It’s the last day of Ramadan in August in Qatar, my first in a Muslim country, and the quiet fasting daylight is quickening to be broken.
While perhaps not as much as many warned or feared in July, fresh violence marked this month, in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, and in Palestine and Israel. But fresh political hopes as well, and rather than feed a lens of Ramadan-as-violence, I want to simply observe here the following Ramadan-hopes floating on the headlines this August in Qatar. Meager as these hopes may seem, they are signs of possibility. And they have just as much right as the violence to be associated in the press with the good works and almsgiving and communion with family and others and God that so many are seeking together in this moment (pursuits which have overwhelmed my green beginner reflections on Islam throughout the month).
1) Libyan rebel fighters took Tripoli and despite continued fighting, throughout the week rebel leaders of the National Transition Council stressed restraint, promised reconciliation and pushed against purging. The government of Qatar, the first Arab government to really support the rebels’ struggle and the host of talks between Libyan political factions throughout the conflict, scrambled to layout a plan to help Libyan reconstruction efforts.
2) Although Israel severed ties with them on account of it, Qatar has stepped up its efforts to help mediate the future of Palestine by providing political and legal aid to Palestinians as they submit a formal bid for statehood to the United Nations in September.
3) Although Qatar broke with the league to protest Syria’s harsh crackdown last month, the rest of the Arab league joined Qatari diplomats’ chorus this week, condemned Assad’s violence and moved towards implementing consequential sanctions on the regime.