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Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Victory is Won

Columns

Israelites take Canaan under General Joshua

Even as the Nation of Israeli braced to militarily take possession of the Promised Land, General, its top three senior citizens, namely Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, were not destined to share in this god-conferred bequest. All three died before the lottery was won.

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The first to pass on was Miriam, whilst the Israelites were camped at Kadesh Barnea. In the Bible, General, Miriams death is spoken of as if in passing. Miriam died and was buried, thats all the Pentateuch says about her death in NUMBERS 20:1. This disparaging treatment is in keeping with the Jewish male chauvinism of the day, whereby women were not to be accorded the merest preeminence.

It also speaks volumes on the antipathy that existed between Moses and Miriam, who once were husband and wife, besides being half-siblings, and who divorced right in the wilderness when Moses felt Miriams popularity was gnawing away at his own all facts of which the Pentateuch deliberately obscures as that was not meant for the ears of its intended readership.

On the other hand, General, the more objective Book of Jasher, which was spitefully left out of the Old Testament canon, accords Miriams death the prominence it merits. It says (the statement in parenthesis is ours), The children of Israel mourned for Miriam for 40 days (10 days longer than they did Moses and Aaron) and neither did any man go forth of his dwelling.

And the lamentation was great, for after Miriam arose, there was no other ever like her The flame thereof went out into all the lands; yeah, throughout all Canaan and the nations feared greatly. Miriams death sent reverberations throughout the biblical lands, ample enough evidence that she was a colossus as opposed to the also-ran shes portrayed as in the shamelessly partial Torah.

Miriam and Moses shared the same father, Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but had different mothers. Whereas Moses mother was Tiye, the great patriarch Josephs daughter and who was Amenhotep IIIs second but most influential wife, Miriams mother was Gilukhipa, Amenhotep IIIs third wife. In Egypt, Miriam was known as Meryamon, meaning Beloved of Amon (Marduk, Egypts national god, who was also known as Amon-Ra). It is Meryamon that is corrupted to Miriam in the Bible.

In Egypt, Miriam was particularly prominent because she produced a heir for Moses, who was to become Pharaoh Tutankhamen and in due course Akhenaten. It was also through Kiya-Tasherit, Miriams daughter with Moses, that the royal line of Judah emerged, again a fact the Pentateuch writers cleverly swept under the rug just so that Miriam was not put on a pedestal.

The Bible provides two versions of the scenes of Aarons death at age 123, General. The Book of Numbers says he died at Mount Hor, whereas Deuteronomy says he died at Mount Moseroth, a place miles removed from Mount Hor. It is clear the Pentateuch writers were not sure of their facts here General.

The Book of Numbers says Aaron was mourned for at least 30 days. He was succeeded as national priest by his son Eleazer. Aaron had four sons, namely Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar in that order, but Nadab and Abihu were killed by Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus, in Aarons tactical sacrifice of his foremost children. Thats how Eleazer came to succeed Aaron. Both Aaron and Moses were former Egyptian Pharaohs, with Moses having ruled as Pharaoh Akhenaten and Aaron as Pharaoh Smenkhkare.

MOSES UNCERTAIN FATE

According to the Bible, General, Moses died on Mount Nebo in Moabite country, aged 120 years. Even at this advanced age, he was of robust health and his sight was as potent as ever according to Deuteronomy.

If Moses so bristled with health still, General, why did he die?

One cannot rule out foul play by Adad himself, who was determined that Moses never set foot in Canaan. Indeed, his burial place was never to be known though the Bible says he was buried (alive?) at Beth-Peor in Moab. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus says, a cloud stood over him all of a sudden, and he disappeared in a certain valley.

The cloud, as we now know, was the alter ego of Adad, a fellow Alien he co-worked with during the Israelites wilderness wonderings, which may suggest that Adad had a change of heart: instead of eliminating Moses, he simply retired him and took him to a privileged place where he continued to live happily ever after, most likely in South America, where the Enlilites now were headquartered and operated a new spaceport following the nuking of the one in the Sinai Peninsula in 2024 BC. This may explain why Moses and Elijah featured in the transfiguration of Jesus (MATT 17:1-9; MARK 9:2-10; LUKE 9:28-36) in that neither of the two prophets tasted death.

The Book of Jude, which buys into the narrative that Moses did die, says the Devil and the archangel Michael contended for his body. We know now that the Devil was the Enlilites nickname for Marduk in the astrological Age of Aries and the archangel Michael was Ninurta, the firstborn son of Jehovah-Enlil. So what Jude is suggesting is that the Enkites wanted Moses to be buried in Egypt, where he was brought up and was even Pharaoh at some stage, whereas the Enlilites wanted him to be buried just within shouting distance of the Promised Land, their future geopolitical capital.

As was the case with Aaron, Israelites mourned Moses for 30 days.

It is likely though that at some stage, Moses remains, if he indeed did die, were exhumed and taken back to Egypt for a dignified reburial as ex-Pharaoh Akhenaten. The identity of Akhenatens remains, however, remain inconclusive to date although all sorts of theories have been bandied about.

Josephus lauds Moses thus: He was one that exceeded all men that ever were in understanding, and made the best use of what that understanding suggested to him. He had a very graceful way of speaking and addressing himself to the multitude; and as to his other qualifications, he had such a full command of his passions, as if he hardly had any such in his soul, and only knew them by their names, as rather perceiving them in other men than in himself.

He was also such a general of an army as is seldom seen, as well as such a prophet as was never known, and this to such a degree, that whatsoever he pronounced, you would think you heard the voice of God himself.

JOSHUA TAKES CHARGE

Although Moses had children, Gershom and Eliezer (not to be mistaken with Aarons heir whose name is spelt slightly differently) being the most prominent at this stage, he was not succeeded by any one of them as leader of the Nation of Israel, General. If Aaron was succeeded by his son, why wasnt Moses? After all, wasnt Moses for all practical purposes the King of the Nation of Israel although he was not referred to as such?

According to the Enlilite timetable, time was not yet ripe to install a dynastic King of Israel. The Israelites presently had no country of their own and to be King one had to have a substantive domain, a territory. What was crucial at this juncture, when the Israelites were still prosecuting wars of conquest, was a military leader, a general. It was only after victory was won and the Israelites were firm in the saddle in Canaan that a king would be installed.

To his credit, General, Moses had over the past 40 years or so been grooming his successor as Israels Commander-in-Chief. This was Joshua, an illustrious and veteran dog of war now 80 years old. Although his born name was actually Hoshea, Moses dubbed him Joshua (or Jesus in Greek), meaning Yahwehs Liberator, and the moniker stuck. He was from the tribe of Ephraim and was one of the 12 scouts Moses had sent to spy out the land of Canaan during the Kadesh Barnea encampment. Of the 12, only he and Caleb gave a positive report, as a result of which Adad told them they would be the only ones to enter the Promised Land. The other ten spies perished in a plague engineered by Adad for their alarmist report.

Immediately after the period of Moses mourning was over, Joshua announced it was time for the Israelites to commence their march on Canaan, the land west of the Jordan Valley. There simply was no time to waste.

Joshua pronounced that the march on Canaan was to be spearheaded by three tribes, namely that of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, all three of which constituted 40,000 in all. If you recall, General, Moses had acceded to these tribes request that they settle in the conquered lands of Bashan and Heshbon (now collectively known as Gilead) as they offered good pastures for livestock on condition that they promise to help the other Israelites when the time came to enter the Promised Land.

Accordingly, Joshua issued this clarion call to them: Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them NUMBERS 1:14.

CANAAN IS WON

General Joshua, General, waged ferocious war on Canaanite domains and it was not until seven years since the capture of the very first, Jericho, that he declared victory. Altogether, he had defeated 31 kings.

The conquest of Canaan, however, was not decisive, General: in some territories, the inhabitants were not driven away but were simply subjugated. The standing order by Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus, was that in every war, the Israelites should totally annihilate the enemy, sparing no woman or child.

But it seemed the Israelites simply became fed up of their gods penchant for blood and therefore chose to exercise unilateral restraint at the risk of incensing him. For as long as the enemy meekly surrendered, the Israelites simply turned them into minions rather than callously put them to the sword.

In some territories, the inhabitants simply did not give up the fight: they continued to wage guerilla warfare against their Jewish occupiers. This was particularly the case with the Jebusites of Jerusalem, who were only totally vanquished by King David more than 300 years later.

Some of the Canaanite nations actually succeeded in warding off the mighty Israelite army. A case in point were the dreaded Philistines of the great Goliath fame, whose domains lined the Mediterranean shores. About 8 Canaanite territories tenaciously fought for and maintained their full sovereignty.

Invariably, General, the kings of the defeated nation suffered the worst fate as they were subjected to a very slow and excruciatingly painful death. For example, this is what happened to the 5 Amorite Kings, one of whom was the ruler of Hebron, as per JOSHUA 10:16-26: Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah.

It was told Joshua, saying, The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah. Joshua said, Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them Then Joshua said, Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.

They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings. So they came near and put their feet on their necks So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he impaled them on five trees.

HOUSE OF JOSEPH GET LIONS SHARE OF TERRITORY

Exactly where in history are we at this juncture, General?

Our own research places the commencement of the Exodus at circa 1335 BC. The Bible says the Nation of Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years but that is simply a symbolic number: the wilderness years lasted no more than 13 years, a scenario we have persuasively demonstrated in earlier articles. The conquest of Canaan was declared complete 7 years later. This was in the year 1315 BC.

Now, as indicated above, General, the Israelites did not have full bragging rights over Canaan. Some of the land remained either unconquered or unpossessed and in some territories the Israelites opted to simply co-exist with the people they were unable to dislodge from their midst. Be that as it may, Joshua declared mission accomplished and raised the Israelite flag over the Promised Land. Then he set about apportioning the newly-garnered lands to the nations 12 tribes.

Three tribes had already been allocated their own domains way back in 1308 BC. This was the land east of the Jordan valley, which did not constitute part of the Promised Land as the Promised Land was west of the Jordan River. The tribes were Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Thus only the remaining nine-and-half tribes were entitled to a share of the Promised Land.

The tribe of Judah, being the largest and the seniormost chronologically (after Reuben, Simeon, and Levi forfeited their seniority having fallen out of favour with their father Jacob), was the first to receive its allocation. Judahs share consisted of all the southern land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea.

Next was the House of Joseph, which had been divided into two, namely that of Ephraim and Manasseh. Legally, the House of Joseph was the seniormost in that Jacob had chosen Joseph as his anointed heir being the son of his favourite wife Rachel. It is not surprising, therefore, that the House of Joseph was allocated prior to every other tribe save for Judah. Of the House of Joseph, the tribe of Ephraim, who was younger than Manasseh, was allocated first.

Ephraim was prioritised over Manasseh apparently because he was once Pharaoh Aye of Egypt and thus had a loftier pedigree than that of his older brother. Ephraim received the central portion of the land and the other half tribe of Manasseh was given land to the north of Ephraims. All in all, the House of Joseph had the largest allocation overall (that is, taking into account the lands on both sides of the Jordan River), which accorded with their status as the anointed and therefore exalted tribe.

That is not to say the House of Joseph were content with what they got, General. They actually approached Joshua to register their dismay over their allocation given their population. When combined, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were actually the largest tribe (85,200 at the last count), outnumbering even the tribe of Judah (76,500).

As such, they insisted to Joshua, they deserved much more than they were given and accordingly tried to prevail over him to allot them further territory. But Joshua was having none of that: he told them point blank that if they wanted an expanded domain, they should earn it by launching their own conquests of the lands that were yet unconquered. The House of Joseph was not prepared to go to those lengths as its nearest enemies reportedly had superior chariots.

Of the remaining 7 tribes, the tribe of Simeon was carved out an own territory from the vast portion allocated to Judah and so was the only territory wholly enclosed in another. The tribe of Benjamin was given a tiny sliver of territory between Ephraim and Judah.

The territory included Jerusalem. Asher and Naphtali received the northernmost part of Canaan, with Zebulun and Issachar to their immediate south. Dans was next to Ephraims on the Mediterranean seaboard.

All in all, Judah and Manasseh had the largest portions whereas Dan, Benjamin, Zubulun, and Issachar had the smallest.

Then came the turn of the Levites, Israels virtual 13th tribe. Ishkur-Adad had long decreed that the Levites could not own land as they were a priestly tribe dedicated wholly to his service (they were even exempted from taking part in wars). That did not mean they would be homeless. They were to be allotted towns dedicated to them throughout the land both east and west of the Jordan River.

Levi had three sons, namely Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. When Joshua distributed the towns to the Levites, he allotted them on the basis of these three family units. Kohath received 23 towns, 13 of which went to the descendants of Aaron and 10 to the rest of the family. Gershon received 13 towns and Merari 12.

JOSHUA DEPARTS

After Israel was settled in the land under the leadership of Joshua, General, they enjoyed a period of about 25 years during which they lived the high life. It was land on which they had not laboured, in cities which they had not built: in here, they ate of vineyards and olive groves which they did not plant. It was truly a land flowing with milk and honey.

As Joshua brought his leadership to a close due to old age, he assembled all the tribes of Israel, as represented by their leaders, at Shechem for a final reminder of their covenant relationship with Ishkur-Adad, much as Moses had done too in his waning days.

It is significant that Joshua chose to hold the solemn assembly at Shechem and not at Shiloh, where Adads sanctuary now stood. Shechem was a natural choice in that it was here Abraham received the first promise from the Anunnaki god Nannar-Sin, Adads older brother, after his migration into Canaan and built an altar. Jacob had also settled at Shechem on his return from his uncle in Haran.

Joshua, General, was 110 years old when he finally passed on. This was circa 1290 BC by our reckoning. Shortly thereafter, Eleazer, who had succeeded Aaron as High Priest, passed on too. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a radically new one. The latter is known as the Era of the Judges.

NEXT WEEK: THE DAVID ERA BEGINS

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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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