the Employees are running on the Treadmill. At the end of the month after paying all the bills & all the necessary expenses the Employee is left with some peanuts or is in Debt.

When I started my Journey in Economic Upliftment Committee of KSIMC of Birmingham in 2012, I came with a dream that (2 years Plan) we will sort out all Jobs problems in our Community, (5 years Plan) anyone who wants to start his own business will be supported by us by sign posting (10 years Plan) Entrepreneurship. But things did not work out as planned due to the mess in the Job Market.

Now the question is as an Community in which Category we want to be in, One, Two or Three. And Why?

How is the Secondary question which we will discuss in our next article.

Most of us are Guajarati (Gujju Bhai), so whenever we go to purchase anything we always look for 3 qualities in it :

(1) SASTO (Cheap)

(2)SAARO (Good in quality)

(3) TAKAAW (Long-lasting)    Three in One

Times have changed and our Human Journey starting from Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age … and now we are in the 21st Century, the Digital & Technology era or Robotic Era which is Known as INFORMATION AGE.

We have migrated from Africa to the West. Our lifestyle has changed, our foods have changed, our dressing styles have changed, our priorities have changed, our wants have come over our needs, we use luxuries as necessities, the plastic money has completely ruined our lives in buy now & pay later offers but our mindset is still the same.

Almost  70% of our Community members are in Jobs running the whole week to earn for the survival. Where the Job market is in mess and the Companies they are working for are also struggling to Survive. The companies are looking for someone who is Jack of all Trades, at the end of the day the Employees are burdened with lots of responsibilities and the result is Stress, Depression & Anxiety.

The Rich are getting richer because of having proper Financial Knowledge, the Middle Class are confused between the difference of an Asset and Liabilities, and the lower class think that their Liabilities are their Assets.

How are we going to survive & can we survive if we stop learning more after graduating from the University (Life-Long Learning Project). In this Information Age how important is Life Long Learning & how our money can work for us instead we working for our money ( Next Article)

Being a Bookworm & interested in Researching I have found out that the most successful Communities who are Economically & Financially Self-sufficient are the Jews Communities and the Khoja Ismaili Communities. Their main focus  is on Inter-Community Business. They buy from their own people on market price( they don’t demand any discount or top ups or free stuff) and the Wholesalers sell them in wholesale price so the buyer can resale it in retail price. Both parties are BRUTALLY HONEST with each other.  (I CALL IT THE BUSINESS OF TRUST)

In our Community we don’t have that Trust Factor. The buyer thinks that the seller will either over charge him or give him worst quality in the price of good quality. And sometimes the seller also takes the advantage of the customer in our own community. How can we build that trust ? If we ask someone from our community to buy from our own Community member, the first question asked is ” SU MAFAT MA DESE”.

In Community Business we all have to be REALLY HONEST to each other, so we can build a Sustainable and Self-Sufficient Community.

How important is Learning Financial Education in our Community which we are not taught at our schools in our Academic Subjects (Next Article).

For Businesses Investing in Assets is important but for Communities Investing in People is more important. (Next Article).

 

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The Need for a Religion

 

By Muhammed Siwji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The people will see a time of patience in which someone adhering to his religion will be as if he were grasping a hot coal.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi? 2260

In such a time, where the progression of science seems to have reached to its peak, and when religion has been separated from life, or at least from secular studies, the question then arises, as a result of the whisperings of the Devil’s associates, and of the (very misleading appearance) of the differing opinions and stands of the Scientific and the Religious Worlds, that, “is there a need for religion?”, and, “if common sense can tell one what is right and wrong, why does one then need a religion to force him/her to do what he/she would then be doing just voluntarily?”

Coming to first what a religion is, according to the Wikipedia, religion refers to any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental. It basically is the belief and worship of a superhuman controlling power.

So why then religion?

Religion sorts numerous issues if understood with pure rationality, but this article shall only address two of them, that are more than sufficient to prove the need for a religion.

First is the finite nature of human society’s knowledge, as in the base knowledge from which such scientific theories against religion are derived, and,

The second is the concept of absolute and relative morality, and this is also related to the first.

  1. The Finite Nature of the Knowledge Available at Mankind’s Disposal.

All scientific understandings, research, theories and everything that there is to science, comes as a result of the use of the following sources and means;

The 5 senses, and the intellect

However, it is broadly known that the 5 senses and the intellect are limited in their ability to obtain knowledge about any given matter, that they can be deceived to have a great deal of error in them, and that any knowledge obtained from any and all of these senses can be biased, after all, this is why we still have researches and experiments conducted over and over again, in different manners, and why we still obtain new discoveries in fields that we have already studied before.

Therefore, any information obtained from such a source is very questionable, and thus any conclusion derived from it.

2. The Concept of Relative and Absolute Morality

Relative morality is a system where by the morals and virtues are bound to change, and are dictated by the action and thinking of the society, thus it is a relative-sort of an insight, while absolute morality is a system whereby morals are static, and are dictated by a set of fixed laws provided by an Absolute Moral System (or a religion). The fixed laws in an absolute moral system are believed to be of a divine source that possesses the exact qualities needed to determine the exact essence of a deed, and whether it is suitable to be considered as a virtue, or a crime, or neither.

One may argue that common sense suffices to be able to judge the morality of a given matter. In simple matters like lying, oppression, justice, harmony and peace, this is true, however, in more complicated matters like divorces, homosexuality, and abortions, common sense does not suffice and one needs to refer to a moral system for guidance.

Relative morality firstly does not comply with logic, since the majority of the doers and believers of a certain fact do not qualify to justify the validity of that fact in question i.e. just because everyone is heading to a particular direction doesn’t mean that direction is the right direction to be heading to. Yes, this system may offer least resistance, and it may prove something to be relatively moral to do, while in its exact essence, it may be a vice.

Second, relative morality then does not comply with reason because our knowledge of a matter does not dictate what the reality of that matter exactly is. For instance, if we have not yet discovered that a substance is poisonous, that does not mean that the substance is then harmless to consume, since it will still act as poison regardless of the knowledge of the consumer. That is to say, that if our opinion about a matter varies, it varies not because of the variation of the matter itself, but it varies because our understanding of the matter has improved, or has been taken for a ride in the opposite direction.

Relative morality dictates morals based on the knowledge of the people, and this is a very risky source, since, as we identified above, humans have no fool proof source of obtaining knowledge on a particular matter, and thus any conclusion derived of such knowledge is entirely questionable.

Absolute morality, on the other hand, is static, depends not on the belief and thoughts of the majority, and is of a divine source believed to be infinitely knowledgeable, needless, wise, and eternal. Therefore, absolute morality has no room for error in the sense that the law maker has full knowledge of the matter, is not bound to any desire to manipulate the society, and is always present.

Having understood the above, one comes to the conclusion that there is need of an absolute moral system, that should be sourced from the divine intervention and guidance of a superhuman entity.

As a bonus, belief in a superhuman entity is scientifically proven to have positive effect on one’s psychology, as of the words of Kenneth Pargament, a professor of psychology and an expert on religion and health at Bowling Green State University in Ohio; a slew of research has tied being religious with better well-being and overall mental health; several studies have found that devout people have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as a better ability to cope with stress. Certain religious practices may even change the brain in a way that boosts mental health, such studies suggest.

Now this already settles the issue of the need of a religion (i.e. an absolute moral system, and divine intervention). This also settles the question of the need for a superhuman entity for the purpose of law making (the derivation of the absolute moral system).

This however does then raise the question that, “Yes we know we need a God, but does one really exist?”, that I aim to address and answer in my next article on this same site.

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Gender Roles

 

By Aliabbas Hameer (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

The role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender by the prevailing cultural norms, this is one of the most common type of stereotyping ­– some general phrases we commonly here are “Be a man” or “Get back to the kitchen”. Males are generally assigned to be heads of the family (earn a living), a built physique and be emotionless whereas, females are commonly referred take care of the house as well as never to dominate the males.

What externalities result to gender roles, how are they framed to take that shape/course? Ideally, gender roles are based on norms or standards created by society. Society nurtures a male role and associates it with strength, aggression and dominance, on the other hand feminine roles are associated with passivity, nurturing and subordination.

Gender roles over the years have been disputed due to the rapid growth of intellectuals which led to people becoming more open minded. However, a sub-sect of general roles in regards to sports has still not be treated. When we label sports according to genders, we are limiting people from trying wide range of sports and thus women have a small range of sports to select from and that is why they are less likely to pursue a sports career. A classic example of this scenario would be; if you see a man either cheerleading or play netball a stereotypical response to that would be questioning his manly hood or seeing a girl play football would be extravagantly amusing as we would feel she would get hurt. To conclude, the reason why women participation is very low is primarily due to tradition. Traditionally, females have been brought up or more of ‘required’ to raise children, remain passive, moral, wear alluring dresses which if they did not live by their ascribed qualities they would be deemed as a tomboy as they are supposed to act ‘ladylike’ as that’s how they have been nurtured.

With the introduction above, we realize that general roles is an effect and the cause is influencing the division, the clear distinction is that general roles take a form based on culture as peoples expectation about attributes, behaviors and relation are shaped by it, a critical perspective is how general identities and gender relations  as they are critical aspects of culture because they shape how life Is lived in the wider community, and lastly it does not function as an organizing principle for society because of the cultural meanings to being male or female, but simple the beliefs of people. There is  a very fine line when it comes to division of labor, the clear pattern that distinguishes ‘men’s work’ and ‘women’s work’, though they differ from time to time, and vary through societies, the principles are stagnant; women have less autonomy, fewer resources at their disposal and less influence over decision making processes. Despite the fact of biological differences this pattern of disparity based on gender is both a human rights and development issue, we undermine the impact of the outcome but this results in the shaping of our society.

A positive is cultures and societies are not in a static form due to vastness of its relativity, they keep on being changed and reshaped. A thought provoking question is culture is refined by how religion and traditions appeal, does that conclude that major religions do not believe in gender equality or emphasis in regards to empowerment? Christianity defines saints as exceptional holiness and the most prominent is Mary, she is considered as “Mother of God”. Hinduism illustrates a woman’s responsibility to devote her life to her husband but the aspect that is not referred to is that they chose that for themselves,  in history we realize the wives of the gods took great pride in their position and were highly respected for it, they did what they believed and so we should too.

Lastly, coming to the most controversial one ‘Islam’, where women coverts fear to be classified as second class citizens or as portrayed by the media, a religion that takes away her rights? In regard to Education, Nigeria and Yemen have been guilty of providing this service to Men over women, however Muhammad (peace be upon him) says “Education is compulsory for every Muslim”. Islam has been accused of not giving any legal rights to women, however in Chapter 4:7 “To the men a share of what the kinsman leave and to the women a share of what parents and kinsman leave” and another vital aspect is the right to work, the fine line is drawn in Chapter 4:32 “And to the men a share from what they have earned and to the women a share from what they have earned.” And lastly, the media is bombarding with the headlines showing that ’73% of Saudi wives are verbally abused’, some counter saying that this is an orthodox approach of dealing with a conflict, but going back to the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) this is what he said “The best of you are those who are best (in treatment) to their wives”, the Koran further emphasizes and says in Chapter 4:19 “O you who believe, you are forbidden to inherit women against their will. And you should not treat them with harshness. Live with them honorably. If you dislike them – it may be you dislike a being through which God brings you a lot of good.”

Here is what is amusing, if the major religions do not create gender inequalities and gender roles, who gives society the authority to do so?

To conclude, if we go back in time as short as a decade ago, general roles were very prominent in society and are still, but society is developing just like You and I, we see this in miniscule aspect like increase in the number of stay home fathers, increase in woman empowerment. We should not limit ourselves and not let lies within take it’s form, let us not let those who dwelled in the past dictate our present and decide our future. We are not meant to abandon heritage, we should preserve be but not it as they are gone and you live for a purpose/cause.

So, even if these social pressures and gender roles were implemented onto us from a young age, are we still willing to change our perspectives of the respective genders and ourselves, as our society develops and becomes more accepting to change?

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When sane feels insane – is the message sufficient for our reform?

by Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

The heart breaking narrations of the event of Kerbala have been around us since most of us were born, the ordeals that the Holy Imam (AS) and his caravan endured have been sources for relief to our own pain and loss, almost always.  Indeed, Kerbala presents the undeniable pinnacle of trial and sacrifice, and it would probably take a stone-hearted person, not to be moved by history’s most significant event especially in its profound ability to turn an apparent war debacle into an eternal triumph.

This bloodshed, this readiness to die for a higher cause, this ability to bear pain, loss and humiliation, as well as the entire gamut of realities that occurred on the burning sands of Nainawa, were not meant to be remembered simply for their tragic nature, and even if overcome by grief, we get overly emotional about it, such predisposition must never be the end of Kerbala for us, for it was meant to be the beginning in an important historical turning point.

It is probably too late in the day to start pointing fingers and investigating why after decades of listening to this magnificent dhikr, the very result that it seems to promise, is absent.  Whether we should blame the pulpit for using their dominant position to aggressively label any contrarian argument or to concede our own imperfections in accepting and reflecting upon the message, only Allah (SWT) can be the judge.  But two things remain certain, that we shift gears of our emotions and conduct with ease and clearly aligned with the changing months, meaning that we are quite oblivious of this message for the rest of the year, and secondly that the inability to comprehend how it is now significant to alter some of our observances so that they remain relevant in a globalised world, is a gloomy reality.

At a time when every finger (hand) has become a ‘writer’, distinguishing authentic messages from a sea of forwards and shares if unknown sources, the challenge of keeping the message pure from amalgamation, becomes increasingly greater.  Like toys given to children, the world is busy challenging the very core of knowledge whereby today searching for knowledge is replaced by a million religious groups each of which proclaim authenticity.  As the overload of religious talk sets in, its ineffectiveness will manifest in our passivity towards religious principles and for some the adherence to extremist beliefs.  Part of the reason of this waning spirit in theocracy is that we have begun trivialising our actions in the name of memories, using our toy technologies.  We donate blood, our pictures go viral, we perform azaadari, shares and forwards with chants of subhanallah are everywhere.  We visit the holy mausoleums, and we pose for pictures instantly dispatching them to millions across the world.  Consequently, various interpretations emerge, all of which significantly dilute the effect of our real actions.  And the more it happens, the more it becomes weaker in its potential strength.  It is also fashionable for us to talk in the air, and just like every other mood swing that we publicise to the whole wide world, we have now started forwarding our feelings on the day of a shahada, such that in totality we have made Kerbala a message to show others we are just grieving, whereas the essence of Kerbala is in reforming ourselves by inner reflection, not by outwad demonstration.

Similarly, while Juloos is a very strong tool to pass the information to others, despite regular appeals by Jamaats, participants appear to be just strolling in the procession showing least character that radiates sorrow.  Equally, an important factor – whether through banners or placards or audible announcements, we consistently fail to announce to the world the real reason Kerbala happened – for its moral and ethical value, because we almost always end up focussing on the hurt that we have, meaning outsiders would not understand us and at best would take it to be an internal issue, such as a minority rights group.

As we reduce religion and Kerbala in particular to a show of strength amongst each other, in terms of how many times we have visited AbaaAbdillah, without once reflecting whether this will slowly lead to religious tourism, and unperturbed by the local financial and spiritual needs of our own city, our own neighbourhood, our own family, Kerbala has now been turned into a contest of who amongst us loves the Ahlul Bayt more.  By Allah, it is tragic to ead comments made by zawwaar from the sacred lands to announce to the world their love for Hussain (AS).  If indeed it is our love, why do we need to advertise it? Why is it important for others to know you are a zawwaar?  The truth is that we are failing to move beyond things and material substance.  We are failing to fly into the realm of spiritual self actualisation which nearness to the Holy infallibles promise.  And perhaps this is the result of our having separated our daily lives from Islam, except when we head to the mosque, or spend all our lives worrying about petty things in our lives, and hence not being able to understand why Kerbala and why were we given this remarkable gift.

A pertinent question to ask is why despite our familiarity to the narration of this event, we are becoming encumberant to the needs of our time and of those around us, to our responsibilities in furthering this message not just in Muharram, but round the year.  To start with, is their sufficient reform in our conduct (Akhlaak)? Are we still compartmentalising religion to a nook where our mosques are, while outwardly we behave like others do? We cry profusely on the test that befell young Qassim, and the circumstances of his martyrdom, paying deserved homage to his mother for his immaculate disposition to the mission at hand, but does that lead us to emulating the parenting traits of his mother, or the sorrow itself is where it ends? The reversal of Hur was in fact a demonstration of how difficult decisions are taken in the face of injustice, but beyond applauding for his sincerity, do we allow such morally excellent actions to be a part of our own lives? And the list goes on.

Tomorrow is a day when it is highly recommended to be sombre.  Have we taught and guided our children not to be playful at the mosque? After the commemorations are over, why does everything return to normal so soon?  One can hear laughter and mundane talk all over again.  It looks like we have conditioned ourselves that as soon as we get into the mosque, our social lives begin.  What about Imam Husain’s message of character and discipline? Are we ever going to embrace that?

Remember what Mark Twain said “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

We can each judge ourselves and think about reform, we can each detach ourselves from our comfort zones, and seek out to acquiring the moral characters of the people of Kerbala, for that is the beginning not the end, and weeping on their suffering ought to be our strength to change things around us.  As long as we treat that as an end, our points of debate and argument will remain shallow around contentious issues such as shabeeh and azaadari, we will be aggressive and emotional when rationalising these significant tools of symbolism of our allegiance to the cause but as they become our final goal, our mission will stagnate.  All I am thinking right now, is it is time to move to the next level, where we try to emulate the lowest and farthest of the shuhada and see if we can become Husaini for real.  Life is too short, and this is our great opportunity to walk on the footsteps of this great personality history has ever produced.

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A Factual Note on Abortion and it’s Flaws

 By Mohamedhussein Kara (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Abortion is a widespread malpractice universally & sadly enough, its rate escalates day by day. Typically, it is a battle between choice and life. According to the WHO, annually, an estimated 40-50 million abortions take place. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions a day in this sad planet. An abortion is a deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, mostly conducted within the first 28 weeks of conception. Another term used to describe this is a ‘feticide’. Naturally, a majority considers this to be a wrongdoing, but is prevalent globally.

Nearly 88% of abortions take place in developing regions and that includes most countries in the African continent. It is sad to say that 25% of these are performed on women less than 25 years of age. According to statistics in 2016, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion & 1 in 3 of these pregnancies are unwanted. There are around 10 ways to kill and expel the fetus from the uterus and all of these involve killing the unborn in an inhuman manner, for no valid reason that is. This is primarily why Islam despises abortion, unless the unborn will cause harm to the mother mentally or physically. Islam advices abortion in this severe situation. The baby is either cut into pieces, grabbed and twisted, crushed, suffocated, induced to prevent its heartbeat, dehydrated or vacuumed and torn apart.  Even worse, babies that survive this cruel procedure, are born immature and left unattended to die. This opposes humanitarian rights and in some cases is very perilous to the mother.

In countries where abortion is legal and available, it is a safe process. Making this act illegal doesn’t reduce the number of abortions; it simply reduces its safety, thus causing a threat to the mother’s life. According to WHO, 20 million of the 40-50 million abortions performed annually are illegal and unsafe. Unsafe abortions often lead to inflections and death of mothers too. It seriously is high time health becomes a reality to every human regardless of age, race, income or geography. It is sad to see the world opting ‘pro-choice,’ a belief that women should be the ones to decide as it is her body and that she shouldn’t be forced to go through an unwanted pregnancy. In contrast, ‘pro-life’ is in favor of protecting the life of the fetus as it is a living and growing entity. Destroying it is equivalent to taking an innocent life. Life is sacred and is granted by the Almighty alone and that makes him to decide when to take lives. No one can decide a fellow human’s death, for this is a great misdeed.

Abortion obviously has its flaws and can lead major medical complications like cervix damage, various infections, heavy bleeding and serious damage to internal organs. Other women may regret this within conflicting periods of time which may cause them to get very emotional. This consequently leads to guilt, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug abuse. Among the higher risks of unsafe abortion are cervical and ovarian cancer. Placenta previa is also a risen issue which prevents future conceptions, making the woman sterile.

Allah( swt) has created the womb for his servants to dwell in at the most vulnerable stage of their earthly lives. The womb is Allah (swt)’s designated place of safety and must be respected.

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