"Our fight is Jihad and an obligatory worship. And every obligatory act of worship has 70 times more reward in Ramadan," said Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, rejecting U.N.-led calls for halting hostilities during Ramadan.
ISIS also just released a YouTube message -- quoting the Quran -- urging its supporters to attack the "infidels... in their homes, their markets, their roads and their forums..."
"double your efforts and intensify your operations... Do not despise the work. Your targeting of the so-called innocents and civilians is beloved by us and the most effective, so go forth and may you get a great reward or martyrdom in Ramadan".
An article in the Ramadan issue of ISIS' Rumiyah magazine told readers to use the month of Ramadan to "maximise the benefit you receive on the day of judgement".
ISIS's call for increased jihad during the month of Ramadan is now a yearly occurrence. Last year, after an audio message by the ISIS spokesman at the time, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, calling on jihadists to "get prepared, be ready ... to make it a month of calamity everywhere for nonbelievers...especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America", the U.S. government warned citizens at home and abroad of an increased terrorist risk:
"According to Islamic practice, sacrifice during Ramadan can be considered more valuable than that made at other times, so a call to martyrdom during the month may hold a special allure to some."
This year, the day the Ramadan began, Friday, May 26, 2017, jihadists attacked a bus filled with Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in Egypt, and murdered 29 of them. Ten of the victims were children; one, only two years old. A few days earlier, jihadists in the Philippines warmed up for Ramadan by murdering 14 Christians and wounding more than 50. The Muslim Abu Sayyaf group, linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility. The day after the beginning of Ramadan, May 27, a Taliban suicide bomber murdered 18 people in Afghanistan, two of them children.
Smoke rises from the scene of fighting in Marawi city, southern Philippines, on May 30. The Philippine Army is fighting the Islamic Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the streets of the city. Abu Sayyaf murdered 14 Christians and wounded more than 50 in bombing attacks since Ramadan began on May 26. (Image source: Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
Ramadan in 2016 was one of the bloodiest in recent times. Estimates that at least 421 people were killed and 729 wounded in nearly 15 countries during that month alone. ISIS alone claimed to have killed or wounded more than 5,000 people, including the 49 people killed at a nightclub in Orlando, and 300 murdered in Baghdad.
Ramadan, evidently, is not only about religious spirituality and devotion. It appears to be also a month of jihad. In an article published in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram in July 2012, then-Grand mufti of Egypt 'Ali Gum'a wrote:
"[Throughout the history of] Islamic civilization, Ramadan has been not only a month of worship and of growing close to Allah the Almighty, but also a month of action and jihad aimed at spreading this great religion... throughout [Muslim] history, Ramadan has been a month of great conquests, which were an important factor in spreading Islam, [with] its righteousness and tolerance, across the world..."
Gum'a then lists a number of battles that occurred during the month of Ramadan from the battle of Badr in 624 up until the 1973 Yom Kippur war, known in the Arab world as the Ramadan War.
In 2001, Egyptian cleric and Al-Azhar lecturer Dr. Fuad Mukheimar wrote, "The nation's fasting is [itself] education for jihad, and as long as the nation fasts it will continue to be a jihad fighter."
"Fasting [during Ramadan] is one of the most powerful means to educate the human spirit for jihad. Fasting involves a spiritual effort to act in a way contrary to what is accepted, and to completely abandon desires... It also schools the Muslim in patience, resilience, endurance, and sacrifice, which are all traits of the jihad fighter... Ramadan is the month of victory for those who wage jihad for Allah. Ramadan has seen the following battles, conquests, and victories: the great Battle of Badr [624 CE],... the conquest of Mecca [630 CE]... We call upon those who fast... to remember their brothers, those who wage jihad for the sake of Allah: in Palestine, against the Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs; in Iraq, against the Americans; in Bosnia-Herzegovina, against the crusader Serbians; in Chechnya, against the Russians; in Kashmir, against the idolatrous Indians... everywhere in [the lands of] the Islamic ummah [community], against those who fight the Muslims".
Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi' wrote on the movement's website in August 2012:
"Allah the Almighty wanted the [Ramadan] fast to coincide with fighting, so that the Muslims would win and deal their enemies a crushing blow... Allah did not mandate [the fast] of Ramadan so that [we] sit idly and avoid jihad, action, and da'wa for the sake of Allah... it is a month of action and movement, of conquests and victories -- the month in which most of the defeats of the nation's enemies occurred..."
In an unprecedented move, after the attack on Coptic Christians, Egypt cancelled its annual celebrations marking the beginning of Ramadan.
While jihadists wage war on the West during Ramadan, the West pretends that Ramadan is just another religious holiday of purely spiritual significance. Some in the West eagerly seek to accommodate the Ramadan. In the UK, for example, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents more than 18,000 head teachers and college leaders, has recommended that schools accommodate students who observe Ramadan; guidelines were issued in a paper authored by the ASCL's 'inclusion specialist' Anna Cole.
The ASCL urges schools to move revision classes and to consider rescheduling sports days to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils fasting for Ramadan. It also urges that schools "show sensitivity" when organizing graduation celebrations, and change physical exercise lesson plans to make sure that activities are "less strenuous". Schools are also asked to provide prayer rooms. Last year, efforts to move school exams because of Ramadan were stopped by British education authorities.
It needs to be noted that the ACSL has authored another pamphlet, also written by Anna Cole, 'Safeguarding children from extremism and radicalisation', which posits that, "ISIS is a "political ideology, which falsely portrays itself as being authentic Islam, which can be confusing to pupils whose understanding of Islam may be weak". According to the ACSL, jihad and holy wars are 'myths':
"Jihad in the Arabic language... means: ...striving... where the cause/objective is goodness & justice...Holy war [is] not an expression in the Qur'an: War is NEVER holy. In Islam war is either justiﬁed or not".
Accommodating Ramadan is nothing new in certain Swedish schools, where this has been a reality for years. In the Swedish city of Jönköping, an agreement between education officials in the municipality and local Muslim groups, ensuring special treatment for Muslim children, was allegedly in place already in 1994. In 2011, it was revised to include how schools should deal with Ramadan. The municipality was later reported to the national education authorities in Sweden; the charge was that the agreement legitimizes oppression and control over Muslim children.
Swedish diplomats are also eager to accommodate Ramadan. In May, they caused a small Facebook storm among Swedish users when they announced that they had moved the national holiday celebrations at their general consulate in Jerusalem, scheduled for June 6, forward to May in order to avoid a 'clash' with the Ramadan.
How many more people will be murdered in the name of jihad this Ramadan, while the West refuses even to know what it means?
John Richardson is a researcher based in the United States.