Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” ~ [Quran, 2: 183]
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” – Saheeh Al-Bukhari. (Hadith)
“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down as a pure source of Guidance for mankind. in it are clear teachings showing the right way and the criterion for judging truth and falsehood.” Qur’an 2:185
“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
As we’ve touched on before, I’d like to address the interesting, yet confusing phenomenon of the increase in violence during the Islamic annual practice of Ramadan. This phenomenon actually has a consistent pattern. Let’s look at it from a global security standpoint, not simply from a religious one. My goal is not to attack the Islamic annual practice of Ramadan, as for many, it represents a season of healing and renewal.
There may or may not be connections between the matter of violence during the month of Ramadan, (the significant and important devotional practice in Islam) and the fact that there is a significant up-tick statistically, of violent acts in the Islamic world during this season.
You can read my article from around this time last year, “The Fast and Furious 2020” to determine for yourself if you see any patterns. There is much more than meets the eye regarding this subject. I will attempt to treat it, as a subject, fairly, citing my research and trying to allow current events and research to speak for itself.
From where does this violence manifest itself? What kind of violence increases during the month of Ramadan? Is it systemic, or is it random? Is it terrorist violence or domestic interpersonal violence? That is what I hope to explore in this week’s edition of “More than Meets the Eye.”
The Fast of Ramadan 2021 started on the 13th of April this year, and will continue until the 13th of May. Over the next 15 days, Muslims around the world will fast from sunup till sundown. (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. It involves a time of fasting, as well as increased spiritual reflection and devotion. Ramadan is not only a time when one abstains from food and drink during daylight hours, but one in which swearing, sexual relations, gossiping, being selfish or disrespectful, and listening to music are all forbidden.
For many, the month of Ramadan is a time of reflection and spiritual renewal. For many others, Ramadan is a season of personal guilt and shame because of their lack of ability to follow through with the fasting, which lasts from sunup to sundown, along with their lack of training and experience with the compulsory prayers of the Islamic faith. Still for others, Ramadan represents a season of annoyance. I have met many who have voiced this reality. They have a difficult time believing that Allah would be so unmerciful as to not understand the occasional, or not so occasional mis-step of eating during daylight hours, during the month of Ramadan. “Surely, this cannot be that big of a deal,
everybody does it.” I have heard this disclaimer from many Muslim friends.
I want to basically explore two kinds of violence which seem to be rising during the month of Ramadan each year. In addition to the sources I will cite, I have the privilege of having several friends who are former Imams, as well as Islamic scholars in their own right. There is a consistent concurrence that, indeed there is a rise in violence during the month of Ramadan.
As an aside… Here are a few important things to know. There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. While Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.
Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.
Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority-Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.
Most of the information I have on interpersonal and domestic violence during Ramadan is anecdotal. I want to tell you that up front, but my sources are pretty solid, and have informed me that domestic violence is definitely on the increase during Ramadan. There is not much written about this, as it is so common place within the Islamic world. I know that I leave myself open to accusations of Islamophobia through my discussion here, but I think that having an open discussion of this nature is a good thing, and that this is a hidden secret within Islam that needs to be brought out into the light, not to condemn, but to address the egregious violence committed against the vulnerable in societies.
I hear regularly during Ramadan that many men are especially grumpy, possibly due to low blood sugar, or perhaps because of the annoyance of having to wait until dark to eat. They live with the pressure of being under constant scrutiny of others. This irritability often demonstrates itself through domestic violence against women and children.
Systemic Violence by Terrorists
Sadly, while the vast majority of Muslims see Ramadan as a time for peace and spiritual renewal, there are also those who strive to make this holy month a time for unspeakable acts of violence. Indeed, the leaders of ISIS and Al-Qaeda have openly called for violence to commemorate Ramadan with military jihad and a battle against “disbelievers.”
Because the true motivation of all terrorists is difficult to observe, one cannot infer definitively from this study that a causal relationship exists between Ramadan and terrorism. And yet, the analysis of terrorist incidents indicates that extremist jihadist groups in general – and ISIS in particular – conducted more attacks during Ramadan. In addition, Muslim-majority countries experienced incidents of terrorism during Ramadan more frequently than throughout the rest of the year. Thus, although Ramadan remains a time for peace, charity, and reflection for the vast majority of Muslims, certain extremist groups have clearly seen Ramadan as a time for “all-out war.”
My intent for this edition of “More than Meets the Eye” is that it be only a cursory look at the elevation of violence during the month of Ramadan. This has been a consistent trend from studies which have been conducted over the past 35 years. It is a serious matter, and needs to be evaluated within the Islamic community, rather than ignored. It needs to be acknowledged, and cured, rather than denied and rejected, as being a real issue.
The world is increasingly becoming Muslim. According to the Pew Research Foundation, Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – have said they know little or nothing about Islam.
Though Muslims still make up small minorities within most of our countries, understanding them is imperative. As the Christian world-view has a meta-narrative, so do those who profess to be Muslims. Even the most secular of Muslims will hold to an Islamic meta-narrative, just as secular Christians hold to a meta-narrative. What is a meta-narrative? A meta-narrative is an overarching account, or interpretation of events and circumstances, that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs, and gives meaning to their experiences. It is important that we understand the meta-narratives of Muslims and how they fit within their understanding of reality. What I am saying is that Muslims believe as Christians do, that in the end their meta-narrative is true. They also believe that there will be an Islamic Caliph, and that he will rule the world under Shari’ah Islamic Law and that the Qur’an is true.
We need to be prepared to live in the world which will, in the next 30 years be dominated by Islam. This will happen, not because people are turning away from Christianity, but because Muslims are having children at a rate two and three times that of Christians. They see this reality as evidence of the superiority of their belief system. Muslims will surpass Christians as the largest religion in the world by 2050, simply by biological growth, little else.
We need to understand the world better. We need to understand our own history, world history, as well as current events. We need to become students of the cultures, which we know are coming to our shores. We need to engage them as real people and welcome them to this land.
Most of the Muslims coming to our countries are not Islamist extremists. It is important that we remember this. They are just regular people looking for a place where they can live out their lives and raise their families in peace. They are not actively trying to overthrow our culture or values. They are just doing what they know. What they know is Islam, and little else. From my experience, they are like many Christians I know, who know little about genuine Christianity and the Bible.
If we can help these modern immigrants understand that they are accepted and welcomed, they will seek to integrate what they know, into what they are becoming as US citizens. If they are held at arms length, and shunned to the margins of society, they will keep right on doing what they know, but without the benefits of integrating into their new homeland.
My challenge to you? Find an immigrant. Invite them into your home. Prepare a meal for them. Find out how you can help them. Welcome them. You might be surprised at how much we have in common with them, and how much they long to be accepted in their new home.
In Tigray, Sexual Violence Has Become a Weapon of War…https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/04/27/in-tigray-sexual-violence-has-become-a-weapon-of-war/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=32601&utm_term=Editors%20Picks%20OC&?tpcc=32601
Turkey and Armenia show no signs of reconciling… https://www.economist.com/europe/2021/04/27/turkey-and-armenia-show-no-signs-of-reconciling?utm_campaign=the-economist-today&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2021-04-27&utm_content=article-image-2&etear=nl_today_2
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org