SHAFAQNA – Tarek’s brow wrinkled, his eyes sorrowful, mouth twisted, as he asked, “How can these people kill Muslims during Ramadan? Ramadan is supposed to be peaceful.”
Tarek, an Egyptian builder and handyman long resident in Cyprus, simply could not comprehend why people claiming to be Muslims could explode bombs in the centre of Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of innocent people.
He was particularly upset that the weekend bombings, the most deadly carried out by Daesh in Baghdad, took place as families were in the streets preparing for the feast that ends the fasting month of Ramadan. His words were also on the lips of other Sunnis, shocked and ashamed that Muslims could perpetrate such a massacre.
Period of truce
Tarek argued Ramadan is not only a time for Muslims to fast during the day but is also a period of truce and settling of differences. The Ramadan fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is particularly holy for Muslims because it commemorates the initial revelations of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are expected to engage in spiritual reflection and to study the teachings of Islam.
According to the Koran, “Fighting in [Ramadan] is a grave sin” (Chapter II, verse 217). Consequently, mounting prohibited attacks that kill the elderly, women and children, who are meant to be protected, is considered especially odious during Ramadan.
Arab rulers have for centuries fought wars during Ramadan, claiming self-defence, but Islamic State, which says it represents “true” Islam, cannot put forward this argument because Shia, Sunni and Christian civilians killed in Baghdad, Istanbul and Dhaka in recent days are recognised as believers by Islam. Daesh, primed by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi puritan, fiercely anti-Shia ideology, threatens, wounds and kills them.
In addition to committing violence against vulnerable civilians during Ramadan, Islamic State has conducted an offensive campaign in flagrant violation of the Koranic injunction, “Fight in the cause of God, but do not commit aggression: God loves not the aggressors” (Chapter II, verse 190).
Like opportunists in other faiths, Daesh ideologues, leaders and military commanders interpret the Muslim holy book as they see fit and pick and chose Koranic verses they want to uphold. The most inconvenient verse for them is, “There is no compulsion in religion,” (Chapter II, verse 256).
The terrorist group’s treatment of residents of cities, towns and villages it has occupied involves nothing but compulsion in both religion and social behaviour raised to the level of religious observance.
Men are compelled to grow beards, attend prayers five times daily and fast during Ramadan. Women and girls are compelled to cover from head to toe and remain sequestered at home unless accompanied on brief forays by a male relative.
Boys are compelled to imbibe religious instruction, take part in military training, and, on occasion, carry out executions and suicide bombings.
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