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Tags: ramadan | islam | cease-fire

Let's Tell the Whole Story on Ramadan

a street sign reading ceasefire
Muslims have fought multiple battles during the month of Ramadan. (Dreamstime)

By    |   Monday, 04 March 2024 10:26 AM EST

Most people, if they know anything about Ramadan, recognize it as a month of fasting observed by Muslims. But it is much more than merely a month long fast.

Now the month of Ramadan is upon us, and Ramadan has come to occupy a significant space in the news world, it is time to explore its roots, its origins, its intent.

Ramadan is the name given to a month. And yes, during that month, Muslims fast during the day and feast each night.

The month of Ramadan is intended as a time for introspection, self—improvement and communing with God. During their sermons, Imams often preach about these issues and the greatness of God.

They also preach about uniting Islam against common enemies — like the West and like Jews.

Interestingly, while there is no prohibition at all against fighting, about engaging in warfare, during the month of Ramadan, several prominent voices, like that of President Joe Biden, are calling for a cease—fire between Israel and Hamas as a gesture to Muslims worldwide.

Interestingly, as well, is the fact that the concept of a cease—fire does not exist in Islamic tradition. That is why, when the West speaks of a “cease—fire,” Hamas and other Muslims speak of a “lull.”

The word, in Arabic, is “Hudna.” And it has spawned an awful joke that goes: “What is a cease—fire? Time to re—arm.” Not a joke at all is the fact that these lulls, these Hudna are, according to Islamic tradition, able to be violated at will, violated at any time.

That explains why, on October 6, 1973, it was perfectly sanctioned under Islamic law and tradition for those Arab countries surrounding to launch a surprise attack on Israel, the Jewish State, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. The day that, that year, coincided with the 10th day of Ramadan.

Throughout history Muslims have fought numerous battles during Ramadan. Many were fought because it was Ramadan.

The Battle of Badr is spoken about in the Quran. Badr was the very first battle waged by Muslims. Before Badr there were only small fights. After the Battle of Badr, Muslims gained a reputation as a powerful emerging nation in the Arab world.

Next came the Battle of Makkah. During this battle the Prophet Muhammed and his army entered Makkah and destroyed the idols there and in the surrounding region. That battle took place on the 20th of Ramadan.

Other battles ensued. Tabuk, fought during Ramadan in the year 630 can best be described as a strategy of intimidation. Muhammed and 30,000 soldiers marched toward Tabuk to battle what they thought was an invading Byzantine army.

Turns out that Tabuk was an expedition, not actually a battle and there were only rumors that the Byzantine army was advancing. When Muhammed heard this, he launched a massive march to stop them. In the end the Byzantines, never arrived.

But this massive march illustrated Muhamed’s intentions of securing Muslim lands — especially the trade route between Mecca and Medina.

Fast forward to July 4, 1187. On that day, which coincided with Ramadan, the Crusaders fell to the Muslims at Horns of Hittin.

The Battle of Hittin, led by Saladin, changed the momentum against the Crusaders. It was the battle which turned the tide forcing the Crusaders out of the Holy Land. At Hittin, Saladin led 30,000 forces against a Crusader force of 20,000.

Within three months Saladin and the Muslims defeated the Crusaders and conquered Jerusalem.

There are literally hundreds more examples of Muslims fighting and attacking during the month of Ramadan.

It is a total misunderstanding of Islamic tradition and history to imagine that the month of Ramadan is a month of peace. It never was a month of peace, and it is not now a month of peace.

In the Quran, Ramadan is a synonym for God. It is understood to refer to the month of Ramadan only when the entire expression “The Month of Ramadan” is used.

To think that, in the year 2024, a cease-fire during Ramadan is a good idea or a sign of respect is a mistaken understanding of Islam. It is a gross misunderstanding of Islamic laws, traditions, history and ideology.

I mentioned earlier that the word most often used for cease-fire is Hudna. But there are other words, better words, I believe, for Hamas’ intentions.

One possibility is the word Tahida which is a temporary halt in fighting. This might be what Hamas is looking at, but I believe that Hamas’ goal now is what is called a Hudaybia.

A Hudaybia is a 10-year pause. As mentioned in the Quran, it received its name in the year 628 after a treaty between Muhammad and a tribe of Jews living in Hudaybia was abrogated. The 10-year treaty was abrogated after only 3 years — when Muhammed gained enough strength to massacre the Jews living there.

The Islamic Encyclopedia mentions the Hudaybia treaty as the ultimate “hudna.” In fact, Yasser Arafat referred to the Oslo Accords as a Hudna.

This is what the Islamic Encyclopedia says about Hudaybia:

“The Hudaybia treaty, concluded by the Prophet Muhammed with the unbelievers of Mecca in 628, provided a precedent for subsequent treaties which the Prophet’s successors made with non-Muslims. Muhammed made a hudna with a tribe of Jews back then to give him time to grow his forces, then broke the treaty and wiped them out. Although this treaty was violated within three years from the time that it was concluded, most jurists concur that the maximum period of peace with the enemy should not exceed ten years since it was originally agreed that the Hudaybia treaty should last ten years.”

Caveat Emptor: Hudna or Hudaybia — Buyer beware. Ramadan is not what most people think it to be. And Hamas has no interest in the Western world’s understanding of a cease-fire.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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To think that, in the year 2024, a cease-fire during Ramadan is a good idea or a sign of respect is a mistaken understanding of Islam. It is a gross misunderstanding of Islamic laws, traditions, history and ideology.
ramadan, islam, cease-fire
Monday, 04 March 2024 10:26 AM
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