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Cracks In The Edifice

Benson C Saili

Factions emerge in messianic movement

Reading the New Testament, it strikes one as crystal-clear that the first century was gripped with apocalyptic fever. The nation of Israel expected a seismic change both at the political and theological level.  Paul, for instance, wrote that, “The appointed time has grown very short” (I CORINTHIANS 7:29). Peter said, “The end of all things is at hand” (1 PETER 4:7). James declared, “The Judge is standing at the door” (JAMES 5:9).  All these promulgations were based on the time table of Daniel’s prophecy primarily. And the rallying figure who had set the pace was none other than John the Baptist.

Having decided time was ripe to bring about a messianic awakening, John and Jesus now set to work in 26-27 AD. This was not an ordinary overlapping year: it was what in Hebrew is known as the Shemittah Year but commonly referred to as the Sabbatical Year. The Sabbatical Year was observed once every seven years, from one September to the next, and had been decreed to the nation of Israel by their Anunnaki god Enlil, called Jehovah or Yahweh in the Bible.

In LEVITICUS 25:3-4, this is what Enlil had said: “For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, you shall not prune your vineyard, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth of your harvest.”  That is to say, in the Sabbatical Year, the Israelites had to desist from cultivating their land, allowing it to remain fallow. 

Enlil had also pronounced thus: “At the end of seven years you will make a release. And this is the manner of the release: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the Lord has arrived” (DEUTERONOMY 15:1-2). In the Sabbatical Year therefore, creditors were under obligation by godly fiat to waive all the debts owed to them by anybody and everybody: it didn’t matter the magnitude of the sum.

Besides giving the people an opportunity to put their faith in God and see it fulfilled, the year-long abstention from farming also allowed them to collectively take a breather and focus on higher, more spiritual pursuits. In the event, therefore, they had occasion to pack the synagogues and study halls. Since thousands of peasants and villagers whose normal life was tied to agricultural cycles were largely free from their normal work, John and Jesus saw this as the perfect opportunity to spark a religious renaissance among the masses.  The prophet Zechariah had talked of “two sons of fresh oil” who he likened to two “olive branches” that stood before the Menorah, the seven-branched oil lamp that symbolised God’s spirit and presence. Doubtless, Jesus and John saw themselves in this light.

The method the two messiahs of Israel adopted to bring about the new apocalyptical awakening was baptism. This involved immersing somebody in water wholly or partially as symbolic of dying and being born anew. To most Christians, it’s like baptism was invented by John. It was not. It dated back to ancient Egypt where as we saw at one stage Horus, a type of Jesus, was baptised by Anup, a type of John. In the Old Testament, we have one of the prophets asserting, “Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (EZEKIEL 36:25). In the first century, the Jews conducted baptism of some sort though they did not refer to it as such: they called it ritual washing.

The Jews were obsessed with both bodily and spiritual cleanness. If you had a nocturnal seminal discharge, was on menses,  had drawn near a burial site  or came into contact with a corpse or animal carcass, to mention but a few,  you were unclean and so had to undergo a ritual bath within a stipulated period of time, typically seven days. Converts to Judaism, called proselytes, were also required to immerse themselves fully either in “living water” (river, stream, or spring water) or in a mikvah – a specially constructed bath directly connected to a natural source of water. 

This was baptism proper and it was called tevilah. Flavius Josephus, the iconic Jewish historian, also relates that the Essenes, the religious sect to which Jesus and John belonged, practiced immersion in water on a daily basis. People who were newly admitted into their fold were also immersed in water as an initiatory ceremony, which explains why at the Qumran ruins have been found communal stepped pools. Before the initiate was baptised, he first of all had to declare and adopt a pious and repentant attitude towards God. 

To that effect, a text in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls says, “It is by humbling his (that is, an initiate) soul to all God’s statutes that his flesh can be cleansed by sprinkling with waters of purification and by sanctifying himself with waters of purity”. Baptism, thus, was an outward public testimony of a cleansing of the spirit so that one started on a clean slate in terms of his attitude toward God, what is called a remission of sins. Clearly then, John’s baptism was not original but derived from customary Essene practice.

Yet Baptism served another purpose in the case of John.  It also marked a gesture of recruitment into the movement of John. John’s movement was called “The Way”, one of the original names of the Essenes, and its members were called people of The Way. Indeed, the people who would in future become known as Christians began as people of The Way. The Way was a new religious movement collectively begun by Jesus and John. It was not a splinter movement from Judaism or a radical departure from the tenets of Essenehood but was simply a new religious consciousness that alerted people to the imminence of the end times.  Sadly, it was misinterpreted by the powers that be and for that John ended up paying for his life.

What was the process of John’s baptism like? Shimon Gibson, author of The Cave of John The Baptist, combined bits of information taken from the Old Testament, the works of Josephus, and the gospels to outline for us a scenario in the following words: “Crowds of people gathered by the Jordan River to listen to his teachings and exhortations … John then spoke to those gathered there, asking them to lead righteous and pious lives… Subsequently, the souls of the people gathered there were cleansed and there was a remission of sins … This was performed with the sprinkling of some water … Only those who had completed this part of the procedure were then allowed to proceed to the next step … The people then immersed themselves in the river, dipping themselves seven times  in the water  in order to purify the flesh of their bodies from contamination. On emerging from the water, John would have called again on the divine name and asking for the holy spirit (the shekinah) to descend upon the crowd. The ceremony may have ended with doves (symbolic of the special relationship between God and the Chosen People) being let loose from the cages.”

It was decided that the two messiahs conduct the revival in opposite geographical locations. John was to be based in the north, at the crossroads of the territories of Galileee, Perea, and the Decapolis, and Jesus in the south, into the countryside of Judea, that is, the Qumran area.

Although it was John who gained fame as the “Baptiser”, it wasn’t him alone who baptised. Jesus also baptized, although the gospels tried to downplay this aspect of his ministry by attributing the actual conduct of baptism to “his disciples” when at the time they were mounting the baptism campaign (that is, AD 26-27), Jesus had no disciples of his own. But John became the  more renowned of the two for two reasons. First, he was the leader of the  movement and movements are typically associated with their leader. Secondly, he was a gifted evangelist and bristled with authority. Josephus says he “commanded”, not appealed to the Jewish masses to repent and lead righteous lives both towards each other and God.  The Dead Sea Scrolls say he was gifted with an  “eloquent tongue”.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, John is fondly referred to as the “Teacher of Righteousness”. On the occasion that he made a tour of duty down south, he attracted enormous throngs to his wilderness pulpit such was his ministerial prowess. The nation of Israel had never seen an evangelist of his caliber.   

All groupings, whether they be political or religious, give rise to factional dynamics. The Essenes always had factions too but under the leadership of John the Baptist, the factional rivalry became intense and practically came to a breaking point.

To begin with, there was the faction called the Hebrews on the one hand and the Hellenists on the other. The Hebrews were  the faction John aligned himself with. Their  other leading lights were Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple; Agrippa, the grandson of  Herod the Great; Gamaliel, the greatest rabbi of the day who was also head of the Essene order of Benjamin; and James the brother of Jesus.

It was this faction that would in future produce the fiery apostle Paul. When Paul  said I was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews”, he did not mean he was a devout follower of Judaism as Christians wrongly infer: he meant  he was a Jew who had belonged to the Essene faction called the Hebrews. It goes without saying that Paul was an Essene too, a member of the order (not “tribe” as wrongly translated in the Bible) of Benjamin.

The Hebrews were the stricter of the two factions in terms of their moral standpoint and religious observance. They conducted their worship services in the Hebrew language and did not allow women to minister, a stance Paul would  in future advocate. They also  did not permit Gentiles to minister. Even more importantly, they did not recognise Jesus as the Davidic  heir  (owing to the questionable circumstances of his birth) but instead rallied to his brother James, who they had co-opted into their faction.

Jesus naturally belonged to the  Hellenist faction, a faction comprising of people who had steadfastly endorsed him as the Davidic messiah from the day he was born. The prominent members of this faction were Theudas Barabbas; Jonathan Annas, better known as Nathaniel in the Bible; Simon Magus, who was best known as Simon the Zealot; and the Essene orders of Ephraim and West Manasseh, who included the Magi and all of whom were Samaritans (hence the parable of the Good Samaritan). The Hellenists were more liberal and tolerant in their application of Judaism.

They accepted women as equals and allowed both they  and Gentiles to minister, an attitude we witness in the ministry of Jesus and the evangelism of the early church. All their worship services were conducted in Greek because it was a cosmopolitan language, the “English” of the day, as opposed to the restrictive Hebrew language.   

While the Hebrews were united in what they stood for, the Hellenists were divided. One sub-group, headed by Simon Magus, advocated the overthrow of the Roman occupiers by violent means. This group called itself the Figtree. The other sub-group, headed by Jonathan Annas, stood for passive resistance towards Rome, and not recourse to arms.

This group called itself the Vineyard. When Jesus “cursed the fig tree” for not bearing fruit, there was no tree involved at all: all he did was condemn the Figtree  faction in the Hellenist group for adopting methods that were at cross-purposes with his pacifist  ways of bringing about political change in Jerusalem. 


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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!

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“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.”


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.


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.


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

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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.

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