Ramadan: A Time of Peace?
Posted December 16, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Prior to bursts of anti-aircraft fire piercing the night sky over Baghdad, many Iraqis already had their sights set on the heavens.
They have been watching for the new moon signaling the beginning of Ramadan.
Muslims think of Ramadan as sort of a tune-up for their spiritual lives. The attack has brought the Iraqi people nothing but chaos. There is no doubt this year's observance will be affected.
One billion Muslims begin observing Ramadan this weekend. For one month from dusk till dawn, they cannot drink, eat, smoke or have sexual intercourse.
It is a time for inner reflection, self-control and a devotion to God. It is the most sacred time of the Moslem year, a fact not lost on Washington.
"The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend," President Clinton said. "For us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be profoundly offensive to the Muslim world."
One local man feels the military action should be directed specifically at Saddam Hussein, so the people around him do not suffer for his sins.
"It's not their fault to be Iraqi," Muslim Riyad Hassan said. "It's not their fault to be there at this time."
Ramadan is supposed to be a month of love and peace, which may be tough if your view of the sky is lit up with gunfire.
Ramadan consists of five pillars of Islam:
"This month we are not supposed to fight, and I don't know if it's going to affect the whole Islamic nation," Hassan said.
In some Muslim countries people who eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan could be put in jail.