We certainly live in strange times; lately we have witnessed an explosion in the number of ‘New’ churches being formed. Whilst there are some of these churches that sincerely try to bring their congregation closer to God, there are those that are somewhat dubious. The worrying trend is that there is an increase in the number of self-proclaimed prophets. Today anybody can stand up and claim to be the anointed one, the chosen one or even a prophet sent by God.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke of the proliferation of false prophets and imposters when he said: “In the end times men will come forth who will fraudulently use religion for worldly ends and wear sheepskins in public to display meekness. Their tongues will be sweeter than sugar, but their hearts will be hearts of wolves”. And, “The Last Hour will not come before there come forth imposters, each presenting himself as an apostle of Allah (God)”.
Read what the Bible says: “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people”. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)
Are we entering the ‘last days’? How do you explain the explosion in the number of those claiming to be prophets?
Yes, we all know about those people. Just look around and observe the many imposters who lay claim to be ‘prophets’, having received ‘revelations’ masquerading as religious men and women of God. The Qur’an warns these people; ‘Who can be more wicked than one who invents lies against Allah….. who says, ‘it has been revealed to me’, when nothing has been revealed to him….if you could see how the wicked fare in the throes of death….a penalty of shame that you used to tell lies against Allah….(Quran 6:93).
The Bible also warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. (Matt 7: 15). ‘I have not sent these prophets…I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….I have heard what the prophets said…saying I have dreamt…..yea they are prophets of deceit… (Jeremiah 23: 21 – 28).
Wherever one looks today there are new ‘churches’: Anyone with a loud charismatic voice, who can ramble off words nonstop, can claim to have miraculous powers of healing, even to getting you a car or a job, winning of tenders and all those dazzling promises they make to desperate people, can lay claim to being a prophet, prophetess and even claiming to be the ‘chosen or the anointed one’. There are even those like the one in South Africa who recently got his congregants to eat grass, drink petrol, fed some of them with rats and snakes – all in the name of God!
It appears that they do not preach the Gospel of the Lord, instead they preach the Gospel of prosperity, and often the desperate and gullible members fall for their promises of worldly wealth; it is all about worldly monetary gain.
In blindly following this magnetic promise of riches we tend to forget that everything we have/get is from Allah. Islam teaches us that we will receive whatever is due to us by what Allah has decided for us. ‘Don’t they know that it is Allah enlarges the provisions or restricts it for any He pleases? Verily in this are signs for those who believe.’ (Quran 39:52)
Because of the competitive nature of keeping up with the Joneses we try by all means to follow our own whims and fancies to reach and to obtain what is beyond our means.
This in no way suggests that we should not try to attain a better life for us and our family, but that should not become our sole objective in life. There is no easy money to be made we need to work for it. There is no fountain of wealth that we can tap into.
‘Wealth and sons are the allurements of life of this world, but the things that endure, like good deeds are best in the sight of your Lord.’ (Quran 18:46)
So we blindly follow the promises of wealth made by these fake prophets Many of the so-called prophets or ‘priests’ have dubious religious credentials, they establish these churches almost overnight – without doubt many of them are nothing but business ventures under the guise of churches. The fact is that most of these new churches swindle their gullible congregation dry of their money. Surely, God is not in need of money or any form of wealth – so where does it go to is a question that adherents should ask.
Consider this: He who serves God only for money will serve the devil for a better wage.
They preach the ‘gospel of prosperity’- for themselves. Many of them are just collection points for money – for the self- proclaimed imposter prophet. Our prayers to the Lord Almighty should be in His service without the lure of worldly or monetary gain.
We only have to look at the so-called prophets expensive lifestyles; they promise ‘miraculous riches’ to their followers but in return their (gullible) adherents fork out their hard earned money. What these fellows are doing is to sell the name of God for the miserable price of a personal gain. ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Qur’an 2:90). The Bible: “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (1 Timothy 6; 10)
Is it not strange that in these ‘charismatic’ churches why there is so much, shouting and screaming almost to the point of foaming at the mouth, blaring and loud music; as if God cannot hear us? What has this got to do with prayer and worship because sincere prayers come from within the quietness of the heart.
Some of these newly established churches are led by, to use the appropriate word, charlatans, with loose morals. There have been disturbing reports on the escapades of some of these imposter ‘religious’ leaders who have illegal love relationships with female members of their congregation; Hey ‘Moruti’, don’t conveniently forget the Ten Commandments – ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’.
Remember you cannot buy God’s favour with money, the Bible says: “Thy money perishes with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money”. (Acts 8; 20)
Let us seriously think of the life in Hereafter because we are selling our souls for a miserable price for what we think are the riches of this world. Martin Luther King said: ‘Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power; we have guided missiles and misguided men’. How true!
In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device). Ā 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.Ā 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.Ā Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, theĀ 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 Ā£18,000 (around P Ā¼ 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 whichĀ 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 didnāt even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the companyās payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli. Ā As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.
And in May 2019, the city of Baltimoreās 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 Ā 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.Ā 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 employeesā 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.Ā 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.Ā 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.Ā Out of the physical workplace, your employeesā 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 employeesā productivity. Ā 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,Ā 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 clientsā 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.Ā Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a systemās data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore.Ā Ransomware attacks are on the increase, Ā predicted toĀ occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.
Lastly there is phishing ā the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise – Ā wherebyĀ cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data āusernames, passwords, credit card details āusually 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,Ā consult your IT security consultants.Ā You canāt put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!
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 Ā had a sudden premonition that pointed to Dianaās imminent fate as per Christopher Andersenās book The Day Diana Died. āWhen the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,ā Williams was later to reminisce. āIn 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.ā
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. āI have never seen him so upset,ā Mary recounted. āHe felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.ā
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. HeĀ took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch InvestigativeĀ Unit.
The report read as follows:
āOn 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.ā
Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.
Meanwhile, General, Ā 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: āIn The Independent Diana was described as āa woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anythingā. She was āsuffering from a form of arrested developmentā. āIsnāt it time she started using her head?ā asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled āA Story of Loveā; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: āWilliam canāt help it, he just doesnāt like the man.ā William was reportedly āhorrifiedā and ādoesnāt think Mr Fayed is good for his motherā ā 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 psychiatristās chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana āOn the Couchā, asking why she was so ādepressedā and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications ā about Prince Philipās hostility to the relationship, Dianaās prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.ā
DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ
Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodiās 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. āWell, eventually we will be going out to a restaurantā, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleaguesā hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal.Ā 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. Ā 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. Ā Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.
Rita, General, Ā 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 Ā 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. āBut Diana, remember what I told Dodi,ā Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, āYes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.ā Well, Ā she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.
As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, āI 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.ā
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.
THEāTELL ME YESā RING IS DELIVERED
Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the āTell Me Yesā engagement ringĀ 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. Ā 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, Ā had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco Ā and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrativeĀ Dodi transaction. Ā Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the oneĀ he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but DodiĀ was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ployĀ 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.Ā 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 Ā 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.Ā 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 Ā may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious Ā choice for her.
The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodiās apartment after the crash, Ā 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 Repossiās sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.
DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS
At about 7 pm, Ā Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodiās 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 DelormĀ and showed himĀ the engagement ring. āDodi came into my kitchen,ā Delorm relates. āHe looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldnāt hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box ā¦ He said, āRene, Iām going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinnerā.ā Rene described the ring as āa 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 boxā.
Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz Ā 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, Dodiās dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. āThey called me and said weāre coming backĀ (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are
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).
āThe 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’anĀ (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 oneās belief in Allahās 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 āfull serviceā. This āserviceā 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 ārestā 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 Allahās 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: āAll actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.ā 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 āproperā manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of oneās 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: āOn 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: āI am fasting!āā
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 yearās 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 oneās 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 Allahās pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.
The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a āseason of worship.ā Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qurāan 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.