CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 22, 2014 — As hot as the situation in Iraq has been in recent weeks, it is going to get worse soon.
Ramadan is on the horizon, and that usually means trouble.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar based upon the phases of the moon. Therefore, the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Christian calendar, which means that each year Ramadan takes place about 10 or 11 days earlier than it did the previous year.
For Muslims, the holy month is a period of fasting from sunrise until sunset. Believers refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activities during the fasting hours.
Once the sun goes down, it is a time of feasting rather than fasting, as ravenous Muslims sate themselves with food and drink until just before sunrise.
Despite the fact that Ramadan is a holy month and that the holiest day of the year, Laylat al-Qadr or “the Night of Power” occurs during that month, it is also a time that is often marred by violence in the Middle East.
The Night of Power is said to be the night when Muhammad received the revelation while isolated in a cave that ultimately led to the birth of Islam.
The prayer and fasting combined with regular recitations of the Koran are intended to be a time of reflection for Muslims. Following his migration to Medina in 622, Muhammad determined, however, that Ramadan was an excellent time to create havoc and fight his enemies with surprise attacks. As a result there is precedent for skirmishes of one type or another in the Middle East that often disrupt the intended mood of reverence.
Why should Ramadan 2014 be any more dangerous than holy months of the past?
First, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) will take every advantage available to pursue their goals. ISIS is regarded as even more ruthless than al-Qaeda, from which it sprang. The only rule you need to know in dealing with the world of Islamic extremism is that there are no rules.
There are other factors which contribute to making 2014 potentially more dangerous than past Ramadans. These factors derive from simple aspects which could, and likely will, play a role in what happens in the region in the coming days.
Winter is a considerably easier season than summer for Muslims to endure the fasting challenges of Ramadan. Summer brings average daily temperatures of 120 degrees or more in the Middle East. Sunrise occurs about four a.m. and the sun doesn’t set until approximately 10 or 10:30. Therefore the window for eating and drinking is only about six hours, and somewhere during that time there must be an allotment for sleep as well.
If you put hundreds of uneducated radicals in a 120 degree inferno with no food or water for 18 or 19 hours and relatively little sleep, it won’t take long before you have an army of angry Arabs.
Consider that under the best of circumstances the Middle East is volatile, ready to erupt like an active volcano without warning. Add hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation and an unrelenting sun and you have the potential for unmerciful violence.
In the end it will all merge as part of the same movement in Iraq that is currently in progress, but there could be devastating side effects for a lot of innocent people.
The uprising in Iraq is already in progress in a part of the world that is almost always a powder keg waiting to explode.
Does it really matter that Ramadan is the Islamic holy month? Expect nothing less than death and destruction for the next thirty days from the “religion of peace.” After all, death in the Middle East is a way of life.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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