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Final Word on the Canon

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week we address questions on the Bible as a text

IS IT TRUE THAT THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE IS THE OLDEST BIBLE? AND WHY IS IT CALLED KING JAMES FOR THAT MATTER?
No it is not true. The oldest Bible (that is, a complement  of  New and Old Testament books) is  the Codex Sinaiticus. Although it was discovered in 1844, by a German theologian known as Dr  Constantin von Tischendorf, at St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai (hence the name Sinaiticus), it is dated to between 330 and 380 AD. The King James Version is simply one of the earliest translations of the Bible from  its Greek and Hebrew versions. The translation took place over 7 years from 1604 to 1611. The King James Version  wasn’t even the earliest translation of the complete Bible into English: that distinction belongs to William Tyndale, who completed his translation in 1523.

The King James Bible is so-called because it was authorised by King James I of England and Ireland who ruled  from 1603 to 1625.  It became the most popular Bible of the day because it was the first English Bible to have a royal seal of approval and was “appointed to be read in  churches”.
 

YOU MENTIONED THE CODEX SINAITICUS AS THE EARLIEST BIBLE. COULD YOU PLEASE SAY MORE ABOUT IT?
I actually received quite a number of questions on the Codex Sinaiticus.  The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 but is believed to have been written in the 4th century AD. It originally comprised of  1460 pages but today it occurs only in portions, altogether constituting only half of the original. These separate portions are dispersed among four institutions only, namely St Catherine's Monastery in Israel, the British Library in England, Leipzig University Library in German, and the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg.

The British library houses the largest portion at 694  pages, which includes the entire New Testament corpus. The Codex Sinaiticus was written on parchment (animal skins) in Greek. It contained all the canonical books of the Bible (the familiar 66) plus some apocryphal books such as Tobit, Judith, Syrach, the Odes of  Solomon and Wisdom of  Maccabees in the Old Testament, and the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas in the New Testament.  The Codex Vaticanus was first displayed in the British Museum in 1933 as the oldest Bible in the world and triggered an avalanche of  visitors which is yet to be surpassed in the history  of the museum.
 
IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE CODEX SINAITICUS DIFFER FROM THE BIBLE OF OUR DAY?
There are marked differences other than the number and nature of the books it carries. I’ll cite these only with respect to the New Testament. The modern-day New Testament has 14,800 editorial alterations on the Codex Sinaiticus. The Codex Sinaiticus itself has been tampered with multiple times. Ultraviolet tests conducted on the Sinaiticus found that passages in it had been altered by at least 9 editors over a period of time. There are no resurrection appearances in the Sinaiticus.  The Gospel of Mark in the Sinaiticus ends at MARK 16:8. The Sinaiticus has no genealogy, virgin births, or King Herod’s mass murders of infants. The “raising of Lazarus”  incident is much more truthfully  related in the Sinaiticus: it has none of the supernatural trappings of  the modern-day New Testament.   

The Gospel of Luke is 10,000 words longer than our familiar gospel, meaning these were inserted into the gospel post-fourth century AD. However, we must not rush to the conclusion that just because the contents  of our modern-day Bible differ in some respects  from the Sinaiticus, it contains spurious information. Even the original gospel texts of the first century were not uniform through and through. They were  subjected to editing and redactions over time. The biblical texts were written by ordinary men like you and I and so it would be   a stretch to expect them to be entirely without flaw. Moreover, over the centuries, there have been new discoveries of texts about Jesus and these had to be taken into account too, not simply rubbished as “uninspired”. 

Note that even the Catholic papacy, the people who gave us the Bible, were not in one accord over the veracity of the Bible owing to the erratic way in which it evolved. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) commissioned the compilation of what he called “our own account”. He devoted 18 months of his early papal days to writing  a new Bible. Pope Clement XIII (1758-69) ordered the destruction of all volumes of a new Bible that had been published in 1759 because it was a comedy of errors. Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was so confused about the disparate accounts  of the Jesus saga that he called him a “fable”.

WAS THE BIBLE INDEED INSPIRED BY GOD?
Yes it  was. The “God” who inspired it were the Anunnaki, the Alien masqueraders.  The Anunnaki have inspired all religious canons of every major faith. The real God, the First Source  who created you and me at the level of the spirit-soul,  never inspired a single religion. Real religion is strictly between two beings – your higher self (the spirit-soul)  and the First Source.  Jesus encapsulated this point when he said, “ The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”.

WHO WROTE THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?
It  cannot be said with absolute certainty as to exactly who wrote the books of the New Testament. Some books do not carry the names of their writers. The four gospels and the epistle to the Hebrews, for instance, do not specify who their writers were.  Even where the names are stated, there is still the lingering question as to whether it is the name of the person we have in mind or others simply wrote in his name. But there are some books where the odds that the named writer did actually write them are very high. There is little doubt,  for instance, that Luke and Acts were written by the Greek doctor Luke.

The apostle Paul almost certainly  wrote all the epistles that bear his name, although in some cases he used ghost writers. A persuasive argument can be made that the apostles John and Simon Peter wrote the gospels and epistles that carry their names. The apostle John also wrote Revelation. Two of Jesus’s brothers, James the Just and Jude, no doubt  wrote the two epistles respectively that carry their names.

Matthew, however, was not the writer: he was the sponsor. A member of Jesus’s 12–man party, Matthew, also known as Levi, was the fourth-born son of Annas, who interrogated Jesus prior to the crucifixion. He was high priest of the Jerusalem temple from ad 42-43. Mark is said to have been written by  the apostle Bartholomew, whose real name was John Marcus.    

WHY ARE THERE ONLY FOUR GOSPELS?
It was a deliberate decision by the Nicene Council of AD 325, which collated the Bible as it has been handed down to us. It was all based on sun symbolism. The Illuminati of the day, who included the so-called church fathers such as Origen and Eusebius,   desired that their elected make-believe “Sun-God” Jesus (their real Saviour Sun God was the Anunnaki god Utu-Shamash, also known as Apollo) reflect as close as possible the solar mythos. 

The orb of day we call the sun (or God’s Sun/Son) goes through four seasons in the course of a year. Its life, figuratively speaking, runs its course in one, four-season year. As such, the life history of Jesus, God’s Son/Sun, had to be told through no more than four gospels to accord with four seasons.  We see therefore that the choice of the number of the gospels was not objective: it was meant to sync with the real religion of occultists, that of astrotheology.   

THERE ARE SO  MANY VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE. WHICH ONE DO YOU USE AND WHICH YOU CAN THEREFORE RECOMMEND?
It is the Interlinear Bible. To me there could never be a better Bible. The Interlineal Bible shows scripture  in English and its original languages of Greek and Hebrew. You can order it from Amazon.com at $30 here:  HYPERLINK "http://www.amazon.com/The-Interlinear-Bible-Hebrew-Greek-English-English/dp/1565639774" http://www.amazon.com/The-Interlinear-Bible-Hebrew-Greek-English-English/dp/1565639774.  

ARE THERE ANY INSTANCES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT OF REFERENCES TO APOCRYPHAL SOURCES?
There is yes. This is particularly the case with the book of Jude. Jude references the book of Enoch in verses  1:6 when he says, “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling, these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” and in verses  14-15 when he says, “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones  to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”

The book of Enoch talks a great deal about the saga of the Anunnaki and if Jude quotes Enoch then it is reasonable to assume that the apostles were very much aware  of who the Old Testament gods really were. In Verse  9, Jude writes thus: “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the Devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!” This is a direct quotation from another apocryphal book known as The Assumption of Moses. It is ironic that the clergy of our day treats apocryphal sources as taboo when the apostles themselves liberally quoted from them.

I’M GIVEN TO UNDERSTAND THAT UNTIL THE 16TH CENTURY THE CATHOLIC PAPACY FORBADE READING THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC. HOW TRUE IS THAT?
That was not exactly the case. The papacy forbade two things – the use of the Bible in any language other than Latin and the reading of the Bible by ordinary people (non-priests) in public without prior permission from the “authorities”.  The Latin Bible was called the Vulgate (first printed on the newly invented press in 1456). It was a translation from the original Hebrew and Greek by Jerome in the 4th century. The first translation of the complete Bible into a language other than Latin was done by Martin Luther, the spearhead of the Reformation,  in 1522. This was a German version. It was the German version of the Bible that popularised the German language.

OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AS FOREMOST IN ACCURACY?
It is the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a doctor (COLOSSIANS 4:14) and therefore his approach was scientific to a more or lesser degree. The gospel of John is elaborate but it’s  too emotional. Mark is too hurried, brief, and therefore insubstantial though it was the first gospel to be written (Luke and Matthew substantially drew from it). Matthew is kind of  fantastical as  virtually everything Jesus did and said is cross-referenced to what was said and written in the Old Testament at least 400 years back.

Luke, on the other hand, is very sober-minded. He relates his chronicles of Jesus in a historical context so that those who wished to check the facts could do so. In both the gospel and Acts, Luke mentions more than 14 prominent historical figures. A prominent archeologist carefully examined Luke’s references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands without finding a single mistake!

IN ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES, YOU EXTOLLED THE ACCURACY OF THE EVANGELIST LUKE. BUT IF HE WAS THAT ACCURATE,  WHY DID HE COMMIT SUCH A SPECTACULAR BOOB IN LUKE 2:1-2?
In LUKE 2:1-2, Luke writes that every Jew living in any place had to return to  their place of origin for the census ordered by Augustus Caesar through Quirinius governor of Syria, who had jurisdiction over Palestine. Scholars  have scoffed at Luke for the implausibility of such a state of affairs.

They say he was, “fanciful … You will never do a census like that! It will upset the whole economical (merchant) system in the area by having the whole population move back to their place of origin just to be counted …  That’s  just plain fantasy … It must be only a story, without any historical truth behind it.” Well, these same scholars were stomped for words when an edict from C Vibius Maximus, the Roman procurator of Egypt, was discovered which was dated AD 104.

It read: “The enrollment (census) by household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any cause soever are outside their nomes (administrative divisions of Egypt) to return to their domestic hearths, that they may also accomplish the customary dispensation of enrollment and continue steadfastly in the husbandry that belongs to them.” It turns out the practice of people trekking back to their birthplaces for a census was a common if not standard practice in antiquity. St. Luke was incredibly accurate as usual.

IN LUKE 3:1-2, LUKE MAKES MENTION OF ONE LYSANIAS WHO WAS TETRARCH OF ABILENE DURING THE 15TH YEAR OF TIBERIUS CAESAR. IN MY CLASS, HOWEVER, OUR LECTURER TAUGHT US THAT LUKE WAS WRONG AS LYSANIAS HAD BEEN DEAD 50 YEARS EARLIER.
Your lecturer ought to do more research. True, there was a Lysanias, ruler (not tetrarch) of  Abilene (also known as Chalcis)  who was executed at the orders of Mark Anthony, one of the three then joint rulers of the Roman Empire,  in 34 BC. However, there was another Lysanias who was tetrarch of Abilene, or Abila, a small realm on the slopes of Mount Hermon near Damascus during the reign of Tiberius (Roman Emperor from AD 14-37).

This fact is borne out by an inscription found on a temple of the time of Tiberius which read: “For the salvation of the August Lords (a joint title of  Tiberius, the son of Caesar Augustus, and his mother Livia, the widow of Augustus) and of all their household, Nymphaeus, freedman of Eagle Lysanias tetrarch established this street and other things.”  The 15th year of Tiberius was AD 29 and Livia died in AD 29. Thus Lysanias must have become tetrarch of Abilene long before AD 29. Luke once again is spot-on. I love Dr Luke!

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE JESUS OF THE STARS

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A Begrudged Child

21st June 2022

Princess Diana was at once a child of destiny and a victim of fate

It is no secret, General Atiku, that the British monarch constitutes one of the most moneyed families on this scandalously uneven planet of the perennial haves on the one hand and the goddamn havenots (such as you and me General) on the other hand.

In terms of residences alone, the House of Windsor lays claim to some 19 homes, some official, such as Buckingham Place and Windsor Castle, for instance, and the greater majority privately owned.
Arguably the most eminent of its private residences is Sandringham House at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.

It is at this sprawling, 8,100-hectare estate the Queen spends two months each winter, at once commemorates her father King George VI’s death and her own accession to the throne, and more often than not celebrates Christmas. King George VI and his father King George V both drew their last breath here.

A 19th century Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (who would later become King Edward VII), acquired Sandringham in 1862 and it has remained royal property ever since. On the death of King George VI in February 1952, the property passed to his successor Queen Elizabeth II, the incumbent monarch, who assigned her husband Prince Phillip its management and upkeep. The estate also houses a parish, St. Mary Magdalene Church, which the outwardly religious Queen attends every Sunday.

Albert, General, had several additional properties built on the estate the year after he acquired it, one of which was the ten-bedroomed Park House. The house was built to accommodate the overflow of guests at Sandringham House. In the 1930s, King George V leased Park House to Maurice Roche, an Irishman and a bosom friend to his second son, who at the time was Duke of York but would in future be King George VI.

Roche was the 4th Baron Fermoy, a title in the Peerage of Ireland created by Queen Victoria way back in 1856. He and his wife Ruth had three children born at Park House, the second-born of whom was Frances Ruth Roche (futuristically Frances Shand Kydd), born in January 1936.

In 1956, Frances married John Spencer, a fellow noble, and following an “uneasy spell” at Althorp, the Spencer family estate of 500 years, the couple took up residence at Park House, which would be their home for the next 19 years. On July 1, 1961, Frances, then aged 25, and John, then aged 37, welcomed into the world their thirdborn child and youngest daughter, Diana Frances Spencer.

She would, on a positive note, become Her Royal Highness Princess Diana of Wales and the most famous and popular member of the Royal family. On the flip side of the coin, she would, as you well know General, become the most tragic member of the Royal family.

GIRL CHILD WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BOY

If there was one thought that constantly nagged at Diana as a youngster, General, it was the “guilt” of having been born anyway. Her parents first had two daughters in succession, namely Elizabeth Sarah, born in 1955, and Cynthia Jane, born in 1957. Johnnie was displeasured, if not downright incensed, that his wife seemed incapable of producing a male child – a heir – who he desperately needed as an aristocrat.

He even took the trouble of having his wife see a series of doctors in a bid to establish whatever deficiency she possessed in her genetic make-up and whether it was possible to correct it. At the time, General, it was not known that it is the man who determines a child’s sex and not the woman.

John’s prayers, if we can call them that General, were as much answered as they were unanswered. The longed-for male heir was born on January 12, 1960. Named John after his father, he was, as per the official version of things, practically stillborn, being so piteously deformed and gravely ill that he was dead in a matter of only ten hours, a development of which Earl Spencer would in future remark thus, albeit with tongue-in-cheek: “It was a dreadful time for my parents and probably the root of their divorce because I don’t think they ever got over it.”

Again as per the official version, General, John was gutted and hurriedly got into stride, this time around utterly positive that having had two daughters in succession, it would be two sons in succession. But nature, General, is seldom that predictable or orderly.

The next child was in fact a daughter, the now iconic Diana, for the third time around. Although John is recorded as having marvelled at what a “perfect physical specimen” her newly-born daughter was, he was forlorn beneath the façade, as a result of which Diana, who as a child did sense a lingering frustration on the part of her father on her account, would openly intuit that she was an unwelcome child, a “nuisance to have around”, thanks to her “failure” to be born a boy. From a very age thus, General, Diana had concluded that she was not well-fated and presciently so!

Although the heir, Charles Spencer (the future Earl Spencer) finally arrived on May 20, 1964, Diana perceived very little if any change in the way she was contemplated by her parents. In fact, both she and Charles could not desist from wondering whether had John lived, they would have been born at all. Seemingly, they came to be simply because their father was desperate for a heir and not necessarily that he wanted two more children.  With the birth of Charles, General, John called it a day as far as the process of procreation was concerned.

GODDESS OF THE HUNT

Why was Diana so named, General? Throughout her life, it was taken as an article of faith that her name derived from Lady Diana Spencer, a member of the Spencer clan who lived between 1710 and 1735, dying at a pitifully tender age of only 25. Certainly, the two namesakes turned out to have precious much in common as we shall unpack at a later stage, as if the latter-day Diana’s life was deliberately manoeuvred to more or less sync with the ancestral Diana.

It emerged, however, General, that the connection to an ancestor was actually secondary, or maybe incidental. The primary inspiration of the name was at long last disclosed by Earl Spencer on September 7, 1997, the day of Princess Diana’s burial. Delivering the elegantly crafted eulogy, Earl Spencer had this to say in relation to her naming: “It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this – a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”

It is significant, if not curious, General, that of John’s three daughters, only Diana was given the name of a goddess. Clearly, there must have been a special reason for this as aristocrats do not confer names casually: every name carries a metaphorical, symbolic, or intentional message. Typically, it honours an iconic personage or spirit or somebody lesser but who evokes memories anyway.

Elizabeth Sarah, for instance, was in all probability named after the Queen’s mother, whose decades-long inner circle included Diana’s paternal and maternal grandmothers, and an ancestor going by the name Sarah Jennings (1760-1744). Charles Spencer was named after the family’s greatest forbearer, King Charles 1 of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625-1649. The ill-fated John was of course named after his father, who in turn was likely named after the 5th Earl Spencer, John Poyntz Spencer (1835-1910).

On occasion in occultic families, as the Spencer family latterly have been, a name, General, connotes a bad futuristic omen associated with its bearer and that was precisely the case with Diana.

THE FIRST DIANA

In its ancient rendering, the name Diana meant “The Heavenly One”, or goddess being a feminine style. The first Diana, General, was Inanna, an Anunnaki goddess whose Akkadian name was Ishtar – Esther in English. As you well know General, the Anunnaki are the Old Testament gods, Aliens from the planet Nibiru, the Solar System’s little-known planet which is seen only once in 3600 years, and who came to Earth 432,000 years ago as we comprehensively set down in the Earth Chronicles series.

The name Inanna is Sumerian, the Sumerians being the best-known civilisation of old who thrived around modern-day Iraq (called Sumer in ancient times) about 6000 years ago and who were indirectly governed by the Anunnaki. It was abbreviated from Nin-An-Ak, meaning “Lady of Heaven and Earth” or “Lady of the God of Heaven and Earth”.

She was so-called, General, not because she had particularly special godly qualities but owing to the fact that she was the earthly mistress of Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, the King of the planet Nibiru, which humans of the day perceived as Heaven.

Anu was the father of Enlil, the principal Jehovah of the Bible. Enlil in turn had a second-born son called Nannar-Sin, the first Anunnaki to be born on Earth and who eventually became the Allah of Islam. It was Sin who fathered Inanna. Thus Inanna was Anu’s great-granddaughter but every time he visited Earth, Anu was sexually entertained by the stunningly beautiful Inanna, an act which in Anunnaki culture was not frowned upon.

Inanna was amongst other appellations known as the Goddess of Hunting (because of her penchant for, and skill in, waging war) and the Goddess of Love (in the sense of licentious love-making and not conventional moral love). Her other names in different parts of the world and across the ages were Irnin; Anunitu (Beloved of Anu); Aphrodite; Ashtoreth; Astarte; and Artemis, to mention only a few.

Although her celestial counterpart was the planet Venus, she was also loosely associated with the constellation Virgo as well as the moon. Once upon a time, when she was a virgin, Virgo was dedicated to her by her grandfather Jehovah-Enlil, who was Earth’s Chief Executive until circa 2024 BC. With regard to the moon, it primarily had to do with her twin brother Utu-Shamash, whose celestial counterpart was the sun: as such, Inanna’s inevitably had to be the moon. That, however, was only in a putative sense in that the operative moon god of the day was her father Sin.

Since moonlight effectively turns darkness into relative daylight, Inanna has in legends been referred to as Diana Lucifera, the latter term meaning “light-bringer”. Inanna’s association with the moon, General, partly explains why she was called the “Heavenly One” since the moon is a heavenly body, that is, a firmament-based body. It also explains why she was also known as Luna, which is Latin for moon.

A STEERED LIFE FOR GOOD OR ILL

Now, children of royals, aristocrats and other such members of high society, General, are invariably named before they are born. True, when a Prince William or Prince George comes along, the word that is put out into the public domain is that several names have been bandied about and the preferred one will “soon be announced”. That, General, is utter hogwash.

No prince, princess, or any other member of the nobility for that matter, is named at or sometime after their birth. Two names, a feminine and a masculine one, are already finalised whilst the child is in the womb, so that the name the child eventually goes by will depend on no other factor beside its gender.

Princess Diana, General, was named a full week after her birth, as if consultations of some sort with certain overarching figures had to be concluded first and foremost. Apparently, the broader outlines of her future first had to be secretly mapped out and charted in the manner of a child of destiny, though in her case she was as much a child of destiny as she was a doomed child. In her childhood reminiscences, Diana does hint at having been tipped to the effect that she was a special child and therefore had to scrupulously preserve herself.

“I always felt very different from somebody else, very detached,” she told her biographer Andrew Morton as per his 1992 book Diana Her True Story – In Her Own Words. “I knew I was going somewhere different but had no idea where. I said to my father when I was 13, ‘I know I am going to marry someone in the public eye’.” That, General, speaks volumes on the deliberately designed grooming she was subjected to in the formative years of her pilgrimage in life.

Since it was repeatedly drummed in her highly impressionable mind that there was something big in store for her along the way, Diana, General, remained chaste throughout her upbringing, if not an outright virgin to in all probability conform to the profile of the goddess Diana/Inanna before she exploded into a lecherous, loose-mannered nymphomaniac in her adult life as we underscored in the Earth Chronicles series. “By the time I got to the top of the school,” Diana said to Morton, “all my friends had boyfriends but not me because I knew somehow that I had to keep myself very tidy for whatever was coming my way.”

A DISPARAGED BIRTH?

Unusual for an aristocrat, General, Diana was born not in the rather apt precincts of a high-end hospital but within the banality of Park House itself. Whether hired midwives were on hand to help usher her into the world or it was only her dad, mum and closer womenfolk relations who did we can only speculate.

If for one reason or the other her parents were desirous that she be delivered at home, what secret rites did they perform as her mother’s waters broke, General? What incantations, if at all, did John utter over her? Was her birth an occultic one with all the attendant paraphernalia as opposed to a conventional one?

That Diana’s arrival was not a particularly cherished event, General, is evidenced by the fact that she was christened within the Sandringham Estate, at St. Mary Magdalene Church, with only well-to-do commoners in attendance, whereas the more prized child, her younger brother Charles, was christened at Westminster Abbey, in the presence of the Queen, who was designated as his principal godmother.

Anyhow, it was just as well, General, that it was in the hallowed environs of St. Mary Magdalene Church that Diana was committed to the “The Lord” as she was in a manner of speaking the Mary Magdalene of our day.

NEXT WEEK: A FAMILY THAT DABBLED IN WITCHCRAFT

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Challenges in our lives

21st June 2022

Allah Almighty reminds us: ‘On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ (Qur’an 2:286). Also: “Be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are the patient.” [Qur’an 8: 46].

Without fail, whether we like it or not there are times in our lives when many things seem to go wrong and as mere humans we go into a panic syndrome and are left wondering; why me? Why now? What have I done to deserve this? We are all tested with adversity, hard times and pain, but these tribulations are the Almighty’s way of transforming us and help us develop spiritually.

As mere humans we all have different reactions when something good or bad happens to us, and usually our reactions depend on the strength of our religious belief and of our righteous deeds and actions.

One person may receive blessings and goodness with gratitude and accepts the bad challenges and patches in his life with perseverance and endurance. This positive attitude brings him peace of mind and happiness, causing his grief, anxiety and misery to ease. Thus, this positivity brings a balance and contentment in his life.

On the other hand another person receives blessings and goodness with arrogance and transgression; his manners degenerate and become evil; he receives this goodness and utilizes it in an unthinking and uncaring manner; it does not give him any peace of mind as his mind is always distressed, nervous and restless.

Thus when faced with loss and difficulty, due to his arrogant nature, he begins to ask why me? What have I done to deserve this and he may even damn and curse others and thinks that they are plotting his downfall.

But every now and then we should stop to ponder over the blessings both apparent and hidden from The Almighty upon us, it is only then that we will realise that our Lord has granted us abundant blessings and protected us from a number of evils; this will certainly ease our grief and anxiety and bring about a measure of happiness and contentment.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Look to those who are lower than you (those who possess less than you) and do not look to those higher than you; this will make you appreciate the bounties of Allah upon you.”

Whether we are believers or disbelievers, virtuous or sinful, most of us are to a certain degree able to adapt and condition ourselves to face adversity and remain calm during these moments of challenge, uncertainty and upheaval.

When people receive affliction with fear, discontent, sorrow and despair; their life becomes miserable, they panic and become short tempered. Such people are unable to exercise patience remain restless, stressed and cannot find contentment that could make life easier for them.

On the other hand, due to a believer’s strong faith and reliance on Allah, it makes him persevere and he emerges stronger than others in difficult situations as this reduces his fear and anxiety and that ultimately makes matters easier for him. If he is afflicted with sickness, poverty or any other affliction, he is tranquil and content and has no desire for anything which has not been decreed for him.

‘If Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touches you with happiness, He has power over all things’ (Qur’an 6: 17).Therefore the believer prays to his Lord: ‘Our Lord, condemn us not if we forget or fall into error…lay not on us a burden greater than which we have the strength to bear’ (Qur’an 2:286)

However, the one who is weak in faith will be just the opposite; he becomes anxious, nervous, confused and full of fear. The anxiety and paranoia will team up against him because this person does not have the faith that could enable him to persevere during tough times, he is less likely to handle the pressures and will be left in a somewhat troubled and depressed state of mind.

It is natural that as humans we are always fearful of losing the things that we have acquired; we desire and cherish them and we are anxious to acquire more, because many of us will never reach a point where we are satisfied with the material things in life.

When certain frightening, disturbing or unsettling events occur, like emergencies or accidents we find that a person with sound faith is calm, steadfast, and able to cope with the situation and handle the hardship he is going through; such a person has conditioned himself to face afflictions and this makes his heart stronger and more steadfast, which gives him a level of tranquillity.

This shows the difference between a person who has strong belief and acts accordingly, and another who is not at this level of faith. Due to the strong belief of the true believer he is content with whatever Allah Almighty has decreed,

This life is full of ups and downs and uncertainties, but the only certain thing is that from the moment we are born we will be tested with life’s challenges throughout our entire lives, up to and to the final certainty, death. ‘Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives, or the fruits of your toil, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere’ (Qur’an2:155).

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “How wonderful is the matter of the believer! All of his matters are good and this is the case for nobody except a believer. If he is blessed with prosperity he thanks (Allah Almighty) and that is good for him; and if he is afflicted with adversity he is patient and perseveres and that is also good for him.”

During those challenging times you have three choices: either you can let them define you, let them destroy you; or you can let them strengthen you.

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Train Spotting

21st June 2022

Here in Botswana we are in the throes of winter chills, currently experiencing the tail-end of a deep freeze in South Africa which has brought snow to parts of the Karoo. Conversely, over in the United Kingdom, they are moving into summer and there is a mini heatwave happening, with temperatures in the thirties.

Both countries have one thing in common – they are heavily reliant on tourism revenues and both have accordingly suffered due to Covid which severely curtailed all movement and travel, most of all for leisure and pleasure. However, earlier this year the UK cast off the last of its Covid restrictions and travel requirements and basically declared the pandemic to be over. Britain was back in business!

So the very hard-hit hospitality sectors finally had some good news. The crowds would be returning, needing hotel and bed & breakfast accommodation, snacks and sit-down meals, pub lunches and all manner of ancillary services. Other related sectors also put out the metaphorical flags – theatres, cinemas, theme parks, camping & caravan sites, all of which had suffered hugely during the pandemic and all could now re-open their doors to paying punters.

If you’ve ever visited the UK you will know of its many attractions. London is not only a vibrant, multi-cultural city, it is also very historic, with centuries-old palaces and cathedrals and world-class galleries and museums. Outside the capital, there is glorious scenery, from rolling pastures in the south to the breath-taking Lake District and the Highlands and lovely lochs to the far north in Scotland plus all manner of coastal delights and cultural experiences.

For everyone even remotely involved in leisure, hospitality and entertainment, it was cash registers and swipe machines at the ready!

But then green for go suddenly and without warning changed to red for stop. It began with misery for air passengers. Only last week the UK Guardian reported ‘It has been another ” week of chaos at UK airports, with hundreds of flights cancelled and holidaymakers facing long queues, with reports of waits of up to eight hours. Pent-up demand for travel and staff shortages have combined to put pressure on airports and airlines.’

The Prospect union, which represents thousands of aviation staff, ” warned on Tuesday that “things could get worse this summer before they get better”, quoting staff shortages across the industry, with a huge reliance on overtime to get by day to day. The problem stemmed from the massive, industry-wide lay-offs over Covid and a sector seemingly taken by surprise by the lifting of travel restrictions. Airlines are now scrambling to replace staff made redundant, many of whom were forced to find employment in other sectors.

In addition some specialised staff such are aircrew had no option but to let their licences lapse and now find themselves technically not fit for flying duties. Ironically, one of the country’s largest and longest-established airline – British Airways – appears to be the one most severely affected with many of their former cabin crew members reporting that they had been laid off during the downturn with the promise of potential re-employment later but who are now being told their services are not required.

One BA pilot has warned of potential staff exodus and further delays that could last through to winter. When talking about ongoing staff shortages in the industry he predicted: “We might be correctly crewed by winter time. There is no chance this will be sorted this summer.

The last month (August) might be okay.” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps put the blame squarely on the industry for the widespread chaos, saying some airlines had cut too many staff during the pandemic. “The decisions as to whether or not to lay off in the end were airlines’ decisions. They clearly in the end, looking back, cut too far on that,” he told the BBC.

Lufthansa is also joining the party in announcing cancellations. The airline will be scrapping 900 flights from its schedule, from next month. Affected flights will predominantly be on Fridays and weekends to a number of European destinations, from Frankfurt and Munich.

The airline stated: “After …two years of the pandemic, Lufthansa group airlines report high demand for air travel this summer……At present, however, the infrastructure has not yet been fully restored. The entire aviation industry, especially in Europe, is currently suffering from bottlenecks and staff shortages. This affects airports, ground handling services, air traffic control, and also airlines.”

Of course some flights are taking place and some tourists are managing to make it into the UK on a much-needed holiday but for many of them sadly, the airport might be as far as they get because to add to the flight misery, members of two large transport union, the RMT and Unite, will bring the London Underground to a grinding halt next week with planned strike action.

Simultaneously, but in a separate dispute, other RMT members will also be staging a series of strikes on Network Rail and other mainline UK train operators. So should those tourists wish to proceed to some of the country’s top holiday destinations, they’d be well advised to seek an alternative means of transport.

Economists are already predicting this wave of strikes to cost the UK economy at least £91million, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, proving devastating for the night-time and hospitality industries in particular. Hospitality chiefs estimated the national rail strike alone will cost the sector £540million over the week amid a 20 per cent drop in sales, the combination of which will hit ‘fragile consumer confidence’ and could ‘deliver a fatal financial blow’ to some firms.

In response, Transport for London (TFL), presumably in all seriousness, said its teams from Santander Cycles will be ensuring hire bicycles are ‘distributed at key locations according to demand’ and told commuters that ‘walking or cycling may be quicker for some journeys’ during the strike action.

Sounds to me like the message is ‘On yer bike’!

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