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Ballsy Inanna Bounces Back!

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Jehovah’s granddaughter sullies Ninurta’s century of peace

Following the atomic blasts that levelled and buried Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in the Indus Valley circa 2140 BC, all the Intraterrestrials with whom Inanna-Ishtar had allied simply vanished. Inanna was all alone and in that state, she was a sitting duck for arrest by Enlil’s disgraced sheriffs. Her only sensible option was to surrender herself for trial and sentencing, but that was the last thing on her mind.  

In desperation, she got in touch with Nergal, her brother-in-law, her beau, and her sympathiser-in-chief and pleaded with him for shelter. Obliging her, Nergal arranged for her to be spirited to the Abzu, southern Africa, where he reigned. Since secrets do not hold forever, Ereshkigal, Nergal’s wife who was also Inanna’s elder sister, got wind of Inanna’s presence in her husband’s domain. Ereshkigal, who had a visceral hatred for her own sister, tipped Enlil straightaway.  When he got the news, Enlil immediately ordered Nergal to expel Inanna from his domain, failure to which there would be serious repercussions for him. Thus alarmed, Nergal did likewise: once again, Inanna was on her own.

It was her own father, Nannar-Sin, who came to her rescue. He fetched her from where Nergal had dumped her and took her with him to Ur, his cult city. Inanna was told by her father that she would indefinitely lose her rank among the Anunnaki Pantheon of the Twelve. She would also no longer have a city-state at her command; instead,   he and his wife Ningal were to assume full-time guardianship of her, meaning she would live in her parents’ house like a minor. That was the only way she could avoid trial and a very harsh sentence for that matter.

Inanna meekly accepted the terms but only with tongue in cheek. Like the fiercely ambitious woman she was, that was not the last she would be heard from. Her strategy was simply to lie low for a while and then rebound at the slightest inkling of opportunity. But in so far as power broking was concerned, she was finished. She was no longer the heavyweight she once was.

Meanwhile, Ninurta was forging a legend in Sumer. Enlil had appointed him as the overall god of Sumer and Akkad indefinitely in 2220 BC. So far, he had done a swell job. He had defeated and forced Inanna into exile in the Indus Valley. Peace and tranquillity had now been restored to the First Region. He had fixed the water reticulation system Nergal had sabotaged and restored to good nick irrigation and agriculture. A diligent and hard-working god, he had been flying from place to place, in his plane, known as the Divine Black Bird, to personally inspect progress about the whole rehabilitation process.

As before, Ninurta’s cult centre was Lagash, which this time around he had set to convert into a great centre of Sumerian culture.  Unlike other gods such as Enlil, Ishkur-Adad, and Nannar-Sin who revelled in a cult of personality, Ninurta was only nominally religious-inclined: his main focus was agriculture. As such, in Lagash, people celebrated agricultural feasts, such as the Festival of First Fruits, and not religious feasts. This, plus the fact that he was an exemplary god moral-wise who was so devoted to his wife Bau, made him very popular with his subjects. Only Enlil and he never ever strayed in their marriages.      

Since he was so demonstrably moral, Ninurta’s people called upon him to proclaim moral laws and codes of justice that would be binding upon all and sundry. At the time he was so besought, there was no king in any Sumerian city-state.  In order to assist him enact and enforce these laws, he appointed what he called “Righteous Governors”.  Then among these governors, he chose one as his viceroy. His name was Gudea.

Gudea was a child of Ninurta and Nina, a daughter of Enlil and his wife Ninli. This made Ninurta and Nina half-siblings given that they had the same father but different mothers, Ninurta’s being Ninmah. But Gudea was not conceived in the normal way: he was conceived by way of artificial insemination and with the instrumentality of Bau herself.

Gudea is remembered for the peace and prosperity that accompanied his rein. In his time, there were no local wars, not even one: it was all about trade and reconstruction. “Lagash burst into new bloom and produced some of Sumer's most enlightened and best-known rulers,” say the Sumerian records. “The known viceroys who followed him left a written record of achievements in agriculture, construction, social legislation, and ethical reforms – material and moral achievements that would make any government proud.”

NINURTA’S FEINT FOR SUPREMACY ON EARTH

Mathematically, the astrological Age of Aries was supposed to dawn in 2220 BC. It was around this that time Marduk, Enki’s firstborn son, began to lay claim to ascendancy to Enlilship. But the Sun still arose in the constellation of Taurus since Taurus was so large that it occupied more than its fair share of the celestial arc. Hence Marduk was prevailed upon to bide his time till Taurus had completely vanished and Aries now constituted the night time’s starry backdrop.  

In 2160 BC, Aries seemed to loom large in the night time sky and Marduk returned from the Antarctica, where he had exiled himself and began to make his case for his replacement of Enlil as Earth’s new Chief Executive.  He demanded an audience with the Pantheon of the Twelve so he could present his case to them with substantial evidence now that the Age of the Ram was upon “us”. Enlil, however, refused to call the meeting until further notice. Power is so sweet.

Thus snubbed but now determined even more than ever, Marduk embarked on a campaign to drum up support from the Earthlings that his time had arrived. He detailed his highly eloquent heir, Nabu, to base himself in Canaan and campaign from there whilst he himself campaigned in other places.

Meanwhile, Ninurta, who was the strongest Enlilite of the day, was not convinced that the Age of the Ram was definitively on the horizon. In order to so counter Marduk, he decided to construct a new sacred precinct known as the Eninnu. This actually was the second Eninnu, to be built about 1500 feet (about 460 metres) from where the old one lay. The symbolism of this gesture, theoretically at least, was that Ninurta was challenging Marduk for the supremacy of Earth. Eninnu meant “House of Fifty” and 50 was the rank for Earth’s Chief Executive.

The statement Ninurta was trying to make was that it was he who would succeed Enlil as Lord of planet Earth.  However, this simply was psychological warfare on the part of Ninurta as he had made it clear a long time ago that he was no longer interested in the jockeying for the highest office on the planet. His construction of the new Eninnu was purely in the interests of his clan, the Enlilites, and not for his own sake personally.  The task to erect the new structure was given to Gudea.  

Some of the building materials that would go  into the structure included gold from Africa and Anatolia, silver from the Taurus Mountains, cedars from Lebanon, other rare woods from Ararat, copper from the Zagros range, diorite from Egypt, carnelian from Ethiopia, tin from  the Titicaca region in South America, and special timbers from Tilmun  for the temple-house’s furnishings.  The edifice was intended to be a magnificent structure. In order to ensure that all went well, Ninurta roped in one other god. This was Ningishzidda, Enki’s genius son.   

CELESTIAL OBSERVATORY TO REBUT MARDUK AMBITION

Zidda was presently based in South America, where he had relocated with a retinue of dark-skinned Anunnaki known as the Olmecs circa 3113 BC. Thus he was a “a god called forth from obscurity in Gudea's time". Zidda, known as the “Bright Serpent” (by virtue of an ancestry that evolved from a snake species on his father’s side), was the Anunnaki’s brainiest dude after his father Enki. He was the Jack of all Trades and Master of them all. Ninurta called upon him in his capacity as the    “Divine Architect” and “Keeper of the Secrets of the Giza Pyramid”, which he designed.  

Ninurta told Zidda that, “The Bull (Taurus) proclaims Commander Enlil and me, his Champion and Successor. While the Sun rises in The Bull, Enlil, through me, rules Earth.” In line with this assertion, Ninurta intended the new Eninnu to serve two purposes in the main. First, it was to be Sumer’s equivalent of the Giza Pyramid in terms of architectural grandeur. In Ninurta’s own words, “The new temple will be seen from afar. Its awe-inspiring glance will reach the heavens.

The adoration of my temple shall extend to all the lands, its heavenly name will be proclaimed in countries from the ends of the Earth. In Magan (Egypt) and Meluhha (Sudan inclusive of Ethiopia) will cause people to say: Ningirsu (Ninurta’s other name, meaning “Lord of the Girsu”, his fighter craft), the Great Hero from the Lands of Enlil, is a god who has no equal. He is the Lord of all the Earth.”

Second, it was meant to serve as a domed astronomical observatory with which to meticulously scan the heavens and therefore ascertain at what time exactly the astrological Age of Aries hove in sight. Zidda was therefore the best fit for this undertaking. It was he “who reckons the heavens, the counter of the stars and the measurer of the Earth, the inventor of arts and sciences, the scribe of the gods, the one who made calculations concerning the heavens, the stars and the Earth, the Reckoner of times and of seasons, he whose   knowledge and powers of calculating measured out the heavens and planned the Earth."

Zidda, “the great God who held the plans, the appointed guardian of the secret plans of the pyramids of Giza”, designed the Eninnu and provided Gudea a scale model of the same. This was in 2160 BC.  According to the architectural plan, there was to be a secure zone, an inner special enclosure within the temple grounds, for Ninurta’s personal airborne vehicle, the “Divine Black Bird”. Two more special sunken enclosures were also catered for. These were to harbour two weapons meant to protect the Black Bird – the "Supreme Hunter" and the "Supreme Killer”, both of which emitted beams of light and death-dealing rays.

Besides the in-house astronomical observatory, there was to be erected in the Eninnu’s forecourt two stone circles, one with six and the other with seven stone pillars, for observing the skies. One part of the stone circles would be devoted entirely to the zodiac and the other was geared to observing celestial risings and setting – a virtual Stonehenge on the banks of the Euphrates River!  There was in fact several such Stonehenges dotted all over the world at the time – in Britain, Egypt, South America, China, the Golan Heights in Syria, etc. All these were deliberate countermoves by Ninurta and Zidda to demonstrate to Marduk and mankind at large that the zodiacal age still was the Age of the Bull.

The Eninnu was to be oriented to the “favourable planet in the heavens”, that is, Nibiru. It was such a grand project that to construct it, Gudea hired 216,000 men, not that he needed this number of men but because he wanted it completed in the swiftest possible timespan with a view to impressing his god.  

MARDUK RUBBISHES ENINNU BLINDFOLD

Once the Eninnu was put up and it was fully operationalised, Zidda was tasked to go around the world and demonstrably instruct people that Taurus, the Age of the Bull, was very much in force and that the Age of Aries, though imminent, still had not showed up and that it was not until a hundred years at the very least that Taurus would completely fade and be supplanted by Aries.

“To Ningishzidda the Anunnaki leaders appealed, how to the people the skies to observe to teach,” say the Sumerian records. “In his wisdom stone structures Ningishzidda devised, Ninurta and Ishkur-Adad to erect them helped. In the settled lands, near and far, the people how the skies to observe they taught, that the Sun in the Constellation of the Bull was still rising to the people they showed.”

Meanwhile, word to the effect that Ninurta had completed the duo-purpose Eninnu had reached Marduk in Egypt. Told that the Eninnu observatory arose in order to refute his claim that his supremacy was due, a defiant Marduk answered thus: “Curse Ninurta’s observatory. He must honour Celestial Time, not the Eninnu’s Zodiac Time.  Coming is my constellation, the Ram.  When the Sun rises in the Ram, I, not Enlilites, must rule Sumer.  Each sign gets equal time on the horizon.  The Sun rises on my Ram, not Enlil’s Bull and so I must rule.

Zodiac Time gives Ninurta rule two centuries more than Celestial Time.” Marduk still was adamant that mathematically, his rule was long overdue and he was the de jure Lord of Earth. In fact in Egypt at the time, celestial depictions showed the Sun rising over the Bull of Heaven alright but the Bull of Heaven was depicted tethered and held back. The message was that the Age of Taurus was under arrest for encroaching on the territorial waters of the Age of Aries.

BALLSY INANNA REBOUNDS!

Ninurta was in power for just under 100 years during which absolute peace prevailed throughout Sumer and Akkad. Satisfied that all was well, that he had discharged his mandate as assigned by Enlil with distinction, he asked Enlil to release him. Remember, Ninurta was not interested in being ruler of Earth or Nibiru. He had left that to Nannar-Sin, who was his father’s preferred candidate. Enlil thanked him, awarded him accolades, and released him without fanfare.   The year was circa 2125 BC.

Now, if you thought following the nuking of her Indus Valley domain and her subsequent baby-sitting by her parents Inanna was history, you are totally mistaken. Inanna was a woman but she had bigger balls than most males. Having learnt that Ninurta had departed Sumer, she waited for five years and then made a dramatic return to her erstwhile cult city of Uruk, where she was welcomed in a manner befitting a conquering heroine.  It seemed the people of Uruk adored her not because she was particularly great but out of pure sentimentality.

Watching this development, Enlil did not immediately react, perhaps sensitive as to how his favourite son Nannar-Sin, Inanna’s father, would react when he had tamed her so remarkably for the past 20 years, during which time  she had committed no single act of mischief whatsoever  but remained compliant,  docile, and obscure.  Enlil hoped such exemplary conduct would continue to be her hallmark in the advent of her return to Uruk. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Inanna once again wanted to wield power: she wasn’t made for obscurity at all. When Ninurta had left Sumer, he had ensured that each city-state had its own governor. The governor of Uruk was Utu-Hegal.  Inanna quickly turned on her charm and soon Utu-Hegal, who previously worshiped her twin brother Utu-Shamash, was now fawning at her.  Inanna reckoned that if she was to regain her might, she had to take care of the Gutians, who being Ninurta’s minions were a constant menace to the kings of Sumer.

In 2120 BC, Tirigan succeeded to the throne as the Gutians 19th king in their state of Kutha near the Zagros Mountains.   On the very day he was crowned, Inanna let loose Utu-Hegal on him, after having spread the false propaganda that Utu-Hegal was waging war on Tirigan at the service of Enlil.

The two armies clashed at some rendezvous and with Inanna’s strategic genius, Utu-Hergal routed Tirigan who retreated and with tail between legs sought refuge in a city known as Dubrum. But the moment the people of Dubrum heard the false news that Enlil’s army was on its way to overrun Kutha, they arrested Tirigan and his family and when Utu-Hegal arrived handed them to him on a silver platter. After being on the throne for only 40 days, Tirigan was deposed. Inanna was back with a bang and once again was calling the shots in Sumer. Would she last this time around?
    

NEXT  WEEK: ENIGMATIC GALZU RESURFACES WITH DARK PROGNOSIS

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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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“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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