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Thursday, 18 April 2024

The Sins and Gains of Sargon

Columns

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   

He extends territory but offends the gods

The establishment of Sumer & Akkad marked the genesis of a Semitic language called Akkadian, written in a wedgelike (cuneiform) script. It is from Akkadian the Hebrew and Arabic languages evolved. Sargon, however, was not to rule Uruk or Kish as per the original wishes of the Enlilite gods.  A shrewd  Inanna unilaterally decided he should establish a new throne city within the broader Sumer.   The reason? Zechariah  Sitchin: “The same thinking, of making adversaries part of the family, probably led to the decision to establish a new, neutral national capital, Agade, whose name meant 'Union City'. Its  location marked the addition of territories called Akkad, north of olden Sumer, to create a new geopolitical entity called Sumer & Akkad.”

Initially, Sargon went by  the honorific title “Commanding Overseer of Ishtar, King of Kish, Great Ensi of Enlil. ” There was yet another title he went by. This was “Anointed Priest of Anu”. All kings of the day were  anointed with the fat  of a reptilian, seaborne creature known as the Mus-Hus in Sumeria and as the  Messeh in Egypt. Today, we call this creature the crocodile. The crocodile was a symbol of virility (because of its sexual prowess), vitality (it’s the largest reptile on the planet), and longevity (it is  among the oldest creatures of Earth, having existed in its present form for more than 200 million years). 

Since kings of antiquity were anointed with crocodile fat, they were also known as Messiah. When Jesus was called “The Christ”, which is Greek for “Messiah”, it simply meant he was the bloodline King of Judah: there was nothing spiritual about it. Symbolically of course, kings had godly anointing but who were these gods? It were the Anunnaki, with “Our Father Who Art In Heaven” being King Anu of Nibiru. It is as simple as that. 

Although Sargon was manouvered to prominence by Inanna-Ishtar, it was Enlil, the Bible’s principal Jehovah, he credited for his accession to monarchy. “It was Enlil,” he writes, “who gave me kingship and lordship”. But it was in “The Era of Ishtar” that Sargon blazed and that he did expressly acknowledged in his memoirs.  A text known as The Sargon Chronicle says, “Sharrukin, King of Agade, rose to power in the era of Ishtar”. In The Legend of Sargon, Sargon  gushes thus:  “While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love.

And for four and fifty years I exercised Kingship. The Black-Headed People I ruled and governed.”  The Black-Headed Ones, Sag-Ge-Ga in Sumerian, was the Anunnaki’s nickname for mankind in that pure Earthlings all had black hair: only those with  significant proportions of blood from white-skinned Anunnaki had variations like blonde or reddish  hair.

Meanwhile, Sargon, ingratiated himself to his Anunnaki father Nannar-Sin by appointing one of his daughters Enheduanna as high-priestess-cum-hierodule in Sin’s temple in Ur, a position his (Sargon) own mother had occupied. Sin had taken great pleasure  in bedding Sargon’s mother; now he would take pleasure in bedding Sargon’s  daughter. Anunnaki morals were turd, to say the least.

SARGON STEAMROLLS OVER THE MIDDLE EAST

In his wars of conquest, Sargon was ruthless, decisive, and  comprehensive. Although he was raised by Akki the agrarian, he had a step-father known as Arbakad, who had four garrisons under his command in the army of Ur-Zababa. So  he had learnt a great deal  about prosecuting war. By 2371 BC, he had overrun the whole of Sumer and substantially extended its boundaries. His central protagonists, however, were the gods themselves.

Not only did he have sophisticated, “mass-killing weapons” provided him by Enlil: he had the militarily brilliant and untouchable Inanna fighting alongside him right at the battlefront, where   she and him at once waged war and made love during the periodical lulls. Leading his  troops through the mountain passes of today's Luristani in western Iran, “Ishtar made a light to shine for him when he pressed forward in the darkness”. It was Inanna who was the commanding general of his troops. “My conquests, “he writes, “were carefully carried out by the order of my mistress, the divine Ishtar.”

But regarding the scope of the victories and the extent of the territories, Sargon effusively acknowledged Enlil. Says The Sargon Chronicle: “Sharrukin, King of Aggade,   left neither rival nor opponent. He spread his terror-inspiring awe in all the lands. He crossed the sea in the east, he conquered the country of the west in its full extent …  By Enlil was Sharrukin empowered; Inanna with her weapons of brilliance his warriors accompanied. Enlil did not let anybody oppose Sargon, the king of the land; from the Upper Sea (Mediterranean Sea)  to the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf)  Enlil gave unto him.”

And in all these military exploits, Sargon was so cruel that  his own kids chided him for his blood lust. One of his daughters told him, “You will  be remembered by the destruction of the rebel land, massacring its people, making its rivers run with blood.” But the gods, the Enlilites, gloated at this savagery.  “It was  to the gate of the House of Enlil that Sargon brought the captive kings, ropes tied to the dog collars around their necks,” says The Legend of Sargon.

The operative word put out of course was to “neutralise Marduk,” to forestall his seizure of Sumer. The truth of the  matter, however, was that  these grizzly wars constituted the Enlilites  mass sacrifice of mankind to their Reptilian gods. Then and now, that is the fundamental aim of war. In the Vietnam  War, the US’s Reptilian-controlled government sacrificed 1.3 million people. In the Gulf War, the Reptilian George W Bush sacrificed half a million  Iraqis to his father the Devil (JOHN 8:44). This Earth, My Brother … 

THE GRANDEUR OF AGADE

Sargon built the new capital of Sumer, Agade, not very far from Kish. It was rich, magnificent, and ostentatious. "In those days," a Sumerian historiography text relates, "the dwellings of Agade were filled with gold; its bright shining houses were filled with silver. Into its storehouses were brought copper, lead and slabs of lapis-lazuli. Its granaries bulged at the sides. Its old men were endowed with wisdom, its old women were endowed with eloquence. Its young men were endowed with the strength  of weapons, its little children were endowed with joyous hearts … The city was full of music."

But Agade’s signature landmark structure  was the Ulmash. This was a temple dedicated to Inanna, so named because it glittered with luxurious trappings which outdid even her Eanna in Uruk.  "In Agade did holy Inanna erect a temple as her abode,” says an Akkadian text. “In the Glittering Temple she set up a throne." Besotted with a sense of grandeur, Inanna now had a temple in every  major Sumerian city. “Is there a god who can vie with me?” she boasted. 

It was in these times, the era of Agade,  that the Enlilite gods were given new, Akkadian names being the more prominent in Sumer compared to the Enkites.  Hitherto, they had been known by their Sumerian names only. Thus Inanna became Ishtar (Esther in English); Utu became Shamash; and Nannar became Sin (Suen when fully rendered); and Ishkur became Adad.

“MY TIME TO RULE HAS COME” – MARDUK

Meanwhile, Marduk in Egypt was priming himself as Earth’s new Enlil. Remember, Enlil was simply the title for Earth’s Chief Executive Officer. Marduk, who was legally entitled to take over as the Enlil in the astrological Age of the Ram, which was to follow after the present Age of Taurus, had begun to lick his chops after the Gudanna, the incumbent Enlil’s fighter craft, had been downed and vandalised by Gilgamesh’s men, who were spearheaded by Enkidu.

Marduk had taken the destruction of the Gudanna as a timely and fitting pointer to Enlil’s downfall in the very imminent Age of Aries.  Soon after this stigmatic event, Marduk  launched a propaganda drive meant to psychologically prepare the global citizenry for his ascendancy to supremacy. Already, Egyptian priests were hailing him as “The Eldest of Heaven, Firstborn Who is on Earth!” In hymnals composed to anticipate his rise to Enlilship, the verses now deified him as, “Lord of eternity, he who everlastingness has made, over all the gods presiding, the One who is without equal, the great solitary and sole one!”

Virtually every power and attribute of fellow gods he now ascribed to himself albeit prematurely. “As Enlil I am for lordship and decrees,” he boasted.  “As Ninurta, for the hoe and combat; as Adad, for lightning and thunder; as Nannar for illuminating the night; as Utu, I am Shamash;   as Nergal, over the Lower World I reign; as Gibil, the golden depths I know, whence copper and silver come I have found; as Ningishzidda numbers and their count I command.

The heavens my glory bespeak!” The latter statement features in PSALM 19:1, where it is rendered, “The heavens declare the glory of God”. What Marduk meant when he made this statement was that indications in the stellar backdrop (star pattern) of the night sky were that Taurus was given way to Aries and therefore was announcing his ascendancy to greatness.

Now Marduk was neither wrong nor right when he made this assertion. True, mathematically speaking, he was right. By mathematical  reckoning, a zodiacal age (e.g. Taurus)  lasted 2160 years,  after which  another (Aries according to the sequence) commenced. But theory and reality scarcely coincide. Some zodiacal ages, or constellations,  are bigger than other in terms of the expanse of the heavenly space they occupy.

Since there are 12 constellations and the celestial arc in which they move is 360 degrees in total,  each constellation  ideally ought to occupy 30 degrees. However, some constellations occupy more than 30 degrees. A case in point is Taurus. As such, even if the mathematical 2160 years in  which it is supposed to “rule” will have passed, it will still physically linger in the night sky for about 200 more years before a new sky pattern (of Aries)  emerges. So in one sense, Marduk was correct in that chronologically, Taurus was  on the wane: in another sense, he was wrong because celestially, the Taurian stellar backdrop still had pride of place in the night sky.

ENKI AND OTHERS GAINSAY MARDUK’S CLAIMS

Given the above contrarieties, when the other gods heard of Marduk’s claims, they were perturbed. “By these proclamations, the Anunnaki leaders were greatly alarmed,” say the Sumerian records. “To their father Enki the brothers of Marduk spoke; Nergal to Ninurta their concerns conveyed. What has you overpowered? Enki to his son Marduk said. Unheard of are your pretensions! The heavens (night time star pattern) my supremacy bespeak! Marduk his father Enki answered.  The Bull of Heaven (the Gudanna), Enlil's constellation sign, by his own offspring was slain. In the heavens, the Age of the Ram, my age, is coming, unmistakable the omens are!”

Since the ramifications of Marduk’s claim would be far reaching, a selected team of the Anunnaki, amongst whom was their most versatile scientist  Enki himself, took to a meticulous  monitoring of  the night sky once every year on the first day of the season of spring (March 20 in the northern hemisphere and September 22 in  the southern hemisphere).  “In his abode, in Eridu, the circle of the twelve constellations Enki examined: on the first day of spring, the beginning of a year, sunrise was carefully observed.”

The reports were unanimous in their findings. “In the constellation stars of the Bull  was the sun that day rising. In Nibruki (Nippur) and Urim  (Ur), Enlil and Nannar the observations made.  In the Lower World (Southern Africa), where the Instruments Station was (at Cape Aghulhus in South Africa), Nergal the results attested: still remote was the time of the Ram, the Age of the Bull of Enlil it still was!”

But Marduk was by no means deterred by the concerted findings of his fellow gods: as far as he was concerned, it was the mathematical zodiacal  time that counted, not the rather subjective celestial time.  “In his domains, Marduk in his assertions did not relent. By Nabu (his heir) he was assisted.  To domains not his,  emissaries he sent, to announce to  the people that his time (to rule Earth)  has come.”

LORD OF THE THREE REGIONS

As Sargon aged, he became more and more foolhardy and therefore daring. His greatest undoing of course was his goddess and mistress Inanna-Ishtar. Inanna bedded King Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven” every time he visited Earth and that made her think she was untouchable as far as the Earth-based gods were concerned. So whatever Inanna dinned into his thick mind, Sargon heeded it without giving it a second thought. 

Thus far in his conquests, Sargon had steered clear of the domains of the Enlilites’ most fearsome gods. These were Lagash, Ninurta’s cult city, and Lebanon, Ishkur-Adad’s jurisdiction. But egged on by Inanna, he overran these too, so that he now had latitude over the aviational Landing Place at Baalbek, which not only was within Adad’s territory but was directly overseen by Utu-Shamash.

As far as Tilmun, the interplanetary spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula,  was concerned, Sargon did not seize it: all he did was station his troops at its gazetted entry points under the pretext that he was trying to ward off Marduk’s designs to bring it into his sphere of influence, which of course was false. Sargon in fact showboatingly called himself “Lord of the Three Regions”, namely Sumer-Akkad, Egypt, and the Indus Valley. The only region he excluded was the fourth – the “neutral” Sinai Peninsula. 

Sargon’s aversion to Marduk of course was not innately his: it was implanted in him by Inanna. Inanna never ever forgave Marduk for his role, so she believed, in the death of her husband Dumuzi, who was the greatest love of her life. As such, Inanna had vowed that Marduk could only become the new Enlil over her dead body.  The new Enlil had to be none other than she herself: in the soon-to-dawn Age of Aries, she would rule Earth from the new city Sargon had built for her, Agade.

 SARGON IRKS THE GODS

Now,  every city that was the seat of kingship had what was known as the “Pavilion of Heaven”. This was a kind of public square where the Shuhadaku was emplaced. The Shuhadaku, defined as "Supreme Strong Bright Weapon," was first commissioned in Kish, the first city-state to be overseen by an Earthling King, by Anu and Enlil. It was made of alloyed metal. Every time kingship moved from one city to the other, the Shuhadaku followed too. But it was not instituted in the ordinary way:  it was embedded in special, sacred  soil. This was the soil of Babylon, Marduk’s cult city but which he had been made to vacate as punishment for erecting the infamous space-launch platform known as the Tower of Babel. 

Why Babylon of all cities in Sumer? Well, Babylon had initially been set aside as a place where King Anu’s host city was to be built. It had therefore been consecrated and sanctified for the purpose. Then when King Anu came to Earth in 4000 BC, he transferred his rights to Babylon land to Marduk. Marduk therefore inherited the holiest place, theoretically, in Sumer, which  explains why every throne city had to be commissioned with Babylonian soil. 

Although Marduk now was based in Egypt, he was still recognised as the de facto god of Babylon. Thus if Babylonian soil was to be extracted for purposes of laying the Shuhadaku in a new city of kingship, express permission had to be sought from him. Presently, kingship had been commandeered to Agade by Inanna unilaterally. Agade,  however, lacked legitimacy in that the Shuhadaku had been installed without the pre-conditional Babylonian soil. 

Inanna was aware that his arch-enemy Marduk would never accede to her request for Babylonian soil. So what does she do? She gets Sargon to bulldoze his way into Babylon and appropriate the hallowed soil. When Marduk heard of this thievery, he filed a protest before the Pantheon of the Anunnaki gods and threatened that if the soil was not returned, he would make a forceful comeback to Babylon and from there wage war on Sargon.

But Inanna was not done yet as far as her supremacist  histrionics were concerned. She  announced that she was going to build her own spaceport in Agade so she could be in command of her own interplanetary missions. If you recall,  Marduk had attempted just such a unilateral project in the form of the Tower of Babel in Babylon, which was bombed to rabble by Ninurta with the assistance of Inanna herself. Once again, Marduk took up the matter with  the pantheon, arguing that  he had been ejected from Babylon for exactly the same sin Inanna  was contemplating.

By this time, even the Enlilites had had enough of Sargon’s belligerence and the antics of Inanna. Long story short, the Enlilites tacitly encouraged Marduk to trace his way back to Babylon and help tame the wayward Inanna and her equally intransigent bedfellow in Sargon. That, folks, was a hallmark of the Enlilites: from time to time, they used an enemy to punish a person or a people who fell out with them. The fate of the nation of Israel is a case in point: they endured all sorts of  hardships and violations at the hands of foreign armies every time they rubbed Enlil or Ishkur-Adad the wrong way.
      Could Marduk tame the monster?

NEXT  WEEK: SARGON CURSES INANNA!

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Columns

GONE FISHING

28th March 2023

In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device).  But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration.  Consider these examples:

Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs.  Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, the business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over £18,000 (around P ¼ m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.

Another recent SMB hacking story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didn’t even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the company’s payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli.  As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.

And in May 2019, the city of Baltimore’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.

Of course, hackers target governments or business giants  but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches.  Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.

This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employees’ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability.  A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.

Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge.  Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email.  Out of the physical workplace, your employees’ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.

Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employees’ productivity.  Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi,  sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clients’ addresses and phone numbers.

BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps.  Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a system’s data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore.  Ransomware attacks are on the increase,  predicted to occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.

Lastly there is phishing – the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise –  whereby  cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data –usernames, passwords, credit card details –usually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.

Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt,  consult your IT security consultants.  You can’t put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!

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Columns

“I Propose to Diana Tonight”

28th March 2023

About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.

As he trudged the woods, Williams  had a sudden premonition that pointed to Diana’s imminent fate as per Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died. “When the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,” Williams was later to reminisce. “In the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.”

Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. “I have never seen him so upset,” Mary recounted. “He felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.”

The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. He  took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch Investigative  Unit.

The report read as follows:

“On 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.”

Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.

Meanwhile, General,  even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: “In The Independent Diana was described as ‘a woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anything’. She was ‘suffering from a form of arrested development’. ‘Isn’t it time she started using her head?’ asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled ‘A Story of Love’; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: ‘William can’t help it, he just doesn’t like the man.’ William was reportedly ‘horrified’ and ‘doesn’t think Mr Fayed is good for his mother’ – or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatrist’s chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana ‘On the Couch’, asking why she was so ‘depressed’ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications – about Prince Philip’s hostility to the relationship, Diana’s prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.”

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

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RAMADAN – The Blessed Month of Fasting

28th March 2023

Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’an  (2 : 185)

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of one’s belief in Allah’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.

Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a ‘full service’. This ‘service’ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ‘rest’ through fasting.

Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.

 

The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.” We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.

Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting!’”

This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.

Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich one’s conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.

Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allah’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.

The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a “season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qur’an more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.

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