Ndulamo Anthony Morima
We continue with the series where we remember those of our heroes and heroines who, though unwanted by government, made immense contributions to the legacy we will be celebrating this year. This week we discuss Kgosi Linchwe II of BaKgatla.
Kgosi Linchwe II a Molefi II a Kgafela a Linchwe a Kgamanyane a Pilane a Pheto a Molefe a Kgwefane a Mare a Masellane a Tebele a Kgafela was born on 2nd May 1935 as the first and only son of Kgosi Molefi II and Motlatsi Pilane.
Linchwe went to Linchwe I Primary School and Mochudi National School after which he proceeded to St. Joseph’s College. For his secondary education he went to Emmarentia Geldenhuys School in Warbaths, South Africa. Reportedly, he left Emmarentia because his father, Kgosi Molefi, did not want him to turn into a Boer.
After the tragic death of his father in a car accident in 1958, Linchwe went for his further studies at Woodchester Park School and Southern Municipal College in the United Kingdom. During his absence, his uncle, Kgosi Mmusi Pilane, served as his regent. Linchwe was installed as Kgosi Kgolo of Bakgatla on 6th April 1963.
In 1966 Linchwe married a Bakgatla Baga Mmakau princess, Kathleen Nono Motsepe, known as MmaSeingwaeng. This marriage is significant in that it brought peace within the Bakgatla royal family, and wider Bakgatla community. It also reduced the hostility between adherents of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) and those of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC).
According to Dr. Jeff Ramsay, writing in the Sunday Standard edition of 26th August 2007, “For many decades the leader of the later faction was Linchwe’s grandmother, Seingwaeng. In 1947 Seingwaeng, along with other leading Zionists, was exiled from Kgatleng by her son, Kgosi Molefi. The group subsequently found refuge, in 1953, at Lentswe le Moriti”.
Linchwe deserves commendation because after his installation as Kgosi Kgolo, he ensured Seingwaeng’s return to Mochudi. In another admirable reconciliatory gesture he invited the ZCC’s Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane and his band to be a part of his wedding celebration.
It is regrettable that Linchwe’s gesture notwithstanding, the Kgatleng District Council only officially lifted the ZCC ban in 1968. According to Dr. Ramsay “…Over the years, Linchwe was called upon to play a mediating role in internal church disputes involving local Lutherans, as well as ZCC and DRC.”
Like Kgosi Seepapitso IV of BaNgwaketse, Linchwe served in the public service. He served as Botswana’s Ambassador to the United States of America from 1969 to 1972. He also served as the President of the Customary Court of Appeal from 1991 until he joined his ancestors in 2007.
Not only that. Linchwe served as the Chairman of the Kgatleng District Council for many years until he voluntarily stepped down in 1982. During the late 1970s, he led the Botswana National Football Association as its president.
Linchwe initiated several development projects in Kgatleng. Through the international contacts he had established with the assistance of his associate, prominent author and social activist, Lady Naomi Mitchison, he undertook such projects as the establishment of the Mochudi Library, Linchwe II Secondary School, the Mochudi Community Centre (later called Kgatleng Youth Development Association) and the Refugee Centre.
According to Dr. Ramsay “…The Refugee Centre, which was the only such institution in the region under a “tribal authority”, was established through Linchwe’s contact with Martin Ennals, who would later go on to found Amnesty International.” Other projects initiated and/or supported by Linchwe were the establishment of the Lentswe la Odi Weavers, Phuthadikobo Museum and the Botswana Work Camps Association.
Linchwe played a significant role in the fight against racism. He accompanied Lady Mitchison to the then racially segregated Mafikeng in 1963; he, in 1964, brandishing a gun, entered into the “whites only” bar in Mahalapye, after having first been refused service; he barred an alleged racist from entering Mochudi in 1965 and he, in 1969, insisted in using the whites only entrance at the then Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg.
According to Sandy Grant’s Botswana Notes and Records Linchwe banned “…a white Station Master at Pilane from entering Mochudi. This was after the Station Master had ordered Mrs. Pauline Chiepe out of the whites only seat in 1964…In 1977, he refused to attend the centenary anniversary celebrations of the Dutch Reformed Church in Mochudi. At some stage, the church had the “whites only” sign on a door.”
Linchwe, together with Kgosi Bathoen II of BaNgwaketse and Kgosi Kelemogile Mokgosi of Balete fought in defense of Bogosi when its position was threatened in view of Botswana’s move towards independence. This they did by arguing for the retention of Bogosi at the 1963 Constitutional Conference held in Lobatse.
Like his son and successor, Kgosi Kgafela II, Linchwe was, in the 1960s, critical of the role played by the House of Chiefs and turned down offers to be its first Chairman.
According to Dr. Ramsay, the then British Resident Commissioner, Sir Peter Fawcus, stated that “Chief Linchwe said that he was personally not able to see that the House of Chiefs would be of value…”
However, later Linchwe accepted the House of Chiefs. Sir Fawcus quoted him during our 20th anniversary of independence saying “I doubt if a House of Chiefs exists in other countries. But here, we Batswana have been led by chiefs from time immemorial and we have realized it would be wrong to get rid of chieftainship as such…so we decided to provide in our constitution for two Houses – The National Assembly and the House of Chiefs…”
Like Kgosi Seepapitso IV, Linchwe was not trusted by government because of suspicion that he was a member of the Opposition. This suspicion was worsened when, in 1963, he delivered a welcoming address at the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP)’s annual conference held in Mochudi.
According to Dr. Ramsay “Many of the then Kgatleng based BPP activists had earlier been associated with a local political movement of mostly young progressives, commonly known as “Mphetsebe”, which had advocated for Linchwe’s early installation”.
Tshire, Linchwe’s sister, did not help matters when she openly campaigned for the BPP Mochudi candidate, T.W. Motlhagodi, who won the Parliamentary seat during Botswana’s first elections in 1965.
According to Dr. Ramsay these suspicions grew because “…from April to October 1965, Linchwe further hosted a series of meetings among opposition political figures in Mochudi which, on the 10th of October, culminated in the launching of the Botswana National Front”.
However, Dr. Ramsay writes that “after opening this gathering, Linchwe withdrew on the grounds that his position barred him from active participation in partisan politics. However, during the same period, Dr. Koma was allowed to use Linchwe’s office, where he wrote Pamphlet No. 1.”
Apparently, not even the fact that in 1965 Mochudi hosted the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s 4th National Conference abated government’s suspicion that Linchwe was pro-Opposition. On the contrary, according to Dr. Ramsay “…the political speculation resurfaced during the 1984 election, when Linchwe was suspected of being sympathetic to Ray Molomo’s unsuccessful bid to unseat the then Member of Parliament (MP), Greek Ruele, in the BDP’s primary elections.”
Dr. Ramsay continues to say, “…thereafter, there was further controversy when Linchwe acquiesced, despite Ruele’s strong protests, to the use by an independent candidate, Sandy Grant, of the Bakgatla totem, a monkey, as his election symbol; (Grant, however, agreed to give up the symbol)”.
Government’s displeasure with Linchwe was confirmed when shortly after the election the then Assistant Minister of Local Government and Lands, Lesedi Mothibamele, reprimanded Linchwe during a kgotla meeting for meddling in politics.
Linchwe’s relationship with the Opposition was not without incident. According to the Daily News’s edition of 29th August 2007 “…his car was petrol bombed at Motimalenyora Bar in Mochudi in 1976… The bombing followed a series of events involving him and Opposition politicians. It all started with a meeting he addressed in Mochudi, urging Batswana to contribute towards Botswana University Campus Appeal…”
The report continues to say “…at the meeting, a certain Rapula Sello spoke against the appeal but Kgosi Linchwe reprimanded him for introducing a BNF resolution at the kgotla. The BNF had resolved at a meeting in Serowe earlier in the week to discourage its members from contributing to BUCA…”
It goes on to say “…the following weekend, the BNF attacked him at a meeting in Gaborone and challenged him to decide whether he was the Bakgatla Kgosi or a BDP MP. One of the speakers at that meeting was subsequently arrested and convicted for the car bombing, but was acquitted on appeal…”
According to the report “…Kgosi Linchwe had in response to the BNF attack said party officials who attacked him had placed the noose around their necks and invited me to pull. Activities of the BNF remained low in Kgatleng following the run-ins. It was only in 1984 when Dr. Kenneth Koma initiated reconciliation moves that the party regrouped in the district.
Linchwe also endeavored to preserve his tribe’s culture. In 1975 he attempted to revive the male and female initiation practices of bogwera and bojale. Linchwe, being the culturist he was, imposed his own hunting bans on certain species as dictated by custom.
Being the non-conformist he was, during bogwera and bojale, Linchwe organised unlicensed hunts for the initiates, something which brought him at loggerheads with Department of Wildlife officers.
Linchwe also called for the legalization of dagga; the expulsion of corrupt local Councillors, educational reforms such as Education with Production and Bakgatla volunteers to assist in the liberation of Zimbabwe. The Daily News reports that “…in 1974, he abandoned the body of a Motswana on a table at Sikwane Immigration Offices after staff refused the body entry because the deceased had no passport…The body was finally allowed into the country for burial after intervention by Home Affairs Minister Mr. Bakwena Kgari…”
Perhaps because of MmaSeingwaeng’s influence Linchwe was also pro-women rights and empowerment. In 1964, he allowed women to fully participate in kgotla meetings. In 1979 he raised paternity payments in Kgatleng from the standard P 180.00 to P 720.00 to cater for inflation.
In 1991 Linchwe relived himself of the daily affairs of his morafe to become the President of the Customary Court of Appeal. The stain in his reign remains the 1994 riots following the alleged ritual killing of a school girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi. Linchwe angered the rioters when he appealed for the Police to be given time to investigate the gruesome murder, something which fueled suspicion that he was involved in the ritual murder.
In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device). But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration. Consider these examples:
Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs. Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, the business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over £18,000 (around P ¼ m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.
Another recent SMB hacking story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didn’t even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the company’s payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli. As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.
And in May 2019, the city of Baltimore’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.
Of course, hackers target governments or business giants but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches. Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.
This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employees’ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability. A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.
Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge. Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email. Out of the physical workplace, your employees’ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.
Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employees’ productivity. Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi, sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clients’ addresses and phone numbers.
BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps. Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a system’s data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore. Ransomware attacks are on the increase, predicted to occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.
Lastly there is phishing – the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise – whereby cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data –usernames, passwords, credit card details –usually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.
Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt, consult your IT security consultants. You can’t put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!
“I Propose to Diana Tonight”
About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.
As he trudged the woods, Williams had a sudden premonition that pointed to Diana’s imminent fate as per Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died. “When the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,” Williams was later to reminisce. “In the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.”
Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. “I have never seen him so upset,” Mary recounted. “He felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.”
The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. He took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch Investigative Unit.
The report read as follows:
“On 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.”
Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.
Meanwhile, General, even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: “In The Independent Diana was described as ‘a woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anything’. She was ‘suffering from a form of arrested development’. ‘Isn’t it time she started using her head?’ asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled ‘A Story of Love’; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: ‘William can’t help it, he just doesn’t like the man.’ William was reportedly ‘horrified’ and ‘doesn’t think Mr Fayed is good for his mother’ – or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatrist’s chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana ‘On the Couch’, asking why she was so ‘depressed’ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications – about Prince Philip’s hostility to the relationship, Diana’s prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.”
DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ
Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodi’s bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones furtively asked Diana as to what the programme for the evening was. This Trevor did out of sheer desperation as Dodi had ceased and desisted from telling members of his security detail, let alone anyone else for that matter, what his onward destination was for fear that that piece of information would be passed on to the paparazzi. Diana kindly obliged Trevor though her response was terse and scarcely revealing. “Well, eventually we will be going out to a restaurant”, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleagues’ hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal. Dodi certainly, General, was being recklessly by throwing such caution to the winds.
At about 16:30, Diana and Dodi drew up at the Ritz Hotel, where they were received by acting hotel manager Claude Roulet. The front entrance of the hotel was already crawling with paparazzi, as a result of which the couple took the precaution of using the rear entrance, where hopefully they would make their entry unperturbed and unmolested. The first thing they did when they were ensconced in the now $10,000 a night Imperial Suite was to spend some time on their mobiles and set about touching base with friends, relations, and associates. Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.
Rita, General, was alarmed that Diana had proceeded to venture to Paris notwithstanding the warning she had given Dodi and herself in relation to what she had seen of him in the crystal ball when the couple had consulted her. When quizzed as to what the hell she indeed was doing in Paris at that juncture, Diana replied that she and Dodi had simply come to do some shopping, which though partially true was not the material reason they were there. “But Diana, remember what I told Dodi,” Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, “Yes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.” Well, she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.
As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, “I have decided I am going to radically change my life. I am going to complete my obligations to charities and to the anti-personnel land mines cause, but in November I want to completely withdraw from formal public life.”
Once she was done with her round of calls, Diana went down to the hair saloon by the hotel swimming pool to have her hair washed and blow-dried ahead of the scheduled evening dinner.
THE “TELL ME YES” RING IS DELIVERED
Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the “Tell Me Yes” engagement ring Dodi had ordered in Monte Carlo a week earlier, Dodi decided to check on Repossi Jewellery, which was right within the Ritz prencincts, known as the Place Vendome. It could have taken less than a minute for Dodi to get to the store on foot but he decided to use a car to outsmart the paparazzi invasion. He was driven there by Trevor Rees-Jones, with Alexander Kez Wingfield and Claude Roulet following on foot, though he entered the shop alone.
The Repossi store had closed for the holiday season but Alberto Repossi, accompanied by his wife and brother-in-law, had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrative Dodi transaction. Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the one he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but Dodi was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ploy on the part of Repossi to make a real killing on the sale, his excuse to that effect being that Diana deserved a ring tha was well worthy of her social pedigree. With Dodi having expressed disaffection, Repossi rendered his apologies and assured Dodi he would make the right ring available shortly, whereupon Dodi repaired back to the hotel to await its delivery. But Dodi did insist nonetheless that the pricier ring be delivered too in case it appealed to Diana anyway.
Repossi delivered the two rings an hour later. They were collected by Roulet. On inspecting them, Dodi chose the very one he had seen in Monte Carlo, apparently at the insistence of Diana. There is a possibility that Diana, who was very much aware of her public image and was not comfortable with ostentatious displays of wealth, may have deliberately shown an interest in a less expensive engagement ring. It may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious choice for her.
The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodi’s apartment after the crash, has been estimated to be between $20,000 and $250,000 as Repossi has always refused to be drawn into revealing how much Dodi paid for it. The sum, which enjoyed a 25 percent discount, was in truth paid for not by Dodi himself but by his father as was the usual practice.
Dodi was also shown Repossi’s sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.
DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS
At about 7 pm, Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodi’s apartment at a place known as the Arc de Trompe. They went there to properly tog themselves out for the scheduled evening dinner. They spent two hours at the luxurious apartment. As usual, the ubiquitous paparazzi were patiently waiting for them there.
As they lingered in the apartment, Dodi beckoned over to his butler Rene Delorm and showed him the engagement ring. “Dodi came into my kitchen,” Delorm relates. “He looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldn’t hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box … He said, ‘Rene, I’m going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinner’.” Rene described the ring as “a spectacular diamond encrusted ring, a massive emerald surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, set on a yellow and white gold band sitting in a small light-grey velvet box”.
Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz that night, and told him that he hoped to get married to Diana by the end of the year.
Later that same evening, both Dodi and Diana would talk to Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. “They called me and said we’re coming back (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are
RAMADAN – The Blessed Month of Fasting
Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).
‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’an (2 : 185)
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of one’s belief in Allah’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.
Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a ‘full service’. This ‘service’ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ‘rest’ through fasting.
Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.
The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.” We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.
Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting!’”
This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.
Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich one’s conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.
Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allah’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.
The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a “season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qur’an more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.