An Islamic View of Suicide Bombing

June 25, 2007 § 7 Comments

Recently, I read an article on Harry’s Place where Dr. Yunis Al-Astal of Hamas in Palestine discusses suicide bombings. His interview leads off with a surprisingly stunted understanding – or at least poor conveyance – of Islamic knowledge where he says,

“The most exalted form of Jihad is fighting for the sake of Allah, which means sacrificing one’s soul by fighting the enemies head-on, even if it leads to martyrdom. Martyrdom means life next to Allah.” (Y. Al-Astal, Hamas)

It is my opinion that Muslims in general and Western Muslims in particular, as most attacks on Islam come from the West, must make an effort to expel erroneous claims by the misguided or clarify misunderstood positions of otherwise well intended Muslims. Efforts like that of Condemnations of Suicide Bombings by Muslims by Ihsanic Intelligence are examples of this. We need efforts such as that of Ihsanic Intelligence because at this point dumbed-down explanations of our religion to the general public are just not helpful. Instead, the general public, including the media must be educated or reeducated on the truth about Muslims in general and Islam in particular.

For example, Abdal-Hakim Murad an Islamic scholar and lecturer at Cambridge University, speaks on the origins of suicide bombing saying,

“The genealogy of suicide bombing clearly stretches back from Palestine, through Shi’a guerillas in southern Lebanon, to the Hindu-nativist zealots of the Tamil Tigers, and to the holy warriors of Shinto Japan, who initiated the tradition of donning a bandanna and making a final testament on camera before climbing into the instrument of destruction.” (A.H. Murad, Cambridge University)

Therefore, despite an opinion that exists in the West, it is true that Islam like other religions, does not accept suicide as martyrdom and it is indeed an aberration. And though it is believed, by those in error, that Islam encourages violence, one should also be aware of the classic and modern Islamic views of suicide in general and suicide bombings in particular, some of which have been provided in the audio segment of this article. There are three points that I would like to address, these three are taken from a lecture on the Islamic view of suicide bombings by lettered scholar Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna Institute (USA):

  • Introduction: why American/Western Muslims must discuss the issue of suicide bombing (10:16)
  • The Scholars: The classic and modern scholars’ views on suicide and its implications. (10:03)

It is my intention that these three segments of Imam Zaid’s lectures will provide a foundation for understanding and a platform for well-intended discussion of this important element of today’s global public sphere. If you would like to hear the entire lecture you may purchase it at Zaytuna Institute, I highly recommend it.

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§ 7 Responses to An Islamic View of Suicide Bombing

  • Leena says:

    Salam, I’d like to know more about his relating of the positions of such-and-such scholars: “If it’s a valid military target and that’s the person’s intention, it’s an acceptable action”, “A person whose intention is to scuttle a ship … as a result of scuttling that ship … takes out a number of enemy forces when it goes down [is acceptable]“, the “A suicide that leads to a(n) acceptable sanctioned military outcome … is acceptable” …

    I understand the role of “intention” here, although it seems that this would leave the door wide open for those (most of the ones who carry out such attacks, I assume) who consider their “intention” to take out military targets and therefore not specifically “intending” to kill themselves or civilians, but is the outcome of the action not taken into account?

    Maybe he clears it up in the full-length, but just wondering ‘aloud’ here. :-)

  • [...] the extremists aggrandizing their respective position seeking legitimacy, such as in the case of suicide bombing. [3] This verse has also been referred to by the traditionalists who attempt to isolate these [...]

  • Fran says:

    This is a great post. What a complicated matter and as a non-Muslim, I am always interested in this topic, but would never pretend to understand more than I do.

    I think it is part of the Western (read U.S.) mind to see this in black/white terms and it is more complex than that.

    That by no means endorses suicide bombings – but nor does it just shout out at it in pain, anger and rage to push back at it.

    At this moment that is all that I can say and I am grateful to know more.

  • Hakim says:

    Fran,

    Thank you for commenting, you said:

    “What a complicated matter and as a non-Muslim, I am always interested in this topic, but would never pretend to understand more than I do.”

    Indeed, it is a complicated matter. However, there are some things that are very simple. Such as “do not kill yourselves” (Qur’an). You know? In addition, I think it does place some responsibility on us both Muslims and non-Muslims but particularly Muslim to contemplate the level of despair that a people are at where suicide bombing is a viable option for self-defense.

    This is terrible and we must not only contemplate the humanity of this but also act. And act now, one way we can act is to seek foreign policy change by writing our senators and congressmen and women. Another way is to provide relief and help to the children of these areas. Another way is to research the greater problem and openly discuss them without attracting harmful debates.

  • [...] Abdullah presents An Islamic View of Suicide Bombing posted at Hakim [...]

  • carnival of political punditry – July 1, 2007

    Welcome to the July 1, 2007 edition of carnival of political punditry. I am incredibly tired at the moment, but I promised myself that I would comment on some of the submissions this week.

  • Karima Hamdan says:

    Assalamualaikum,
    Nicely written post with excellent points made. I believe that Shaikh Abdul Hakim Murad said recently ‘Terrorism is to religion, as adultary is to marraige’. Nicely put!
    In view of the recent events in the UK you might want to have a look at ummahpulse.co.uk which has several articles about the narrowly averted tragedies over the weekend.
    http://ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=141&Itemid=37
    http://ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=140&Itemid=37
    Wassalam
    Sr Karima

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