Martyrs' Weddings: On Earth as in Heaven?
My two recent posts on Islamist suicide bombers, here and here (and an ironic one here), in which I discuss the bombers' hope of paradise and its pleasures, has occasioned some harsh responses, for example, "don't bullsh*t by saying the afterlife 'plays a role in their thinking,'" a comment from an individual who calls himself "anonymous."*
My interlocutors are disturbed at my position that Islamist suicide bombers, like Islamist shahids (martyrs) generally, are motivated by the promise of paradise and its virgins, among other pleasures. Now, I don't argue that this is their sole motivation, but it is a powerful one and accounts for the widespread use of what are euphemistically called "martyrdom operations." Why do I claim it is a powerful motive? Aside from the fact that pious religious belief is a strong motivator for action, and that a strong motivation is necessary for carrying out a suicide bombing, there is sufficient evidence to render my view reasonable, in that the Islamist suicide shahid is "certain of the Islamic doctrine about martyrdom, 'Jihad', salvation and afterlife":
Indeed after the death of the shahid there is a celebration instead of mourning and mothers' utter cries of joy and sweets are distributed to visitors, like as if a wedding, a happy occasion took place. Handling suicide bombers' deaths as 'martyr's weddings' are truly common in Muslim tradition. (Maria Alvanou, "Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers: The Interplaying Effects of Islam, Nationalism and Honor Culture," Strategic Research and Policy Center, National Defense College, IDF, May 2007, page 43)A more recent report comes by way of MEMRI in an article by L. Barkan, "Salafi-Jihadis in Jordan Stage 'Martyrs' Weddings' to attract youth To Jihad" (February 8, 2013, Inquiry and Analysis Series, Report No.926, Middle East Media Research Institute):
The forces fighting against Assad's regime in Syria include foreigners who have come to take part in the uprising alongside the Syrian rebels. Among them are members of Jordan's Salafi-jihadi movement, which, according to its senior leaders, has so far dispatched some 250 fighters to Syria. As one means of encouraging Jordanian youths to join its ranks and adopt the ideology of jihad and martyrdom, the Salafi-jihadi movement stages "martyrs' weddings" for fighters killed in Syria, based on the Islamic belief that every martyr is rewarded with 72 black-eyed virgin brides in Paradise . . . . [Such] "weddings" are not a new phenomenon. The Salafi-jihadi stream in Jordan has held similar ceremonies in the past for Jordanian fighters who died in Afghanistan and Iraq . . . . 'Abd Al-Fateh Shehadeh, aka Abu Muhammad Al-Tahawi, a senior figure in the Jordanian Salafi-jihadi movement, told the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq that such "weddings" have so far been held for 18 Jordanian Salafi-jihadi fighters killed in Syria, explaining that these celebrations serve to propagate the ideology of jihad and martyrdom . . . . Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamists groups, told Al-Sharq that the purpose of the "martyrs' weddings" is to attract youths to the idea of jihad and of martyrdom, and encourage them to join the fighting on jihad fronts throughout the Islamic world . . . . Abu Muhammad Al-Tahawi explained that . . . . [that] "the martyr [himself] rejoices at the reward and grace that Allah bestows upon him if his martyrdom is accepted. With the first drop of blood shed from his body, [his sins] are pardoned, and he weds 72 black-eyed [virgins] of Paradise, dons his crown of honor, and serves as an advocate for 70 of his relatives . . . . We explain to the youths who attend [the ceremony] that he who sacrifices his life in defense of Islam and the land of the Muslims will marry the black-eyed [virgins], his relatives will be pardoned, and his sins will be erased" . . . . Videos of these celebrations are also disseminated via the internet.Related to this, see "European Muslims Hold 'Martyr's Wedding' For Tunisian Killed In Syria" (MEMRI, No. 5214, March 4, 2013):
Photos surfaced online of a celebration held by European Muslims in honor of a Tunisian youth who was killed while fighting in Syria. The celebration, held in an undisclosed location in Europe -- according to one report, in France -- was in the form of a "martyr's wedding," symbolizing the deceased's wedding to the virgins of paradise . . . . The Tunisian, Ayman Al-Hakiri, AKA Abu Maria Al-Tunsi, was an active member of Ansar Al-Shari'a in Tunisia. He recently joined Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria and was appointed a commander in Aleppo, and was reportedly killed in the Aleppo area on February 24. Al-Hakiri was likewise an active member of jihadi forums, using the nickname Matlub fi Al-Jannah ("Wanted in Paradise").Or from some years back, Yaakov Lappin of YNetNews reports on the martyrdom of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an article "Cleric: Zarqawi's wedding with virgins has begun":
As news of the death of Iraqi al-Qaeda terror chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi filtered through jihadist internet forums, many members of radical organizations expressed 'joy' at what they described as Zarqawi's 'martyrdom' and imminent 'wedding' with virgins.Many reports of this sort can be dug up from the internet. I've been reading them for years now, and I think these establish rather unequivocally that the hope of paradise and its pleasures serves as a powerful motive in the deadly acts of suicide bombers.
Sheikh Omar Bakri, a top pro al-Qaeda jihadist preacher who is based in Lebanon, and who has a number of disciples in Britain, was quoted by one of his followers on the UK-based Muntadaa internet forum as saying that al-Zarqawi is now being 'married' to virgins in heaven, the fate he said awaited 'martyrs' of Islam.
"It is a good news Alhamdulilaah (thank God), his wedding start as shaheed (martyr), and his deputy confirm the news," read a statement attributed to Bakri.
Readers are invited to search the internet themselves . . .
*Update: Anonymous protests that I have misrepresented his position. My apologies if I have done so.
Update 2: See a more recent post on what the would-be martyrs themselves say.