Ramadan brings with it a sense of closeness to others who are immersed in fasting and remembrance of Allah. This creates a shared subjective feeling those who fast are familiar with since childhood: that through the collective emphasis on prayer and acts of righteousness sin is in abeyance and virtue in ascendancy.
This is not quite working out going by what has transpired during Ramadan in recent years. Not only has the violence raging in Syria and Yemen continued through Ramadan, it has frequently escalated in the holy month.
In the first two weeks of this Ramadan fighting has continued unabated in Syria and Yemen. In Afghanistan the Taliban have renewed their yearly “spring offensive” killing civilians, soldiers and police personnel.
This Ramadan, may Allah guide us to realize that our prayers and fasting will not suffice to keep devilry at bay. That not only is malevolence triumphant, much of it is being wrought in the name of Islam.
While we will exult in our children completing their first fasts, many in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan will be burying the children they could not save from the bullets and bombs of some perverse “Jihad”.
As we seek to cleanse our souls through fasting, thousands in Yemen, Sudan and Somalia will spend Ramadan helplessly watching their children starve to death.
As we wear our badge of religious devotion with pride, minorities like the Baha’i and Ahmadiyya Muslims are doing their best to hide theirs for fear of persecution. Last week a historic Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque was destroyed by a mob in Pakistan. Presumably comprised of upstanding Muslims who took this endeavor upon themselves despite fasting and the oppressive Sialkot heat.This week a Sikh interfaith activist and scholar Charanjit Singh was also shot dead in Peshawar, Pakistan. This was a man who cooked meals for Muslims to break their fast as part of his interfaith outreach.
Sectarian violence will not cease during Ramadan; Shias from Baghdad to Quetta will continue to be the victims of target killings.
I cannot imagine Allah accepting our fasts and our prayers when we have abandoned our guardianship of faith to hypocrites and demagogues.
Evil is being done in the name of Islam and our first duty-before any hollow prayer or pretentious ritual-is to take our beloved faith back from the evildoers.
If we can unite for an entire month in the discipline of fasting and collective Dhikr we can unite in bringing down the degenerate institutions that have been erected in our name.
We cannot pray away these problems and we cannot keep pointing the finger at foreign powers and agents. Islam is not under threat from any external power; in terms of numbers and geographic stretch Islam is growing ceaselessly. It is expected to be the largest faith in the world within the next fifty years and is the only faith in America gaining as many new converts as people leaving the religion.
The only true existential enemies of Islam are its self-appointed guardians. The monarchs and dictators, the Sheikhs and Mullahs, the legions of corrupt politicians who have made religion their trump card. These are the enemies we must defeat by reforming our societies and rejecting the inhumane and supremacist narrative that they peddle in the name of Islam.