Skip to comments.History Offers Few Precedents For Truce During Muslim Holy Month
Posted on 10/25/2001 9:11:14 AM PDT by RCW2001
Thursday, October 25 11:43 PM SGT
Despite growing calls in the Muslim and Arab world for Washington to suspend military strikes on Afghanistan during the Ramadan holy month of fasting, there is little historical precedent for the demand.
On the contrary, many Muslim and Arab countries and groups have over the centuries taken advantage of Ramadan to launch assaults.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar and starts every year on the first sighting of the new moon.
The faithful must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise until sunset. It is also a time of contemplation, of Muslim solidarity and of giving charity to the needy.
Key figures, including a top Egyptian Sunni cleric and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, want an end to the strikes on Afghanistan before Ramadan starts this year in mid-November.
Failure to do so, they warn, could provoke unrest across the region.
But the United States and Britain have made it clear they see no reason to halt their military operations, and have even been backed by some Muslim scholars.
"We're sensitive to Ramadan, but we can't let that be the sole determinant of whether we continue our military action," US Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters at a news conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday.
Prophet Mohammed himself in 632 chose the month of Ramadan to launch his conquest of Mecca, but in the end entered Islam's holiest city without bloodshed.
In the years following his death, many other Muslim leaders have followed suit and intensified their campaigns during Ramadan in the name of Allah.
Several Muslim scholars say there is no prohibition against war during the month.
"The Islamic rules are clear: there are, according to the Koran, four months when it is not permitted to make war -- except in a situation of legitimate self-defence -- and Ramadan is not among them," explained the vice rector of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Jaffar Abdel Salam.
During Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, Ramadan did not influence the intensity of fighting.
Not during the "war of the camps" waged by the Shiite movement Amal against the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut in 1985, nor during the "war of liberation" in 1989 by General Michel Aoun against the Syrian presence in Lebanon.
And in 1973, Syria and Egypt launched their surprise attack against Israel in the middle of Ramadan, -- as well as on the exact date of Yom Kippur which is the holiest day of the year for Jews.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, in 1981, the second year of its eight-year war with its neighbour Iraq, rejected a Ramadan truce proposed by Baghdad as a "ploy" and called it "hypocritical." The fighting continued unabated.
Algeria's Islamists have since 1992 marked Ramadan by launching their most murderous attacks, including slicing the throats of children and hurling them down wells.
And during a four-day air war by the United States and Britain against Iraq in December 1998, warplanes continued attacks into the start of Ramadan.
One notable exception, however, was Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia, who in 1999 announced they were suspending their fight against opposition forces during Ramadan.
I haven't heard anything about the Iran-Iraq hostilities being suspended during Ramadan.
My vote says keep up the bombing (as if the government really cares what I think!)
The only remarkable thing about this subject is the monumental stupidity of anyone who would believe that there is anything there to think about.
It has to be an Arab strategy.
Only someone so clueless as to think that a " Baby Milk Factory " sign might have an effect on anyone would come up with this non-idea.
Dear Osama: Ramadan doesn't mean diddly squat to us; don't even want to know what it is.
Just stay under cover.
Good. Maybe they can think about the stupidity of attacking the U.S.p Incidentally, George Washington surprised the British on Christmas Eve.