Ramadan is a season for peace — not Jihad

The Islamic month of Ramadan is now upon us — a period of spirituality, compassion and forgiveness for Muslims around the world. This is a month where wars, conflicts, retributions and revenge are forbidden by the faith. Any call to raise funds for “jihad” or to promote hatred or violence is strictly prohibited. 

Ramadan culminates in the feast of Eid — a word that literally means “joy.” 

Ramadan has emerged as a period of potentially increased violence in Gaza. Getty Images

In the parallel universe of jihadi Islam and the jihadis’ ecosystem, Ramadan means optimal killings in order to attain the supremacy of political Islam and eliminate infidel opponents. If innocents from their own religion perish, it’s considered collateral damage and a price that must be paid to get to reach a higher goal. There is a long history of this madness. 

While watching post 9/11 Afghan jihad closely, for instance, we witnessed spikes in operations during the month of Ramadan for which preparations started weeks before. Same was true for Kashmiri jihadis active in the Indian parts of Kashmir. In fact, over the years, it was established that there were two fighting seasons for jihadis — the month of Ramadan and start of spring when the snow melts and logistics become easier. 

The month of Ramadan is also very significant for the Middle Eastern jihadi networks like ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas for compelling economic reasons. This is a month of giving and charity for all Muslims. The collection of Zakat (Islamic tax) and Fidya (charitable donations) reach their peak during these months. Saudi and other European and Western-based Islamic charities make a windfall during these months. But a large portion of this charity collected from Muslims around the world in the name of welfare ends up supporting jihadi causes. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his nation will take in refugees from Gaza. REUTERS

Since there is no single preferred destination for this vast charitable bounty, competition is stern. There are groups favoured by Saudis, Qataris and Iranian charities operating in the Middle East. For the Pakistan-run jihad machine, collection in Ramadan goes to groups operating in Afghanistan and Kashmir. 

Although this free flow of money and resources to jihadi groups has undergone a significant change owing to strict international monetary regulations, it has evolved and adapted

The continuous funding of Hamas and other Iranian proxies in the Middle East like Hezbollah, Houthis and Iraqi militias illustrate the ways in which this underground network balloons during Ramadan. 

Afghan Taliban soldiers, who often use the Ramadan period to collect funds for jihad. AFP via Getty Images

Then there is a sympathy factor in Ramadan from the global constituency of these terrorists. The rural and urban population that fall under the influence of these terrorist jihadi organisations become sympathetic and generous toward these jihadi groups, believing that supporting these groups and their causes is a way of pleasing Allah. 

Ramadan is a time when the ear of an ordinary Muslim is most receptive toward any propaganda wrapped up as teaching of Islam. An operation against a terrorist jihadi group from an opposing force — especially a non-Muslim one — is always viewed as an act of aggression in the month of Ramadan from supporters of jihadi networks.

Meanwhile in Canada, Ramadan is playing out in its own way this year. Some Muslims are asking all politicians not to visit mosques and congregations … “until they call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, demand restoration of funding for the UN’s aid agency and condemn what they call Israel’s ‘war crimes.’ ” 

The war in Gaza is a foreign policy issue and not a domestic or local political issue that could directly affect the Muslim community as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer. Canada has already called for a cease-fire and restoration of humanitarian aid to Gaza. What Canada has not done and rightly so is to call the Israeli counterattack a war crime or genocide. This war, after all, could come to an immediate end as soon as Hamas lays down its arms and returns the remaining hostages. 

Muslim laborers fast during Ramadan in Dubai. REUTERS

Mosques are supposed to be a place of congregation for Muslims of all color, creed and ethnicity. They do not discriminate between a Palestinian, Iranian, South Asian, Sudanese, Senegalese or Indonesian Muslim. Anyone can walk into any mosque and bow their head in front of the Almighty. This a place of refuge and respite — for believers and non-believers both. 

Raheel Raza and Mohammad Rizwan are members of The Council of Muslims Against Antisemitism

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