Understanding the cause of the Horrific Violence that happened in Ramadan – and how we can solve it

Ramadan is a month of fasting, increased reflection, and increased piety and God consciousness. One of the wisdoms it yields is learning to control ones emotions, and the mastery of patience. However, this Ramadan, the Muslim world has witnessed a distinct lack of wisdom and patience, replaced instead with savagery, brutality, and absence of mercy.On 28th June, ISIS linked shooters attacked Istanbul Airport and detonated bombs, leading to 44 dead, and 239 wounded.

On 1st July, a Dhaka Cafe shooting ended with 28 dead. The suspects were believed to be a local group. ISIS claimed responsibility.

On 3rd July, ISIS detonated two cars bombs in Baghdad killing over 216 people.

On 4th July, it is believed that ISIS influenced individuals used suicide bombs to attack targets in the holy city of Medina itself, leading to 4 dead.

On 5th July, the last day of Ramadan, an individual believed to be a local supporter of ISIS in Indonesia detonated a bomb outside a police station, killing himself.

It is estimated that these attacks, and the many shootings that have happened elsewhere, have resulted in 400 deaths due to ISIS, or ISIS affiliates during the month of Ramadan. People have described the recent attack in the holy city of Medina as ‘crossing a red line’. Why, however, did it take some to wait until violence reached Medina for it to ‘cross a red line’? The Prophet Muhammed (saaw) informed us that Allah values the blood of a Muslim more than the Ka’aba itself and all its surroundings, yet it is only a ‘red line’ if an explosion happens in Medina? Every Muslim and non-Muslim unjustly killed should be a red line. The moment bombs began to fall on Gaza, or Iraq in 2003 should’ve been a red line. Why did the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) convey to us knowledge of what Allah values most, if not to make us realise our priorities?

It was narrated by Abdullah bin Umar: ‘I saw the Prophet doing tawwaf around the Ka’aba saying “How sweet are you and how sweet is your scent. How great are you and how great is your sanctity. By the One who the soul of Mohammad is in His Hand the sanctity of a believer is greater with Allah than your sanctity”’

Furthermore, other attacks occurred, including on the 7th June, when the PKK detonated bombs in Istanbul killing 11 people. That same day, ISIS used car bombs in Karbala to kill 10 people. Furthermore, on the 8th June, the PKK detonated a car bomb in the Turkish city of Midyat, killing 5 people.

Despite various media attention on some of these attacks, a far larger death toll has been incurred by another Baathist-led group that received much less attention, the regime of Bashar al Assad. During the month of June, it killed 706 civilians (101 were children), and the allies of Assad, Russia, killed a further 187 civilians [1]. The ‘International Coalition’ forces, led predominantly by the U.S.A were responsible for an additional 76 dead civilians.

Ramadan is the month of fasting, where Muslims undergo the experience of those who do not have enough to eat, and who barely survive on one paltry meal a day. Yet, despite this, the Muslim world happily breaks its fast while there are 590,000 [2] of their Syrian brothers, sisters and children under siege in Syria that barely scrape together enough for even one meal a day. In June alone, at least 792 Syrians have died of starvation or lack of medical supplies due to siege and blockade by Assad’s forces.

As heinous as it is, such death and destruction occurring during Ramadan is just horrific, whether it happened during Ramadan or not. Death and destruction are occurring regularly every month in the Muslim world. Muslims (and non-Muslims) are tragically dying by the hundreds at the hands of the PKK, Syrian and Iraqi Baathists, and those deeply misguided individuals who naively and foolishly support them.

ISIS are one of the symptoms of the problems in the Muslim world. Chaos caused by cynical, secular and self-interested politics, where the ends justifies the means, and power is the ultimate currency and object.

Like many of the regimes in the Muslim world, ISIS’s objectives are much more parochial, cynical and self-interested than ideology or ‘world domination’.

As multiple testimonies, documents and published evidence has shown, ISIS are formed by Iraqi Baathists who lost power after de-baathification of Iraq and, faced with a brutal sectarian oppressive regime, were able to gain support from disaffected Iraqi Sunnis and cynically use them to put themselves back into power. Iraqi Baathists, many of whom were former Saddam intelligence officers, infiltrated Al Qaeda networks, obtained weapons – and usurped these older terror networks, falsely re-packaging themselves as ‘Islamic’ in order to get the people on their side (just like what Saddam Hussein did). Secular rulers and elite like to portray themselves as ‘Islamic’ when it suits them. Iraqi Baathists who long have links with Syrian Baathists, made deals to usurp the Syrian revolution too, where the Syria army voluntarily withdrew from Eastern Syria just in time for ISIS to come in from Iraq. Since ISIS usurped Al Qaeda, all the regional and local militant movements around the world who previously adopted the (criminal) Al Qaeda franchise to fight insurgencies against their local regimes, merely jumped on the ISIS franchise.

In the face of its weakening in Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s publicising of its crimes, and outlandish executions, are attempts by ISIS to display a false sense of power globally to scare their own people into obedience and attract recruits (usually social outcasts) who are willing to follow anyone gives them false promises of power and respect to them. The Iraqi baathists believe they can cause enough chaos to trigger an inevitable crack down by these regimes on their populations that will get more recruits coming to ISIS to be used as live cannon fodder to delay the inevitable. Ultimately, the Iraqi Baathist high command behind ISIS, who are mostly nameless and unknown, will probably cut a deal with the forces arrayed against them, and blend back into the Iraqi population leaving behind all their erstwhile naive followers to be killed or imprisoned (or both).

Some people say that the death and destruction in the Muslim world only comes from such militant groups. But the brutal methods of ISIS are not unique to them. Many Muslim governments have brutally done exactly the same, destroying entire cities (e.g. Hafiz al Assad), torture (used by most governments), assassination, terrorism (Gaddafi), poison gas (e.g. Saddam, with Western blessing) – including use of ‘Islamic’ fatwas (e.g. President Abdel Fattah Sisi did when he wanted his soldiers to shoot protestors). Currently, Yemen is a warzone, and hundreds have died under aerial bombardment. Iran also has contributed to the graveyards of Syria and Iraq. And the Iraqi regime had spent years of brutal torture, sectarian ‘cleansing’ and extrajudicial killing of political dissenters that led to the rise of ISIS.

The Bangladeshi government also brutally cracks down on peaceful political dissent, including executing a leading Muslim opposition politician, and the Pakistani government allows U.S. drones to target its citizens with impunity and even deployed its army on its own soil against its own people at the behest of the U.S. government strategy to win in Afghanistan.

Some people say that ‘Takfir’ is the cause of the problems in the Muslim world. But how does calling someone a non-Muslim justify killing them? It does not. Non-Muslims are protected in Islam, so Takfir is not the issue here. Besides, everyone in the Muslim world ‘takfirs’, not just some. Most Muslims takfir rival sects. Most governments takfir political dissenters (like Egypt’s practically open takfir of the Muslim Brotherhood) or rival governments. Muslims takfir other Muslims who use violence, then engage in the same violence against those they takfir, leading those who were takfir’d to takfir them in return and so the cycle of violence continues.

People like to use the word ‘Khawarij’ a lot, and it is used by everyone against everyone else. But the Khawarij are described as those who do not fight the enemies who threaten the Ummah, but become the threat to the Ummah themselves. The Khawarij do Takfir, and are very sectarian. This pretty much describes many governments in the Muslim world today (just look when if ever was the last time they faced off external threats to the Ummah, compared with how readily they deploy their forces against the Ummah themselves). Ironically, the only government in the Muslim world that is consistently non-sectarian in its foreign policy, tolerant to difference amongst its citizens, and actively mediates to end conflict in the Muslim world is Oman. Oman, yes, the country ruled by the Ibadi sect that are, yes, descendants of the Khawarij. And to this day, their religious scholars still believe that all other Muslim sects are ‘Kuffar nima’ (ungrateful disbelievers). And despite this Takfir, they do not go about killing non-Ibadis in Oman.

It seems in the Muslim world, the governments who act least like the Khawarij, ARE THE KHAWARIJ! The irony is copious and viscous in equal measure.

Some people say that the lack of democracy in the Muslim world is the problem. Really? Iraq had a democracy, and as predicted, the majority oppressed the minority, leading to violence and instability. This is not unique to the Muslim world, as many African/South American/South-East Asian countries can attest.

As much as we should blame those who commit violence, in truth, it is we who should also be blamed. Every Muslim who has ever focused on their own lives and ignored the source of the problem in the Muslim world has perpetuated the status quo we currently live in. Do they really believe things will get better by ignoring Allah’s (swt) commands to establish justice, and standing silent while it is trampled upon. Every Muslim who does not (peacefully and politically) work for a solution, bears the responsibility for the chaos in the Muslim world. The Prophet Muhammed (saaw) didn’t describe the Ummah as one body without reason. Nor did he not warn us of the afflictions that come which affects not only those who commit wrongdoing, but everyone else too who failed to prevent it.

If we do not establish justice, the innocent of the Ummah will continue to be caught between the merciless injustice of the oppressors, and the merciless injustice of those who respond in like manner.

Go back in history to the point the Middle East was at peace, and see what changed to produce the current world. There you’ll find the cause of the problem. The Muslim world is suffering problems which are CAUSED by political division – not abstract theological differences. This is due to Muslims not having an re-established Islamic political system that can bring unity, peace, stability, development, and act as an arbitrator and solver of our problems. This is the difference between order and anarchy. An organised and purposeful system lifts mankind from anarchy and helps develop civility and excellence to the human character. It is this reason the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) was described as a mercy to mankind. He came not to teach us only what was good, but to also show us how we can collectively achieve it. The Muslim world has immense access to knowledge but immensely lacks wisdom, patience and mercy. What’s the solution? The clue is in the cause of the problem.

Some food for thought this Ramadan.

[1] Syrian Network for Human Rights

[2] United Nations Estimate

Categories: ARTICLES, NEWS COMMENTARY, Revival Thought (Al Nahda), Uncategorized, WRITINGS

2 replies

  1. It looks like you managed to avoid the obvious answer.

    You blame Arab governments, western foreign policy, ba’ath party etc.

    If all that was the genuine cause of extremism, how come we haven’t seen any extreme Christian, Sufi or Shia groups?

    The salafi movement alone accounts for Isis, Al Qaeda, Al nusra, boko haram and Al shebab. Now you can either pretend that’s a coincidence, or as Muslims we can accept this and then try to fix it.

    The denial and head in the sand approach to the ideological motivation is literally allowing honest laymuslims to be tricked into doing the worst of things.


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