Nationalism and Ramadan

By Brendan S.


Footage released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense showing scenes from the 1973 Ramadan War (known as the ‘10th of Ramadan Victory’ in Egypt and the ‘Yom Kippur War’ in Israel). Much of the footage appears to have been taken during training exercises.


The Ramadan War was a significant cornerstone in the Egyptian national psyche, as it fused the holiest observance in Islam with national resistance, forging a narrative of sacredness with the nation itself. Egypt’s national identity remains vulnerable, however, bound to meaningless polygonal borders drawn by Italy and Britain, and a unitary police state based on a political model imported from the West. Ramadan nationalism or otherwise, Egypt remains colonized in more ways than one.


The fusion of nationalism with holiness is a pursuit of many nation-states across the world in creating an identity that would otherwise be more vague or ambiguous. The US played a significant role in normalizing this secular-but-not-secular national model more recently than many may think. The 1956 re-introduction of “In God We Trust,” for example, was largely intended to make the US appear more religiously pure than the Soviet Union in its national identity. This fusion of state with holiness, not separating from the church but rather adopting its power and narratives, is surely a global phenomenon not isolated to any particular nation-state. Kurdish social ecologist Abdullah Ocalan wrote extensively on this dynamic, citing its weaponization against Kurds as a reason for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebellion against the Turkish state.


Just an interesting facet of national identity to keep an eye on as Ramadan begins, and an important concept for internationalists to observe during every religious observance.


Ramadan Mubarak to all who celebrate!