Suicide Bombing in Islam

Arfa Saleem

Typing the words “suicide bombing” in a search engine always come with most hits linked to Islam and Pakistan, with a few exception. It has become a common belief, the unfortunate, seemingly, unbreakable bond that has formed between suicide bombing and Islam.

Beliefs like these are contagious; they are accepted without question, which has probably something to do with the most powerful weapon used now a days- Media. It is the way media manipulates controls and moulds the thought of the world, that lead to events like these becoming an indication or identification of a religion all over the world.

One thing leads to another, and it doesn’t take much time for people to justify what they believe in. They give statements without any context or knowledge, and the social media has a big hand in all of this.

Yes it is true that ever since the 9/11 Pakistan has been struck with these bombings for more than 290 times now, killing more than 4600 people.  Maybe the world finds it easy to blame and label Islam as an extremist religion and Pakistan as a terrorist country simply because Pakistan is a Muslim country.

The US is convinced that Quran teachings approve suicide in defense of Islam. A recent Pentagon briefing paper title “Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers” state that “Suicide in defense of Islam is permitted, and the Islamic suicide bomber is, in the main, a rational actor,”

The question is, if these terrorists or Islamic militants are striving against the US forces, then what are they doing here in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, killing their fellow Muslims, especially attacking the mosques? Most of all, where is the proof that all the attackers are Muslims?

How does this blindly followed belief prove that what they hear about Islam and its teachings is valid? Islamic teachings are available throughout the world and the text or scriptures are not a secret entity that searching for the truth would be difficult.

If we look into the teachings of Islam, it deciphers almost every misconception ever to be spread and believed regarding the Muslims.

To begin with, suicide is forbidden in Islam, which instantly puts the validity of killing one self, no matter in what context, out of question. Suicide is in fact one of the unforgivable sins in Islam:

O ye who believe![do not] kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful.  If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire…” (Qur’an 4:29-30).

Islam does not allow taking someone else’s life either, unless it is by the way of justice i.e. a death penalty for a murder. However, even then, forgiveness is considered better than taking a life this way.

Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause…” (17:33).

There is a wide spread believe that “Muslims” who are involved in suicide bombing are motivated by the concept of being martyrs or shaheed. They kill themselves in the way of Allah and the fight for Islam.

The Pentagon briefing paper also states that “His actions provide a win-win scenario for himself, his family, his faith and his God. The bomber secures salvation and the pleasures of Paradise. He earns a degree of financial security and a place for his family in Paradise. He defends his faith and takes his place in a long line of martyrs to be memorialized as a valorous fighter.”

They twist and exploit the Islamic concept of Paradise and martyrdom and use it against Islam to justify the motivation of the so called Muslim suicide bombers.

However the Islamic concept of martyrdom does not coincide with the concept of committing suicide to harm the enemy and achieve Paradise in this manner. As suicide is clearly forbidden, taking one’s life does not result is a person being a martyr.

There is also a misconception that Islam allows group enemy attack if it causes harm or defeat to the enemy. A Muslim scholar, Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, known as the father of Islamic law, elaborates on this concept. He says that a Muslim can penetrate the enemy forces when three conditions are met. One, that in order to penetrate an enemy force, there must be an ongoing, active war between the two opposing parties. Second, that the attacker must not die during the attack and third, that even if the attacker dies, it should be by the hands of an enemy.

Analyzing all this, it becomes quite clear that the concept of suicide or suicide attack is strongly prohibited in Islam.

Looking deeper into this matter, another aspect i.e. Jihad, is discussed and exploited by people to link such attacks to the teachings of Islam. Jihad means struggle. It is not only limited to warfare but also the internal struggle i.e. the struggle within one’s soul.

Islam has given in detail, the rules of war in context to Jihad, which straight forwardly state that the Muslim cannot harm any civilian or their property during the war. They cannot harm women, children or elderly people, noncombatant bystanders, even trees and crops and they cannot destroy the enemy’s home or other property.

If we look at the statistics, the suicide bombings mostly kill women and children and are struck in public places. This clearly goes against the concept of Islam.

Propagandists only take half a reference from the Quran, and present it to prove their statements. For example it says in Quran regarding Jihad:

“And slay them wherever ye catch them…. (2:191)”

Anyone reading this line only would be convinced that Muslims are ordered to kill.

However, this is not the full verse. The complete saying is as following

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.’(2:190-192)

In conclusion, whether it is the extremist mullahs, terrorists or Taliban themselves, whether there is US or other power involved behind the suicide bombing, the idea of Islam, Jihad and Martyrdom along with other concepts is clearly presented in a distorted and monstrous way to the world. (Ends)

(Arfa Saleem is Mass Communication student at NUST)

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