Ramadan should be a month of reconciliation, not conflict

American Herald Tribune | Harun Yahya: The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with clear signs containing guidance and discrimination. Any of you who are resident for the month should fast it. But any of you who are ill or on a journey should fast a number of other days. God desires ease for you; He does not desire difficulty for you. You should complete the number of days and proclaim God’s greatness for the guidance He has given you so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Surat al-Baqara, 185)

God has chosen the month of Ramadan as the month in which the Qur’an was revealed. The verses of the Qur’an sent down as guidance to the right path were first revealed during this month. Our Prophet’s call to humanity for peace and welfare began in the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month for all Muslims around the world. It has been welcomed with great joy for 1,400 years with all believers coming together in a spirit of brotherhood for iftar and suhoor.

However, the climate of love and friendship of Ramadan has been brought into disrepute in recent years. The fervor of worship and the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims has yielded to the dark world of terror. Rather than good deeds or the spirit of unity and peace, the month of Ramadan has become associated with terrorism and wholesale massacres of civilians.

Many radical organizations, particularly ISIS, called for an escalation of violence during Ramadan. One of the incidents of increasing violence took place on June 23, 2015 – only six days before Ramadan. Right after ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s message, violent suicide bombing attacks occurred at a Shia mosque in Kuwait and a tourist destination in Tunisia during the month of Ramadan, in which hundreds of civilians perished. In 2016 as well, terrorist attacks were carried out upon a similar call from Adnani. Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport was a target of those attacks. More than twenty people were killed in café attacks in Bangladesh. More than 300 Muslims were martyred when a suicide truck bomb hit the city center of Baghdad. In the last days of Ramadan, three Saudi cities, including Medina, were attacked by terrorists.

Ramadan 2017, on the other hand, has been far more violent compared to the previous ones. In 106 attacks taking place in the first 20 days, 1,152 people were killed. Among these attacks were the Manchester concert attack, attacks against Christians in Egypt, the twin truck attacks in Baghdad, and the suicide truck bombing in Afghanistan. The recent attacks which took place in the Philippines and Iran show that terrorism has now become widespread. Moreover, the recent London attack took place merely a few hours before the UK elections. These massive terrorist attacks were followed by other small-scale attacks all around the world.

Although it was believed that ISIS would be ended in 2017, terrorism still rages on with ever-increasing intensity. The international coalition forces have laid siege to the ISIS headquarters both in Mosul and Raqqa. Both cities are under heavy bombardment. According to media reports, the terrorists have not been given a moment of respite. However, the recent events have largely belied these reports, proving that terrorism cannot be defeated via military measures.

As long as the ideology underlying terrorism remains unchallenged, radicalism and terrorism will continue its growth and spread with each passing day, making the world even more dangerous for the seven billion people. Now, it is time to face the reality that the counter-terrorism forces are on the wrong track. It is impossible to obtain persistent results with the use of weapons of mass destruction, such as the “mother of all bombs” as it has been vaingloriously called by some. Such bigotry is driving the world to an irreversible point of despair.

It should not be forgotten that bigotry perpetuates terrorism; such narrow-mindedness may even exploit the holiness of Ramadan to fuel terrorism. The radical terrorist organizations that make arbitrary modifications to religion persistently imbue their followers with the lie that attacks carried out in this period are more valuable. Furthermore, they increase the damage they do by changing their methods of attack.

Bombs, suicide vests or heavy machine guns are no longer needed to carry out a terrorist attack; a hierarchical chain of command is not necessary either. Someone behind the wheel of a delivery truck can simply run over scores, or someone with a kitchen knife can barge into a café and stab people. It is impossible to cope with such violence through conventional methods of fighting crime and terrorism. The police forces were following the terrorists who carried out the London attacks, but even the intelligence they had could not prevent the massacres.  It is impossible to win the war against terrorism without fighting the bigoted ideology with science. No security measure can prevent someone with a car from running over people and perpetrating a massacre on any given day. What should be fought is the mentality making such decisions.

Afghanistan, the birthplace of Al-Qaeda, was first occupied by the Soviet Union then the United States of America. What ultimately gave rise to ISIS was the US invasion of Iraq. The reason ISIS could gain a foothold in Syria was the coalition-led bombardment. Another terrorist organization, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, was formed as a counter-reaction to British colonialism in Nigeria. It was the artificial borders drawn up in the Cairo Conference of 1921 that dragged the Middle East into war. It is neither conscientious nor rational to ignore the actual reasons behind terrorism and collectively blame 1.5 billion Muslims. The month of Ramadan is a time of worship, purification and altruism for 1.5 billion Muslims. The bigoted mindset and the wrongdoings of a handful of radicals is the concern of no one but their own radical worlds.

It is not right to blame Islam, a religion that has never practiced terrorism or violence in 1,400 years, for the wrongdoings of the bigots. Associating the month of Ramadan with terrorism is part and parcel of a larger plan of associating Islam with terrorism. Anti-Muslim bigots capitalize on associating Islam with terror and violence (surely Islam is beyond that). In order to thwart the schemes, people should be informed about the inherent wrongs of radicalism, and that Islam is the religion of peace and serenity.