A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Ramadan in August

Last year I meditated briefly on the difficulties Muslims face when Ramadan falls in August; with the heat combined with the long days, and with Ramadan due to begin (subject to sighting the moon) on Wednesday, the observations I made then are valid again this year. (Obviously this refers to the Northern Hemisphere, where the bulk of the Muslim world lies: Muslims in southern South America, South Africa, Australia etc. have August in the winter.)

Whether the stresses of heat and long days without the relief of drinking water increases regional tensions during Ramadan is debatable; but with tensions high along the Israel-Lebanon border, and the religious devotion and deprivation of water can certainly influence judgment. Despite a general sense that Ramadan, as a holy month, should be immune to fighting, there is a long history of warfare in Ramadan, ranging from the Prophet's Battle of Badr in 624 AD to the launching of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War (the crossing of the Suez Canal being appopriately codenamed Operation Badr). Those instances were in the spring (Badr) and fall (the October War), so they may be beside my point.

I will, of course, have more to say during Ramadan.

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