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The 12 Disciples

Benson C Saili

They comprised of Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans and were headed not by Simon Peter but by Simon the Zealot!

Although John had baptised Jesus, it was a grudging act. He did it because he had to: there were overriding, shadowy  powers who forced his hand. For by the time he was baptising Jesus, in AD 29, the two messiahs barely saw eye to eye. The messianic movement had splintered into two, with one faction led by John the Baptist, called the Hebrews, and the other by Jesus, called the Hellenists. The split occurred because as we explained in an earlier article, John was rather old-school, dogmatic, and unbending.   

As far as John was concerned, Gentiles, women, and married men could not participate in ministerial roles as they lacked the  sanctity to do so: only Levites were eligible. Jesus, on the other hand, wanted an all-inclusive faith that embraced all and sundry, that did not discriminate along lines of sex, race, or ethnicism. John seemed to toe the exclusivist Enlilite line, whereas Jesus sought to promote the inclusive Enkite line. John was a puritan; Jesus was a liberal.

Since in the eyes of John Jesus had become a radical, he was not fit to partner him as the Davidic messiah. As a result, John decided to promote James, Jesus’s immediate younger brother,  as the Davidic messiah. Initially, James was reluctant to supplant his elder brother in this role but it was not only John  who prevailed over him: the sitting high priest of the Jerusalem Temple, Caiaphas,  as well as Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great,  also weighed in on this persuasion pitch.

The stance taken by James caused a serious rift in the family of Jesus. After the death of Joseph in AD 23, Jesus as the firstborn had become the head of the family. Titular-wise, he had become the David. James had accordingly  become the Jacob, the title of a Crown Prince (since at that stage Jesus was childless and therefore had no heir). Now that James was estranged from his senior brother,  Jesus decided to designate his other brother, Joses (short for Joseph), as the Crown Prince. Joses came immediately after James in the nuclear family line-up.

It was all a typical Anunnaki ploy, where they always make sure they drive a wedge between bothers, a stratagem that harped back to the rivalry between Horus and Set, Esau and Jacob, Cain and Abel, and Enlil and Enki. Theirs is divide and rule, for they know that under harmonious human relationships,  they cannot attain to their goal of riding roughshod over  us.   

According to the gospels, Jesus had a total of 84 disciples. He first appointed 12, and subsequently 72 others (LUKE 10:1) he commissioned into crusading outreach. The word disciple, however, is correct only to a degree. The 12, the inner core, were more than disciples.

They were actually a future Cabinet of a liberated Israel as the world’s foremost geopolitical power. It was a shadow government, though in terms of legitimacy, it played second fiddle to that of John the Baptist, who was recognised as the official head of the Essene community as a whole (the Jesus faction was a kind of opposition party to the John faction).  Of the 12,  not all were Jews: some were Gentiles and others were Samaritans.

Simon Peter is obviously the most famous of the 12.  In the Bible, he is presented as the seniormost disciple and is invariably listed first.  The reason he enjoys such preeminence is fundamentally because he was the most instrumental in the founding of the church in Rome. It explains why Catholics hail him as the first Pope, though this is in a de facto sense rather than factually so as the first pope was actually Prince Linus of Britain (in office c. 67 to c. 76 AD and mentioned in 2 TIMOTHY 4:21)). 

The gospels were over time subjected to selective editing and embroidery and in the process Simon Peter was retrospectively exalted to a status he did not deserve. Luke also had a great deal to do with this accentuation of Peter in that in the book of Acts, he deliberately promoted him at the expense of James, the brother of Jesus, who was a rival to Paul, Luke’s principal. At the time Jesus was ministering though, Peter was nowhere near the top brass in the apostolic band. The seniormost among the 12 was Simon Magus, listed on the apostolic roll as Simon Zealotes (i.e. the  Zealot)  or Simon the Canaanite.

In the gospels, the older of seniority of the disciples is listed in reverse order: the top dogs appear last, whilst the minnows, to which Simon Peter belonged, appear first. One explanation for this has been outlined above – to deliberately put Simon Peter on a pedestal for the pioneer role he played in the establishment of the Roman church. 

Another, equally important reason was to blindfold  the Roman authorities. The likes of Simon Peter, Andrew, John (the Son of Zebedee)  and James  (another Son of Zebedee) were simple people who were practically anonymous: they were ordinary village Essenes who held no visible sectoral office. On the other hand, the likes of Simon Zealotes and Judas Iscariot were the embodiment of the freedom struggle: they were at the head – clandestinely so – of the Zealot movement.

It was therefore strategic that their profile be toned down so the Roman vigilantes focused on the more innocuous people. Thus by rearranging the names of the 12 as they did, the Gospel writers diverted Roman attention from those apostles in the very forefront of public life.  It was all politics at play here and not religion.

In truth, therefore, the leading and most influential members of the counsel of 12 were Simon Zealotes; Nathaniel; Judas Iscariot; Thaddeus; Matthew; and Thomas in that order. Rather than being literal disciples of Jesus, these six were his associates. It is they we will discuss first.

Had the  gospel writers been non-partisan and objective chroniclers, Simon Zealotes would have enjoyed a prominence only second to Jesus. In extra-biblical literature,  more is written about him than even Jesus. To begin with, he was the closest associate of Jesus, his most ardent supporter. 

He was “the disciple Jesus loved” that we frequently encounter in the gospel of John. The Lazarus who was “raised from the dead” was actually Simon Zealotes. It was because of his affinity for Simon Zealotes that Jesus was condemned to death as we shall demonstrate when we dwell on the crucifixion.

Simon Zealotes was not a Jew but a Samaritan, the head of the Magians of  West Mannaseh, the group that was the first to recognise Jesus as the Davidic messiah at his birth. As the leading astrologer and medicineman of his day, Simon  was  vilified by his enemies as a “magician”,  the reason he was commonly known as Simon Magus. In later days, he became an arch-rival of both Simon Peter and the apostle Paul and for that his character was unduly blackened. He was labelled as the “Anti-Christ”, or “Anti-Pope”.

Yet it was he who even more than Paul consistently and steadfastly championed the co-option of Gentiles into Judaism. Although he was an extremist  who advocated war against the Romans as the only way of driving them away, his belligerent instincts were for the most part checked by the pacifist that was Jesus.  In the gospels,  Simon Zealotes is sometimes referred to as Simon the Canaanite, the latter of which is  a mistranslation of the Hebrew word qana, which means “one who is zealous”, that is, a Zealot. He also went by the name Zebedee, meaning “My Gift”.

In the 12-man apostolate, there were two sub-factions as we noted at one stage. There was a faction that was for war against Rome and the faction that was for peaceful engagement with Rome. Simon Zealotes headed the war faction also called the “Lightning Party”,  whereas Nathaniel headed the peace faction, also called the “Thunder Party”. 

Thus Simon Zealotes  and Nathaniel were mini-adversaries in the apostolic band. Nathaniel’s  real name was Jonathan Annas. He was the second-born son of Annas, who had been high priest of the Jerusalem temple from 6 to 15 AD and who according to the gospels part-presided over the trial of Jesus. Before the messianic movement split, Nathaniel had been third after John the Baptist (the Father/Pope   or the Abraham) and Jesus (the Son or the Isaac). Nathaniel was the Spirit or the Jacob/James. 

Thus in the gospel , he is at times listed as James son of Alpheus. “Son of Alpheus” was a title meaning “he of the succession”, or simply “deputy”. This referred to his being next in line to the position of Pope (Jesus was not eligible for the position of Pope as he was a kingly heir).      

Judas Iscariot is arguably the most despicable villain of history. Dante, the iconic Italian poet and caricaturist, not only designates him as the first sinner but places him right at the centre of Hell, ingested head-first by a horned and winged Devil. Until the crucifixion, however, Judas was a man of high-standing and high-esteem. First, he was the undercover commander of the Zealots, having succeeded Judas of Galilee who was killed in the abortive uprising against direct Roman rule of Judea in AD 6. As a mathematically erudite man, he was entrusted Essene treasury.

This was a very senior position, considering that at the Jerusalem temple, the temple treasurer was only second in seniority to the high priest. Certainly, had the Romans been ejected from power in the time of Jesus and a Jewish government established in its place, Judas would have become the nation’s Chancellor of the Exchequer although he aimed higher than that as we shall soon demonstrate.

After the death of John the Baptist but before the  crucifixion, Judas occupied the position of the second-highest ranking member of the 12 after Simon Zealotes, hence his other title as “Son of Simon” as per the gospel of John, “son of” simply meaning “deputy”. Furthermore, Judas was the Chief Scribe, or lead script writer, which suggests he was a skilled writer.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were produced under his direct oversight alongside Judas of Galilee. His surname Iscariot could mean two things. In one sense, it could have been “Sikariotes”, Greek for “dagger man”, that is, a Zealot trained in assassinations. In another vein, it could have been a posthumous nickname derived from the Hebrew word “Sikkarti”, which meant “to deliver up”, in this case “delivery“ suggesting the  betrayal of Jesus to the Jewish establishment.     

Theudas, alternatively rendered Thaddeus, is the disciple who also appears on the gospel lists under the name Judas (not Iscariot), a variant of the same name. His other name was Lebbaeus. But Christians are not aware that Theudas was actually the Barabbas who featured in the trial of Jesus. He was the oldest of the 12, having been a contemporary of Jesus’s father Joseph. Not only was he a Zealot but he had been head of the Theraputae since 9 BC. Although he was in the Jesus faction, he was closer to James,  Jesus’s brother (who was in the John faction), than he was to Jesus. His tile of Barabbas, meaning “Son of the Father” (that is, “Deputy of the Father”), derived from the fact that he later became Nathaniel’s deputy when Nathaniel became Pope following the demotion of Simon Zealotes. His characterisation as “Judas of James” on the list of disciples attests to this. Remember, Nathaniel’s other title   was “The Jacob”, Jacob being the same name as James.

Matthew was the immediate younger brother of Nathaniel and was the most humane and pro-Christian of the Annas dynasty. It was Matthew who sponsored the gospel of Matthew whilst he was high priest of the Jerusalem temple from AD 42-43. At some stage, Nathaniel became the chief priest (not the same as high priest) in the Essene hierarchy. The holder of this position went by the nominal title “Levi”. After the death of  Nathaniel in AD 57, Matthew succeeded him as the Levi, which explains why Luke and Mark refer to him as Levi rather than Matthew. Earlier in the 20s and 30s AD, Matthew was a publican, that is, a tax official who was responsible for collecting taxes from Diaspora Jews for the Essene treasury.  

Of all the disciples, Thomas had the noblest pedigree although he was to develop a mocking cognomen as “Doubting Thomas”. His real name was Crown Prince Philip I. As a youngster though, he was known as Herod II. He was the son of King Herod the Great (37 to 4 BC) by his wife Marriamne II. Then when Marriamne II was sent packing after being implicated in a poison plot against the King, young Phillip was disinherited, whereupon his half-brother Herod Antipas was named heir. Because of the ignominy of his forfeiture of the inheritance, Phillip I was given the nickname Esau, who lost his birthright to his younger brother Jacob, and was therefore derisively called “Teoma” (Thomas in English), which is Aramaic for “twin”. In Greek, the word for twin is “Didymus”. Thus Thomas Didymus (“Twin Twin”), as he is sometimes referred to, is tautologous.  In the Jesus faction, Thomas was also a twin to Jesus figuratively speaking because only the two of them were of royal descent. Indeed, some petty, early historians mistook this hilarious characterisation of the two to band about the bunkum that Jesus and Thomas were biological twins.   


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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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