In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
with invoked peace and blessings on the Best of Creation, Prophet Muhammad
, Islamic holy war, is a valid part of the Islamic tradition of legitimate martial resistance in the face of persecution, oppression and foreign aggression. As an Islamic discipline, Jihad can only be conducted within the parameters of the Sunnah, the normative practice of Prophet Muhammad
, and the Shariah, the legal code he brought and which has been sustained to the present era. Suicide terrorism is an ancient tactic, which has been used by a variety of entities around the world, invoking causes such as religion, nationhood, honour, etc.
But there is disagreement amongst the scholars of Sunni Islam
about the legitimacy of suicide bombings
as a valid Jihad tactic in martial conflicts around the world, for they are a modern scourge to have emerged in the Islamic world in the last generation.
On September 11th, 2001, the pan-Islamist terrorists of the al-Qaeda network flew commercial planes into the key military and economic buildings of the United States of America in spectacular suicide bombings. Since then, suicide bombings perpetrated by Islamist terrorists have proliferated around the globe. As the tactic has multiplied in its use and globalised, a holistic deduction
based on the sources of Sunni Islam is required on the issue, providing a comprehensive refutation of the legitimacy of the act using the sources themselves. The literature of the recruiting sergeant for potential suicide bombers is required for analysis, the prime example being the fatwa, The Islamic Ruling on Martyrdom Operations
from www.qoqaz.com [L] 
, also printed in supplementary form in Defence of Muslim Lands
, an English translation of a book written by the Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, to recruit Mujahideen to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Azzam was a mentor to Usama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, prior to his death in 1989.
A. REFUTING CLAIMS AGAINST A HOLISTIC DEDUCTION
Claims can be made against a need to create a holistic deduction regarding suicide bombing which need to be refuted in the first instance:
1. In the present status quo, there is a difference in opinion by Sunni scholars regarding the legitimacy of suicide bombings and some believe that this suffices. However, prior to 1989, the issue of suicide bombing was never debated amongst Sunni scholars due to the absolute illegitimacy of the acts. The subsequent temporal success of such operations for political aims does not automatically legitimise the acts. Hence, the issue of suicide bombing constituting a legitimate act within Sunni Islam needs to be resolved.
2. As there is no precedence for a holistic deduction within Sunni Islam, it can be claimed that this is a reprehensible innovation and has no basis within Sunni Islam. On the contrary, holistic deductions in their essence have been taken by historically by state entities, who having consulted Islamic lawyers, advisers and specialists, prior to ruling on a matter. This has been the case in Sunni Islam since the inception of the Caliphate to the present-day rulers.
3. Though it can be claimed that no scholastic authority for a holistic deduction exists, it has been adduced that some eminent Sunni scholars have stated that suicide bombing is illegitimate, and therefore a case has been developed from their perspectives. Moreover, a holistic deduction can only be holistic if it has not been refuted by greater primary evidence.
4. It can be cited that such a holistic deduction will only serve the interests of the enemy of the Muslims, but a holistic deduction on determining the truth about a matter within Sunni Islam can only strengthen the position of Sunni Muslims to clarify their beliefs and positions on the matter.
5. Stating that suicide bombing is being used as a martial Jihad tactic and therefore cannot be discussed except by those who have performed martial Jihad, denigrates the fact that not only marital Jihad is considered the lesser Jihad, in comparison to the greater Jihad of spiritual warfare, but that also that the vast majority of Islamic scholars today would not have participated themselves in martial Jihad, but are qualified to dispense legal advice on matters.
6. It can be claimed that suicide bombing in areas of immense persecution of Muslims makes the act a last resort of both defiance and desperation, but this firstly ignores the persecution as either a Divine purification or trial
, secondly ignores the status of a person who is defending the land of Muslims merely by being there
and thirdly of alternative and valid techniques of Jihad which exist and have demonstrated to be effective
B. EVIDENCES FOR A HOLISTIC DEDUCTION
There are a plethora of evidences why the need to create a holistic deduction refuting suicide bombings within Islam is required.
1. The technique of suicide bombing has become synonymous with terrorism to achieve pan-Islam, and therefore identified with the Islamic religion as a whole.
2. The number of suicide bombings committed by those invoking Islam has increased dramatically in the modern era.
3. Potential suicide bombers have fatawwa (pl. fatwa) outlining exalted virtues of suicide bombings
, when no such contrary document exists in global circulation. Some fatawwa are reminiscent of the Prophetic statement, Whoever gives a fatwa without knowledge, the sin will be on the issuer. [Abu Dawud]
4. Sunni scholars who have condemned suicide bombings have never addressed the evidences from the Shariah cited by fatawwa for the use of potential suicide bombers.
5. Sunni scholars who condemn suicide bombing may not have voiced this opinion or given a public fatwa
, due to opposition from other scholars and for the sake of traditional academic etiquette.
However, in the interests of seeking the global optimum and public good in contemporary circumstances, a need and responsibility arises which did not exist before.
According to the Prophet, Reliable people from each succeeding generation will carry this knowledge. They will refute the distortion of those who exaggerate and the explanations of the ignorant. [al-Baihaqi]
6. Sunni scholars who have approved the act of suicide bombing may have done so under duress from those considered oppressive and/ or heretical governments though believing it to be untrue, a valid position within Sunni Islam when the threat of the religion in its orthodox form is under threat.
7. Sunni Muslims worldwide in the Islamic Ummah (Community) do not believe that the act of suicide bombing is sanctioned within Islam, but that it is abhorrent and a reprehensible innovation to the Prophetic Way as based on the hadith. Therefore, it is necessary to determine whether it truly is as the Prophet said that every reprehensible innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in hell [Muslim] and that he who inaugurates a beneficial sunnah in Islam earns the reward of it and of all who perform it after him without diminishing their own rewards in the slightest and he who introduces a reprehensible sunnah is guilty of the sin of it and of all who perform it after him without diminishing their own sins in the slightest. [Muslim]
8. Sunni scholars who have approved the act of suicide bombing may have done so with the correct intention, but arrived at an erroneous legal deduction in which case the optimum holistic deduction is sought, which should be comprehensive, transparent and suitable for global dissemination.
This need is based on the Prophets statement that If a judge has exercised his judgment, and been proven correct, then he has two rewards. And if he judged and was mistaken, then he has one reward. [Muslim]
9. Sunni Muslims have been given numerous and substantiated fatawwa on the legitimacy of suicide bombings, making it necessary to determine whether the Prophet would have approved such an act. He said, when asked about righteousness: Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels tranquil and the heart feels tranquil, and wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and moves to and fro in the chest, even though people have repeatedly given you fatawwa [on the subject]. [Ibn Hanbal and al-Darimi]
10. As the tactic is becoming synonymous with Islam, consensus
is also required on the issue, as the Prophet said, My Ummah shall not agree on error. [al-Hakim]
C. DEFINITION OF A SUICIDE BOMBING
This holistic deduction is concerned with the sole technique of suicide bombings which leads to instantaneous and absolute death, and not those operations that are extremely dangerous, such as one-man armies penetrating enemy ranks with little chance of escape. The form a suicide bombing usually takes is that the enactor wires themselves up, or a vehicle or a suitcase, with explosives, and then tries to enter amongst a conglomeration of the enemy, or in their vital facilities, and to detonate in an appropriate place there in order to cause the maximum losses in the enemy rank, taking advantage of the element of surprise and penetration. The enactor of the operation guarantees himself absolute death by detonating the bomb with his own hands, in a genuine suicide mission.
D. REFUTING PRIME EVIDENCES FOR SUICIDE BOMBING IN SUNNI ISLAM
Evidences for delineating evidences to refute suicide bombings are taken from the Holy Qur'an, the hadith [traditions] of Prophet Muhammad
, legal analogies, the consensus of past generations of scholars, and traditional Islamic scholarship in the tradition as a whole as part of Islamic Law, the Shariah. Therefore, a legal deduction must be given to these operations of being legitimate or illegitimate. The use of all authentic sources as evidence in the fatwa relating to legitimising suicide bombings are extremely tenuous, misconstrued and highly erroneous as will be discussed.
1. REGARDING ALLAHS PURCHASE OF LIVES
Verily, Allah has purchased from the believers their selves and their wealth, in return for Paradise being theirs. They fight in the path of Allah and they kill and are killed. [Holy Quran, 9:111]
The analysed fatwa states it is permissible for a mujahid [holy warrior] to offer the purchase price, their life, in order to attain the merchandise, Paradise, unless evidence prohibits it. The verse has been used highly erroneously as evidence for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is the anathema of perceiving the religion as whole. The word deen meaning religion in Quranic Arabic also means debt, meaning that as Allahs creation, man will always be enslaved and indebted to his Creator. Man cannot offer the purchase price, used here to mean taking his own life, to Allah as it is not his to barter with, but belongs to Allah. Should he take his life, by detonating himself, he has, to continue the analogy, stolen his life from Allah. The specific verse in the Holy Quran is clear, as the believers kill the enemy or they are killed, meaning there are only two actions of being in a state of Jihad on the battlefield, which is to kill the enemy or to be killed, but not to kill oneself. Therefore, the one who kills the enemy acquires the rank of the mujahid, whereas the one who is killed by the enemy on the battlefield acquires the rank of martyr.
2. REGARDING SEEKING THE PLEASURE OF ALLAH WITHIN HIS LAWS
Among mankind is he who sells himself seeking the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is Most Merciful towards His servants. [Holy Quran, 2:207]
Once more, the mujahid who sells himself seeking the pleasure of Allah fights for Him in accordance with the dictates of the Shariah of Islam and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad
. Therefore, though he can immerse himself into 1,000 of the enemy forces without armour, and will almost certainly be killed by them, he will not kill himself with his own hand, but be killed by the weapons of the enemy.
3. REGARDING THE PEOPLE OF THE DITCH
relates the account of the boy and the king in the story of the Trenches referred to by Surah al-Buruj, where each time, the unbelieving king tried various mean to kill the believing boy, but failed each time. Eventually, the boy told him, You will not be able to kill me until you gather people on one plateau, hang me on a palm-trunk, take an arrow from my quiver, place it in the bow, say, In the name of Allah, the Lord of the boy and shoot me. The king did this, and thereby managed to kill the boy as predicted, but the people who had gathered began saying, We believe in Allah, the Lord of the boy! Thereupon, the king ordered trenches to be dug, and fires lit in them, and then for the people to be made to jump into them if they refused to give up their faith. This was done, and eventually a woman was brought with her infant, and she hesitated to jump on account of him, but he said, O mother! Remain steadfast for you are upon the truth. [Muslim]
This hadith refers to a verse in the Surah 85 of the Holy Quran, al-Buruj [The Large Stars] By the heaven holding, and by the Promised Day and by the Witnessing Day: Cursed were the People of the Ditch of fire fed with fuel, when they sat by it, and they witnessed what they were doing against the believers. And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise! To Whom belongs the Dominion of the Heavens and the Earth! And Allah is Witness over everything. Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women, and then do not turn in repentance to Allah,then they have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire. [Holy Quran, 85:10]
However, unlike the fatwa, it will be necessary be wise to reproduce the hadith in full to determine the precise and legitimate use of this hadith as evidence.
Allahs Messenger said, Among the people before you, there was a king and he had a sorcerer. When the sorcerer became old, he said to the king, I have now become an old man, get me a boy so that I may teach him sorcery. So the king sent him a boy to teach him sorcery. Whenever the boy proceeded to the sorcerer, he sat with a monk who was on the way and listened to his talks and used to admire them. So when he went to the sorcerer, he passed by the monk and sat there with him. And on visiting that sorcerer, the latter thrashed him. So, the boy complained about that to the monk. The monk said to him: Whenever you are afraid of the sorcerer, say to him: My people kept me busy and whenever you are afraid of your people, say to them, The sorcerer kept me busy. So the boy carried on like that for a period of time. There came [on the main road] a huge animal, and the people were unable to pass by. The boy said, Today, I will know whether the sorcerer is better or the monk. So he took a stone and said, O Allah! If the deeds and actions of the monk are liked by You better than those of the sorcerer, then kill this creature so that the people can cross [the road]. The boy came to the monk and informed him about it. The monk said to him, O my son! Today, you are better than I; you have achieved what I see! So, you will be put to trial. But in case you are put to trial, do not inform them about me. The boy used to treat the people suffering from born-blindness, leprosy, leucoderma, and other diseases. A blind courtier of the king heard about the boy. He came and brought a number of gifts for the boy and said, All these gifts are for you on condition that you cure me. The boy said, I do not cure anybody; it is only Allah Who cures. So, if you believe in Allah, and invoke Him, He will cure you. Later, the courtier came before the king, and sat at the place where he used to sit before. The king asked him, Who has given you your sight back? The courtier replied, My Lord! The king said, Have you got another lord than I? The courtier replied, My Lord and your Lord is Allah! The king got hold of him and kept on tormenting him till he informed him about the boy. So the boy was brought. The king said to the boy, O boy! Has your [knowledge of] sorcery related to the extent that you cure born-blinds, lepers, leucordermic patients and do such and such? The boy replied, I do not cure anybody; it is only Allah Who cures. Then the king got hold of him and kept on tormenting him till he informed him about the monk. The monk was brought before him, and it was said to him, Abandon your religion! The monk refused to apostate. Then the king ordered a saw to be brought and it was put in the middle of the monks scalp and sawn, till he fell, dismembered in half. Then the boy was brought, and is was said to him, Abandon your religion! The boy refused to apostate. So, the king ordered some of his courtiers to take the boy to such and such a mountain saying, Then ascend up the mountain with him till your reach its top, and see if he turns apostate; otherwise, throw him down from its top. They took him, ascended up the mountain, and the boy said, O Allah! Save me from them by anything that You wish. So the mountain shook and all of them fell down, and the boy said, Allah has saved me from them. The king then ordered some of his courtiers to take the boy on board a boat into the middle of the sea, saying, If he apostasies, well and good; otherwise, cast him into the sea. So, they took him, and he said, O Allah! Save me from them by anything that You wish. So the boat capsized, and all the accompanying courtiers were drowned. The boy then came walking to the king. The king said, What is that command of yours? The boy said, Gather all the people in an upland place, and fasten me to the stem of a tree; then take an arrow from my quiver and fix it in the bow, and say, In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy, and shoot at me. If you do that, you will kill me. So the king gathered the people in an upland place, and fastened the boy to them stem, took an arrow from his quiver, fixed it in the bow, and said, In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy and shot the arrow. The arrow hit the temporal region of the skull of the boy, and the boy put his hand over the temporal region of his skull at where the arrow hit, and then died. The people proclaimed, We have believed in the Lord of the boy! We have believed in the Lord of the boy! We have believed in the Lord of the boy! The king came, and it was said to him, That is the thing you were afraid of. By Allah! The thing which you were afraid of has fallen upon you, the people have believed in Allah. So he ordered deep ditches to be dug at the entrances of the roads, and it was done, then fire was kindled in those ditches, and the king ordered that whoever did not apostatise, they would be thrown into the fire or it would be said to them, Jump. Then there came a woman with her babe who nearly retreated back from the ditch, but the babe spoke, O mother! Be patient you are on the Truth. [Muslim]
The original Arabic hadith finishes at that point. We do not know whether the woman was pushed into the fire or jumped into it. Regardless, even if she had not jumped, she would have been pushed. The death sentence is already there; it is merely a means of deciding ones own method of execution. This was as the boy had learned himself. He knew that the king would not stop till he carried out a death sentence on him. In essence, the boy was demonstrating to the king that nothing happens except by the power and strength of Allah.
The fatwa states that the boy in the hadith ordered the king to kill him in the interest of the religion, and this indicates that such a deed is legitimate, and not considered suicide, which is another highly erroneous deduction. The first and most notable feature about this hadith is that it is based in an unknown time before pre-Islamic history, and hence this practice is not from the Sunnah of the Prophet, but a historical example of what early believers suffered, and the Islamic Shariah abrogated all previous Divine Laws (Shara'i) which came prior to it. The fact that previous believing generations had numerous wives, but the maximum for a Sunni Muslim, as stated in the Holy Quran, is four substantiates this or that the drinking of alcohol was permitted by previous Sharai, but abrogated by the Islamic one. A death sentence has been passed on the believing boy by the king, but methods to kill him fail due to the miraculous Divine protection over the boy. The king is only able to kill the boy, a minor determining events, by invoking the boys Lord, which results in the conversion of the assembled people. The situation is entirely miraculous, and is intended for moralising, not legislation. The believing boy has been condemned to death. If he is killed in the first instance under normal circumstances, he is a martyr. However, he has Divine Protection, which means that the king is simply unable to kill him using conventional means. Consequently, the boy has to suggest the methods of his own death sentence, and subsequent martyrdom, as well as issuing excessive demands which the frustrated king has to accede to, particularly the congregation of the civilian spectators. Most importantly, he tells the unbelieving king to invoke the Lord of the boy as the paramount condition to be able to kill him. The king fires the quiver and kills the boy. The boy earns his martyrdom, which he could also have earned under the conventional method of execution. However, as the hadith is of a miraculous nature, the boys eventual martyrdom results in the conversion, and subsequent martyrdom, of all the spectators. His act does make the word of Allah supreme, but ultimately it is not his own hand that kills him, but the quiver fired by the king.
When fires are lit for the converts to be pushed in, the infant tells his believing mother to jump into the fire, rather than renounce her faith. She does so, and becomes a pre-Islamic martyr. The womans status of becoming a martyr is also highly miraculous, as she is a mother who is told by her baby child to throw herself into the fire as her death sentence states. Precedence is given to keeping faith in Allah, rather than renouncing it in the face of certain death. The death sentence had already been passed on the woman by the king for her faith, but if she renounced it in that moment of hesitation, she would suffer in the hereafter as a non-believer. Her choices were only two at that moment: to be pushed into the fire which had been lit for her because she had become a believer in Allah; or to renounce her pre-Islamic monotheism, and be pushed into the fire of the hereafter. When she hesitated to jump into the fire on account of her baby, Allah miraculously allowed that very infant to speak and tell her that she was on the truth and to remain steadfast. According to Islam, there have only been three cases in history where an infant spoke from the cradle. None spoke in the cradle but three; Jesus son of Mary, an Israelite, Jurayr [al-Bukhari] and the third infant is assumed to generally be the one in the story of the People and the Ditch.
The Holy Quran attests to the miraculous nature of a child speaking from the cradle, when Mary, the mother of Jesus, pointed to the baby Jesus to be her defence: She came to her nation, carrying him; and they said: O Mary, you have committed a monstrous thing. O sister of Aaron, your father was never an evil man, nor was your mother unchaste. So she pointed to him [Prophet Jesus]. But they replied: How can we speak with a baby in the cradle? He [the baby] said: I am the worshiper of Allah. Allah has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He made me to be blessed wherever I am, and He has charged me with prayer and charity for as long as I shall live. [He has made me] kind to my mother; He has not made me arrogant, unprosperous. Peace be upon me on the day I was born, and on the day I die; and on the day when I shall be raised up alive. Such was [Prophet] Jesus, the son of Mary. A saying of truth, concerning what they doubt. [Holy Quran, 19:27-34]
The Shariah of Islam actually was far more lenient on forced apostasy than this pre-Islamic instance. Under severe suffering and extreme torture, Ammar ibn Yassar uttered a word construed as recantation to al-Lat and Uzza, though his heart never wavered and he came back once to the Prophet, who consoled him for his pain and confirmed his faith. Immediately afterward the following verse was revealed, Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced there of, and whose heart is at rest with Faith. [Holy Quran, 16:106] This meant that forced apostasy in Islam, would not constitute abandonment of the faith, but in the generation of the boy, it would have meant apostasy. In contrast, Ammars parents refused to apostatise and both were killed, becoming martyrs. The Prophet said, A man from those before you would be taken and have a trench dug in the earth for him. Then he would be brought and put into that trench and a saw would be brought and put over his head. He would be cut into two halves and that would not stray him from his religion. Or he would be combed with a comb of iron between his meat and his bones and that would not sway him from his religion. By Allah, Allah will complete this matter [make this religion dominant] until a rider would ride from Sana to Hadhramaut and only have to fear Allah and the wolf for his sheep. But you people are being hasty. [Ahmad and al-Bukhari].
When she jumped into the fire, the fire for her represents belief in Allah and living by renouncing her faith means disbelief in Allah. Ultimately, the fire she is sentenced to jump into by the unbelieving king has not been lit by her own hand. In general, the hadith illustrates the suffering and persecution of believers of prior generations, so that the burden of later generations would be lightened in comparison. It contains no legislative basis as both the boy and the infant are minors miraculously determining the course of events in an unknown time and place in pre-Islamic history.
4. REGARDING PHAROAHS HAIRDRESSER
The Messenger of Allah
said, On the night in which I was taken by night, a fragrance came my way, and so I said, O Gabriel! What is this pleasant fragrance? He said, This is the fragrance of the hairdresser of Pharaohs daughter, and [of the hairdressers] children. I said, What is her situation? He said, While she was combing Pharaohs daughters hair one day, the comb fell from her hand, so she said, In the name of Allah Pharaohs daughter asked. [You mean] my father? She said, No, rather my Lord, and the Lord of your father, is Allah. She said, Can I tell him that? She said, Yes. The hadith goes on to describe that a huge brass pot was heated, and it was ordered for her and her children to be cast therein. She requested from Pharaoh - and he acceded to her request - that her bones and her childrens bones be gathered in a single cloth and be buried. Her children were then thrown into the cauldron one by one before her eyes, until they got to a suckling infant, and it seemed she wavered on account of him, but he said, O mother! Jump in, for the torture of this world is lighter the punishment of the Hereafter. So she jumped in. [Ahmad and Ibn Majah]
This hadith is similar to the previous hadith cited, as are the refutations for using it as evidence in condoning suicide bombing. The era is once again pre-Islamic, where the death sentence had already been passed by the tyrant, and therefore the woman choosing the method of her execution does not diminish from her pre-Islamic status as a martyr. She faces the same choices as the other pre-Islamic female martyr did. Once again, in her hesitation on her account of her child, her suckling infant miraculously speaks, telling her to jump in the fire, rather than face the punishment of the Hereafter. The hadith cited is once again from the pre-Islamic era and based on the miraculous advice of a minor, and exists to primarily demonstrate the persecution of believers from past generations, and does not contain any legislative basis.
5. REGARDING CONTRIBUTING TO ONES DESTRUCTION
When the Muslims were fighting a mighty army of Romans, a man in the Muslim army attacked the Roman ranks until he penetrated them. People shouted, saying, Praise be to Allah! He has contributed to his own destruction. Thereupon, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari stood up, and said, O people! You give this interpretation this verse, whereas it was revealed concerning us, the Ansar. When Allah had given honour to Islam and its supporters had become many, some of us secretly said to one another, Our wealth has been depleted, and Allah has given honour to Islam and its supporters have become many, so let us stay amidst our wealth and make up what had been depleted of it. Thereupon, Allah revealed to His Prophet
And spend in the Path of Allah, and do not contribute to your own destruction [Holy Quran, 2:195] refuting what we had said. So, the destruction lay in staying with our wealth and hoarding it and abandoning combat. Abu Ayyub remained fixed until he was buried in Rome. [Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi]
This has been used as evidence to demonstrate that suicide bombers do not contribute to their own destruction, but this extrapolation is, in itself, erroneous. Firstly, the people were wary that a man who may have contributed to his own destruction by attacking a group of enemies in Jihad single-handedly and out of bravery, when in fact this very bravery has been commended according to various hadith.
This interpretation, with other ahadith, is found to be erroneous, though Abu Ayyub merely provided what he thought was the primary reasons for the revelations of this verse. According to him, destruction lay in staying with our wealth and hoarding it and abandoning combat, meaning that the defensive Jihad for Muslims was deemed an obligation for those under attack. Abu Ayyub was correct to state that his interpretation was the primary reason for the revelation of the verse, and also to state that You give this interpretation this verse, for the peoples interpretation was secondary and erroneous as other ahadith have demonstrated. Though Abu Ayyubs interpretation remains valid of abandoning defensive Jihad, the insight provided by the interpretation of people acquires significance in the age of the suicide bomber. Whereas they erroneously frowned on a brave soldier who penetrated the ranks of the enemies with bravery and single-handedly to fight them, the same interpretation to the verse can now be applied correctly to the suicide bomber. They also penetrate the enemies ranks, but by detonating themselves, they not only contribute to but also actually exact their own destruction.
E. TECHNIQUE AS LEGAL REPREHENSIBLE INNOVATION
The hadith of the boy is considered to be the strongest of evidences for this issue, but has been demonstrated to be extremely tenuous, for events are being demonstrated by minors in a hadith about miracles, the era is pre-Islamic, and that the hadith is primarily intended for describing the previous generations of believers undergoing persecution and has no legislative basis. The quiver of the arrow shot by the king ultimately kills the boy. The mother is killed by the fire that has already been lit for and to which she has already been sentenced to be thrown in. The same case can be made to refute the hadith of the Pharoahs hairdresser. In general, none of them kill themselves with their own hands, as a suicide bomber does. The reason why previous Islamic scholars and jurists never discussed this specific technique of suicide bombing for the past fourteen centuries was because the entire concept was anathema to the valiant and chivalrous martial spirit of Jihad. Therefore, in refuting the evidences used to recruit potential suicide bombers, it has been demonstrated that the technique of suicide bombing as delineated in this fatwa has no place in the Shariah of Islam and is therefore a haram [unlawful and forbidden] tactic, and a legally reprehensible innovation.
F. THE SPECIFITY OF SUICIDE BOMBINGS
In the fatwa, suicide bombings are included under a broad definition of different techniques martyrdom operations. However, within these different techniques, only suicide bombing can be deemed unlawful. The technique of one-man armies plunging into the enemy without armour or little chance of escape as a martyrdom operation is valid, precisely because the warrior is killed by his enemy, and does not kill himself. In addition, the one who accidentally kills himself with a weapon he is brandishing is also considered a martyr, as he never had the intention to kill himself. However, suicide bombing necessitates that the suicide bomber in a pre-meditated fashion blows up himself up with his own hand in an act which is not only haram [unlawful] but a reprehensible innovatory martyrdom operations [RIMO], as it is antithetical and anathema to a genuine martyrdom operation. The person committing kills himself in act which they believe to Islamic when it is actually a reprehensible innovation in contemporary Jihad strategy. The term can be translated in Arabic as al-amliyat al-istishadiya al-bidiyyah al-dalalliyah or al-amliyat al-intihariyyah. It is a historical fact that there has never been a recorded instance of suicide terrorism within the history of Sunni Islam, though it has occurred historically in all other major civilisations and religions. Moreover, apart from being reprehensible innovations, suicide bombings are the equivalent to the enormity of the sin of murder, the most heinous sin in Islam only after associating partners with Allah.
G. EVIDENCES FOR DETERMINING SUICIDE BOMBING AS SUICIDE AND MURDER
There are a plethora of hadith which determine that the technique of suicide bombings can be deemed suicidal and murderous acts within Islam and are forbidden according to these evidences:
1. ETERNAL DAMNATION OF SUICIDE
Do not kill yourselves. Verily, Allah is Merciful to you. And, whoever does that, out of aggresson and injusice. We shall burn him in a Fire. And that is easy for Allah. [Holy Quran, 4:29-30]
Allahs advice to His creation is very clear and explicitly prohibits a person taking his or her own life, whether in civilian life or on a Jihad mission. The scholars of Sunni Islam have accepted the protection of life as the primary aim of the Shariah, within the maxim, Every Shariah came to protect five values: life, intellect, faith, lineage and property.
2. ONES OWN HANDS IN SELF-DESTRUCTION
And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to [your] destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good. [Holy Quran, 2:195]
This verse acquires relevant significance with regards to the illegitimacy of the suicide bombings, as Allah is warning man not to make their own hands contribute to their destruction, as the vast majority of suicide bombings in history are committed by the perpetrators detonating the charges in their hands. The Prophet
has commented on this verse as mentioned above.
3. THE MEANS OF SUICIDE IN THE HEREAFTER
said, He who killed himself with a thing would be tormented on the Day of Resurrection with that very thing. It is not for a man to offer that which he does not own. [Muslim]
Whoever strangles himself will be strangling himself in the Fire, and whoever stabs himself will be stabbing himself in the Fire. [al-Bukhari and Muslim] The Prophet
said, He who commits suicide by stabbing himself with an iron [blade] shall that have that iron [blade] in his hand, and he will thrust it into his body in the fire of Hell, remaining therein forever [in that state], and whoever took poison and killed himself, then he will drink it in the Fire of Hell, remaining therein forever [in that state], and whoever threw himself off a mountain and killed himself, then he will be falling in the Fire of Hell, remaining therein for ever [in that state]. [al-Bukhari and Muslim]
4. SUICIDE IN JIHAD
Among those before you, there was a man with a wound, and he was in anguish, so he took a knife and cut his hands, and the blood did not stop until he died. Allah said, My servant has hastened the ending of his life, so I prohibit Paradise to him. [al-Bukhari and Muslim]
This hadith demonstrates that the mujahid who takes his own life, due to his own anguish, commits the act of hastening the end of his life, which he has no right to do. Allah owns the mans life and no man can know the precise moment of his death, unless he hastens it by taking cutting himself due to a lack of patience and despair. The consequence is eternal damnation.
5. APPARENT MARTYRDOM AS SUICIDE
The Messenger of Allah
, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the disbelievers faced each other and started fighting. When the Messenger of Allah
returned to his camp and when the disbelievers returned to their camp, someone talked about a man amongst the Companions of the Messenger of Allah who had been pursuing and killing with his sword any disbelievers fleeing alone. He said, No one fought as hard today as that man. The Messenger of Allah
said, Truly, he is one of the people of the Fire. A man among the people said, I shall follow him [to see what he does. So he followed him, and wherever he stood, he would stand with him, and wherever he ran, he would run with him. Then the man was wounded seriously and decided to bring about his own death quickly. He slanted the blade of the sword in the ground directing its sharp end towards his chest between his two breasts. Then he leaned on the sword and killed himself. The other man came to the Messenger of Allah
, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, I testify that you are the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet
asked, What happened? He replied, [It is about] the man whom you described as being one of the people of the Fire. The people were greatly surprised at what you said, and so I said, I will find out his reality for you. So I followed him and watched him. He was severely wounded, and hastened to die by slanting the blade of his sword in the ground and directing its sharp end towards his chest between his two breasts. Then he leant on his sword and killed himself. Then the Messenger of Allah
, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, A man may seem to the people as if he were practicing the deeds of the people of Paradise while in fact he is from the people of the Fire, and another may seem to the people as if he were practicing the deeds of the people of the Hell, while in fact he is from the people of the Garden. [al-Bukhari]
By analogy, who ever detonates explosives attached to themselves will detonate explosives attached to themselves in the Fire.
6. THE INTENTION OF THE MARTYR
said, The first person judged on Resurrection Day will be a man martyred in battle. He will be brought forth, Allah will reacquaint him with His blessings upon him and the man will acknowledge them, whereupon Allah will say, What have you done with them? to which the man will respond, I fought to the death for You. Allah will reply, You lie. You fought in order to be called a hero and it has already been said. Then he will sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire.
The importance of the martyrs status is testified here by the fact that he is first person brought on the Day of Resurrection. The importance of having the correct intention and method is revealed when the so-called martyr states to Allah Himself and had he even deluded himself to believe that he fought to death purely for Allah. However, Allah reveals that his hearts deepest intention was in pursuit of fame of being called a hero in death, which he was. Suicide bombers have been celebrated for their actions in death, and referred to as heroes, though they killed themselves, connoting their own intentions. The Prophet
said, Actions are only by intentions, and every man has only that which he intended. Whoevers emigration is for Allah for His Messenger than his emigration is for Allah and for His Messenger. Whoevers emigration is for some worldly gain which he can acquire or a woman he will marry then his is emigration is for which he emigrated.
[al-Bukhari and Muslim] For an act to be accepted by Allah, its intention must be for Allah and His Messenger as his actions must be within the generous boundaries of the last Shariah of Islam revealed by Allah and within the sustained Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad
. The suicide bombers believes that his act is for Allah, but because his intentions and his actions are not purified as stated in the hadith, Allah will not accept their self-sacrifice.
7. OBEDIENCE IN ONLY THE MERITABLE
The Messenger of Allah
sent an expedition and appointed over the Mujahideen a commander; he also ordered that his word should be listen to and obeyed. In another narration it is said that they made the commander angry in a matter. He said, Collect dry wood for me. They collected it for him. Then he said, Kindle a fire. They kindled a fire. Then he said, Didnt the Messenger of Allah order you to listen to me and obey my order? They said, Yes. He said, Enter the fire. Some people made up their minds to enter it, but others said, We have fled from the fire, to find refuge with the Messenger of Allah. In another narration, it is said that they stood quiet until his anger had abated and the fire dwindled. The matter was reported to the Messenger of Allah
. He said to those who had contemplated entering the fire at the order of their commander, If you had entered it, you would have remained there until the Day of Judgment. He commended the act of the latter group and said, There is no obedience in disobedience to Allah. Obedience to the commander is only in what is clearly meritable. [Muslim]
The Marouf, comes from the word the to know and also meritable; it could be termed, the known good.
8. THE FIRST MARTYRS OF ISLAM
In the early stages of Prophet Muhammads
propagation of Islam in Makkah, the family of a slave, Yassar, converted to Islam, and were subsequently persecuted by their arch pagan-master, Abu Jahl. Abu Jahl used to torture Yassars family under the burning sun of the desert at noon. The Prophet
would pass by, encourage them to be patient, and give them the glad tidings that their reward had already been assigned in Paradise. All the members of Yassars family were patient and held onto their religion to the extent that Abu Jahl, exasperated, killed Umm Ammar [Yassars wife] with a spear. In contrast, under severe suffering and extreme torture, Yassars son, Ammar, uttered a word construed as recantation to al-Lat and Uzza, though his heart never wavered and he came back once to the Prophet
, who consoled him for his pain and confirmed his faith. Immediately afterwards the following verse was revealed, Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced there of, and whose heart is at rest with Faith. [Holy Quran, 16:106]
The fact that the first martyr in Islam is a woman, wife and mother speaks immeasurable words. For those seeking martyrdom in Jihad on the battlefield, it is the example of Umm Ammar which Allah manifested as a clear sign on the method of Prophetic Sunnah when faced with overwhelming persecution, oppression and torture. At a time when accepting Islam was extremely dangerous, a poor slave's family converted and were persecuted for their conversion. However, it is the methods of Prophet Muhammad
which shed greatest light on what to do when faced with such persecution. He would pass by those being persecuted, and encourage them to be patient in return for exalted position in eternal Paradise. It may be said that Islam was not at full strength at that point, but to do so would neglect the role of Prophet Muhammad
in the context of giving Prophetic advice at that moment for later generations to reflect upon. In life, Umm Ammar had the blessed attribute of patience, and before her death, of gratitude. Her patience in persecution led to her gratitude to Allah for giving her this rank in Paradise. Umm Ammars martyrdom is pacifism at its height, because she could have retaliated or killed herself but preferred her Lord. By analogy, when a suicide bomber blows themselves up, they lose sense of the method which gained Islam its first martyr, which was the Prophet
demanding patience. In the face of patience, hope and love which Umm Ammar epitomised as taught by Prophet Muhammad
, there is impatience, despair and nihilistic hatred in the act of the suicide bomber. Whereas Umm Ammar annihilated her ego [Jihad an-nafs] in devotion to Allah, the suicide bomber annihilates himself [qatal an-nafs] physically and metaphysically. Moreover, Umm Ammars patience of the Islamic Shariah can be contrasted with the pre-Islamic martyrdom of the suckling infants mother and the Pharaohs hairdresser to demonstrate how in both pre-Islamic and Islamic eras, the most important priority was to die, or be killed in a state of martyrdom, believing in Allah. Moreover, Umm Ammars patience was eventually manifest in Allahs Supreme Justice when Abu Jahl, the man who had killed her, was found dead in a ditch during the Jihad battle of as a result of the Prophet Muhammad
invoking Allah to destroy him for his wicked oppression.
9. ACCIDENTAL DEATH IN GENERAL
When the Prophet Muhammad
emigrated to Madinah, Tufayl ibn Amr also migrated with him as did a man from Tufayls tribe. However, the climate of Madinah did not suite the man, who fell ill and became queasy. So, he took hold of the iron head of an arrow and cut his finger-joints. The blood streamed forth from his hands, till he died. Tufayl ibn Amr saw the man in a dream. He was in a good state, and his hands were bandaged. So Tufayl asked him, What treatment did your Lord accord you? He replied, Allah forgave me for my migration to the Prophet
. Then Tufayl asked, Why do I see that your hands are now bandaged? The man replied, I was told by my Lord, We should correct that which you have damaged yourself. Tufayl narrated this dream to the Messenger of Allah
, who said, O Allah! Even to his hands, forgive him! [Muslim]
This is a hadith which must be understood in its context. an-Nawawi believes that this hadith substantiates the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah that a believer does not become an infidel however grave his sin maybe. This is because Allah forgave the man due to his intention and where he featured in history. This man partook in the greatest emigration according to Islam, and that was to Allahs Prophet
in Madinah. This demonstrates the mans intention and status as a believer in a unique time, and is the sole reason for his forgiveness. The man may have accidentally killed himself, due to the mental delirium of his illness and would not be taken to task for committing suicide. But even if he took his life because the pain was unbearable, his life belongs to Allah, and should it have been another time in Islamic history, Allah would not have forgiven the person for committing the same actions as he would deem it suicide. However, the mans intention to migrate to the Prophet
counts overwhelmingly in his favour, and also results in Allahs subsequent bandaging of the mans hands. As the man had emigrated for the Prophets sake, the Prophet
asks Allah for forgiveness for him and his hands, and the man earns Allahs forgiveness. If we look at the example of the man who killed himself with the same instrument, the Prophet
neither prayed for him nor asked for Allahs forgiveness for him. Hence, this demonstrates the virtue of the emigration which took place at the time of the Prophet Muhammad
, as this man is from the best people of the time. Additionally, it also serves to underline that whoever emigrates for Allah, his emigration is for Allah.
10. ACCIDENTAL DEATH IN JIHAD
It has been narrated o n the authority of Ibn Salama, he heard the tradition from his father who said, On the way to Khaibar, my uncle, Amer, began to recite the following rajaz verses for the people: By Allah, if you had not guided us rightly, we would have neither practice charity nor offered prayers. We cannot do without Your Favours; keep us steadfast when we encounter the enemy and descend tranquility upon us. The Messenger of Allah
said, Who is this? Amer said, Amer. He said, May Allah forgive you! The narrator said, Whenever the Messenger of Allah asked forgiveness for a particular person, he was sure to embrace martyrdom. Umar ibn Khattab, Prophet of Allah, I wish you had allowed us to benefit from Amer. Salama continued: When we reached Khaibar, its king named Mahrab advanced, brandishing his sword and chanting, Khaibar knows that I am Mahrab, a fully armed and well-tried warrior, when the war comes spreading its flames. My uncle, Amer, came out to combat with him, saying, Khaibar certainly knows that I am Amer, a fully armed veteran who plunges into battles. They exchanged blows. Mahrabs sword struck the shield of Amer, who bent forward to attack his opponent from below, but his sword recoiled upon him and cut the main artery in his forearm which caused his death. Salama said, I came out and heard some people among the Companions of the Holy Prophet
say, Amers deed has gone to waste; he has killed himself. So I cam to the Prophet
weeping, and I said, Messenger of Allah, Amers deed has gone to waste. The Prophet
said, Who passed this remark? I said, Some of your Companions. He said, He who has passed that remark has told a lie, for Amer there is a double reward. [Muslim]
This concerns a mujahid accidentally killing himself in battle, such as the case of Amer, whose sword recoiled and cut an artery in his forearm, leading to his death. Like the people who had had though that a warriors penetrating the ranks of the enemy had contributed to his destruction [Holy Quran, 2:195], some of the people amongst the Prophets Companions thought that his deed has gone to waste; he has killed himself. The Prophet
refuted this, saying that he had a double reward. The reasons for this are clear. Firstly, Amers martyrdom had already been prayed for by the Prophet
, and that this would come to pass. Secondly, Amer bravely chose to encounter Mahrab in full-combat, with the intention to kill him in the Path of Allah, and the Prophet
had affirmed his intention when Amer had prayed to Allah in the poem to fight with steadfastness. Thirdly, the two rewards for Amer are because he had the intention to fight Mahrab in the path of Allah and died doing so. Therefore, the one who has an intention for Jihad in the path of Allah but accidentally kills himself with his own weapon is deemed a martyr. In contrast, a suicide bomber detonates himself consciously and deliberately.
11. SHUNNING THE SUICIDE PERPETRATOR
The dead body of a person who had killed himself with a broad-head arrow was brought before the Apostle of Allah, but he did not pray for him. [Muslim]
This demonstrates the general abhorrence which Islam has towards suicide of all kinds, as the Prophet
did not pray for a man who had committed suicide. The schools of Islamic jurisprudence have various stipulations regarding the washing, burial and funeral prayer for a person who commits suicide.
1. KILLING OF ONE PERSON
So, We decreed for the tribe of Israel that if someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation forsomeone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all of mankind. [Holy Quran, 5:32]
Murder is a heinous crime in Islam, with devastating consequences in the next world, and the suicide bomber murders when he detonates himself, as civilian bystanders are always killed.
2. KILLING OF MUSLIMS
As for anyone who kills a mumin [believing Muslim] deliberately, his repayment is Hell, remaining in it timelessly, forever. Allah is angry with him and has cursed him, and has prepared from a terrible punishment. [Holy Quran, 4:93]
Any suicide bomber who kills Muslims deliberately faces eternal damnation. In this regard, the Prophet
also said, The cessation of the temporal world is less significant to Allah than the killing of a single Muslim person. [al-Nasai]
3. KILLING OF NON-MUSLIMS
said, Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance is perceived from a distance of forty years [al-Bukhari].
also said in this regard, Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them in more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment [al-Bukhari]. If a government in a Muslim land has gained a treaty with a protected minority, ensuring their safety and security, then their life and wealth are protected, it is not permissible to harm him, and whoever kills him, then he will not smell the smell of Paradise. Sanctuary and refuge is to be given to the non-Muslim citizen who requests it: When Umm Hani granted sanctuary to a man from the polytheists in the Year of the Conquest, and when Ali ibn Abi Talib desired to kill him, she went to the Prophet
, and informed him [of that] so he said: We have granted sanctuary to the one you have granted sanctuary, O Umm Hani. [al-Bukhari and Muslim] Therefore the one who has entered a Muslim-majority land in the present day, and has the intent here is that the agreement of personal security, then it is not permissible to violate his rights within the Shariah.
4. KILLING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
forbade the killing of women and children. [Malik]
forbade killing women and children in Jihad, whereas the suicide bombers murder victims can include women and children. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar that a woman was found killed in one of the battles; so the Messenger of Allah
forbade the killing of women and children. Though it has been reported that there were instances of collateral damage during night-raids by Muslim commanders, where woman and children may have been unknown women, Ibn Abbas, the prime interpreter of the Holy Quran said, The Messenger of Allah
did not kill the children of the enemy, so you should not kill the children. [Muslim] Therefore, we can determine that the explicit injunction of Islam is that women, children, the sick and the religious devotees are not be to be killed. Regarding the deployment of females during war, their professions were always ancillary and in support-services, like nursing and water-carries: The Messenger of Allah
allowed Umm Sulaym and some other women of the Ansar to accompany him when he went to war; they would give water to the soldiers and would treat the wounded [Muslim]. Utilising women and children in operations or targeting them or considering the collateral damager is forbidden by the Shariah.
H. ABANDONING FORBIDDEN MILITARY TACTICS
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF INTENTIONS IN JIHAD
The Messenger of Allah
send us to Huraqt, a tribe of Juhaina. We attacked that tribe early in the morning and defeated them. I and a man from the Ansar caught a hold of a man of the defeated tribe. When we overcame him, he said, There is no god but Allah. At that moment, the Ansari refrained from him, but I attacked him with my spear and killed him. The news had already reached the Messenger, so when we came back, he said to me: Usama, did you kill him after he had made the profession: There is no god but Allah? I said, Did you kill him after he had made the profession: There is no god but Allah? He repeated this to me till I wished that I had not embraced Islam before that day. [Muslim]
It demonstrates the violation of killing a Muslim in general, even if one suspects that their conversion is false, as Khalid ibn Walid said he did. It is not possible to know Khalids true intentions, though even if he believed that the tribe had not become Muslim, it would not detract from the fact that proclaiming the Shahadah on the battlefield constitutes that the blood of a Muslim becomes sacrosanct to another Muslim.
2. A FLAWED JIHAD MISSION
In 10 AH/ 630 CE, after the destruction of the idols, occurred the unfortunate incident of the Bani Jazima. The Prophet
sent a number of expeditions to the tribes living in the neighbourhood of Makkah to call them to Islam, and instructed the commanders not to fight those who accepted the call. Here again the Prophets intention was to avoid bloodshed. The expedition to the area of Tihama, south of Makkah, was commanded by Khalid ibn Walid. It consisted of 350 horsemen from several tribal contingents, the largest number being from the Bani Sulaym, and included a few Ansars and Emigrants. The objective of this force was Yalamlam, about 50 miles from Makkah. When Khalid reached Al Ghumaisa, about 15 miles from Makkah on the way to Yalamlam, he met the tribe of Bani Jazima. The tribesmen saw the Muslims and took up their weapons, at the same time calling, We have submitted. We have established prayers and built a mosque. Then why the weapons? asked Khalid. We have a feud with certain Arab tribes and have to defend ourselves against them. Lay down your arms! ordered Khalid. All the people have become Muslims and there is no need for you to carry weapons. One man from the Bani Jazima now shouted to his comrades: This is Khalid, son of Al Walid. Beware of him! After the laying down of arms there will be a binding of hands, and after the binding of hands there will be a severing of heads! There was an old feud between the clan of Khalid and the Bani Jazima. In pre-Islamic days a small Quraysh caravan was returning from the Yemen when it was set upon by the Bani Jazima, who looted the caravan and killed two important individuals- Awf, father of Abdur-Rahman bin Awf, and Fakiha, son al-Mughirah and an uncle of Khalid. Abdur-Rahman had later killed the murderer of his father and thus avenged his fathers blood, but the death of Fakiha had not been avenged. All this, however, happened during the Era of Ignorance. The people of the Bani Jazima now began to dispute with the man who was warning them against Khalid. Do you want to have us slaughtered? they asked him. All the tribes have laid down their arms and have become Muslims. The war is over. After a brief argument the tribe laid down its arms. The cause of what happened next is not clear. Perhaps Khalid reverted momentarily to the tribal vindictiveness of the Era of Ignorance. [He had been a Muslim for only a few months.] On the other hand, perhaps there was an excess of Islamic zeal in the heart of Khalid and he doubted the truth of the declaration of faith by the tribe. As the tribesmen laid down their arms, Khalid ordered his men to tie their hands behind them. He then ordered that all the captives be put to the sword. Luckily only the Bani Sulaym obeyed the order and killed the captives in their hands, whose number is not known. Other tribal contingents refused to carry out the order.
There was a strong protest from Abdullah, son of Umar, and Abu Qatadah, but Khalid rejected the protest. Abu Qatadah immediately rode to Makkah and informed the Prophet
of what Khalid had done. The Prophet
was horrified. He raised his hands towards heaven and exclaimed: O Lord! I am not responsible for what Khalid has done.
He then sent Ali with a good deal of money to soothe the feelings of the Bani Jazima and pay indemnity for the blood that had been shed. Ali carried out the mission with generosity and did not return until the tribe was fully satisfied. Khalid was now sent for by the Prophet
who demanded an explanation for what he had done. Khalid said that he did not believe that they really were Muslims, that he had the impression that they were deceiving him, and that he believed that he was killing in the way of Allah. Present with the Prophet
was Abdur-Rahman bin Auf. When he heard the explanation of Khalid, he said, You have committed an act of Ignorance in the days of Islam. Khalid now thought that he saw a way out of this delicate predicament, and he replied, But I took revenge for the killing of your father. You lie! snapped Abdur-Rahman. I killed the murderer of my father a long time ago and vindicated the honour of my family. You ordered the slaughter of the Bani Jazima in revenge for the death of your uncle, Fakiha. This led to a heated argument between the two. And this was a mistake on the part of Khalid, for Abdur-Rahman was one of the Blessed Ten and thus had a position which few could challenge. Before the argument could get out of hand, however, the Prophet
intervened and said sternly, Leave my Companions alone, O Khalid! If you possessed a mountain of gold and spent it in the way of Allah, you would not achieve the status of my Companions. He was referring, of course, to his early Companions, for Khalid too was a Companion. Thus was Khalid put in his place. He was pardoned; but he learnt the important lesson that he, as a later convert, did not have the same status as the early Companions, especially the Blessed Ten. He was to keep this lesson in mind on many future occasions. [Accounts amalgamated from Ibn Sad, Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari]
This story is highly important. It states how the military commander of the Muslims and referred to as a Sword of Allah by the Prophet
, Khalid ibn Walid, made a mistake in Jihad, and how the Prophet Muhammad
disowned his act to Allah. It is not possible to know Khalids true intentions, though even if he believed that the tribe had not become Muslim, it would not detract from the fact that proclaiming the Shahadah on the battlefield constitutes that the blood of a Muslim becomes sacrosanct to another Muslim. We have the example of the story of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf who was given precedence by the Prophet
for his status as one of the Blessed 10 Companions granted Paradise in their lifetime, and, with Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, only one of two people to have led the Prophet Muhammad
in prayer. Both his statements about Khalids conduct, that it being of the Ignorant Pre-Islamic period and/ or that the killing was done in revenge for Abdur-Rahmans father and/ or Khalids uncle demonstrate that the act was not to be accepted by Allah, the Prophet
or by the Companions as constituting legitimate Jihad. It was in violation of it. For this reason, the Prophet
supplicated in disowning himself of the act, as the Commander of Khalid, and sent Ali to make amends. He then censured Khalid for his actions, both the killing of the Muslims and for barraging Abdur-Rahman.
I. ADOPTING CHIVALRY IN ISLAM
The concept of chivalry [futuwwa] is at the forefront of Jihad. It is derived from the term of fata/ youth and is used in the Holy Quran concerning Prophet Abraham after he broke the idols of the idol worshippers in an attempt to convince them of their powerlessness and thus the futility in worshipping them: So he broke them to pieces, [all] but the biggest of them, that they might turn [and address themselves] to it. They said, who has done this to our gods? He must be indeed some man of impiety! They said: We heard a youth [fata] make mention of them, who is called Abraham [Holy Quran, 21:58-60] The fata is the one who breaks an idol, and the idol of each man is his ego. The idealism of youth is combined with the maturity of one who has purified his intention solely for Allah and presented himself on the battlefield. The archetype would be Ali ibn Ali Talib, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad
, one of the bravest Muslims, named the Lion of Allah, and for his brilliant intellect named The Gate of Knowledge. As a youngster, Ali was found by the leaders of the Quraysh when they had come to assassinate the Prophet Muhammad
: It was a very critical moment. Ali knew that the Quraysh had planned to assassinate the Prophet
, and fully realized that his bed that night was to be turned into a place of murder, but, for the Victor of Khaibar it was a bed of roses. On that occasion a Qur'anic verse revealed in favour of Ali, which reads: And among men there is he who would sell himself to seek the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is Compassionate to His servants. [Holy Quran, 2:207] Two incidents on the battlefield illustrate the model of Imam Ali as constituting the prime example of chivalry, which has also been immortalised in al-Mathnavi, the poetry of Rumi, one of the leading Persian poets of Islam and also of Alis consistency. The heart of this chivalry contains selfless generosity, unbounding courage and purifying ones action with complete sincerity and dedication solely for Allah.
1. PURITY IN INTENTION OF JIHAD
In the month of Shawwal 7 AH/ 627 CE, the Muslims fought in the Battle of the Trench against a confederation of tribes at war with them. During the battle, Ali ibn Ali Talib encountered one of the chiefs of Quraysh, Amru ibn Abd Wudd, renowned for his bravery and strength, as well as his reputation as a formidable wrester within Arabia; he was said to be the equivalent of a thousand horseman. When he managed to traverse the Trench with a party of men, he challenged the Muslims to a duel of swords. Ali asked Prophet Muhammad
to permit him to accept the challenge, but Prophet Muhammad
refused his offer, simply stating that he was the formidable Amru. With no one accepting Amrus taunts to duel, Alis insisted for permission to duel for the third time. This time, the Prophet
accepted, and gave him the famed sword, Dhul-Fiqar, and supplicated for his success. Ali asked Amru to accept Islam, but he refused and preferred to fight Ali. Towering over his opponent, the more experienced and stronger Amru hammered blows on Alis shield and clashed with his sword. Ali then dropped his sword and shield to the ground; he leapt to grab Amru throat, and kicked him off balance. Amru crashed to the ground, with Ali now towering over him: Know, O Amru, that victory and defeat depend upon the will of Allah. Accept Islam! Thus not only will your life be spared, but you will also enjoy the blessings of Allah in this life and the next. At this suggestion, Amru spat into Alis face, fully expecting death. Ali rose calmly from Amrus chest, wiped his face, and stood a few paces away, gazing solemnly at his adversary. Know, O Amru, I only kill in the way of Allah and not for any private motive. Since you spat in my face, my killing you now may be from a desire for personal vengeance. So I spare your life. Rise and return to your people! For Amru, to live now, would be to live as the vanquished after having tasted victory on the battlefield all his life. He lunged at Ali as he walked away. With enough time to lift his sword and shield, Ali prepared for the fresh assault. Amrus devastating blow shattered Alis shield, inflicting a shallow cut to Alis temple. As the second blow rose, Ali swept Dhul-fiqar and decapitated Amru. The Muslims praised Allah. After killing of Amru bin Abd Wudd, Imam Ali had the gap in the trench which Amru had breached blocked, and took his post at that point with the intention of confronting anyone who might try to cross the trench. They too, would encounter Amrus fate should they have tried. When Imam Ali returned from the battlefield, the Messenger of Allah
received him and said: The fighting of `Ali bin Abi Talib with Amru bin Abd Wudd is greater in measure than the actions of my people until the Day of Resurrection. Ali ensured that the precious chain of armour, adorned with hung-gold rings, which Amru had worn during their duel, was returned to Amrus sister of the Bani Amir, so that it would not be thought that Ali had killed him in greed of this precious chain coat. [Accounts amalgamated from Ibn Sad, Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari]
J. THE DEFINITION OF THE MARTYRED ISLAMIC WARRIOR
The Martyred Islamic Warrior [Shaheed Mujahid] is the one who is martyred during a martial Jihad, in distinction to the other types of Shaheed. From the above analysis, for the mujahid to qualify as a Shaheed in the battlefield, he must fulfill two criteria: firstly, he must be killed by means or weapons other than his own; and secondly, he must not know the precise moment of his own death. The suicide bomber detonates bombs attached to himself, dictating the precise moment at which he dies.
This holistic legal deduction claims to be the optimum perspective of the Prophetic Way, aligned with the hearts of the Ummah and produced for global consensus of Sunni Muslims:
The technique of suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Sunni Islam. It is considered legally forbidden, constituting a reprehensible innovation in the Islamic tradition, morally an enormity of sin combining suicide and murder and theologically an act which has consequences of eternal damnation.
Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it the lesser Jihad. As for the greater Jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self [nafs]: Nuh Ha Mim Keller (Trans. & Edit), Reliance of the Traveller, (USA, 1991), p. 599
In fact, the tactic of suicide bombing, or suicidal terrorism, has been historically used by non-Muslims for centuries from all over the globe. Ancient assailants would have used a dagger, and unless the victim could be found alone, the terrorists were unlikely to return from their missions. The best mediation over the origins of suicide bombings can be found in Bombing without Moonlight: The Origins of Suicide Bombing, www.masud.co.uk
, by Abdal Hakim Murad, for much of which this material is derived, particularly in the section, Samson Terrorists: The genealogy of suicide bombing clearly stretches back from Palestine, through Shia 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. But Murad and others have also found derivations for suicide bombing in nearly every culture, ancient and modern:
Buddhism, Nirvana, Vietnam and Tibet: Self-immolation is the act of setting oneself ablaze, most often in protest, and is considered to be among the most powerful symbolic acts of sacrifice. In Buddhism, martyrs seeking Nirvana [enlightenment] committed self-immolation in the same vein as the self-immolation of the Tibetan monks today protesting Sino-occupation of Tibet. During the Vietnam War, a number of Buddhist monks self-immolated in protest of the - then escalating - civil war, and US involvement. The first and now iconic self-immolation by a Buddhist in the modern media age was by Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who burnt himself to death whilst sitting in the traditional lotus position on a busy intersection in Saigon on June 11, 1963. Thich Quang Duc had prepared himself for his self-immolation through several weeks of meditation and had explained his motivation in letters to members of his Buddhist community as well as to the government of South Vietnam in the weeks prior to his self-immolation. He was protesting against the way the Catholic Diem administration, that reigned during the Vietnam War, was oppressing his religion. As well as a political act, his self-immolation was seen as a religious suicide and was religiously justified based on Chinese Buddhist texts written between the fifth and tenth centuries C.E. His own suicidal act was followed the next day by the self-immolation of several monks. In Buddhism, Thich Quang Duc is now considered to be a bodhisattva, an enlightened being - one on the path to awakening who vows to forego complete enlightenment until he or she helps all other beings attain enlightenment.
Hinduism, Atmaghatka to Tamil Tigers: Hinduism plays host to atmaghataka, the suicidal Hindu, where religious suicide was highly recommended and glorified, finding its modern-day equivalent in the Sri Lankan Hindu and Marxist militant group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] or Tamil Tigers. By a vast majority, the largest numbers of suicide attacks in contemporary history have been carried out by the Tamil Tigers, in its 20-plus year campaign of terror which has employed more than 150 suicide attacks since its initiation, more than any other militant group in the world. The first Black Tiger suicide attack was on Nelliady Central College where troops were billeted, but it was considered the first organised suicide attack by the group, which had begun in the 1970s. The Tamil Tigers employ unusual tactics, such as relying heavily on the use of female suicide bombers, and sophisticated training in their pursuit of an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka. They target high-level government and military officials, and women have carried out around one-third of the Tamil Tigers suicide attacks, most infamously when Thenmuli Rajaratnam, also known as Dhanu, killed former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, herself and 16 others at an election rally near Madras in May 199 At an election rally, she had managed to evade security by concealing the bomb under her dress, and detonated it whilst bending down to touch Gandhis feet. Using suicide attackers, the Tigers also managed to kill Sri Lankan President, Ranasinghe Premadasa, in 1993. The Tamil suicide bombers are not the product of a religious cult, but rather a cult of personality: Velupillai Prabhakaran, the brutal and charismatic LTTE leader who initiated the practice. The 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S. helped to spur peace talks between the rebel group and government officials, which led to the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE have been observing the Norwegian-brokered CFA signed in February 2002. However, this truce was imperiled two years later, when a female LTTE suicide bomber blew herself up inside a police station in Colombo, killing five people and wounding one. The suicide-bomb belt, prior to its Arab borrowing, was first used by the Tamil Tigers in the 1970s; Edgar OBallance, The Cyanide War: Tamil Insurrection in Sri Lanka 1973-88, (London, 1989), p.13. Murad states, The Tigers Hindu roots thus nourish the current Palestinian practice; as one observer notes: the Black Tigers, as the suicide cadres are known, have been emulated by the likes of Hamas: Amantha Perera, Suicide bombers feared and revered, Asia Times, July 17, 2003. Both the Tamil Tigers Hindu polytheism or Marxist atheism would account for the justification of these acts from an Islamic cosmological view.
Pagan West: Hellenstic heroes such as Achilles committed to battle against the Trojans, for well knowing that the gods had promised this leading to his death. Mithraism, an ancient Hellenistic religion, based on worship of a god called Mithras, arrived fully mature at Rome with the return of the legions from the east in the first century BC. Though there is much speculation that Mithraic belief was influenced by Christian beliefs, or vice-versa., Mithras as a deity self-immolates himself on the Cross and then resurrects himself comparable to Isis, the resurrected Jesus Christ or the Persephone/Demeter cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Judaism and Zionism: The Jewish sects of Zealots and Sicarii [daggers] in Roman-occupied Judea utilised suicide terrorism, resulting in the infamous mass suicide of Jews in 73 AD at Masada in face of Roman soldiers who had succeeded in breaching the citadel after a nearly two-year siege. The Biblical text never appears to condemn suicide, but rather offers several examples of those who chose death, citing Saul, Jonah and Job. Judaisms history has early rabbis accepting self-immolation in war, citing Samson and Sauls deaths as exemplary, whilst in the Jewish Middle Ages, the epidemic of self-immolation seemed to endanger Jewish existence, particularly amongst the Ashkenazi Jews. Israels existence also came about through suicide terrorism, if not the terrorism which evicted the British from the King David Hotel in 1948, the first act of political terrorism in the modern Middle East. The former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Goren, allowed suicide as an alternative to prisoner-of-war status, following the examples of Saul and Masada: Sidney Goldstein, Suicide in Rabbinic Literature (Hoboken, 1989), p. 41-2. Avram Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of mandate Palestine, in Walter Wurzburgers words, permitted individuals to volunteer for suicide missions when carried out in the interest of the collective Jewish community. In other words, an act that would be illicit if performed to help individuals, would be legitimate if intended for the benefit of the community: Walter S. Wurzburger, Ethics of Responsibility: Pluralistic Approaches to Covenantal Ethics (Philadelphia, 1994), p. 92. Murad also mediates on the similarities between the Islamist terrorist and his Zionist counterpart, as found in modern Western literature.
Christianity and Knights: Certain notions of Christianity perceive Christ to have committed ritual suicide on the Cross due to His Divine Nature, performing the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of humanity: In the nascent Christian movement, Jesus came to be presented as a suicide, albeit one who knew that he would be resurrected
the dominant voice in the New Testament presents him as going to Jerusalem in the awareness that this would bring about his certain death [see Mark 10: 32-4]. Murad also describes the insistent courting of martyrdom by many early Christians as well as stating that most orthodox Christian martyrs appear to have been volunteers, many of them appearing from nowhere to clamour for the death penalty, or emerging from the crowds to join the flames consuming one of their brethren. It was only with Augustine that this self-immolating behaviour came to an end, as involuntary martyrdom was established as the only acceptable Christian norm in the West: Arthur J. Droge and James D. Tabor, Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom among Christians and Jews in antiquity, (San Francisco, 1992), p. 134. The first of the Christian military orders of the Crusades founded in 1118, and who have strongly contributed to ritual and foundation of various branches of modern Freemasonry, the Knights Templar destroyed one of their own ships during the Crusades, killing 140 Christians in order to kill ten times as many Muslims. The medieval Cathars of southern France and northern Italy looked favorably on suicide, an attitude which made the more fervent of them impervious to persecution. During the trench warfare of World War I, British and French soldiers in World War I would leave their trenches to climb over dead comrades and march into machine gun fire in what was, essentially, a form of mass self-sacrifice. Nor was it just the front-line troops who marched off to their death. Vincent Kraft, a German spy in World War I committed a serious offense while serving on the Western front for which the penalty was death and was offered the alternative of undertaking what he described as a very dangerous mission in the East. The self-immolation of three Americans protesting the Vietnam War was also committed in the name of Christianity.
Shinto-Japan to Kamikaze & Seppuku: Shintoism is well-known for the concept of hara kiri, stoic suicide. In modern warfare, the Japanese utilised the tactic of the Shinto-derived kamikaze [divine wind] in World War II against the Americans. The Japanese Navy used both one and two-man piloted torpedoes called kaitens on suicide missions, which were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time. Whilst early kaitens were provided with escape hatches, there is no evidence that they were ever used or that the pilots had any intention of using them, but later versions provided no means of escape. After aiming a two-person kaiten at their target, the two crew members were to embrace and shoot each other in the head. Social support for such choices was strong, due in part to Japanese cultural history, in which seppuku, honourable suicide, was part of samurai duty. It was also fostered and indoctrinated by the Imperial program to persuade, often through coercion, the Japanese soldiers to commit these acts. The kamikaze attacks became infamous of Japanese planes been flown into Americans ships, as first occurred in the Battle of the Philippines, November 1944. In the Battle of Okinawa, April 1945, some 2,000 kamikaze rammed fully-fuelled fighter planes into more than 300 ships, killing 5,000 Americans in the most costly naval battle in U.S. history. Due to such losses, there was support for using the atomic bomb to end World War II: A. Axell, Kamikaze (New York, 2002). Ahmed Qurei, the then- Palestinian Prime Minster also said, A hundred thousand Palestinians are willing to become kamikazes: Joshua Hammer, Fight, Then Talk?, Newsweek, March 25, 2002.
American History: There are three types of suicide terrorism which can be associated as being indigenous to the United States of America; the first is the celebration of suicidal martyrdom by the entertainment industry of Hollywood: the second is assassination using suicidal terrorism; and the third is self-immolation as a form of political protest:
i. Hollywood: Hollywood has developed its own cult of celebrating heroic self-sacrifice and martyrdom, where if the cause is just and the future of humanity is at stake, the heros martyrdom is acceptable. In addition, his family may initially oppose it with vocal concern and tears, but after the self-sacrifice, they will be consoled over it and perceive it to have been a death for the greater public, and often global, good. Some of its most highest-grossing summer blockbuster films have helped to perpetuate this heroic myth. Four American summer blockbusters released prior to 9/11 centred on apocalyptic themes from 1991 to 2001 which celebrated suicidal martyrdom within American popular culture as produced by the Hollywood studio system. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day , the cyborg sent from the future to avert a future nuclear war between humanity and cyborgs destroys himself at the end of the film, lest he be the future, much to the anguish of the fatherless teenager he has been protecting like a father figure. In Independence Day  is about aliens invading Earth, but has become infamous for its images of the destruction of the White House which at the time of release were greeted to cheers from American cinema audiences. At the films conclusion, an affable everyman crop-duster and former UFO-abductee drives his missile-laden aircraft into the centre of the alien mothership at the films conclusion, with his penultimate words, tell my children I love them very much. As he drives into the ship, his final words of Hello Boys! Im Back! are far more jubilant, for as a former UFO -abductee, he is exacting revenge, which in turn makes his martyrdom more acceptable to the audience and humourous. His son is consoled by an American military officer with the words, What your father did was very brave. You should be proud of him. Armageddon , as cited by Murad, also features a group of socially marginalised Americans who sacrifice their lives by detonating their spacecraft inside a comet that is on a collision course with Earth. In doing so they are defying tradition and even lawful orders, but they earn thereby the eternal gratitude of their people. When unable to detonate the bomb, the self-sacrificing leader of the team takes it upon himself to detonate his spacecraft inside the comet, before he tells his daughter that he loves her. Like Independence Day, her consolation after his self-sacrifice is offered by a man who says, Im proud to know the daughter of the man who just saved the world. The makers of Armageddon returned with Pearl Harbour , released only months before 9/11, a semi-fictionalised story based around the American bombing of Tokyo and the attack on the American naval base by the Japanese which contributed to US entry in World War II. The US Airforce commander, General Dolittle, tells his volunteer pilots about bombing mission over Tokyo, which is so dangerous that one out of every two pilots will be dead, in essence asking for volunteers for a suicide mission. In another briefing, he instructs the pilots that they wont have the fuel to get back to the carriers, meaning that they should crash land in Chinese territory. At the films conclusion, we learn that as a result of the Dolittle Raid, two crews were captured by the Japanese and three fliers were executed without trial, called war criminals by the Japanese. In other words, the film celebrates a military mission which is so dangerous, that it can be deemed suicidal. Contrasted images of the Japanese kamikaze pilots proliferate through the film. The first reported mutiny by soldiers in the US-led occupation of Iraq came on October 24, 2004, when 19 reservists refused to carry a convoy into Baghdad, stating that the task itself was a suicide mission because of the miserable condition of their unarmored vehicles.
ii. Assassination: On December 11, 1960, in Palm Beach, Florida, USA, retired postmaster Richard Pavlick chose at the last moment not to ram US President John F. Kennedys car and detonate his seven sticks of dynamite. Pavlick later explained that it was out of concern for Jackie: I did not wish to harm her or the children... I decided to get him at the church or some place later.
iii. Self-Immolatary Protests: Following the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc in Vietnam in 1963, two Americans also immolated themselves in 1965, in religious protest of the Vietnam War. The first was Norman Morrison, who performed the act after reading an article by a missionary about the destruction of a Vietnamese village by napalm and the other, Roger Allen LaPorte. Another American, twenty-year old George Winne Jr, on May 11, 1970, immolated himself on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, leaving a note saying, For Gods sake, stop the war.
Nationalism and Political Ideologies: From the make-shift bombs used by nineteenth-century anarchists and Russian revolutionaries that were so unstable that they had to be thrown from a short distance to Marxist-influenced Tamil Tigers, the Viet Minh death volunteers used against the French colonial army, the Vietcong sympathisers who blew up themselves and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, all demonstrate how guerilla, militant, revolutionary and nationalist groups driven by political ideology have used suicide terrorism. Similarly, when ten Irish Republican Army members starved themselves in 1981 over nearly two months, their self-sacrificial acts were often compared to the instantaneous deaths of suicide bombers in Lebanon. Early in 1986, Muammar al-Qaddhafi, the Libyan President, declared he would train suicide squads for terrorist and suicide missions and allocate trainers for them and place all the weapons needed for such missions at their disposal for the interests of the Libyan Republic. In this regard, Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader of Lebanon, in 1985 promised to send suicide squads to help President Qaddhafi against the United States. The occupation and civil war in Lebanon was more pronounced for nationalism than for religious fervour. Of the suicide attacks in Lebanon from 1983-1989, nearly half of all 50 suicide attacks were launched by secular, nationalist organisations. Of the 15 suicide attacks which took place in Lebanon against Israeli targets reveal far more suicide bombings with secularist, nationalist intentions took place: 6 belonged to the Baath Party, a secularist pan-Arab organization; 5 belonged to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, espousing secularist pan-Syrianism; 2 belonged to Amal, the Shiite organization aligned with Syria; and one each belonged to the Communist party and to an Egyptian opposition group. One of the suicides was a Druze, 4 were Shiis, and 10 Sunnis. In Turkey, the Kurdistan Workersrts to create an independent Kurdish state, but ceased on 5 July 1999 at the decision of its captured leader Abdullah Ocalan. This terror campaign killed 19 were killed and wounded 138. Almost two thirds of the PKKs suicide bombers were female and it was also the only organization reported to have executed a member who refused to carry out a suicide attack. Islamist terrorism has less-publicised examples in this regards, but it is alleged that Hamas killed the British suicide bomber, Omar Sharif, when he fled from the scene of the bombing on April 20, 2004, and in July 24, 3004, it was reported in Khankala, Chechnya, that two young women, whom Chechen militants trained to become suicide bombers, had been killed in Chechnya because they are alleged to have refused to carry out their suicide mission. The causes of Islamist terrorism collaborated with Marxism when it is alleged that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] allowed a Muslim member to train a suicide squad in 2004. Both the Tamil Tigers and the PKK, along with the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, had used ostensibly pregnant women to get past security checks on the way to their targets. Political opposition to the Communist regime in China saw a suicide bombing at the railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan, on January 24, 2002, which killed one person and founded four others, two days after Chinese Premier Wen Wen Jiabao visited railway employees in the city.
Personal Grievance: A suicide bombing on 25 July, 2004, in southwest Chinas Sichuan Province saw a disgruntled man who had his land appropriated by a corporation kill the chairman. Zhang Mingchun, a villager of Caoping village in Ebian county, was in dispute with the Mingda corporation about compensation for land appropriation, so carried out a suicide bombing, killing Ge Junming, Chairman and General Manager of the corporation.
Sunni Muslims account for 95% of all Muslims in the world, whilst the largest-minority Muslim sect, the Shiites, have their own hierarchy of scholars with their own legal rulings on suicide bombings.
It seems that the usage of a phrase suicide bombing goes back to as early as 1947. The Times of London on April 15, 1947, p. 2, refers to a new pilotless, radio-controlled rocket missile thus: Designed originally as a counter-measure to the Japanese suicide-bomber, it is now a potent weapon for defence or offence. An earlier article from August 21, 1945, p. 6, refers to a kamikaze plane as a suicide-bomb. The Institute for Counter-Terrorism [ICT] defined suicide bombing as an operational method in which the very act of the attack is dependent upon the death of the perpetrator. The terrorist is fully aware that if she/he does not kill her/himself, the planned attack will not be implemented: Boaz Ganor, The First Iraqi Suicide Bombing. A Hint of Things to Come?, www.ict.org.il.
Islamic civilisation has had brief skirmishes with suicide terrorism over its fourteen-century history. The last three caliphs of the Rightly-Guided Caliphate of Sunni Islam were assassinated, two of whom by those who either committed suicide upon completion of the act or who were executed with delusions of martyrdom: Caliph Umar was assassinated by Abu Lulua, the Magian, in 23 AH/ 644 CE , who then killed himself, [Caliph Uthman was also assassinated by rebels to his rule in 35 AH/ 656 CE], and Caliph Ali was killed by Ibn Muljam, a member of the khawarij, a heretical group of Muslim extremists, in 39 AH/ 661 CE who was then killed by state authorities. Described as militant, self-righteous, homicidal and suicidal, an example of khariji intolerance and fanaticism is the sack and massacre of Muslims in Madain, Iraq, in 687 and at Sabat where they killed a woman while she was reciting the Holy Quran. In the eleventh-century CE, the suicidal missions of the Assassins [hashishyin], a Shiite sect belong to the Ismaili Nizari branch active during the early Crusades, were also a reminder of where Islam had been erroneously invoked by a heretical group for suicide terrorism. Their brazen and occasional public assassinations of major political figures, such as the chief minister of the Saljuk sultan, Nizam al-Mulk, in 1092, would often lead to the immediate death of the perpetrators. At one point, the leaders of the Assassins repudiated the Shariah, and are alleged to have earned their name, Hashishyin, from the heroin [hashish] they took before embarking on their suicidal assassinations. In the eighteenth century, suicide tactics were used on the Malabar coast of Southwestern India, in Aceh in Northern Sumatra and in Mindanao and Sulu in the Southern Philippines. In all of these places, Muslims carried out what may be deemed as high-risk suicidal attacks in their fight against Western hegemony and colonial rule: Stephen Fredric Dale, Religious Suicide in Islamic Asia International Conference on Countering Suicide Terrorism at ICT, Herzeliya, Israel on 21st February, 2000. In the modern era, the first suicide bombing in the Middle East was the December 1981 destruction of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, which left 27 dead and over 100 wounded. Its precise authors are still unknown, although it is claimed that the Iranian Shiite scholar and spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, approved its use by parties sponsored by Iranian intelligence. With the assassination of pro-Israeli Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel in September 1982, suicide bombing became a strategic political weapon in the Middle East. The Shiite resistance movement in Lebanon, Hezbollah, gained the legal opinion of Shiite scholars in Iran for suicide bombings, which resulted in the first suicide bombings publicly invoked in the name of Islam in 1983, starting with attacks against the US Embassy in Lebanon in May 1983, killing 63 people, and in October 1983, simultaneously attacked the American and French compounds in Beirut, Lebanon, with truck bombs, killing 241 American and 58 French troops. Lebanon had seen around 50 suicide attacks between 1983 to 1999. The Shiite organizations, Hezbollah and Amal were responsible for about half of these. The first legitmisation of suicide bombings by a Sunni entity, was given in 1988, by Fathi Shiqaqi, founder of the Palestinian resistance group, Islamic Jihad, who wrote a set of guidelines for the use of explosives in individual bombings, but nevertheless states that operations calling for martyrdom were to be deemed exceptional: David Brooks, The Culture of Martyrdom, The Atlantic Monthly, (New York, June 2002). It has been alleged that an active female senior terrorist in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, Ataf Alian, planned to execute a suicide bombing by detonating a car bomb in Jerusalem in 1987, but was imprisoned for 10 years and was released in 1997. However, it is claimed that the potential of the human bomber was recognised by Hamas after the killing of 18 Palestinians on October 8, 1990, as a result of throwing stones at the Israeli police and Jewish worshippers praying at the Wailing Wall following prayers at the al-Aqsa mosque. When the Palestinian militant, Omar Abu Sirhan, killed three people in revenge for the attacks and stated that he had little hope of surviving his self-appointed mission, Hamas adopted Abu Sirhan as a hero, eventually transforming avenging attacks into organized human bombers. In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the suicide attacks by Islamist groups began haphazardly in 1992 against Israeli military and settler targets in the occupied territories, failing to produce glaring results, but became part of a systematic campaign in late 1993 with attacks by Hezbollah-trained members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The first suicide bomb in Israel by a Sunni militant group was perpetrated on April 6, 1994 when a suicide bomber blew up a bus in Afula, Israel. al-Qaeda embraced suicide terrorism in the mid-1990s when the network began planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and other attacks.
A holistic deduction is an innovative term used to represent an all-encompassing perspective on an issue, examining it from its political, economic, social, legal and theological aspects and arriving at a conclusion from its findings. The Arabic translation for the term could be envisaged as ijtihad al-mutlaq al-saheeh or al-ijtihad al-muhsin.
A legal deduction, termed ijtihad, is legal reasoning on an issue by a qualified Islamic lawyer. When this legal opinion is expressed formally and for dissemination, it is called a fatwa. This particularly infamous legal deduction is said to have been written and checked by a number of a council of learned scholars in the Arabian Peninsula, utility of which has contributed to rise in suicide bombings over the globe since its publication in 2000.
Referred to as the website of the Chechen Mujahideen, this fatwa was printed in 2000 and can also be found on another infamous website for Jihadist activities, www.azzam.com. What is most concerning is that it was written primarily for a young Chechen Muslim woman, Hava Barayev, who had carried out a suicide bombing in on June 9, 2000 when she drove into a building housing Russian Special Forces, in Alkhan Kala, killing 27 soldiers. She was connected to the Chechen rebels who defended her in a very strong stand on their website. Havas last words were: I know what I am doing, paradise has a price, and I hope this will be the price for Paradise. Through five years of conflict [the First Chechen War 1994-1996 and the first year of the second Russo-Chechen War], there had been no Chechen-related suicide bombings in Russia. She was one of the first of Chechen suicide bombers who have come to be known as black widows in their Jihad against the Russians, due to their status as having suffered the loss of husband or close male relative as well as their Islamic garments. Statistics show that nearly 70% of Chechen suicide attacks involve women and around 50% involve women exclusively. Males, on the other hand, comprise an astoundingly low proportion of Chechen suicide terrorists. Only 25% of Chechen suicide bombers are male, while another quarter of suicide bombers have never been identified by gender. Though this fatwa was said to have come from scholars in Saudi Arabia, the scholars in the country refused to officially legitimize female suicide bombings as martyrdom; however, in August 2001, the High Islamic Council in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa encouraging Palestinian women to become suicide bombers.; Clara Beyler, Messengers of Death, Female Suicide Bombers, February 12, 2003, www.ict.org.il. Officially, they later reneged on suicide bombings officially. But suicide bombings by females had occurred in the Middle East before, particularly in Lebanon, where the affiliation of the females was two; either, it was religiously inspired, usually Shiite; or it was secularist and nationalist, where the affiliation of the female, be it Sunni, Shiite, Druze or Christian, was secondary or of little or no consideration. Women have driven bomb-laden vehicles, carried bomber bags, and strapped massive explosives and metal implements on their bodies in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Israel, and Turkey. Terrorist groups which have publicized their use of females include the Syrian Socialist National Party [SSNP/PPS], the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE], the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK], Chechen rebels, Al Aqsa Martyrs, Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ], and Hamas. There are many firsts in this listing of organized feminine terror. While the SSNP has the distinction of deploying the first female suicide bomber, the LTTE became the worlds foremost suicide bombers and proved the tactic to be so unnerving and effective that their methods and killing innovations were studied and copied, most notably in the Middle East, but this time for Islamist terrorist groups for suicide bombing in general. The Tamils had their own suicide squads from the 1970s, but the most infamous LTTE attack was by a female., The first LTTE bomber, Dhanu, successfully killed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 199 The first suicide attack by a female in the Middle East occurred on April 9, 1985, in Bater Al Shuf Jezzin in the South of Lebanon, when 16-year old, Sanaa Mehaidli, who had joined the Syrian Social Nationalist, blew herself up in her Peugeot next to an Israeli convoy, killing two Israeli soldiers and wounding two others. Though the girl was Shiite, the nature of the attack has been affirmed to be secular. In the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Part, women took part in 5 out of the groups 12 suicide activities. In Turkey, the female suicide bomber whose background was secular, found that the PKK utilised many suicide bombers. In the PKK, women carried out 11 out of 15 attacks, while the perpetrators of 3 out 6 attacks that were intercepted were women. [a total of 14 out of 21 suicide attacks, or 66 % of the total ]. The first female PKK suicide bombing [June 1996], which may also be the first instance of an apparently pregnant bomber, killed six Turkish soldiers; the bombers name is unknown. On June 30, 1996, the first female PKK suicide bomber killed 6 Turkish soldiers, and injured 30 people. The explosives were strapped to her stomach as if she were pregnant. However, the introduction of these within Islamist terrorist groups was to have a devastating effect. Whereas the first Russian Black Widow or saliheen, Hava Barayev, had acted on behalf of the Chechen rebels in June 2000, it was nearly two years before Islamist militant groups in Israel deployed female suicide bombers. On January 28, 2002, the first istishadiyat [female martyr] in Israel, representing the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was Wafa Idris, a paramedic who detonated a 22-pound body bomb filled with nails and metal objects in a shopping district. She was divorced, without children, and worked as a paramedic for the Red Crescent. She lived at the Amari Refugee Camp near Ramallah. The first PIJ bomber was a 19-year-old student, Hiba Daraghmeh, who detonated a bomb in a shopping mall, killing three people. In January 2002, Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the late spiritual leader of Hamas, categorically renounced the use of women as suicide bombers; Arnon Regular, Mother of Two Becomes First Female Suicide Bomber for Hamas, Haaretz, January 16, 2004. But on January 14, 2004, the first Hamas female suicide bomber struck., as 22-year old Reem Raiyshi left her 18-month-old daughter, Doha, and her 3-year-old son, Obedia, and blew herself up at the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, killing three soldiers and a private Israeli security guard. It is alleged that her husband, a HAMAS member, deemed her suicide mission atonement for having committed adultery. Yasin defended this change as a significant evolution in our fight. The male fighters face many obstacles, so women can more easily reach the targets. He concluded his statement by noting that Women are like the reserve army; when there is a necessity, we use them.
The English translation of ad-Difa'a an-Araadil-Muslimeen [Defence of the Muslim Lands], written by Azzam in 1984, was published in the United Kingdom by Azzam Publications in August 1996 and a second edition in September 2002, with the fatwa appearing in supplementary form only in the second edition. The aim of the publishers, who described themselves as global media source for Jihad, was to demonstrate that the fatwa supporting suicide bombings was of the scholastic lineage of Sheikh Azzam, though no evidence can be cited for this. In contrast, it is interesting to note that there was never a report of a single suicide bombing during the whole Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, and nothing to suggest from the numerous writings of Azzam that he supported this method being utilised by Muslims engaged in Jihad prior to his own death in November 1989. Moreover, the books contains statements attributed to Usama bin Laden about Azzam, given in an al-Jazeera television interview in 1999: Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was not an individual, but an entire nation by himself. Muslim women have proven themselves incapable of giving birth to a man like him after he was killed, which implies that Usama bin Laden can be deemed as a legitimate successor to Azzam, though Azzam was a trained Islamic scholar, and Bin Laden is not. However, it neglects to mention that Bin Laden and Azzam had significant differences regarding methodologies, as Bin Laden wished to extend the conflict to non-military operations in other parts of the world as part of the new organisation he had established in 1988, al-Qaeda; Azzam, in contrast, wanted to remain focused on military campaigns. Prior to his assassination, Bin Ladens new mentor apart from Azzam had become Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian extremist group, Jamiyya Islamiyya, at the time, which in 1999, officially merged with al-Qaeda. Al-Zawahiri became Bin Ladens right-hand man, but had been al-Qaedas chief ideologue from its inception.
According to traditional Islamic scholars, Allah can send trials to test the strength of the believers and to raise them in degrees: (Remember) how We saved you from Pharaoh's people who had oppressed you cruelly, slaying your sons and sparing your women. Surely, that was a great trial from your Lord. [Holy Quran, 2.49] Theologically also, Muslims are instructed to believe in divine aid in the form of Angels in valid Jihad: When you said to the believers: Is it not enough for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down upon you? Rather, if you have patience and are cautious, and they suddenly come against you, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand marked angels. [Holy Quran, 3.124-5]
Murabit is a defender of the land of Muslims. According to traditional Islamic scholars, a Muslim child born within Palestine acquires the de facto rank of Murabit.
An oft-repeated assertion from the Nasserite era of the Arab World in the 1960s is that what was lost by war cannot be regained but by war. However, this does not take into account the holistic view according to Sunni Islam, whereby the loss of Palestine to Zionism is perceived to have been a loss of Jihad, and more centrally a loss of iman, conviction and practice of Islam.
The 9/11 attacks were the first global media event of pan-Islamist terrorism, and the continuation of these attacks all over the world have only further cemented the erroneous association. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, saw large fully-fueled planes as enormous cruise missiles flown into buildings, killing the planes hijackers, and causing over 2,500 casualties in the process -- making it the most destructive suicide bombing in history; 9/11 fatalities account for about a half of all fatalities caused by suicide bombings worldwide. They also had vast economic and political impact: for a cost of 20 attackers lives and apparently under US$100,000, global markets registered a trillion-dollar drop within a week, and huge new expenditures for military and surveillance technology were made in response. According to traditional Islamic scholars, suicide bombings evoked in the name of Islam blight the name of the Islamic religion and the Ummah of Muslims themselves; however, they are also said to reflect the incompetence of the leaders, scholars and masses of 1.5 billion Muslims, to remedy the injustices being perpetrated against their co-religionists, to the extent that pan-Islamists terrorists have attempted to fill the void. Due to the adoption of this tactic by Islamist terrorism groups since 9/11, three years after the event there have been more suicide attacks as a whole than in the last century. In reference to Table 1-SBIT911, the impact of 9/11 on the spread of suicide bombings around the world is difficult to refute. Suicide bombings invoked under the rubric of Islamist terrorism, outside Israel and the Palestinian Territories, grew three-fold within the space of three years after 9/11, killing twice as many people as had been killed over two decades. Within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a case often given global exception for using this tactic, suicide bombings doubled as did the number of people killed in the three years after 9/11 compared to the previous seven years of suicide terrorism. Worldwide, in merely three years after 9/11, the number of suicide bombings had increased three-fold than it had over two decades, whilst the number of people killed had doubled. As a tactic, suicide bombing has become increasingly attractive as a result because of the number of fatalities it causes, with the number of people injured in thousands. Worldwide, for every person who undertook suicide bombing prior to 9/11, 18 people were likely to be killed. After 9/11, this figure fell to killing of 14 people on average, which was only as a result of the disproportionate rise in the export of this practice to groups worldwide.
|Before 9/11 1981- Sept 2001 |
|After 9/11, Sept 2001-Sept 2004|
|April 1994 to 9/11 2001||45||261
|9-11 September 2004||93||549
Global Total of Suicide
Bombings in Islamist
|Before 9/11 2001||78||1453
|After 9/11 2001 to Sept 2004||232||3263
Ref. Table 1- SBIT911 demonstrating Growth of Suicide Bombings within Islamist Terrorism in respect to September 11th 2001.
As Table 1- SBIT911 demonstrates, there have been more suicide bombings, and in far-wider area, since 9/11 than have occurred before it. The analogy of The Hijacked Caravan, Pandoras Box and The Genie being let out of the Bottle has become more apt. If the first suicide bombing by a Sunni militant group took place in 1994, then the tactic of suicide bombing has perpetuated worldwide, used on a more daily basis, and against a wider variety of targets than ever before as demonstrated in Table 2 - AGSTIT. Suicide bombing in the name of Islam has occurred in more than 20 countries: Lebanon , Kuwait , Argentina , Panama, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories , Pakistan, Croatia , Saudi Arabia , Tanzania, Kenya , Yemen, Chechnya , USA, Kashmir, Afghanistan , Tunisia, Indonesia, Algeria , Morocco, Russia, India, Iraq, Turkey , Uzbekistan and Spain . Though it has been in official use in Sri Lanka from the 1970s for secular reasons, there were incidents of suicide bombing for reasons other than Islamist terrorist in China and Colombia . Despite suicide terrorism being utilised in the Middle East and worldwide by other groups, the fact that Sunni Muslim scholars and the communities rejected this tactic as not being allowed within the Shariah meant that there were few suicide terrorist acts invoked under the banner of Sunni Islam in the 1980s. As a result of Palestinian militant groups adopting the tactic in the early 1990s, and initially being given approval by Islamist scholars for their actions, the tactic has been favoured increasingly, exported worldwide, diversified and now been legitimated for the use of women and children. From 1998-2000, there was only one suicide bombing in Israel, but there were 12 worldwide, with 521 people killed. Thus, in four years of approving of the use of the tactic of suicide bombings, and largely due to changes in the political process, Palestinian militant groups stopped using suicide bombings; analogy of this by groups and scholars worldwide, then meant that the tactic was now being used by Islamist terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda in 1998, and with far more devastating results. As a result, many Islamist scholars legitimated the use of suicide bombings to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only, a largely futile and illogical gesture. In 2000, there was not a single incident of suicide bombing in Israel, which demonstrates that suicide bombing was used more as a political strategic weapon. In 1993, no suicide bombings were committed in the name of Islam; in 2003, 101 suicide bombings were committed, with 1,094 people killed. In 1994, the year of the first suicide bombing in Israel in 1994, there were only 7 suicide bombings compared to a decade later when to the third anniversary of 9/11 in 2004, there were 64 suicide bombings worldwide. On average, for every suicide bombing which has been invoked in the name of Islam, 25 people were killed.
- Suicide Bombings
- Suicide Bombings
|Global Suicide Bombings|
within Islamist Terrorism
|Year||Incidents||Fatalities||Incidents||Fatalities||Global Incidents||Global Fatalities
|1981||1 ||27 ||1 ||27
| 1983 ||5 ||426 ||5 ||426
|1984 ||1 ||24 ||1 ||24
|1985 ||2 ||12 ||2 ||12
|1996 ||1 ||19 ||4 ||66 ||5 ||85
|2002 ||11 ||558 ||44 ||255 ||55 ||813
|2003 ||77 ||884 ||24 ||210 ||101 ||1094
|2004 ||48 ||1270 ||16 ||54 ||64 ||1324
|Total ||176 ||6971 ||137|| 810 ||313 ||7781
Ref. Table 2-AGSTIT depicting Annual Growth of Suicide Terrorism within Islamist Terrorism
Scott Atrans article, Mishandling Suicide Terrorism, outlines some of the main statistics regarding suicide bombing in general and its increasing strategic prelevance in international relations.
From 1980 to 2001, political scientist Robert Papes observed that 188 suicide attacks took place, most for nonreligious reasons. According to an August 2003 congressional report, Terrorists and Suicide Attacks, this represented only three percent of terrorist attacks worldwide during this period but accounted for nearly half of all deaths. In contrast, from 2000 to 2003, more than 300 suicide attacks killed more than 5,300 people in seventeen countries and wounded many thousands in addition. At least 70% of these attacks were religiously-motivated, with more than 100 attacks by al-Qaeda or affiliates acting in al-Qaedas name.
From 1993 through 2003, 311 Palestinian suicide attackers launched themselves against Israeli targets. In the first seven years of suicide bombing, 70 percent [43 of 61] attempts were successful in killing other people. From the start of the second Intifada in September 2000 through 2003, however, although the success rate declined to 52 percent, the number of attacks increased from 61 to 250, with 129 of those being successful [up from 43].
Within two weeks of the American government declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003, suicide bombings hit Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Israel and Chechnya; collectively, these attacks were more numerous and widespread than any in the preceding 12 months.
In fact, 2003 witnessed more suicide attacks  than any year in contemporary history. A plurality  occurred in Iraq, now plagued with suicidal terrorism for the first time since the thirteenth-century hashishyin [assassins] slaughtered fellow Muslims and Crusaders to purify Islamic lands [it took the Mongols to stop them]. In the first three months of 2004, more than six countries: [2 attackers in Afghanistan; 18 in Iraq; 2 in Pakistan; 8 in Israel; 1 in Turkey; and at least 5 female suicide bombers in Uzbekistan, a first-time target of suicide terror] killing more than 600 people and wounding thousands. In Iraq alone, from February 1 to March 10, 10 suicide bombers killed more than 400 people - a greater number in any single country for a 31-day period since the September 11 attacks.
The Islamic Ruling on Martyrdom fatwa gains authority for potential suicide bombers because of its associations with Azzam and global Jihad. al-Qaedas Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assumed the position of chief ideologue of al-Qaeda in an attempt to fill Azzams place, expresses the point clearly: The method of martyrdom operation [is] the most successful way of inflicting damage against the opponent and the least costly to the Mujahideen in terms of casualties: http: //www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ayman_bk.html. Moreover, mainstream Sunni Muslim scholars have legitimised suicide bombings. Sheikh Mohammad al-Tantawi, the rector of al-Azhar University, the oldest Sunni Muslim university in the world, stated that it is It is every Muslim, Palestinian and Arabs right to blow himself up in the heart of Israel: al-Hayat , London-Beirut, May 27, 1998. The Scholars of Al-Azhar and the Al-Azhar Center for Islamic Research published their own religious ruling in support of suicide attacks: al-Hayat al-Jadida, Palestinian Authority, April 27, 2001. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader and scholar of the oldest Islamist movement, Muslim Brotherhood, stated that such The mujahid becomes a human bomb that blows up at a specific place and time, in the midst of the enemies of Allah and the homeland, leaving them helpless in the face of the brave shahid who... sold his soul to Allah, and sought the shahada for the sake of Allah: al-Ahram al-Arabi, Egypt, February 3, 2001. He also said that They are not suicide operations. These are heroic martyrdom operations, and the heroes who carry them out dont embark on this action out of hopelessness and despair but are driven by an overwhelming desire to cast terror and fear into the hearts of the oppressor. These operations are the supreme form of Jihad for the sake of Allah, and a type of terrorism that is allowed by the Shariah. al-Raya, Qatar, April 25, 2001. The al-Azhar University, once a bastion of Sunni orthodoxy, has seen its deterioration in the twentieth-century as a result of reforms during the colonial era to further exacerbation following its nationalisation and censorship by the Egyptian state. The rector himself is selected by the Egyptian regime, and is seen as a state puppet, particularly by the scholars of al-Azhar themselves. Al-Qaradawi is best known for his book al-Halal wa al-haram fi al-Islam [The lawful and unlawful in Islam] which Nuh Ha Mim Keller states contains some unreliable positions in Sacred Law: Nuh Ha Mim Keller, The Reliance of the Traveller, (USA, 1991), p. 112. His legitimising suicide bombing has been controversial, and though he has been banned from the USA since 1999, there were renewed calls for his expulsion from the UK during a visit in July 2004: PM quizzed over cleric's UK entry, www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3872289.stm, 8 July 2004. Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Sheik, the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, issued a fatwa in April 2001 that equated suicide bombings with suicide: I am not aware of anything in the religious law regarding killing oneself in the heart of the enemy[s ranks], or what is called suicide. This is not a part of Jihad, and I fear that it is merely killing oneself. Although the Quran permits and even demands the killing of the enemy, this must be done in ways that do not contradict the Shariah: al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, April 21, 2001. Following the bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 12 May, 2003, the senior scholars of Saudi Arabia, headed by Sheikh al-Sheikh, condemned the perpetrators as committing suicide: The Council of Senior Scholars on the Riyadh Suicide Bombings, www.fatwa-online.com, issued 13 Rabi Al-Awwal, 1424 AH/ 15 May, 2003 CE. In response to the official Saudi ulemas position, Sheikh al-Tantawi of al-Azhar University wrote in al-Hayat, (London-Beirut), April 27, 2001, that if a person blows himself up, as in operations that Palestinian youths carry out against those they are fighting, then he is a martyr. But if he explodes himself among babies or women or old people who are not fighting the war, then he is not considered a martyr: Sheikh Ahmad Yasin of Hamas said on Egyptian Television, April 29, 2001: The fighters for Allah kill and get killed. Can there be bravery which is superior to that shown by a person who sacrifices himself for his homeland, in order to sow fear, defeatism, death, division and destruction amongst enemy ranks.
Other Islamic scholars have denounced suicide bombing since 9/11, primarily from a theological or personal point of view due to the divisions within Sunni Islam over the issue. For example, the American Muslim scholar, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, stated I have never and I will never agree with suicide bombings. That has never sat right with me, ever. I think it is just so antithetical to the truth of Islam, and I have always had that problem with it. No one can ever find anywhere, in the last thirteen or fourteen years of my public speaking, where I have condoned that. I have never been comfortable with that or comfortable with any types of terror because my understanding of Islam is that it is a chivalrous religion. It is a religion that demands honor in engagement, and my belief is that I would rather die than reduce myself to the level of these types of people because I know they certainly use it against us: Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Americas Tragedy- An Islamic Perspective, [transcript], www.zaytuna.org, 30 September, 2001. From a theological point of view, the British Muslim writer, Abdul Hakim Murad states Suicide bombing is so foreign to the Quranic ethos that the Prophet Samson is entirely absent from our scriptures: Abdul Hakim Murad, The Hijackers Were Not Muslims After All: Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists, www.masud.co.uk, an assertion he expands upon in his mediation on suicide bombing in Bombing without Moonlight, masud.co.uk. Prior to 9/11, Sunni scholars of Islam had denounced the acts as being Shiite. However, since its deployment in the Palestinian territories, there have also been academic denouncements as well as by political leaders. For example, Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of al-Quds University in Jerusalem, speaks from an educational and academic background deeming the acts as morally outrageous and also from a political point of view, totally counterproductive because, as I say, its premised on the rejection of seeing others as human beings: PBS, Wide Angle - Suicide Bomber, [transcript], www.pbs.com, July 1, 2004. In response to a question raised at the Conference for Civilisational Dialogue held at University of Malaya, 15-17 September, 1997, Professor Syed Hussein al-Attas said that such suicide bombings are unIslamic. How does anyone justify throwing a bomb into a bus filled with people who are non-belligerent, let alone kill oneself in the process? And we know from the primary sources [Quran and Hadith] that women and children, the old and the sick are to be spared during battle. These suicide bombers are different from the Japanese kamikaze, [whereby] the latter would commit an act of selflessness, brought about by desperation against legitimate military targets. At the time, Professor al-Attass words were met with silence. On October 16, 2003, outgoing Malaysian premier, Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad, gave a speech at the opening of the tenth session of the Organisation for Islamic Conference at Putrajaya, Malaysia, gained a standing ovation from the audience from a speech in which he asked for an alternative to politically-futile suicide bombings within contemporary Jihad strategy: Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people? But the denouncements of suicide bombings from personal, theological, academic and political vantages by Muslims do not determine whether the act is justified by Islamic law.
On the Sunni jurisprudence website, www.sunnipath.com, an Islamic law student and translator, Gibril Haddad, conveys his understanding of suicide bombing, alluding to Sunni scholars who have publicly denounced the act: Whatever ones position on the issue, it remains that the condemnation of suicide bombers of civilians to hell fire is not new nor exclusive to Sheikh Hamza [Yusuf Hanson] but I have heard it from the Ba Alawi Shuyukh as per Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Attas at the Muhammad Fatih Institute in Beirut: Gibril Haddad, Re: Accusations on Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, www.sunnipath.com. The Ba Alawi scholars cited by Haddad are amongst the scholars with the highest scholastic pedigree within Sunni Islam. Another Sunni scholar, Sheikh Mohammad Taqiuddin al-Usmani from Pakistan has also denounced suicide bombing. However, these condemnations have neither been written for global dissemination, nor have they provided an analysis on the evidences from the Shariah advocating suicide bombing. The Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which now belongs to neo-Salafism, has also denounced suicide bombing, with Sheikh al-Albani stating suicide missions are not Islamic: Sheikh al-Albani, Suicide Bombings in the Scales of Islamic Law, www.al-manhaj.com. Sheikh al-Qaradawi and al-Albani both belong to the Salafist school, and therefore the close proximity of the latter to the Saudi regime limits the impact of his fatwa. Moreover, with suicide bombing, an Islamic scholar can legitimise his position by denigrating the status of those who have issued a contrary opinion as not being authoritative and also associating them with the unpopular and repressive state. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi explained why there are contradicting fatawa on this subject by different Islamic authorities, saying the fatawa that were made against these heroes, in which they were labeled terrorists, were not issued by authoritative religious sources... but rather by a group of people who are alien to the Shariah and the religion. They probably serve the regimes or are agents of the police: al-Istiqlal, Palestinian Authority, August 20, 1999.
Moreover, as has been noted, Islamic Ruling on Martyrdom Operations was said to have been written anonymously by scholars in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of the Wahabi sect. The position of traditional Sunni scholarship regarding differences of opinion states that any question in which there is ijtihad may not be a cause of censure: Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, USA, 1991, p. 720. Therefore, Sunni scholars, according to traditional Islamic etiquette, who denounce suicide bombings, cannot censure those who do approve of it, and vice versa.
Due to globalisation of events, two lesser-known instruments for deriving Islamic jurisprudence have to be adapted to within the law of seeking consensus [ijma]. The first is seeking the optimum [istihsan] and the second principle is the public interest [maslahah]. In contrast with modernist interpretations of these terms, it is advocated that they only be used once the need for a consensus is established as happened with the events of 9/11.
The vast majority of scholars who validate suicide bombings yet abandon them in secret can be found worldwide. Particular to the Middle East, these scholars can often be found or are from countries surrounding Israel, such as Egypt, the Levant and the Fertile Crescent, who have been militarily defeated by Israel in numerous wars since its inception in 1948. In countries in the Levant, the presence of Palestinian refugee camps also contributes to the inflammatory opinions of scholars, mainly to detract from the ineptitude of the regimes, who are repressive and/ or heretical according to Sunni Islam. Accusations of heresy have been levelled against the Syrian regime, due to its Alawite beliefs deifying the fourth caliph, Ali, whilst governing a vast Sunni population. In circumstances where political repression or a heretical government could lead to the persecution of Sunni scholars, giving false fatawa is permitted according to the hadith: Woe to this community from tyrannical rulers! How they kill and terrorise pious people, except from those who appear to obey them! Some pious believers will pretend to co-operate with them with their tongues but flee from them in their hearts. When Allah Almighty wants to restore the power of Islam, He will crush every stubborn tyrant. [Abu Nuaym and al-Isfahani]
From a historical perspective, the most clear example of where the actual truth is at variance with a legal deduction is the two legal deductions between the caliphs, Ali and Muawiya: Some of the most outstanding scholars of Sacred Law have held that both sides in a disagreement between those qualified to do independent legal reasoning [ijtihad] are correct, whilst others hold that one side is but no one of any scholarly competence has ever suggested that Ali was in error: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Ihya ulum al-din, ed. Beirut, 1929, v.1, p. 102, as translated by Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, USA, 1991. History has proven that though Muawiyas intention was sound, both Alis intention and methodology were sound. This is the reason why Ali is included amongst the Rightly-Guided Caliphs in Sunni Islam as part of ijma whilst Muawiya is not. The truth on an issue is determined to be one, where the method and its accuracy both being optimum. Therefore, Sunni scholars who have previously approved suicide bombings can retract their legal deductions should such a legal opinion be created: And Allah Most High knows best what is correct . . . In fact, [the actual truth] is one, the Imam who is right about it [Allah be well pleased with them all] receiving two rewards, one for his attempt and one for being correct, whilst the one who is mistaken, receiving a reward for his effort and being excused for his mistake: al-Misri as translated by Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, USA, 1991, p. 648.
Scholarly consensus [ijma] is the agreement of all the mujtahids of the Muslims existing at one particular period after the Prophets death about a particular ruling regarding a matter or event: Abd al-Wahab Khallaf in Ilm usul al-fiqh, [y71] p. 45, as translated by Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, USA, 1991, p. 23. There are four integral elements to it, including that there is an existence of a number of mujtahids exist, all mujtahids agree on the ruling, that all mujtahids give their own legal opinion explicitly and that if one mujtahid disagreeing to the ruling invalidates the consensus. A second evidentiary aspect is that ruling agreed upon by all the mujtahids in the Islamic Community [Ummah] is in fact the ruling of the Ummah, represented by its mujtahids. Ibid, p. 47 in translation p. 24. Here a dichotomy is reached. Sunni scholars state that there has been unable to reach a scholarly consensus on an issue for centuries. Nevertheless, a consensus of sorts was displayed against the legitimacy of the 9/11 attacks.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentions that the account of the lady who combed the hair of Pharaohs daughter is narrated from Ibn Abbas by Ahmad, al-Hakim, Ibn Hibban, and al-Bazzar, while Muslim in mentions the part of the infant speaking to his mother before they are both thrown into the fire, and the mention of Yusufs witness in the Holy Quran 12: 26 as being an infant is narrated from Ibn Abbas by Ibn Abi Hatim with a weak chain, and it is held by al-Hasan al-Basri and Said ibn Jubayr. This brings the number of speaking infants alluded to in the hadith Those who spoke from the cradle are three [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad] up to five, and there are reports that increase it to seven or more. Allah knows best. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bari [Lebanon, ed. 1989] 6: 593-594.]
One-man armies are commended in Islam, as the Prophet
said Our Lord marvels at a man who attacks in the cause of Allah while his companions are beaten back. He knows what is upon him but he returns towards the fight until his blood is spilt. Allah the Almighty, the Majestic, says to His Angels: Look, at my slave. He returned, desiring that which is with Me and fearing that which is from Me, until his blood was spilt. (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) To do so without armour, is even a greater commendation, as demonstrated when Muadh bin Afra asked the Prophet
, What makes Allah laugh upon His slave? The reply: [The servant] immersing himself into the enemy without armour. Muadh them took off his armour and fought until he was killed. (Ibn Abi Shaibah)
The question as to why someone decides to become a suicide bomber and invoke Islam as their reason is becoming increasingly varied, with state oppression, both by Muslim and non-Muslim governments, as the main reason. According to Mouin Rabbani, director of the Palestinian American Research Center in Ramallah, claims, Religious or ideological fervor appears to offer only a partial explanation. Palestinian suicide bombers are neither products of a passive and unquestioning obedience to political authority nor pressed into service against their will. Instead, Rabbani states that the common thread among all suicide bombers is the bitter experience of what they see as Israeli state terror. Without exception, the suicide bombers have lived their lives on the receiving end of a system designed to trample their rights and crush every hope of a brighter future
Confronted by a seemingly endless combination of death, destruction, restriction, harassment and humiliation, they conclude that ending life as a bomb - rather than having it ended by a bullet - endows them, even if only in their final moments, with a semblance of purpose and control previously considered out of reach. This would not be true for the 9/11 attackers, who saw their operations as the highest form of martyrdom, as has been the case since in Islamist terrorism act around the world. Any martyrdom operation has to scrutinised as to whether the martyrdom was accepted by Allah or not, or whether it was be deemed suicidal murder. If the perpetrator associated other partners with Allah in the intention of his martyrdom, such as personal vengeance, than his act, according to Sunni Islam, would not be accepted. If he has deluded himself into thinking that he genuinely desires Allahs Pleasure in the act, he may still associate other people in his act in his heart, such as wishing to be seen as a hero, whereby his martyrdom will not be acceptable. Finally, even if he intends Allahs pleasure sincerely, if his military act is not in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad
, than his action can not be accepted according to Sunni Islam. This applies more so for those in command who dispatched suicide bombers. All past and present suicide bombings invoked in the name of Islam would appear to fulfill one of these three conditions and hence render the term seeking martyrdom null and void.
In a hadith, the Prophet
supplicated to Allah to deal with Abu Jahl ibn Hisham three times, and he was found slain on the battle of Badr: The Prophet
said three times, O Allah, it is for You to deal with Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, Utba ibn Rabia, Shaiba ibn Rabia, Walid ibn Uqba, Umayya ibn Khalaf, Uqba ibn Abu Muait. By the One who sent Muhammad with Truth, I saw all those he had named lying slain on the Day of Badr. Their dead bodies were dragged to be thrown into a pit near the battlefield. [Muslim]. Some reports indicate that his last words were those of arrogant pride, resolutely refusing to acknowledge his defeat and scorning the people: The Messenger of Allah
said, Who will ascertain for us what happened to Abu Jahl? Ibn Masud went to investigate. He found out that the two sons of Afra had struck him and he was cold at the point of death. One seized him by the beard and said, Are your Abu Jahl? He said, Is there anybody superior to the person you have killed? or [he said] his people have killed him? Ibn Masud said, that according to Abu Miljaz, Abu Jahl said, If only other than a farmer had killed me! [Muslim] Fatally wounded by Muawwadh ibn al-Afra and Muadh ibn Amr ibn al-Jumuh, Abu Jahl said, If only other than a farmer had killed me! Before his decapitation by Ibn Masud, he is reported to have said, You have followed difficult ways, you shepherd!, as Ibn Masud used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan aristocrats. Upon seeing the corpse of Abu Jahl, which had been thrown and decayed into a pit near the battlefield, the Prophet
said, This is the Pharaoh of this nation. [Authenticated seerah]
This is why Sunni scholars state the Prophet
employed Khalid ibn al-Walid for war tasks ever since he embraced Islam. He described him as a sword drawn by Allah against Pagans, in spite of the fact that Khalid had often done things which the Prophet
did not approve of. Once, when the Prophet
sent Khalid to the clan of Judhaima to invite them to Islam and Khalid ordered some of them killed for some suspicion, the Prophet
raised his hands in prayer to Allah saying, Allah, I disown to you what Khalid did. Khalids actions had met with the disapproval of the Prophet
, and the Prophets Companions criticised him for it. The Prophet
paid blood money for the killed. In spite of this, Sunni scholars state that the Prophet
kept Khalid in a leading position in military activity because he was the most effective in this field and because he did what he did out of a mistaken interpretation: The Prophet
sent Khalid bin al-Walid to the tribe of Judhaima and Khalid invited them to Islam, but they could not express themselves by saying Aslamna [we have embraced Islam] but they started saying, Sabana! Sabana [we have come out of one religion to another]. Khalid kept on killing some of them and taking others captives, and gave each one of us a captive, till the day Khalid ordered that each man should kill his captive. I said, By Allah, I will not kill my captive, and none of my companions will kill his captive. When we reached the Prophet
, we mentioned to him the whole story. On that, the Prophet
raised both his hands and said twice, O Allah! I am free from what Khalid has done. [al-Bukhari] Khalids reasons for suspicions of those who converted to Islam have also been addressed on previous occasions, which, according to Sunni scholars, to demonstrates his love of conviction (iman): A man accused the Prophet
of not being just in the distribution of some goods. Khalid ibn Walid said, Messenger of Allah, should I strike his neck? Upon this, the Prophet
said, Perhaps he may be observing the prayer. Khalid said, How many people pray with their tongue what is not in their heart? Upon this, the Messenger of Allah
said, I have neither been commanded to pierce through the hearts of people, nor to split their bellies. [al-Bukhari]
With kind permission,
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