"We Sing Sin": Loving death at one's own hand?
In a long comment to yesterday's post, Jeanie Oliver provided information from an online article, "Jihad in the Hadith," that looks to be a chapter in a longer work by 'Carlos' titled Facing the Global Jihad: The Roots of Holy War Within Islam Itself (November 2004). I haven't read this whole work, nor have I even read the entirety of the chapter "Jihad in the Hadith."
I have scanned quickly through this chapter, however, and seen that it's useful for going to the original sources to back up its points, which thereby allows us to form our own opinions independently of 'Carlos' . . . whether we agree or disagree with him on an Islamic tradition supporting suicide jihad.
In a section of the chapter subtitled 'The High Value of Martyrdom,' the writer 'Carlos' observes that "It is praiseworthy both to seek death as a martyr and to love it," and he provides two hadith (and I've linked to the MSA site mentioned yesterday):
Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone fights in Allah's path as long as the time between two milkings of a she-camel, Paradise will be assured for him. If anyone sincerely asks Allah for being killed and then dies or is killed, there will be a reward of a martyr for him. (Sunan Abu Dawud, 14:2535)This doesn't explicitly support suicide jihad (let alone suicide terrorism), which is what interests us at the moment, but it does offer some support for statements by those Islamists like Osama bin Laden, who once told us:
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say:... "By the Being in Whose Hand is my life, I love that I should be killed in the way of Allah; then I should be brought back to life and be killed again in His way." (Sahih Muslim, 20:4631 [see also 20:4626])
"We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us." (Richard Stengel, "Osama bin Laden and the Idea of Progress," Time, December 21, 2001)Bin Laden certainly supports suicide bombing -- as a 'martyrdom operation', of course -- but does suicide in the path of jihad have a precedent in Islam? According to 'Carlos', it does:
[O]ne cannot say that suicide fighting is by its very nature un-Islamic. In fact, it is not new . . . . Daniel Pipes notes the existence of jihad suicide nearly a thousand years ago:The reference to Daniel Pipes leads to his article "The [Suicide] Jihad Menace," written for the Jerusalem Post issue of July 27, 2001 . . . only 46 days prior to 9/11, interestingly. That was prescient of Dr. Pipes, but he's nevertheless wrong in pointing to The Assassins as practicing "jihad suicide," for they didn't kill themselves. True, we do speak of "suicide missions" even in the West when referring to those military missions in which death is likely unavoidable, but this is a very loose expression, and not precisely accurate. Those on so-called "suicide missions" die not by their own hands but at the hands of others.Jihad suicide has been around for a millennium. The Assassins, a fanatical religious sect that flourished in the twelfth century developed jihad suicide into a powerful tool of war that succeeded in killing dozens of leaders and cast a long shadow over the region's politics for decades.And certainly there is no prohibition on terrorism when suicide is not involved. When seen as a sacred struggle against non-believers, terrorism by any means becomes a virtue, whether or not one knows one's life will be forfeit.
I have not yet seen any hard evidence that traditional Islam provides strong support for setting forth on a jihad with the intent to kill oneself.