Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ramadan is Over

Well folks, Ramadan is officially over in Iraq. We survived the “Night of Power” with minimal incidents to us but the local populous wasn’t so lucky. I don’t care to go into the numbers. I decided to give you what I know about Ramadan from the books I’ve studied and from the information that the locals were so generous in providing.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, established in the year 638. It is considered the most venerated, blessed and spiritually-beneficial month of the Islamic year. Prayers, fasting, charity, and self-accountability are especially stressed at this time; religious observances associated with Ramadan are kept throughout the month. The most prominent event of this month is the fasting practiced by all observant Muslims.

The fasting during Ramadan has been so predominant in defining the month that some have been led to believe the name of this month, Ramadan, is the name of Islamic fasting, when in reality the Arabic term for fasting is sawm. Eating, drinking, sexual intercourse and smoking are not allowed between dawn and sunset. During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam as well as refraining from anger, envy, greed, lust, sarcastic retorts, backstabbing and gossip. They are encouraged to read the Qur'an.

Sexual intercourse during fasting in the day is not allowed but is permissible after the fast (when referring to sexual intercourse, it is intended to mean with one's spouse alone, as all pre- and extra-marital relations are strictly forbidden in Islam). Obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Properly observing the fast is supposed to induce a comfortable feeling of peace and calm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, sacrifice, as well as sympathy for those who are less fortunate, intending to make Muslims more generous and charitable.

Fasting during Ramadan is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would be excessively problematic. Children before the onset of puberty are not required to fast. However, if puberty is later than is normally expected, fasting becomes obligatory for males and females after a certain age (not later than 15 years of age). According to the Qur'an, if fasting would be dangerous to someone's health, such as a person with an illness or medical condition (this can include the elderly), that person is excused.

Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is the holy night on which the first verse of the Quran was Revealed to Prophet Muhammad. The exact date of Laylat al-Qadr is unknown (the Night of Fate), but it is known to have occurred in one of the last ten nights of Ramadan; usually thought to be on one of the odd-numbered dates between 21st and 29th, with the 27th being the most likely.

Muslims believe God instructs one to seek-out this blessed night by virtue from the odd nights of the last ten nights of this month. It is said that when one seeks the Laylat al-Qadr, his/her sins will be erased, and it will be as if he/she has just been reborn. According to the Qur'an God says that spending this one night in worship is better than worshipping for 1000 months. Many hadiths also affirm the great value of praying during Laylat al-Qadr

Most practising Muslims, especially children and the elderly, have a light meal or snack before dawn. This light meal is called Suhoor, Sohoor, Sehri or Sahur, and is considered an act of Sunnah. This tradition is practised by Muslims worldwide. Cafes and restaurants, in Muslim countries, stay open till early morning hours in Ramadan to serve food and drink for Suhoor

The Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the beginning of the following month. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fasts. On the day of the Eid, congregational prayers are held in mosques or Islamic community centers, and before the prayer begins, Muslims must give a certain amount for charity (provided they are financially capable) known as "Zakatul Fitr". The prayer is two rakaahs only, and it is an optional prayer as opposed to the compulsory 5 daily prayers. Following the prayers, people congratulate and embrace one another, eating special foods and sweets at a mosque, community centre, or at people's houses with festive moods and atmospheres. Gifts are exchanged (especially given to children), and Muslims dress in their best clothing on this day.

Now onto the “Night of Power. The Night of Power or the Night of Destiny has been a center of debate for Muslims as well as infidels (the rest of us). It is considered a “Holy of Holies” as far as the event goes due to the fact of significant military operations, wars with rival tribes & races, and it is seen as the “Assured Victory” point when planning any of the aforementioned events or campaigns.

Military history -- List of Islamic Battles Fought During Ramadan due to necessity.
624 - Battle of Badr. On 17 Ramadan, Muhammad led his forces in Arabia to victory over Makkan idolaters. "The Great Battle of Badr" or "Conquest of Mecca", was the first battle between believers and infidels.

627 - The Battle of the Ditch. Muslims trained for this battle during Ramadan, though it occurred in the following month of Shawal.

630 - Battle of Tabouk (also called the Battle of Tabuk). The soldiers of Islam, under the leadership of Muhammad, established a training and fighting camp in Tabouk during the month of fasting, and attacked the Byzantine army.

653 - Conquest of Rhodes. Muslims plundered the Colossus of Rhodes, melted it and turned it into arms for the soldiers.

710 - Muslims led by Tarek bin Ziyad, invaded Spanish southern frontier cities on the Andalusian coast defeating King Roderick. They stayed for eight hundred years, disseminating Islam. From there, Islam spreads out through Europe.

1099 - Battle of Ascalon. Took place on 22 Ramadan (August 12), the newfound crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem defeated Fatimid Egypt.

1187 - Battle of Hattin. Took place at dawn -- after the Night of Power (Lailat ul-Qadr); a night during the last ten days of Ramadan when tradition says that the angel Gabriel descended and God called Muhammad to be His messenger. (It is sometimes translated as the Night of Destiny.) Sultan Saladin (Salah Al-Din Al-Ayubi) wiped out the Frankish army and went on to reclaim Jerusalem for Islam. The battle took place on July 4.

1260 - Battle of Ain Jalut. Qutuz defeated the Mongols in Palestine.

1962 to 1970 - Yemeni Civil War. Fighting continued through nine Ramadans.

1973 - Ramadan War (Elsewhere known as the Yom Kippur War). Egypt and Syria launched their attack on Israel it was called Operation Badr, and foot soldiers were given religious slogans. The Yom Kippur War is also known as the 6th of October war of

1973 and the 10th of Ramadan War.

1975 to 1990 - Lebanon's civil war. Fighting took place over the course of seventeen Ramadans.

1981 - Iran rejected Iraqi offers for a Ramadan cease-fire.

1982 - Iran launched an attack on Iraq that they explicitly called "Operation Ramadan."

1986 - Christian forces called for a Ramadan cease-fire, which lasted two weeks.

1987 - Iran again rejected Iraqi offers for a Ramadan cease-fire.

1987 to 1993 - The first Palestinian Intifada was waged over six Ramadans.

1990s - There were at least 20 examples of Ramadan violence by Muslims during the Algerian civil war.

2000 - Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee stated that India would initiate a unilateral cease-fire in observance of the holy month of Ramadan as a step towards peace in Kashmir. Nonetheless, widespread fighting continued between Indian forces and the guerrillas in Jammu-Kashmir.

2000 - Al-Qaida operatives tried to bomb a U.S. destroyer, USS The Sullivans, in the harbor at Aden, Yemen. It was the Night of Power. The suicide boat was overloaded with explosives and sank.

2000 - Al-Qaida successfully bombs the USS Cole in the same harbor at Aden.

2003 - After the 2003 Iraq war, suicide bombers struck at four locations, including the Red Cross headquarters, killing at least 35 people.

Do you see the pattern here folks? Radicals have taken what is to be considered the pinnacle of holy behavior and perverted it into a cause to rally behind. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is not the “normal locals” that are causing all this misery and I don’t put any blame on them. It is the footsoldiers of the insurgent military. The locals have spent so many decades being terrorized by a madman, oops the current correct term would be CONVICT. So they are in a state of constant fear. Fear for themselves, their families (close and extended), and fear that we’ll just leave after giving them something most of them have never had; hope. I know this entry is long and somewhat dry, but it is important that you know the truth about this place from someone who is on the ground everyday. I am not condoning any of the behavior or convicting any of the actions taken by locals to protect themselves. It is just very important to me that all of you know where I stand. I respect my enemy because he is imaginative, quickly adaptable, and very motivated in what he does. That also motivates me to insure that my soldiers and I are better than he is at his own game.


Blogger Jaded&Opinionated said...

I wandered over here from Meg's blog, and ended up reading every post. I just wanted to say "Thank You!" for your bravery, and for the service to our country. My father was a Colonel in the US Army, now retired after 30+ years of service. I know how difficult it is for you from a lifetime of watching my father. Thank you for the sacrifices you've made for all of us.

3:10 AM  
Blogger thisgirlsbeautifulmess said...

The things a girl has to do to leave a message ;o)..Your blog doesn't allow outsiders to post messages which kind of sux when you can't remember the password to a blog you once created but never wrote in, then had to rack your brain to try and remember said password so you could leave a message for some strange guy who lives across the big ol puddle. So, you should feel special that I did just that lol. Ok hi, I just wanted to say I stumbled across your blog and read every post, it's good to get an insight into what you are doing especially being I live in Australia. I admire you and your fellow country men for what you are doing, in fact I admire anyone one who is doing what they can to make this world a safer/happier place. You look good in commando gear, even if you are a coconut? :)

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ne-Ne' Stay safe, come home......El

10:38 PM  

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