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Joseph in Egypt

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

“Hykso slave” eventually comes to rule country on behalf of King!  

The smokescreen gimmick the Enlilites came up with with a view to recapturing Egypt was to smuggle Joseph into that country under the cover story that he had been sold into slavery by  his jealous and loathing brothers. For such a stunt to succeed, it had to be demonstrable and therefore convincing. It also had to be well-coordinated just in case Joseph met with disaster at some stage during his peregrinations.

The starting point, however, was to cultivate friendly forces in Egypt who would at long last be the custodians of Joseph under the story line that he was their slave. In point of fact, the Enlilites had long laid the groundwork for a sympathetic reception of Joseph by the powers that be in Egypt.  For we now know that Amenhotep II, the 7th Pharaoh, had a curiously Hebrew predilection. One of his many pharaonic titles was “Hykso King of Heliopolis”, which may hint at a modicum of Jewish blood in him, likely from his mother’s side.

It is probable that Amenhotep’s mother was of Jewish stock, a cleverly contrived manoeuvre on the part of the Enlilites as a preliminary step to retake Egypt in the fullness of time. Thus if Amenhotep was kind of favourably disposed toward the Hebrews,  it follows that his successor, Thothmosis IV, was most likely of a similar frame of mind. That  could explain why Joseph, a full-blooded Hebrew,  ultimately took centre stage in the affairs of Egypt. But we’re getting ahead of our story.

Next, a network of  slave traders, all in on the ruse, had to be propositioned, syndicated, and well-orchestrated. Joseph had to be passed from one slave merchant to another and not be rushed so as allow time to ascertain whether Egyptian intelligence was sniffing around for his presence in the country. It was imperative that the  Enlilites not take chances as there was always the possibility that some turncoat  might spill the beans on the young man and in the event that he resultantly  landed in the wrong hands,  the whole plan would boomerang back horrendously. It was only when the Enlilites were satisfied  all the safeguards were in place that  they decided to launch Joseph into the fray.

JOSEPH OPERATIONALISED DURING RULE OF THUTMOSIS IV

Joseph was 17 years old when he set off on “Operation Retake Egypt”. Before he was taken away, his father presented him what the Bible wrongly describes as a “coat of many colours”. The Hebrew term translated “coat of many colours” is   Ketonet Passim. This simply meant an ornamented tunic. It was presented by a  king to his prince or princess. To the princess, it was indicative of virgin status,  whereas to a prince, like Joseph was, it denoted princely status. It was a coded message to Joseph’s future Egyptian guardians that he indeed was not an ordinary Hebrew but a dynastic heir.   

As per the pre-arranged setup, Joseph was sold five times for purposes of maximum precaution. His brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites sold him to the Midianite traders. The Midianites sold him to the Medanites. It was  the  Medanites  who sold him to the Egyptians, at which point he crossed into Egyptian territory.  The Egyptians finally hawked  him to his intended custodian going by the name of Potiphar.

Who was Potiphar? Genesis describes him as a “captain of the guard”, meaning the  chief of the pharaoh’s security detail, something akin to Secret Service, a bureau responsible for the safety and security of the US president.   This man was very strategically placed as an Enlilite agent in the corridors of Egyptian power. First, his responsibilities entailed constant interaction with the pharaoh. Second, his very senior security portfolio meant he was trusted to the hilt, so that whatever information he passed to the pharaoh was received as gospel truth. He was thus just the right guy to endear young Joseph to the pharaoh.

The pharaoh of the day was Tuthmosis IV. Although his capital was Thebes in southern Egypt, he spent the bulk of his time at his residence in Memphis, northern Egypt, which was only a stone’s throw from Avaris, where the Hykso-Hebrew remnants who stayed behind after the First Exodus under Kamose abounded and slaved. Potiphar therefore must have been based in Memphis too.

Tuthmosis IV was the  8th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, which  began with Kamose. To tell from the features of his mummy, he is the first pharaoh from southern Egypt to bear traces of mixed blood – straight hair, narrow nose, and thin lips, characteristics which were not quintessentially Bantu. The Egyptian annals say his mother, Tiaa, was of “unknown origin”. She may as well have been a Hykso-Hebrew and her identity was jealously guarded so as not to provoke public outrage. Indeed, in those days when there were no newspapers, TV, radio, social media, or cameras of any kind,  a secret could   be kept from the wider public forever.  

Intent at  blunting the menace that was the Hittite Empire, a formidable power in the ascendant, Tuthmosis IV struck an alliance  with the King of Mittani and took  Mutemwiya, the latter’s daughter, as his minor wife. It was to Mutemwiya  that Tuthmosis IV’s heir, Amenhotep III, was born.  The fact that Tuthmosis IV’s heir came from a foreign and secondary  wife and not from one of his two senior, indigenous  wives attests to his desire to forge an enduring detente  with the Hurrians (the people of Mittani).  

THE FRAME-UP THAT NEVER WAS

All went according to plan. When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he never did a moment of slave labour: that is a cock-and-bull story. Joseph was a long-term VIP guest of Potipher: he neither worked nor toiled under him. In fact, no sooner had Joseph arrived at the Potipher estate than he arranged for him to go to school in Heliopolis.

The historian Herodotus informs  us that Heliopolis was the oldest centre of learning in Egypt. It was the Oxford of the day.  The city teemed with religious and academic institutions. For Joseph to be seen in a positive light by the religious establishment, he had to be well-versed in knowledge pertaining to the national god Marduk. Needless to say, this specific theology was one of his majors. In the seminary training, Joseph was taught by the priests of Heliopolis.

Now,  in Egypt, Joseph was known by a different name, Yuya. We know this was an assumed name, if it can be called that in that it simply meant, “One Who Is the Son Of”. It was not an Egyptian name at all.   At school, Joseph was surpassingly brilliant and so was easily noticed by his professors. By the time he was graduating, his intellectual renown had spread as far as the pharaoh’s courts at Memphis. The professors must have wondered how such a gifted youngster should be a slave in the very home he dwelt when he should have been its resident celebrity. Of course the slave tag simply was a cover story: Potipher had to have a worthwhile explanation in case something went wrong. But contrary to the Genesis story, nothing went wrong at all.

Genesis relates that the dynamically good-looking Joseph was sexually propositioned by Potipher’s wife, who upon being spurned had him framed for an attempted act of adultery. This incident led to Joseph serving time in prison. Once again, that is a fictitious story, literally:  neither Joseph nor Potipher’s wife had anything to do with it. In fact, the story emerged 200 years after Joseph’s time.

Researchers have found that the Genesis writers plagiarised the substance of the story from a 12th century BC document known as The Orbiney Papyrus. The document which, dates from the reign of Pharaoh Seti II, who ruled from 1200 to 1194 BC, features a story  titled  The Two Brothers,  which very closely mirrors the jiggery-pokery of Potipher’s wife as per the Genesis account. Reduced to its basic essentials, the story goes like this:

“Bata lived with and faithfully served his older brother, Anubis. One day Anubis’s wife tried to seduce Bata, who rejected her advances. Furious, she accused him of attempted rape, and the enraged Anubis prepared to kill Bata. But Bata, forewarned by a cow, fled in the nick of time. A lake filled with crocodiles magically appeared between the brothers, cutting off Anubis’s pursuit. Anubis returned home and proceeded to kill his wife. Meanwhile, Bata cut out his own heart and placed it high in a pine tree, an act rendering him nearly immortal.

The gods fashioned a beautiful wife for Bata. An immoral woman, however, she entered Pharaoh’s harem and divulged to the Egyptians that Bata could be killed by cutting down the pine tree. They followed through, but Anubis, apparently prepared to reconcile with Bata, found his brother’s heart and restored him to life. Bata in turn transformed himself into a bull and carried Anubis to Pharaoh’s court, where Bata’s alarmed wife persuaded Pharaoh to sacrifice the bull.

Its blood caused two trees to sprout. Realizing that Bata still lived, his wife arranged to have the trees cut down, but a splinter flew into her mouth and she became pregnant. She bore a son, whom Pharaoh raised as his crown prince. The boy – Bata himself – in due course became the pharaoh and appointed Anubis to be his viceroy.”

The two stories are not exactly identical but people who plagiarise do not do so verbatim through and through: they build into the story  at least a modicum of either their own input or spin,  or yet another aspect lifted from some other source.   So long story short, Joseph was never the centre of a sexual scandal at any point in time whilst living in Potipher’s luxurious house. His conduct was consistently  above-board. Joseph never tasted prison at all: indeed, there is nothing in the Egyptian records that remotely intimates Yuya was ever imprisoned.

JOSEPH HITCHES ROYAL LASS

When Joseph graduated, everybody wanted a piece of him thanks to his diamond-edged brilliance, his film-star looks, and his natural charisma. Among those who set his eyes on him was the chief priest of the Heliopolis temple, who the Bible calls Potipheras (a different person from Potipher, the head of royal security). The chief priest soon was match-making her gorgeous daughter Tuya with Joseph and before long the two had tied the knot. Tuya’s other name was Asenath. In Egyptian spelling, this is Nes-Net. The name evoked Nut, who in Egypt was the Anunnaki god (or goddess as she was female) of the sky.

Tuya was not simply a scion of the Egyptian priesthood: she was royalty too. She is said to have been the granddaughter of Tuthmosis III, who according to those who have studied royal Egyptian  mummies, looked very much like her.  Her mother, Potipheras’ wife, therefore, was a daughter of Tuthmosis III (Tuthmosis III had at least 7 official wives, three of whom foreigners).

Since Joseph too was a descendant of the great Hykso pharaoh and patriarch Jacob, this was a union, to all intents and purposes, of two dynasties.  It was not a clincher yet on the part of the Enlilites but it was a significant step in that direction: their main target  was the pharaonic perch itself.

Although Joseph had spent much of his Egyptian time in Heliopolis, where he went to school, and Memphis, where his guardian Potipher resided, the city he chose to dwell in after his nuptials was Khent-Min (today’s Akhmin), then the  headquarters of the 9th province of southern Egypt, which was  located on the east bank of the Nile. Initially, Min was another name for Enki, the overall god of Africa. It would later come to incorporate Horus, a great-great grandson of Enki, who was one of the most popular of Egyptian gods. Joseph would in future be conferred the civic title of Lord of Khent-Min such was his attachment to the city.  

JOSEPH ENTERS SERVICE OF PHARAOH

Meanwhile, the chief priest of Heliopolis was determined that her daughter be ensconced near the very pinnacle of political power and in her husband Joseph, she had a wonder catalyst. Both Potipher and Potipheras were gushing in their recommendation of Joseph to the reigning Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV, projecting him as a great visionary who could help take Egypt places.

Although he was not an indigenous Egyptian, Joseph, the pharaoh was told, had come to Egypt as a slave, sold by his own dirt-poor family, and as such he was a de facto Egyptian and would never return to Canaan. “He has the mind of a prophet,” the king was told. “He can literally divine the future of Egypt. To him, interpreting a dream is child’s  play.”

At the time, the pharaoh was disillusioned with his coterie of advisors who kept falling short time and again, the reason  Joseph was pitched to him. Although even for the pharaoh it was love at first sight when  Joseph was brought before him, he first put him on probation just to gauge his potential objectively. He was impressed beyond measure: the young Hykso-Hebrew was a genius who knew practically everything. He seemed incapable of error or ill-judgement. Joseph was hired even before the probation  ran its course. He was about 30 years of age when he entered the King’s service.

Joseph’s position is said to be that of Vizier, a mistakenly assigned designation on the part of historians in our view. In today’s terms, we might call him “Prime Minister” (like Theresa May under Queen Elizabeth) or “Chancellor” (like Otto Von Bismarck under German King Kaiser Wilhem I). But as we shall see, he was more of a viceroy than prime minister or chancellor as he was an appointee and not an electee and was not subject to the King but ruled on behalf of the King.  

In commissioning Joseph into service, Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV said to him, “I have set thee over all the land of Egypt … Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than thou …  I am pharaoh, and without thee no man shall lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” The pharaoh ordered every Egyptian to bow by the knee before Joseph, which made him a king in his own right.    Thus while this pharaoh reigned over Egypt, the country was governed or ruled by Joseph. He made all the decisions and simply briefed the king about what he had done.  

A SUPER-VIZIER

Typically, the duties of a vizier have been described as follows:

“The viziers were appointed by the pharaohs but often belonged to a pharaoh's family. The vizier's paramount duty was to supervise the running of the country, much like a prime minister. At times this even included small details such as sampling the city's water supply. All other lesser supervisors and officials, such as tax collectors and scribes, would report to the vizier. “The judiciary was part of the civil administration and the vizier also sat in the High Court. However, at any time, the pharaoh could exert his own control over any aspect of government, overriding the vizier's decisions.

“The vizier also supervised the security of the pharaoh and the palace by overseeing the comings and goings of palace visitors. “Viziers were the second in command, they oversaw the political administration and all official documents had to have his seal on them, managed the taxation system and monitored the supply of food, listened to problems between nobles and settled them, and ran the pharaoh’s household and ensured the royal family’s safety.

“From the Fifth Dynasty onwards viziers, whom by then were the highest civilian bureaucratic official, held supreme responsibility for the administration of the palace and government including jurisdiction, scribes, state archives, central granaries, treasury, storage of surplus products and their redistribution, and supervision of building projects such as the royal pyramid.

“It will be seen that the vizier is the grand steward of all Egypt, and that all the activities of the state are under his control. He has general oversight of the treasury and the chief treasurer reports to him; he is chief justice or head of the judiciary; he is chief of police, both for the residence city and kingdom; he is minister of war, both for army and navy; he is secretary of the interior and of agriculture, while all general executive functions of state, with many that may not be classified, are incumbent upon him. There is, indeed, no prime function of state that does not operate through his office.”

But Joseph was not simply a vizier: he was a super-vizier. We say this because he was practically the conscience of the pharaoh: whatever he pronounced had the force of a pharaonic fiat. Also, the name Yuya, as Joseph was known in Egypt, does not appear on the list of viziers of both Tuthmosis IV and his successor Amenhotep III, under whom Joseph consecutively served. At the time of the 18th Dynasty, there were two viziers at any one time, one for northern Egypt and another for southern Egypt.

During their collective  tenure, Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III had a total of 7 viziers, none of whom goes by the name Yuya. Clearly, Joseph was more than a vizier in that he had two viziers under him. His unique position was the first and last in the entire history of Egypt, which goes to show that he was a man of extraordinary ability and of extraordinary capacity.

NEXT WEEK:   THE FEATS OF JOSEPH

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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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