Connect with us
Advertisement

The Other Messiah

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, and by extension all nationalistic Jewry, had been expecting the rise of two messiahs and one prophet-like figure in the mould of either Elijah or Moses. From time to time, counterfeit messiahs did suddenly burst onto the scene to declare a national revolution (particularly from amongst the ranks of the Zealots, e.g. Judas of Galilee), but the true-blue messiahs that were awaited were the messiah of Aaron and the messiah of David, the former from the tribe of Levi and the latter from the tribe of Judah.

In the first century, the two messiahs were anticipated through the seed of Joseph, the Davidic heir, and that of Zechariah, the lineal descendent of Aaron.


Until the time of Jeconiah, the last recognised Jewish King of Judah, high priests were appointed for life: if they stepped down, it was of their own discretion. In gospel times, they were appointed annually by the Herodian monarch and from 6 AD by the Roman governor. 

Every year, the sitting high priest had to be either reappointed or relieved of his duties. These priests  of the Jerusalem temple were not of the Levitical succession: they were purely political appointees foisted onto the  Jewish populace and bore no relationship whatsoever to the House of Aaron.

It was the Essenes’ Qumran temple in the Judean wilderness that continued with the tradition of a Levitical high priest. At the turn of the first century, the Qumran high priest, also known as the Zadok priest, was Zechariah.


 It is a pity that when Christians read of  Zechariah serving in the temple, they take it for granted that this was the Jerusalem temple. This assumption betrays a sorry ignorance with respect to the dynamics and religio-politics of first century Palestine.

Zechariah had nothing whatsoever to do with the Jerusalem temple, which the Sadducean elite had turned into a “den of robbers” courtesy of Jesus. Zechariah was high priest yes, but he was high priest of the Qumran temple 40 km removed from the Jerusalem temple.

When John was born in September 8 BC, the incumbent high priest at the Jerusalem temple was Simon Boethus.  When James, the brother of Jesus, was born in 1 AD, the high priest was Joazar. Joazar was succeeded in 6 AD by Annas. It was the Jerusalem priesthood who were the official high priests of Israel. The bona fide high priests, however, were the ones who presided at the Qumran temple because these were the dynastic priests.


The Qumran temple, a sanctuary really as it was more of a token temple than a real temple, was recognised by the contrived Jerusalem priesthood as well as the Herodian dynasty. The Jerusalem priesthood were aware that in the future, self-governing Kingdom of Israel, it was the Qumran high priest who would take the reins at the Jerusalem temple.

As for the Herodians, the Qumran priesthood was little beyond a talismanic convenience. Being a dynastic one and therefore the real deal, the Qumran priesthood lent the Herodians a veneer of legitimacy since as  a “manufactured” monarch, the Herods  were irredeemably unpopular in the eyes of the Jewish nation.

Once in a while, however, the Qumran priesthood did fall victim to the wrath of either the Herodian dynasty or the Jerusalem priesthood itself as happened, for instance, in the case of Jesus, his brother James, Zechariah himself, and his son John the Baptist.  

ZECHARIAH NO AGED MAN
In the superficial, Christian understanding of the Bible, the conception of John the Baptist was a miracle in that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were reportedly in geriatric territory – too old to be productive, more so for Lady Liz who had long gone past menopause.

That is as familiarly fallacious as your typical clergy’s interpretation of scripture.  Zechariah and Elizabeth both were spring chickens according to the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The term “advanced in their days” does not mean the couple were old: in pesher language, all it says is that they had stayed rather long in mutual sexual abstinence: they had not conjugated since their marriage.


Zechariah and Elizabeth were a dynastic couple.  As such, they were, per Essene dynastic procreational rules, to live apart till it was opportune for them to produce a heir. They should have done this earliest when Zechariah was 36 years of age but the fact of the matter was that they didn’t. On her part, Elizabeth is characterised in the gospels as “barren”.

Again, that by no means suggests she was unable to bear children: in the pesher language, it simply means she was a virgin who had not had a kid before. Indeed, in the apocryphal BOOK OF WISDOM 3:13, female celibates are referred to as “barren” and male celibates are referred to as “eunuchs”.

In addition, both are also referred to as “Blessed Ones”. In LUKE 23:29, we happen upon this statement: “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.'”


Ordinarily, one would think that “barren” and “wombs that never bore” denote the same thing and therefore there is no need to differentiate between them in the manner they have been in the Luke passage. In pesher, the underlying code language in which the gospels were written, the two phrases are different as a barren woman is not infertile but simply a virgin who has scrupulously abided by the rule of not engaging in sexual relations till the right time comes for siring a dynastic heir. Clearly therefore, Elizabeth had stayed chaste and therefore childless for an unusually long period of time and for reasons not of her choosing though.

FEAR OF A JOHN’S FATE
Why did Zechariah neglect to have a child at a time prescribed by the Essenes? A persuasive argument can be made that it was on account of the pressures of priestly duty: he was so devoted to his job that dynastic procreational obligations became secondary if not altogether immaterial. The real reason, however, was that he was indifferent principally because he was loath to pandering to the arbitrary and manipulative Anunnaki agenda, the Anunnaki being the Old Testament gods who were in fact Aliens from a planet called Nibiru, seen only once in 3600 years by Earthlings. What was this agenda?


Well, the Anunnaki blueprint for “Saviour Sun Gods”, as Jesus was, fields a cast of three protagonists. First, there is a forerunner, one who announces the imminence of the Saviour Sun God and initiates him when he finally emerges to effect his preordained remit. The second is the Saviour Sun God himself. Finally, there is the chronicler – the person who documents the philosophy and teachings of the Saviour Sun God for posterity. 

This three-man archetype harped back to Ancient Egypt, where the famed Horus was the Saviour Sun God, Anup (or Anubis) was the herald of Horus, and Aan was the recorder of the ethos and exploits of Horus. The names Anup and Aan are primeval forms of the names John, Jan, Juan, Johannes (Yohanan in Hebrew), Sean, etc.

Put differently, An-up and Aan are the two Aans – the Two Johns! The epic of the Saviour Sun God ran concurrent with the Two Johns. As wise King Solomon so insightfully put it, “There is nothing new under the Sun:   what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (ECCLESIASTES 1:9).


Now, Zechariah was aware he was the one who was to sire the man who was to announce and present the Saviour Sun God Jesus. At the same time, as Essene high priest, he was well-versed in Egyptian Anunnaki mythos and was under no illusion as to what happened to the John who introduced the Saviour Sun God: he always met a gruesome death. Indeed, the John who introduced Horus was beheaded.

Since history was cyclical and therefore kept repeating itself as per the Anunnaki’s age-old scheme for the Earthly realm, Zechariah feared the same thing might happen to his son, or some such unnatural death. It actually came to pass as according to the gospels John was beheaded at the orders of Herod Antipas.


It was in apprehension of the fate that was certain to befall his heir that Zechariah shrank from producing a child. In point of fact, Zechariah would rather he died childless so that the Aaronic succession would become extinct so disgusted was he with the diabolical, self-serving Anunnaki agenda. Unfortunately, the Anunnaki always win in the end. Although they execute their agenda for this ill-fated planet subtly and under the radar, they are very much in control and therefore inviolable.  Noting that Zechariah could torpedo their well-laid-down plans, they moved to force his hand.  

HOW JOHN WAS BORN
Early in December 9 BC, Simeon, the Essence’s Abiathar priest who was second in rank to Zechariah and who also went by the titles “Angel Gabriel” and “Angel of the Lord”   approached Zechariah with a view to persuade him to set about siring a heir. The Essenes were pundits both of astronomy and astrology and they knew that the Age of Pisces was just around the corner and it was time for a new generation of Davidic and Aaronic messiahs to arise.  It was these two messiahs who were to usher in the final 1000-year stretch leading to a theocracy – a globalwide, Earthly government ruled by God himself.


Although Zechariah, who also went by the names “Archangel Michael” and “Lord God” was not inclined to consent, he was under obligation to. Otherwise, he would have forfeited the high priesthood. Furthermore, more serious repercussions would have ensued: as God’s foremost representative to  the Essene fraternity, he was duty-bound, so he was told,  to produce a dynastic successor who would step into his issues when he was no more. Zechariah therefore just had to comply.


Up until now, Zechariah had been celibate. Now he was going to institute sexual relations with his wife Elizabeth. In other words, he was going to live like a married man proper. The Essenes regarded sex as spiritually contaminating. That’s why for the priesthood, it was allowed for the sake only of procreation.  Because sex was defiling, in Essene jargon all married men were called “sinners”.

Since Zechariah had now become a sinner with effect from December 9 BC, he would no longer perform priestly duties nor preach,  minister, or issue instructions of any kind: that role now vested in Simeon, who would act in his stead. 

In Luke’s gospel, this situation is allegorised in such a way as to suggest Zechariah was “struck dumb” for not believing the words of the Angel Gabriel. Zechariah’s suspension, however, would only be in force for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy:  once she had delivered, he would part with her and return to Qumran to resume his priestly duties.


Elizabeth fell pregnant at the end of January 8 BC. Since she was used to a celibate life,  the pregnancy somewhat embarrassed her. Hence for the next five months, she cocooned herself at Ain Feshka as she was shy to show off her pregnancy.


Unlike Jesus, John was conceived in perfect conformity with dynastic procreational rules. Hence he was born in the right month, in September 8 BC, the holiest month of the year. If Zechariah had wanted another  child, he would have done so only in 1 BC given that as a member of the Levitical succession he had to wait for seven years after the birth of a son or three had John  been a daughter. As it was, Zechariah was not interested in producing kids at the pleasure of the Anunnaki. John was to be his only child.      

 
The name John was atypical: none of Zechariah’s ancestors had carried that name. Clearly, it was not Zechariah’s choice: it was mooted by the Anunnaki. Why did the Anunnaki opt for such a name? Because it fitted very well with  their agenda for John in the grand scheme of things. John  was going to reprise the same role of the John who introduced and baptised the Egyptian Saviour Sun God Horus thousands  of years back.  He was ultimately going to die the same or similar death as that of the John of Horus’ day. Names are portendous folks: do not simply casually confer names on your children as they spell a particular fate!  


When Zechariah was murdered  by Zealot commander Judas of Galilee in 6 AD, John the Baptist, aged only 13 years,  succeeded him as the Melchizedek, or Michael-Zadok, his other title as the Essene priest-king. However, a “regent” was retained to act on his behalf till he was 30 years old, the age when one was eligible for high priesthood.  This caretaker high priest was Annas, who in AD 6 had replaced Joazar as  high priest of the Jerusalem temple.


In the very same year, when the now 12-year-old Jesus, the messiah of David, celebrated his Bar-Mitzvah ceremony, young John was present in his capacity as the messiah of Aaron. Thus Jesus and John, contrary to popular brief, were familiar to each other since childhood. After all, they  were cousins, Elizabeth being a maternal aunt of Mary the  mother of Jesus.

They also spent a lot of time together at Qumran. Unlike Jesus though, John never travelled the world. He was not a political messiah but a priestly messiah who would always be based in Jerusalem. Hence, he saw no need to venture out on a familiarisation tour of world cultures. Sadly, this insularity made him fiercely anti-Gentile and was to engender a serious rift between Jesus and himself.
 

Continue Reading

Columns

GONE FISHING

28th March 2023

In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device).  But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration.  Consider these examples:

Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs.  Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, the business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over £18,000 (around P ¼ m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.

Another recent SMB hacking story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didn’t even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the company’s payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli.  As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.

And in May 2019, the city of Baltimore’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.

Of course, hackers target governments or business giants  but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches.  Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.

This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employees’ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability.  A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.

Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge.  Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email.  Out of the physical workplace, your employees’ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.

Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employees’ productivity.  Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi,  sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clients’ addresses and phone numbers.

BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps.  Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a system’s data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore.  Ransomware attacks are on the increase,  predicted to occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.

Lastly there is phishing – the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise –  whereby  cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data –usernames, passwords, credit card details –usually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.

Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt,  consult your IT security consultants.  You can’t put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!

Continue Reading

Columns

“I Propose to Diana Tonight”

28th March 2023

About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.

As he trudged the woods, Williams  had a sudden premonition that pointed to Diana’s imminent fate as per Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died. “When the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,” Williams was later to reminisce. “In the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.”

Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. “I have never seen him so upset,” Mary recounted. “He felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.”

The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. He  took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch Investigative  Unit.

The report read as follows:

“On 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.”

Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.

Meanwhile, General,  even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: “In The Independent Diana was described as ‘a woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anything’. She was ‘suffering from a form of arrested development’. ‘Isn’t it time she started using her head?’ asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled ‘A Story of Love’; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: ‘William can’t help it, he just doesn’t like the man.’ William was reportedly ‘horrified’ and ‘doesn’t think Mr Fayed is good for his mother’ – or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatrist’s chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana ‘On the Couch’, asking why she was so ‘depressed’ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications – about Prince Philip’s hostility to the relationship, Diana’s prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.”

DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ

Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodi’s bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones furtively asked Diana as to what the programme for the evening was. This Trevor did out of sheer desperation as Dodi had ceased and desisted from telling members of his security detail, let alone anyone else for that matter, what his onward destination was for fear that that piece of information would be passed on to the paparazzi. Diana kindly obliged Trevor though her response was terse and scarcely revealing. “Well, eventually we will be going out to a restaurant”, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleagues’ hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal.  Dodi certainly, General, was being recklessly by throwing such caution to the winds.

At about 16:30, Diana and Dodi drew up at the Ritz Hotel, where they were received by acting hotel manager Claude Roulet.  The front entrance of the hotel was already crawling with paparazzi, as a result of which the couple took the precaution of using the rear entrance, where hopefully they would make their entry unperturbed and unmolested. The first thing they did when they were ensconced in the now $10,000 a night Imperial Suite was to spend some time on their mobiles and set about touching base with friends, relations, and associates.  Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.

Rita, General,  was alarmed that Diana had proceeded to venture to Paris notwithstanding the warning she had given Dodi and herself in relation to what she had seen of him  in the crystal ball when the couple had consulted her. When quizzed as to what the hell she indeed was doing in Paris at that juncture, Diana replied that she and Dodi had simply come to do some shopping, which though partially true was not the material reason they were there. “But Diana, remember what I told Dodi,” Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, “Yes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.” Well,  she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.

As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, “I have decided I am going to radically change my life. I am going to complete my obligations to charities and to the anti-personnel land mines cause, but in November I want to completely withdraw from formal public life.”

Once she was done with her round of calls, Diana went down to the hair saloon by the hotel swimming pool to have her hair washed and blow-dried ahead of the scheduled evening dinner.

THE “TELL ME YES” RING IS DELIVERED

Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the “Tell Me Yes” engagement ring  Dodi had ordered in Monte Carlo a week earlier, Dodi decided to check on Repossi Jewellery, which was right within the Ritz prencincts, known as the Place Vendome.  It could have taken less than a minute for Dodi to get to the store on foot but he decided to use a car to outsmart the paparazzi invasion. He was driven there by Trevor Rees-Jones, with Alexander Kez Wingfield and Claude Roulet following on foot, though he entered the shop alone.

The Repossi store had closed for the holiday season but Alberto Repossi, accompanied by his wife and brother-in-law,  had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco  and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrative  Dodi transaction.  Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the one  he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but Dodi  was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ploy  on the part of Repossi to make a real killing on the sale, his excuse to that effect being that Diana deserved a ring tha was well worthy of her social pedigree.  With Dodi having expressed disaffection, Repossi rendered his apologies and assured Dodi he would make the right ring available shortly, whereupon Dodi repaired back to the hotel to await its delivery. But Dodi  did insist nonetheless that the pricier ring be delivered too in case it appealed to Diana anyway.

Repossi delivered the two rings an hour later. They were collected by Roulet. On inspecting them, Dodi chose the very one he had seen in Monte Carlo, apparently at the insistence of Diana.  There is a possibility that Diana, who was very much aware of her public image and was not comfortable with ostentatious displays of wealth, may have deliberately shown an interest in a less expensive engagement ring. It  may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious  choice for her.

The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodi’s apartment after the crash,  has been estimated to be between $20,000 and $250,000 as Repossi has always refused to be drawn into revealing how much Dodi paid for it. The sum, which enjoyed a 25 percent discount, was in truth paid for not by Dodi himself but by his father as was the usual practice.

Dodi was also shown Repossi’s sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.

DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS

At about 7 pm,  Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodi’s apartment at a place known as the Arc de Trompe. They went there to properly tog themselves out for the scheduled evening dinner. They spent two hours at the luxurious apartment. As usual, the ubiquitous paparazzi were patiently waiting for them there.

As they lingered in the apartment, Dodi beckoned over to his butler Rene Delorm  and showed him  the engagement ring. “Dodi came into my kitchen,” Delorm relates. “He looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldn’t hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box … He said, ‘Rene, I’m going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinner’.” Rene described the ring as “a spectacular diamond encrusted ring, a massive emerald surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, set on a yellow and white gold band sitting in a small light-grey velvet box”.

Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz  that night, and told him that he hoped to get married to Diana by the end of the year.

Later that same evening, both Dodi and Diana would talk to Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. “They called me and said we’re coming back  (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are

Continue Reading

Columns

RAMADAN – The Blessed Month of Fasting

28th March 2023

Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’an  (2 : 185)

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of one’s belief in Allah’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.

Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a ‘full service’. This ‘service’ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ‘rest’ through fasting.

Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.

 

The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.” We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.

Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting!’”

This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.

Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich one’s conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.

Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allah’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.

The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a “season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qur’an more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.

Continue Reading