KABUL -- Afghans are calling on the Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) to show respect for the holy month of Ramadan and to refrain from committing suicide attacks, bombings and other acts of terror.
Ramadan is a month of worship and blessing, Afghan clerics say, and just as God rewards all positive actions this month, any sins committed are considered much graver.
Extremism incompatible with Islam
"Ramadan is the month of divine mercy, devotion, forgiveness, refraining from committing sins, repentance, and last but not least, the month to return to doing good deeds," Mohammad Qasem Halimi, spokesman for the Afghanistan Council of Ulema, told Salaam Times.
"God Almighty explicitly says, 'Fasting is for me, and I shall reward for it'," Halimi said. "This clear word of God expresses the ultimate reward and recompense for those who celebrate Ramadan, fast and avoid sin."
The actions of extremist groups are completely incompatible with the spirit of Ramadan, he said.
ISIS's interpretation of the holy month and its prohibition of Ramadan-related activities and ceremonies are "against Islamic sharia", according to Halimi.
"The terror-related actions committed by these extremist groups during the month of Ramadan are against all humane and Islamic values, and the gravity of such sins is several times greater than that of sins committed at other times of year," he said.
"Preventing people from holding their religious rituals and traditions during the month of Ramadan ... is at odds with Afghan culture and tradition," Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, a member of parliament from Herat, told Salaam Times.
"Unfortunately, ISIS and the Taliban have never shown any respect for holy days and months, targeting mosques and murdering innocents while they were praying," said Mohammad Yousuf, a resident of Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province.
"We ask these groups to at least during the month of Ramadan allow the Muslim people of Afghanistan to pray in a safe atmosphere that is free from explosions and suicide attacks, so that they can properly celebrate this holy month," he told Salaam Times.
Security forces prepared to pray and protect
"Praise be to God, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are all devoted, pious Muslims, who absolutely believe in Islamic principles and values," Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, told Salaam Times.
"In addition to fasting and praying like other members of the Afghan society, these forces also have an Islamic and Afghan duty to protect their people and their country," he said.
"If ISIS, the Taliban, or any other terror group for that matter, continue their violent terrorist actions and prevent people from conducting their ... rituals, then the security forces will once again crush them, as they have done in the past," he said.
In years past, the Afghan government has called on militants to refrain from violence during Ramadan, to no avail.
"If the Taliban believe in Islam, they must stop violence, terror and killing of innocent people during Ramadan," Afghan Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish said last year at the start of the holy month.
Not only did the Taliban reject the government's call, they vowed to attack scholars, members of parliament and innocent Afghans, Afghanistan Times reported June 8, 2016.
Ramadan this year is expected to begin the night of Friday (May 26).