Ramadan: The Insurgent View
Ramadan has started and, with it, a noticeable up-tick in insurgent activity. INT is telling us of suicide bomber teams crossing from Pakistan in increased numbers, and ambushes on our convoys have increased along the usual bad spots (Hawz-e Madad – Zheray, Qalay-e Now). Insurgent assassination teams are roaming Kandahar City looking for opportunities to take out provincial officials and any other high-value target that lets his guard down. All of this, reportedly, being the insurgents’ way to mark the advent of Ramadan. This got me thinking.
Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance in refraining from evil, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.
I’m sure that a few billion Muslims around the world follow the precepts of Ramadan for peaceful and spiritual purposes – certainly my Muslim friends and colleagues do. However, it is telling that Islamists – such as the Taliban – have twisted Ramadan, like so many other aspects of the Muslim faith, to their own radical, political ends – to wit, an end to pluralism and the rights of man and the establishment of a backwards-looking theocratic Caliphate. From where I sit, I agree with the likes of Ed Husain who, in ‘The Islamist’, points to the disconnect between Islam and its spirituality and Islamists and their politicisation of a faith not intended as a political manifesto.
Marking a holy month with death and terror? Salah ad-Din – one of my ‘historic heroes’ – a strict Sunni and an enlightened, educated and chivalrous man, would, I believe, reject such breathtaking hypocrisy.