Tuesday, October 17, 2006

24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Earlier this month I was able to observe the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) come ashore here in Kuwait. The 24th MEU is one of three Marine Air/Ground Logistics Task Forces which routinely deploys from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to the Mediterranean Sea aboard amphibious ready group shipping.

Amphibious Assault VehicleThe mission of the MEU is to provide geographic combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations at night or under adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface and/or by air while under communications and electronics restrictions.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ramadan and the Night of Power

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar. Because the lunar calendar is in synch with the moon and not the sun, Islamic holidays move each year. This year Ramadan began on Sep 24th and it continues through Oct 24th.

For millions of Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of prayer, fasting and charity... among other things. It is also a "holy" month of increased violence, because during Ramadan, Muslims also enjoy the Night of Power.

The Night of Power is the night in which the Islamic code of guidance, the Holy Quran, was revealed from the Lord of the Universe to Prophet Muhammad. It’s a special night in which Muslims can get bonus points for being hyper-righteous, pious, faithful, charitable,... or whatever deeds they choose to carry out in the name of Allah. See where I’m going with this? The Night of Power is like the Night of Extra Credit. So to die on the Night of Power doing something spectacular in the name of Allah is a thing to strive for in some Islamic religious circles. Paradise squared awaits them. I don’t know if that means a martyr gets more than 72 virgins, or that the virgins are just better somehow. I’m not familiar with all the specifics of the holy tenants governing this special day. I’m not trying to be culturally insensitive. I really don’t get it and I'm curious.

Some Muslims believe that the exact date of the Night of Power is not known. It is presumed to be a secret and only Allah knows the exact date and time of the super power convergence. This is to insure that everyone gives 100% throughout the entire month of Ramadan, instead of saving it up for the Night of Power and the potential bonus points. Sort of like what Christians do on Christmas and Easter.

Most say that the Night of Power is the 27th night of Ramadan. There is a mathematical formula for how this number was determined. I’ll skip that part. If you’re curious, Google it. The calculation runs in the same vein as Nostradamus predictions and e-mails that promise they can guess your weight if they know your birthday, eye color and the number of letters in your name. It's County Fair math.

Back to the point. If the Night of Power is the 27th day of Ramadan, that makes it Oct 19th this year. This is the night it should all "go down!" I await the spectacular deeds of Muslim religious zealots. Happy Ramadan-ing!