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I would like to start this column by commending the brothers and sisters who were involved in setting up this noble project that promises to be exciting and educational to the Kenya Muslim. May Allah reward them immensely in this life and the hereafter. (P.S this is not a feeble attempt at impressing my new team). On my part, I do hope that I am able to fulfil the high expectations of this online resource and benefit the reader in looking at life from a different perspective.

Enough with the pleasantries, let’s get down to business. This week's article is dedicated to an issue that has perhaps become the most annoying/irritating aspect of Nairobi life; I understand it is also a big problem in Mombasa as well. What could it be? I'll give you a set of clues; "HONK HONK!!!” road rage, delayed or missed appointments......you guessed it, its TRAFFIC.

Traffic affects us in so many spheres life; we should probably declare it a national disaster. Seriously, there are great economic costs associated with traffic; reduced productivity, absenteeism, employee stress, bottlenecks in the supply chain. This is certainly not good news for Kenya whose ambitions to become a middle-economy by 2030 are not helped by Nairobi’s traffic being ranked as one of the worst in world. The problem is confounded by the lack of rail infrastructure that makes our road network even more overstretched and congested. Not to mention the great environmental damage caused by the exhaust fumes emitted from cars. When are the electric powered vehicles going to come?

From a social and quality of life perspective, the effects are similarly enormous. Parents and children spend less quality time with each other as they schedule their daily programs around traffic. Children go to school much earlier than their parent's generation and on weekdays, they rarely have both breakfast and dinner with their parents. Lack of parent-child interaction, particularly the mother, is certainly not good for the child. We have a situation where House-helps spend more time with the children than their mothers. I am not advocating that women should abandon their careers entirely, but we need to recognise that we are living in a society that is facing rapid moral degradation. Mothers clearly have an important role in inculcating Islamic values to the next generation.

Along with traffic, we have to contend with global warming and other phenomena that are simply beyond our control. Unless of course an individual is in a position to do something about it such as an urban planner. The rest of us have to deal with this feature of daily life in Nairobi. It is interesting to note that in certain cities in China, there is a quota in place that restricts residents to use their cars in the city centre based on the odd or even numbers of their number plates. The government has to seriously consider setting up subways, train ramps as alternative means of transport.

 
Better not miss Maghrib!

However, not everything is as gloomy as I have put it. As Muslims, we have to acknowledge that we are in this world as a transit point, absolute enjoyment is utopia and such a state only exists in Jannah, may Allah bless us with that. We must accept it is part of the challenges of our era. We only need to contemplate how travelling must have been extremely strenuous during the time of the Prophet (PBUH) to realize we have it “easy”. They did not have the air conditioning, motored vehicles, stereo systems and other innumerable luxuries we enjoy today. As Muslims, we understand that our time on this earth is limited and thus even in traffic; we need to make the most of it. For instance, if one is using public means transport that would be an ample time to recite the Quran or other literature. It may also be a good time to give da'awah to non-Muslims. Likewise, if you have you have your own car, you could listen to the Quran or other beneficial Islamic lectures rather than listen to the local "celebrity" radio hosts. Similarly, if traffic is unbearable, why not walk to work or ride a bicycle, this would allow people to connect with their environment better and is a great way to exercise.

With regard to work, I would propose that Kenyan firms have to be innovative and rely on part-time workers rather than full time employees. They need to realise that employee well-being is paramount and the average Kenyan who has educational and family responsibilities that may not be catered for in the normal 8-5 routine. I suppose that when prospective employees look for work, along with factors such as salary, career advancement, they should think about the distance of the workplace to their homes, likewise, ascertain how long the working hours are. Employers may also provide day care centers within their firms to allow employees to be in close contact their children.

We should also not give in to road rage. We need to be careful about what we say and how we act in such situations. Shaytaan gladly takes advantage of our anger and frustration and makes us hurl insults the most reprehensible insults. A pious Muslim should be in control of his anger and be mindful that Allah is watching at all times.

To sum things up, traffic is one of the most irritating features of our metropolitan life. However, we should not let this bog us down and make the most out of life. I repeat the cliché mantra, Life is simply too short.

photo credits: Dan Kori (featured image) and aaron.knox (inline image) via photopin cc

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