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The Fast and the Furious 2020

 

“One of the greatest virtues of Islam is jihad for the sake of God. Ramadan is the month of jihad and battles, and most Muslim battles took place during the blessed month. This is your season, o people of jihad. Jihad during fasting month of Ramadan has a great taste— for what better way to breakfast than to kill infidels and relish the sound of weeping of the despicable tyrants and infidels.”  -Saudi-based terrorist magazine, al-Jihad

“Ramadan provides Muslims with the chance to develop a deepening tolerance and mutual understanding including with those who have different backgrounds and may be unfamiliar with the Islamic traditions.”  -Yohanes Kristiarto S. Legowo, Ambassador of Indonesia and Chairman of Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

“During the holy month, Satan and his devils are locked away in hell, so any sin a person commits is his fault alone and can’t be blamed on demonic influence.” Tariq Butt

(Day 44 of the federal guidelines for social distancing)

The fast of Ramadan 2020 started this past week. It began on the evening of April 23rd. Over  the next 25 days, Muslims around the world will fast from sunup till sundown, with Ramadan ending on the 23rd of May. (The start of Ramadan varies by locality based on the sighting of the new moon by religious authorities.) The ninth and most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan marks the first revelation of the Qur’an to the prophet, Muhammad and is a time of increased spiritual reflection and devotion.

Adherents traditionally abstain from food and drink during daylight hours throughout the month, from the first light of dawn until sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, meaning it is among the core rituals of the faith. For some Muslims, Ramadan is a month of deep spiritual reflection; for others, it is ignored. For most I have met, it is a time of relentless guilt for snacking when no one is looking while practicing a superficial piety in public.

Ramadan has increasingly become not only a month of pious celebration of charity and prayer through acts of generosity and self-discipline, but also has become one of the bloodiest months of the year throughout the Islamic world and across the entire globe. Discovering why and what we can watch out for during this next 30 day season is extremely important.

Review.

In 2019, there were 2874 violent deaths and 1717 violently wounded in the Islamic world during the month of Ramadan. Over the past decade, violent death caused by Islamic jihadists has averaged about 21,000 world-wide each year. There is an average increase, (accounting for variables) of violent deaths of about 25% during the month of Ramadan each year. Already, in 2020 there have been 444 violent jihadist related deaths, which puts the world on track for a 30% increase over the monthly average in 2020. 

Ramadan is as important to Muslims as Christmas is to most Christians. Many Christians miss the true meaning of their Christmas and Easter celebrations. The same is true among Muslims concerning Ramadan. It is perceived among many Muslims as a time of year that should bring great joy and renewed religious fervor. Instead, for many, it brings with it a lot of stress and anxiety. Muslims consider Ramadan to be the month that the word of God (the Qur’an) first descended into the world through the revelation to Muhammad, whereas Christmas is the time when the Word of God (Jesus) came into the world through the virgin birth.

I wrote about this type of violence in 2018 in an article entitled, “The Fast and the Furious” and again in 2019 in another article, “The Fast and the Furious: Redux.”  In addressing this subject again, I do not intend to bash the Muslim world, but simply to point to the reality that living in and traveling through major parts of the world carries with it certain risks which are at an elevated level during Ramadan. These levels are not seen at other times of the year. If you are interested in validating the data I am using you can go to the Global Terrorism Index and peruse the 100 pages of information. It is free at:    http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/11/GTI-2019web.pdf

The word, “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word meaning intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink. Ramadan is considered the holiest season in the Islamic year and commemorates the time when the Qu’ran (Islamic holy book) is said to have been revealed to the prophet, Muhammad. This occurred on Laylat Al-Qadr, one of the last ten nights of the month.  Ramadan ends when the first crescent of the new moon is sighted again, marking the new lunar month’s start. Eid-al-Fitr is the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

So why then would Ramadan become the month where an increase in jihadist violence could understandably be considered a hallmark of this holiday?  Many Muslim scholars would lead us to believe that those who commit acts of violence during Ramadan, or at any other time of the year are simply a small few who miss the meaning of Islam altogether. Many liberal scholars would have us believe the same, that this phenomenon entails merely a small fraction of the Islamic community. “All Muslims do not think this way; millions are content to live in peace, celebrating their holidays in their own sorts of ways, eschewing radical forms of Islam, while at the same time trying to manage the requirements of fasting as best they can.” But what they discount, misses the millions of Muslims who fall into the more radicalized category.

These are not a few misled radicals. There are hundreds of millions who see violence in Islam as a devotional piece of Qur’anic jihad. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and even Indonesia are increasingly returning to ancient Qur’anic teachings that justify the violent acts against both infidels and apostates. I would propose to you that violent killings during Ramadan are not isolated events; rather, they are becoming more the norm.

Violent death during Ramadan is not an unstudied field. Data is highly contested and conclusions vary as widely as the data that is analyzed. Here is an example of how scientists, Campante and Yanagizawa-Drott attempted to explain that proposed determinants of terrorism might be affected by the number of hours that Muslims were required to fast. 

“Our main specification is: 

Where Terrorequation.pdf is a terror outcome in district i of country c in Ramadan year t, e.g., the occurrence of at least one terrorist event. αi and βct represent the region and country-Ramadan year fixed effects mentioned above. RDHequation_1.pdf measures the average Ramadan daylight hours in region i of country c in Ramadan year t. 1equation_2.pdf{c G} represents indicator variables for the three mutually exclusive country groups G = 1,2,3, which we stratify by the Muslim population share using thresholds of 25% and 75%. The indicator function 1equation_3.pdf{c ∈ G} is equal to one if country c is part of group G, and zero otherwise. The parameters of interest are γ1, γ2, and γ3.”

I was intrigued by their discussion, until I began to unpack what their variable determinants were. Their conclusion was that Ramadan has no determinant effect on violent killings during Ramadan. As I was saying, they almost had me with their really intellectual looking argument, but then the more than meets the eye reality reared its ugly head.

They began to discuss all the variables which they tossed out because they didn’t seem to have any bearing, thus decreasing significantly their data-pool for consideration. It is here where so much science loses its veracity. They come to pre-conceived conclusions with eloquent arguments, mathematical formulations, and lots of rhetoric. Nobody challenges them because they feel inferior. Here are the variables they threw out of their model.

The primary variable that is called into question is that they assume an almost 100% participation in Ramadan fasting. I know from personal experience, many discussions with Muslims, as well as from examining several empirical studies, that fasting by individuals within Islam is done faithfully by perhaps a significantly smaller percentage of the population than people are willing to admit. This is a very difficult statistic to validate because it would be most shameful for a Muslim to admit in any way, shape or form that they did not fast during Ramadan.

Here are a few thoughts that might lend itself to concluding that not everyone is fasting during Ramadan.

  1. Approximately two thirds of people queried in a Saudi Arabian survey (59.5%) reported weight gain after Ramadan; not a normal occurrence when one is fasting.
  2. Approximately 79.5% reported their food expenditures increased during the month of Ramadan.
  3. Though I am finding few Google searches where people admit that they do not fast during Ramadan, I read on many of the chat sights, the anonymous admissions of many Muslims who say they do not fast at all. 

The cultural phenomenon called  “shame-honor” will prohibit most from ever talking about the possibility of not fasting during Ramadan. It would bring embarrassment (read: dishonor) to themselves, their families and their communities. This would be reason enough to believe that the number of Muslims who fast during Ramadan is not even close to one hundred percent.

Why.

As I began this article, I articulated that my goal here is not to disregard the centuries-long practice of Ramadan fasting. My point has simply been to discover how Ramadan, like many other religious practices, has diminished in importance, and that there are current attempts to restore the glory of Islam, and one of those is by adhering, to the tee, the teachings of the Qur’an. An historic teaching of Islam is that infidels and apostates are to be punished during Ramadan for their disregard of this sacred practice and that violence is not out of the question to right that wrong.

Here are several thoughts about non-Muslims and Ramadan. It is best not to eat and drink during daylight hours in front of fasting Muslims. It is the courteous thing to do. Eat and drink in private during Ramadan. This would be in your best interest since there are some governments who will fine or arrest you for disregarding Islamic traditions. What you may find, however, is that many of your Muslim friends will be happy to have a snack with you during daylight hours. Their understanding of Ramadan is probably changing with the immigration of many Muslims to the West.

Action.

If you plan to travel during the month of Ramadan you might want to consider staying in Western chain hotels, as you will be more likely to receive a meal there during daylight hours, rather than in a local establishment. Even then, the windows will probably be blacked out which will afford you a dining area with some privacy.

Also, if you travel, you might want to be hyper-situationally aware of the environment around you. There is an increase in violence in some parts of the world during the month-long celebration of Ramadan. One of my colleagues has suggested that because the blood-sugar levels of many Muslims drop during fasting, that they will be more likely to commit violent acts.

Accept an invitation to a Muslim’s home for Iftar (breaking the fast each evening.) The meal will most likely be later in the evening after the sun has gone down. It will usually be a sumptuous meal starting with dates and an appetizer of some kind. The meal will probably involve lots of meat and mountains of rice. This is a good time to discuss spiritual things with your Muslim friends.

The follow-up.

In North Korea, Kim’s Rumored Ill-Health Renews Succession Fears…

https://www.stratfor.com/article/north-korea-kims-rumored-ill-health-renews-succession-fears-political-transition-pyongyang

Profile of a Private Sector Intelligence Analyst… https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/afghanistan/profile-of-a-private-sector-intelligence-analyst

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:  david@morethanmeets.co

Resources.

https://www.morethanmeets.co/the-weekly/the-fast-and-the-furious/

The Fast And The Furious…Redux

www.pewforum.org/Muslim/the-worlds-muslims-unity-and-diversity-2-religious-commitment.aspx#pillars

https://ourworldindata.org/terrorism

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.09869.pdf

http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/11/GTI-2019web.pdf

Ramadan

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170249/

https://thegreatestmonth.com/2010/08/08/the-punishment-for-not-fasting-during-ramadan-without-a-valid-excuse/

© 2019 • More Than Meets