Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Ramadan may be a month of fasting and prayer, but it is also a month of terror and violence.
Ramadan is the most important month in the Muslim calendar. The Qu'ran descended from the heavens on the night called Laylat-al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) towards the end of the month of Ramadan and according to the Qu'ran, that night is "better than a thousand months." The entire month is intended to be a time for drawing closer to Allah, repenting from sin, and refraining from partaking in earthly pleasures such as eating, drinking and smoking.It is a time for acts of kindness, for helping the poor, visiting relatives and improving inter-personal relationships.
Eating is forbidden from before dawn on the first day of the month of Ramadan, which in Israel is at about 4 a.m. The sixteen-hour fast continues until nightfall, ending at about 8 p.m. In other parts of the globe, the fast's duration can be longer or shorter. This year, Ramadan falls during the summer in the northern hemisphere and it doesn't take much imagination to understand the significance of fasting, and even more of not drinking, in the deserts of LIbya, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia - in fact, in the entire Middle East. It's hard to get through one day of the fast, let alone 29 or 30 consecutive days. In Brussels, for example, the fast lasts about 19 hours, from 3 a.m. until 10 p.m. At least, however, the weather in Brussels is more pleasant than it is in Libya - as is the general atmosphere.
Drawing closer to Allah during Ramadan means a longer prayer service, adding night prayers, spending hours in the mosque, listening to live and recorded sermons, extra careful observance of Islamic commandments and avoidance of sin. This heightened religious sensitivity is also felt towards those who are seen as a problem to Islam: throughout Islamic history, rulers saw the Ramadan period as a time of threat to the stability of their regimes, especially if their Islamic legitimacy was shaky because of the way they rose to power (murdering their predecessor, for example), their behavior questionable (liquor and morality), and their rule oppressive.
In the days of the Ottoman Empire, it was customary to begin and end the fast by firing a cannon, arms being under the control of the local ruler. The cannon had a double message: fixing the beginning and end of the fast, and reminding the public of just who is in charge and what can happen to anyone who tries to disturb the regime's stability and its citizens' tranquillity.
Ramadan has always been the month of Islamic glory, celebrating the fact that a large number of battles that took place during the holy month ended in Islamic victories. These victories were believed to be the reward granted by Allah to the Islamic nation for its careful observance of the fast. It is important to note in this context that a Jihadist fighter is free of the obligation to fast if it interferes with his ability to fight and is allowed to make up the fast days after Ramadan. The Yom Kippur War, seen in the Muslim world as a great victory over Israel, took place during Ramadan.
We are in the midst of this period of heightened collective religious consciousn
ess, and the atmosphere, suffused with religious fervor, affects what is going on in the Islamic world. There has been an increase in "successful" operations by Islamic Jihad against its enemies: in Judea and Samaria there is a marked rise in the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis, civilians and security personnel, and a great deal of incitement against Israel, even worse than usual, in the Arab media.
Islamic State is escalating its actions against its perceived enemies; at the beginning of Ramadan, it showed a horrifying movie in which it portrayed unusually cruel ways of murdering people: drowning them in a metal cage, blowing people up by tying explosives to their necks, firing a missile at a vehicle filled with prisoners who had been sentenced to death. And for the first time, Islamic State beheaded two women.
Islamic State attacks were carefully planned to take place at four sites in different countries: On Friday, June 26, the organization succeeded in carrying out serious terror attacks in France, Tunisia, Kuwait and Somalia, with a total of close to seventy victims - including one beheading in France. In Syria, fighting intensified in four areas during Ramadan: in the south, in the Qalamoun mountains, in the Aleppo-Idlib region and in Kurdish territory, with the Salafist organizations chalking up impressive successes. Hezbollah, fighting the very same organization in the Qalamoun mountains, also claims victories as a result of Ramadan.
The Egyptian Prosecutor-General was assassinated by unknown assailants during this Ramadan, shocking the entire Egyptian nation, because the courts were always almost the only entity that most of the population held in esteem and considered objective. Lately, the judiciary has become the victim of the massive struggle between Islamic loyalists and a regime that is trying to push them back into line. There are those who claim that the judiciary has become a rubber stamp for President al-Sisi, especially when it sentenced the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, as well as former President Muhammed Morsi and Comptroller Muhammed Badia. Just a few hours after the verdict was announced, this past May, the Prosecutor-General was eliminated and three justices murdered in the Sinai.
Islamic State gave out a placard in Jerusalem entitled "The Word of al-Maqdis" (the name for Jerusalem in Islamic sources), that warns all Christians to leave the city by the end of Ramadan, or risk being slaughtered like sheep. The placard asks Muslim sympathizers to hand over lists of Christians and their addresses to Islamic State members so as to make the task of finding and killing them easier.
While on the subject of Islamic State, it should be understood that this state does not hide its intentions to conquer and subjugate the entire world under Islam. It has minted coins, on one side of which is a map of the world, in order to make its plans perfectly clear.
A Warning to the World
At this point, we must examine the situation without taking Ramadan into account. What has been happening over the last few years is a massive escalation of the Shiite-Sunni conflict, its roots in the struggle for the Caliphate that began the moment Islam's Prophet Muhammed died in 632 A.D. The fighting in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other places, has a distinctly ethnic character, and modern technology and weapons have turned it into a steadily widening bloodbath.
Shiite Iran and the West are currently working on an agreement, one which will no doubt benefit Iran economically, and will energize Iran's efforts to achieve regional hegemony, control over the gas and oil treasures in the Gulf, export terror worldwide and spread Shiite Islam wherever there are Sunni Muslims - in addition to the ability it will retain to continue to develop nuclear weapons. The Ayatollahs, by the way, also do not hide their plans to control the globe.
This agreement will strengthen Shiite Islam and infuriate the Sunnis, who will lash out at anyone who supported it, especially the American government. This agreement and its boost to Shiite plans for worldwide Islamic hegemony, will cause many Sunnis to conclude that the US is interfering in internal Islamic matters on the side of the Shiites - which not a few Sunnis consider heresy - thereby weakening the Sunnis. The American government may be considered a de facto anti-Sunni regime, since it also took out Bin Laden and did nothing to stop Assad after he murdered thousands of Sunni Muslims with poison gas. This may lead Sunni Muslims to desire to take revenge on the US and the road from there to actual terrorist attacks against America and the rest of the world powers who took part in the negotiations with Iran, is a short one. The signing of the agreement was originally planned for Ramadan, which ends on July 16. If that does indeed occur, the Sunni revenge may begin as early as the next day, the start of the Id al-Fitr holiday - a gift to the Islamic Sunnis to make up for the agreement signed with Shiites.
Two of the terrorist attacks perpetrated on Friday, June 26, were against citizens of states taking part in the negotiations: France and Britain. Most of those murdered in Tunisia were British tourists. Has anyone realized the link between terrorist acts by Islamic State and the Iran negotiation partners?
The Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University.
He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse,
Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena.