Connect with us
Advertisement

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

Continue Reading

Columns

Heartache for Kelly Fisher

9th February 2023
T

o date, Princess Diana, General Atiku, had destroyed one marriage, come close to ruining another one in the offing, and now was poised to wreck yet another marriage that was already in the making. This was between Dodi Fayed and the American model Kelly Fisher.

If there was one common denominator about Diana and Dodi besides their having been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, General, it was that both were divorcees. Dodi’s matrimonial saga, however, was less problematic and acrimonious and lasted an infinitesimal 8 months. This was with yet another American model and film actress going by the name Susanne Gregard.

Dodi met Susanne in 1986, when she was only 26 years old. Like most glamourous women, she proved not to be that easy a catch and to readily incline her towards positively and expeditiously responding to his rather gallant advances, Dodi booked her as a model for the Fayed’s London  mega store Harrods, where he had her travel every weekend by Concorde.  They married at a rather private ceremony at Dodi’s Colorado residence in 1987 on New Year’s Day, without the blessings, bizarrely, of his all-powerful  father.  By September the same year, the marriage was, for reasons that were not publicised but likely due to the fact that his father had not sanctioned it,  kaput.

It would take ten more years for Dodi to propose marriage to another woman, who happened to be Kelly Fisher this time around.

 

DODI HITCHES KELLY FISHER

 

Kelly and Dodi, General, met in Paris in July 1996, when Kelly was only 29 years old. In a sort of whirlwind romance, the duo fell in love, becoming a concretised item in December and formally getting  engaged in February 1997.

Of course the relationship was not only about mutual love: the material element was a significant, if not vital, factor.  Kelly was to give up her modelling  job just  so she could spend a lot more time with  the new man in her life and for that she was to be handed out a compensatory reward amounting to   $500,000. The engagement ring for one, which was a diamond and sapphire affair, set back Dodi in the order of    $230,000. Once they had wedded, on August 9 that very year as per plan, they were to live in a $7 million 5-acre  Malibu Beach mansion in California, which Dodi’s father had bought him for that and an entrepreneurial purpose.  They were already even talking about embarking on making a family from the get-go: according to Kelly, Dodi wanted two boys at the very least.

Kelly naturally had the unambiguous blessings of her father-in-law as there was utterly nothing Dodi could do without the green light from the old man. When Mohamed Al Fayed was contemplating buying the Jonikal, the luxurious yacht, he invited Dodi and Kelly to inspect it too and hear their take  on it.

If there was a tell-tale red flag about Dodi ab initio, General, it had to do with a $200,000 cheque he issued to Kelly as part payment of the pledged $500,000 and which was dishonoured by the bank. Throughout their 13-month-long romance, Dodi made good on only $60,000 of the promised sum.  But love, as they say, General, is blind and Kelly did not care a jot about her beau’s financial indiscretions. It was enough that he was potentially a very wealthy man anyway being heir to his father’s humongous fortune.

 

                                              KELLY CONSIGNED TO “BOAT CAGE”                 

 

In that summer of the year 1997, General, Dodi and Kelly were to while away quality time  on the French Rivierra as well as the Jonikal after Paris. Then Dodi’s dad weighed in and put a damper on this prospect in a telephone call to Dodi on July 14. “Dodi said he was going to London and he’d be back and then we were going to San Tropez,” Kelly told the interviewer in a later TV programme.  “That evening he didn’t call me and I finally got him on his portable phone. I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he said he was in London. I said, ‘Ok, I’ll call you right back at your apartment’. He said, ‘No, no, don’t call me back’. So I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he admitted he was in the south of France. His father had asked him to come down and not bring me, I know now.”

Since Dodi could no longer hide from Kelly and she on her part just could not desist from badgering him, he had no option but to dispatch a private Fayed  jet to pick her up so that she join him forthwith in St. Tropez.  This was on July 16.

Arriving in St. Tropez, Kelly, General, did not lodge at the Fayed’s seaside villa as was her expectation but was somewhat stashed in the Fayed’s maritime fleet, first in the Sakara, and later in the Cujo, which was moored only yards from the Fayed villa. It was in the Cujo Kelly  spent the next two nights with Dodi.  “She (Kelly) felt there was something strange going on as Dodi spent large parts of the day at the family’s villa, Castel St. Helene, but asked her to stay on the boat,” writes Martyn Gregory in The Diana Conspiracy Exposed. “Dodi was sleeping with Kelly at night and was courting Diana by day. His deception was assisted by Kelly Fisher’s modelling assignment on 18-20 July in Nice. The Fayed’s were happy to lend her the Cujo and its crew for three days to take her there.”

Dodi’s behaviour clearly was curious, General. “Dodi would say, ‘I’m going to the house and I’ll be back in half an hour’,” Kelly told Gregory. “And he’d come back three or four hours later. I was furious. I’m sitting on the boat, stuck. And he was having lunch with everyone. So he had me in my little boat cage, and I now know he was seducing Diana. So he had me, and then he would go and try and seduce her, and then he’d come back the next day and it would happen again. I was livid by this point, and I just didn’t understand what was going on. When he was with me, he was so wonderful. He said he loved me, and we talked to my mother, and we were talking about moving into the house in California.”

But as is typical of the rather romantically gullible  tenderer sex, General, Kelly rationalised her man’s stratagems. “I just thought they maybe didn’t want a commoner around the Princess … Dodi kept leaving me behind with the excuse that the Princess didn’t like to meet new people.” During one of those nights, General, Dodi even had unprotected sexual relations with Kelly whilst cooing in her ear that, “I love you so  much and I want you to have my baby.”

 

KELLY USHERED ONTO THE JONIKAL AT LONG LAST

 

On July 20, General, Diana returned to England and it was only then that Dodi allowed Kelly to come aboard the Jonikal.  According to Debbie Gribble, who was the Jonikal’s chief  stewardess, Kelly was kind of grumpy. “I had no idea at the time who she was,  but I felt she acted very spoiled,” she says in Trevor Rees-Jones’ The Bodyguard’s Story. “I remember vividly that she snapped, ‘I want to eat right now. I don’t want a drink, I just want to eat now’. It was quite obvious that she was upset, angry or annoyed about something.”

Kelly’s irascible manner of course was understandable, General,  given the games Dodi had been playing with her since she pitched up in St. Tropez. Granted, what happened to Kelly was very much antithetical to Dodi’s typically well-mannered nature, but the fact of the matter was that she simply was peripheral to the larger agenda, of which Dodi’s father was the one calling the shots.

On July 23, Dodi and Kelly flew to Paris, where they parted as Kelly had some engagements lined up in Los Angeles. Dodi promised to join her there on August 4 to celebrate with her her parents’ marriage anniversary.  Dodi, however, General, did not make good on his promise: though he did candidly own up to the fact that he was at that point in time again with Diana, he also fibbed that he was not alone with her but was partying with her along with Elton John and George Michael. But in a August 6 phone call, he did undertake to Kelly that he would be joining her    in LA in a few days’ time. In the event, anyway, General, Kelly continued to ready herself for her big day, which was slated for August 9 – until she saw “The Kiss”.

 

THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS

 

“The Kiss”, General, first featured in London’s Sunday Mirror on August 10 under that very headline. In truth, General, it was not a definitive, point-blank kiss: it was a fuzzy image of Diana and Dodi embracing on the Jonikal. A friend of Kelly faxed her the newspaper pictures in the middle of the night and Kelly was at once  stunned and convulsed with rage.

But although Kelly was shocked, General, she was not exactly surprised as two or three days prior, British tabloids had already begun rhapsodising on a brewing love affair between Dodi and Diana. That day, Kelly had picked up a phone to demand an immediate explanation from her fiancé. “I started calling him in London because at this time I was expecting his arrival in a day. I called his private line, but there was no answer. So then I called the secretary and asked to speak to him she wouldn’t put me on. So Mohamed got on and in so many horrible words told me to never call back again. I said, ‘He’s my fiancé, what are you talking about?’ He hung up on me and I called back and the secretary said don’t ever call here again, your calls are no longer to be put through. It was so horrible.”

Kelly did at long last manage to reach Dodi but he was quick to protest that, “I can’t talk to you on the phone. I will talk to you in LA.” Perhaps Dodi, General, just at that stage was unable to  muster sufficient  Dutch courage to thrash out the matter with Kelly but a more credible reason he would not talk had to do with his father’s obsessive bugging of every communication device Dodi used and every inch of every property he owned.  The following is what David Icke has to say on the subject in his iconic book The Biggest Secret:

“Ironically, Diana used to have Kensington Palace swept for listening devices and now she was in the clutches of a man for whom bugging was an obsession. The Al Fayed villa in San Tropez was bugged, as were all Fayed properties. Everything Diana said could be heard. Bob Loftus, the former Head of Security at Harrods, said that the bugging there was ‘a very extensive operation’ and was also always under the direction of Al Fayed. Henry Porter, the London Editor of the magazine Vanity Fair, had spent two years investigating Al Fayed and he said they came across his almost obsessive use of eavesdropping devices to tape telephone calls, bug rooms, and film people.”

Through mutual friends, General, Porter warned Diana about Al Fayed’s background and activities ‘because we thought this was quite dangerous for her for obvious reasons’ but Diana apparently felt she could handle it and although she knew Al Fayed could ‘sometimes be a rogue’, he was no threat to her, she thought. “He is rather more than a rogue and rather more often than ‘sometimes,” she apparently told friends. “I know he’s naughty, but that’s all.” The TV programme  Dispatches said they had written evidence that Al Fayed bugged the Ritz Hotel and given his background and the deals that are hatched at the Ritz, it would be uncharacteristic if he did not. Kelly Fisher said that the whole time she was on Fayed property, she just assumed everything was bugged. It was known, she said, and Dodi had told her the bugging was so pervasive.

 

KELLY SUES, ALBEIT VAINLY SO

 

To his credit, General, Dodi was sufficiently concerned about what had transpired in St. Tropez to fly to LA and do his utmost to appease Kelly but Kelly simply was not interested as to her it was obvious enough that Diana was the new woman in his life.

On August 14, Kelly held a press conference in LA, where she announced that she was taking legal action against Dodi for breach of matrimonial contract. Her asking compensation price was £340,000. Of course the suit, General, lapsed automatically with the demise of Dodi in that Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.

Although Kelly did produce evidence of her engagement to Dodi in the form of a pricey and spectacular engagement ring, General, Mohamed Al Fayed was adamant that she never was engaged to his son and that she was no more than a gold digger.

But it is all water under the bridge now, General: Kelly is happily married to a pilot and the couple has a daughter. Her hubby  may not be half as rich as Dodi potentially was but she is fully fulfilled anyway. Happiness, General, comes in all shades and does not necessarily stem from a colossal bank balance or other such trappings of affluence.

Pic Cap

THE SHORT-LIVED TRIANGLE: For about a month or so, Dodi Al Fayed juggled Princess Diana and American model Kelly Fisher, who sported Dodi’s engagement ring.  Of course one of the two had to give and naturally it could not be Diana, who entered the lists in the eleventh hour but was the more precious by virtue of her royal pedigree and surpassing international stature.

NEXT WEEK: FURTHER BONDING BETWEEN DIANA AND DODI

Continue Reading

Columns

EXTRAVAGANCE One of The Scourges in Society.

9th February 2023

Extravagance in recent times has moved from being the practice of some rich and wealthy people of society in general and has regrettably, filtered to all levels of the society. Some of those who have the means are reckless and flaunt their wealth, and consequently, those of us who do not, borrow money to squander it in order to meet their families’ wants of luxuries and unnecessary items. Unfortunately this is a characteristic of human nature.

Adding to those feelings of inadequacy we have countless commercials to whet the consumer’s appetite/desire to buy whatever is advertised, and make him believe that if he does not have those products he will be unhappy, ineffective, worthless and out of tune with the fashion and trend of the times. This practice has reached a stage where many a bread winner resorts to taking loans (from cash loans or banks) with high rates of interest, putting himself in unnecessary debt to buy among other things, furniture, means of transport, dress, food and fancy accommodation, – just to win peoples’ admiration.

Islam and most religions discourage their followers towards wanton consumption. They encourage them to live a life of moderation and to dispense with luxury items so they will not be enslaved by them. Many people today blindly and irresponsibly abandon themselves to excesses and the squandering of wealth in order to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

The Qur’aan makes it clear that allowing free rein to extravagance and exceeding the limits of moderation is an inherent characteristic in man. Allah says, “If Allah were to enlarge the provision for his servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds.” [Holy Qur’aan 42:  27]

 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Observe the middle course whereby you will attain your objective (that is paradise).” –  Moderation is the opposite of extravagance.

Every individual is meant to earn in a dignified manner and then spend in a very wise and careful manner. One should never try to impress upon others by living beyond one’s means. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, “Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7: 31]

The Qur’aan regards wasteful buying of food, extravagant eating that sometimes leads to throwing away of leftovers as absolutely forbidden. Allah says, “Eat of the fruits in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. And waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Holy Qur’aan 6:  141]

Demonstrating wastefulness in dress, means of transport, furniture and any other thing is also forbidden. Allah says, “O children of Adam! Wear your apparel of adornment at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7:  31]

Yet extravagance and the squandering of wealth continue to grow in society, while there are many helpless and deprived peoples who have no food or shelter. Just look around you here in Botswana.

Have you noticed how people squander their wealth on ‘must have’ things like designer label clothes, fancy brand whiskey, fancy top of the range cars, fancy society parties or even costly weddings, just to make a statement? How can we prevent the squandering of such wealth?

How can one go on spending in a reckless manner possibly even on things that have been made forbidden while witnessing the suffering of fellow humans whereby thousands of people starve to death each year. Islam has not forbidden a person to acquire wealth, make it grow and make use of it. In fact Islam encourages one to do so. It is resorting to forbidden ways to acquiring and of squandering that wealth that Islam has clearly declared forbidden. On the Day of Judgment every individual will be asked about his wealth, where he obtained it and how he spent it.

In fact, those who do not have any conscience about their wasteful habits may one day be subjected to Allah’s punishment that may deprive them of such wealth overnight and impoverish them. Many a family has been brought to the brink of poverty after leading a life of affluence. Similarly, many nations have lived a life  of extravagance and their people indulged in such excesses only to be later inflicted by trials and tribulations to such a point that they wished they would only have a little of what they used to possess!

With the festive season and the new year holidays having passed us, for many of us meant ‘one’ thing – spend, spend, spend. With the festivities and the celebrations over only then will the reality set in for many of us that we have overspent, deep in debt with nothing to show for it and that the following months are going to be challenging ones.

Therefore, we should not exceed the bounds when Almighty bestows His bounties upon us. Rather we should show gratefulness to Him by using His bestowments and favours in ways that prove our total obedience to Him and by observing moderation in spending. For this will be better for us in this life and the hereafter.

Continue Reading

Columns

STRESS TEST

14th December 2022

We have come a long way from the 19th century, when mental un-healthiness was not recognised as treatable. In those days mental health problems were viewed as a sign of madness, warranting imprisonment in often merciless and unhygienic conditions; and with that backdrop you would think twice before calling in sick because of stress or admit feelings of hopelessness or depression but that’s changing. That may sound like good news but it’s not.

Reasons why employees don’t show up for work can vary, but one thing is for certain; an organisation relies on its staff to get things done and when employees don’t show up for work it disrupts organisational plans, takes up the valuable time from management and lowers the company’s productivity. It’s always been that people miss work for several reasons, some understandable and legitimate and others less so but it’s important that we know the reasons so that such situations can be better managed.

Today stress is one of the most common causes of long-term absence and is especially prevalent amongst office-based staff. This is also related to absence due to depression or anxiety. Is this indicative of where we are as a society, a sign of the times which is that people are constantly pressurised and have less work-life balance?

The British Museum houses a tablet which provides a peek into work-life balance in ancient Egypt. It documents how many sick days and why 40 workers took time off from their workplace in 1250 BC. All sorts of fascinating reasons have been given for why people were away from their work, including a note about someone named Buqentuf, who needed time off for embalming and wrapping the corpse of his dead mother.

There were other reasons like some workers, such as a man named Pennub, missed work because their mothers were ill.  Others had causes that we wouldn’t expect to hear as often today, such as men who stayed home to help around the house due to a “wife or daughter bleeding” – a reference to menstruation. But no mention of mental health, not because it didn’t exist, but it wasn’t labelled thus not reported.

What was reported was a person such as Aapehti who was said to have been ill on a regular basis and also took time off when he was “making offerings to god”.  Workers also took days off when they had to perform tasks for their superiors – which was apparently permitted in moderate amounts. For example, Amenmose was allowed time away from work when he was “fetching stones for the scribe:  And what about other employees who had to excuse themselves from work to brew beer, an activity which was associated with some of their gods and rituals.

All fascinating stuff which provides insight into life at that time. But what insights can we gather from today’s sick leave records? One study recently undertaken gives us insight into the UK police force’s absenteeism. Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from police forces in the UK showed that the number of days absent due to mental health problems increased by 9% in one year, from 457,154 in 2020 to 497,154 in 2021.

And here is the shocker. Police have taken a record 500,000 days off due to mental health issues. Zoe Billingham, a former police inspector, suggested there was a greater prevalence of mental health issues among emergency services, due to what they faced during the pandemic of coronavirus. “Police and other frontline services have protected us during the pandemic,” she said. “The pandemic was a great unknown. People were really scared of dying and coming into contact with the virus, and a lot of people did.”

It is a ‘mental health epidemic’ among police. Alistair Carmichael, Home Affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “Frontline police officers do an incredible job serving their communities. But we know that the stress of policing can take a heavy toll on the mental health of officers, in some cases leading to burnout.

Let’s look at another group. A poll by Gallup reported that in the last three years, 75% of young adults aged 18–22 have left their jobs because of stated mental health reasons. This study showed that employees (millennials and Gen Z) want employers who care about their wellbeing. Contributing factors to mental health stress centre around increases in uncertainty and include: Hybrid work environments and the side-effects: no socialization, no end time, no feedback, caring for others; changing rules around work often with poor communications & clarity;  inconsistency & incompleteness of rule implementation:  Uncertainty from these and other factors leads to anxiety and depression.

 

The real story here is not that burnout, stress, depression and anxiety are becoming the number one reasons for absenteeism but that for a large part they are preventable. We have the data telling us it’s the problem but still organisations are doing very little to proactively manage it. Sure, we have counselling services for staff who are struggling and wellness days to reinforce feelings of wellbeing, but this is not enough.

If we start caring and developing work cultures that do not create unintentional stress through how work gets done, that will go a long way to change the status quo. Simple things like ensuring your culture doesn’t thrive on fire drills and heroics to get things done and that emails do not come with expected responses after hours or over the weekend. If we can stop managers bullying, yelling or losing their cool when there is a performance or customer issue and begin giving people more control over their work – all of these are the kinds of stuff that contribute to weakened mental health and absenteeism.

To sum up, your staff’s stress levels are directly proportional to your business’s absentee levels.  Ergo, lowering the former, will also reduce the latter.  Stress down, productivity up and everybody wins out.

QUOTE

Contributing factors to mental health stress centre around increases in uncertainty and include: Hybrid work environments and the side-effects: no socialization, no end time, no feedback, caring for others; changing rules around work often with poor communications & clarity;  inconsistency & incompleteness of rule implementation:  Uncertainty from these and other factors leads to anxiety and depression.

 

Continue Reading