“You Weren’t Anyone’s Friend.” – Dominic Toretto, Fast and Furious
“If you injure your neighbor, better not do it by halves.” George Bernard Shaw
“Teach self-denial and make its practice pleasure, and you can create for the world a destiny more sublime than ever issued from the brain of the wildest dreamer.” Sir Walter Scott
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Aristotle
This week’s edition of More than Meets the Eye is our annual look at the month-long violence spate that takes place each year during Ramadan–the Muslim celebration of fasting. My goal, as in previous years, is not to belittle or disrespect Muslims for this global escalation of violence, but to take a sober look at a season in the life of a religious persuasion and ask the pressing question, “is this contributing to the positive development of over 1.6 billion people, or has it turned into a season of negative influence, often ending in acts of brutal violence against both themselves and followers of other religions?”
All Muslims say they celebrate the fast of Ramadan, but my very knowledgeable sources say that, though most Muslims claim that they fast according to the Qur’anic teaching, more than 70% actually cheat by snacking during fasting hours. Furthermore, my sources believe that 20-30% don’t really attempt to fast at all and will find a host of excuses to keep from fasting.
I want to start this review with what may appear to be a random presentation of some facts regarding ways that people seek to escape the requirements of the Fast of Ramadan. You will see why it is important as we move along. Increasingly, there is a certain sophistication to the ways that people are getting around following the requirements of the fast, particularly the young. In the Bible we are taught that the spirit gives life, but the law kills. This may have some bearing on our understanding of the violence that occurs when people are saddled with heavy weights that do not seem to add to life, but detract from it!
What are some excuses/reasons that Muslims do not fast?
It’s a serious religious experience that comes with its own set of traditions and rituals, but not every Muslim participates. Why? Reasoning varies. According to Islamic tradition, women are exempt when menstruating, pregnant, or breastfeeding. Anyone with health issues that requires a daily dose of medicine is exempt too.
As society dictates, as long as those who don’t fast present a well-known Islamically-justifiable excuse, shame and exclusion won’t follow. Any of the below, and you can expect the opposite. Here are 8 of the top excuses that Muslim youth use to justify their not following the fast. The number of Muslims who cheat on the fast is exceedingly high. I would guess that the numbers would be consistent with how other religious practices in other world religions, including Christianity, would be practiced.
“Fasting is not good for your health”
“I don’t pray so I won’t fast”
“I have an (non-existent) iron deficiency”
“I have exams”
“I need to take my vitamins”
“It’s too hot I don’t want to lose too much water”
“What’s the point in fasting if I’m just going to break my fast alone”
“My job is so demanding”
Reasons – The above are 8 top excuses for not fasting. What would be some genuine sanctioned reasons for not fasting?
THE FIRST CATEGORY OF VALID EXEMPTION: ILLNESS
Illness is any condition that takes a person outside the bounds of health as the result of some indisposition. Ibn Qudamah (d. 1223ce) said: “There is consensus among the scholars regarding the permissibility of breaking the fast due to illness in general, as stated in the verse of the Quran: Yet if one among you is sick or is on a journey, [such a person shall then fast] the same number of other days (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:185).
- THE UNABLE:One who cannot fast because of a valid fear of an illness or debilitating weakness that fasting will likely cause. In this case, one must break one’s fast. It is an obligation to do so.
- THE ABLE WITH HARDSHIP:Fasting imposes a great hardship on this person. Such a one must fast, unless it is legitimately determined that the fast is very likely to result in physical harm.
- THE ABLE WITH HARDSHIP AND FEAR OF ILLNESS: One who is able to fast, but with great hardship, who fears that fasting will exacerbate his or her sickness. Such a person is justified in breaking fast. According to one opinion, this person “must” break the fast. According to another, he or she “should” break the fast.
- THE ABLE WITH DIFFICULTY: One for whom fasting creates great difficulty but to whom it does not present any genuine physical danger. This individual is obligated to complete his or her fast.
THE SECOND CATEGORY OF VALID EXEMPTION: TRAVEL
- TRAVEL DEFINED AND DELIMITED
The kind of travel that allows one to break one’s fast must fulfill at least three conditions, and a fourth, according to all but the Hanafi juristic school:
- DISTANCE: Enough for one to shorten the ritual prayer (about 50 miles, according to most scholars).
- DURATION: The person in the state of travel or far from home does not have the intention of staying at that destination for more than three days.
- EXCEEDANCE: One must go beyond the limits of the city or town one is staying in. This means if one were to travel 50 miles but still be within his metropolitan or town area, it would not count as travel.
- INTENTIONALITY: According to the majority of scholars, the person undertaking the journey must not be making it for unlawful reasons or to unlawful destinations, like a gambling trip to Las Vegas.
2. THE ELEMENT OF “TIME OF DAY” AND TRAVEL
The time of day when one begins traveling affects the permissibility of fast breaking during Ramadan. Jurists identify three time-oriented situations, and append to this discussion a fourth occurrence regarding the breastfeeding or pregnant woman:
- THE PRE-DAWN TRAVELER: A traveler who begins his or her travel in Ramadan before fajr (dawn), who has intended to travel at that time and to break his or her fast in so doing, has the consensus of jurists that he or she can break fast. The rationale is that such a one is already in a state of travel when the cause for the obligation of fasting — namely, the onset of dawn — begins.
- THE POST-DAWN TRAVELER: A traveler who begins his or her travel after fajr (dawn) — according to the majority of jurists — is disallowed from breaking fast, since such a one has already begun an obligatory fast in a state of being settled, or resident. Ahmad ibn Hanbal dissents from this position and holds that once travel begins one is permitted to break fast, as travel, unrestricted by time, is itself the cause for the allowance of fast breaking.
- Breast-feeding Women- The jurists agree that a breastfeeding or pregnant woman is allowed to break fast if she believes that fasting will cause harm to her or her baby.
I just wanted to highlight for you that fasting during Ramadan is a highly regulated and controlled affair. I also wrote about this aspect of Ramadan to emphasize that there are many different interpretations of what Ramadan fasting should look like. It is an evolving matter as well. New generations are starting to reinterpret the Fast in ways keeping with modernistic trends. So when it comes to committing acts of violence during Ramadan there is much to be said due to this evolving process.
What is the reality of violence in the Muslim world?
This is an interesting subject for global security specialists. When we start looking at increased acts of violence during Ramadan, it can not be missed that 9 of the top 10 most violent countries in the world are Muslim-dominated countries. Russia alone ranks in the top 10 that is not considered a muslim majority nation.
Let me reiterate the point of this discussion. It is not to prove that Muslims are more violent than anyone else. My thesis is that there is a notable increase in acts of violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The question I will address this year that I have not addressed in previous years is: “What is the source of this increase of violence?” What I am discovering is that the increase of violence in not due to the general increase of violence among the mainstream population, but instead it is an increase in attacks carried out by Islamist Jihadist terrorists. We will take a look at general trends, then I will analyze these trends and posit some conclusions.
A brief look at the data reveals the following global trends in terrorism: First, terrorist events are observed with higher frequency since the September 11 attacks. Second, Islamist perpetrators are mainly responsible for this increase. And third, civilians in predominantly Muslim countries are mainly suffering from this increase. These trends call for research aimed at understanding terrorism in these countries. I want to once again define terrorism for us, this time according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI)… The GTI defines a terrorist attack as the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non‐state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation. This is why not every mass killing is an act of terrorism. This phrase is key… to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.
Shortly before the start of the 2016 Ramadan, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declared, “Make Ramadan, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.”
Speaking on the first day of Ramadan, April 1, 2022, Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Supreme Sharia Judge of the Palestinian Authority, extolled the jihads waged by the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, during Ramadan:
How was this month [of Ramadan] in the life of Prophet [Muhammad]? …Did the Prophet spend Ramadan in calmness, serenity, laziness, and sleepiness? Far be it from him… The Prophet entered the great Battle of Badr  during Ramadan… Also in the month of Ramadan, in the 8th year of the Hijra [629-630], the Prophet and the Muslims conquered Mecca… Ramadan is … a month of Jihad, conquest, and victory.
Ramadan Violent trends over the past few years: Each of these are numbers for violent acts consistent with GTI’s definition of a terrorist act. They were meant to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation
2022… 3040 dead, 2458 wounded
2021… 3724 dead, 2776 wounded
2020… “The month of Ramadan is a month of holy war and death for Allah. It is a month for fighting the enemies of Allah and God’s messenger, the Jews and their American facilitators.” — Qaedat al-Jihad
2020- 3620 dead, 1670 wounded, 2020 LOGS 30% MORE JIHADIST ATTACKS THAN 2019 DESPITE CORONAVIRUS
2019… 2874 dead, 1717 wounded
2018… 3931 dead, 1556 wounded
It should be noted that the data, which is imprecise, politically charged, and often unverifiable, comes from human rights organizations, academic studies, the U.N. and from groups representing the victims. They are un-scientifically compiled and analyzed data, but they represent the mainstream of what is happening. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is a comprehensive study analyzing the impact of terrorism for 163 countries covering 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.
It is fascinating to note what the primary narrative is among the average person in Muslim majority lands. “The prevailing narrative in the region remains the faithful are waging war against crusaders, but that is not the reality.” P.J. Crowley, a former spokesman for ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now a professor at George Washington University.
What is the narrative? I think that we will find that ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s narrative is closer to truth than any other. “Make Ramadan, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.” What his statement does not account for is the reality that over 90% of the deaths that are taking place in these Muslim majority nations are not among what most would consider infidels, but among the unsuspecting Muslim civil community. This has the very strong possibility of backfiring soon on the Islamist elite.
There is so much ignorance displayed by the average Westerner concerning their understanding of Islamic values, motivations, and history. Most of us think we know what’s what regarding the Muslim world. Most tend to view Islamic worldview matters on one end or the other of the spectrum of thought. I suppose this is not that much different from how, in an increasingly polarized society, people are finding themselves at one end or the other. People tend to rate themselves far more centrist than their voting records and actions reveal. I make this point because people also seem to give themselves credit for knowledge that they simply do not have because they are experts at applying heuristics to their knowledge base, walking away as if they just finished a PhD on a subject when all they did is read somebody’s tweet.
I apologize if I appear to be less than gracious on this. It is really a thing! I am going to keep doing the hard stuff and even get better at not just offering my humble uneducated opinion on these topics. I am committing to you to do the research and to provide you with an educated analysis as much as I can.
I want the readers of More than Meets the Eye to do a better job at verifying what I am writing each week. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.” I know people are so busy, but these matters we are dealing with each week are enormous and have the potential to impact our world in significant ways.
Be careful how you apply judgment on others. It is easy to jump to conclusions. Resist the temptation to develop opinions that are ill-informed. Make as many excuses for others as you are willing to make for yourself.
ISIS Redux: The Central Syria Insurgency in April 2022…https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/isis-redux-central-syria-insurgency-april-2022
RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 2… https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-2
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: email@example.com
Religion and Terrorism: Evidence from Ramadan Fasting… https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.09869.pdf
Intimate partner violence among Arab women before and during the COVID-19 lockdown… https://jepha.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s42506-021-00077-y