A Critique of the Use of Suicide Bombings in Islamic Jihad

1.2. The Modern Conception

With some Muslims and almost all non-Muslims jihad is now viewed as nothing more than a “holy war”. Numerous Muslim authors have written books on jihad without any reference to jihad exclusive of fighting[^19] and a number of Muslims believe that to carry out jihad means to fight and fight only. Other scholars believe that though jihad means struggle at all levels, the highest of those levels is the cuffing of necks[^20] .

On the one hand, the western nations view Muslims, Islam and jihad as solely a philosophy of aggression sanctioned by the holy books of Islam. Different scholars, both secular and of other religions have advanced views about what, in their estimation, Islamic jihad is and use some verses of the Qur’an which prescribe fighting and some hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad SAW to justify their views. They extol that Islam has been and continues to be a religion that recommends and commends aggression for does Allah SWT not command “fight those who have not faith in God and in the hereafter and who forbid not what God and his Prophet have forbidden and who are not committed to the religion of truth”[^21] and the Prophet SAW is also reported to have said “the doors of heaven are under the shade of swords”. To contradict this erroneous supposition, some contemporary Muslim writers have taken on the opposite end of the spectrum and seek to ascribe to jihad a defensive nature only. That war is fought only in defense against aggression. There is no doubt that the defense of a home land populated by Muslims may mean the defense of the Islamic faith as only when the homeland is secure can Muslims in it ensure the full implementation of the Islamic way of life. But is obvious that they have forgotten -or are not even aware- that the ultimate aim of jihad is the establishment and implementation of an Islamic way of life.

There is failure, both among the Muslims who hold these views and the non-Muslims to understand that warfare as jihad is only a minor component of the broader concept of  jihad. It is no surprise, therefore, that the United States Department of defense defines jihad as a “holy war” and “refers to the use of violence including against persons, property, and governments deemed to be enemies of a fundamentalist version of Islam”. The modem non-Muslim world sees jihad as nothing more than a terrorist agenda with religious backing. Jihad is seen as an ideology of hatred and subversion. Only a few scholars, one of whom is Daniel Pipes, a renowned critic of “Islamic jihad”understand the dissension that has occurred between jihad as prescribed by Islamic law and the jihad that is propagated and practiced by some Muslims today. He says;

“militant Islam derives from Islam but is a misanthropic,


anti-semitic, terrorist, jihadist and suicidal version of it”

The misconception that Muslims fight jihad in order to force all those they have conquered into accepting the religion of Islam is just that, a misconception. Islam is not just a religion but a way of life. Jihad is not “war” but a struggle to establish societies where the people are governed by an Islamic way of life which ensures freedom from oppression and establishing the collective well-being of such peoples.

2.1 The Position of Suicide in Islam

Suicide is defined as the act of killing oneself intentionally. Under secular law, suicide is not a crime though aiding and abetting a person to commit suicide may be actionable[^22] .

Under Islamic law, suicide is regarded as one of the major sins. Allah SWT provides in suratul An’am;[^23]

“and do not kill yourselves indeed Allah is ever merciful to you and the one who does so in enmity and injustice, we shall cast him into the Fire and that is easy for Allah”

A number of scholars interpreted this verse to mean that Muslims should not kill one another. But it was reported by Abu Mansoor Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Mansoori that Amr bin al-’As narrated thus:

I had a wet dream during a cold night On the battlefield of

Dhat al-Salasil. I was afraid that if I did ghusl I would die. I

therefore did tayyammum and prayed the morning prayers

with others. I mentioned this to the Prophet SAW who

remarked ‘0 Amr! You prayed with others while in a major

state of defilement.I informed him about what had prevented me

from doing the Ghusl and recited the verse ‘and do not kill

yourselves. Indeed Allah is ever merciful to you’ the

Prophet then laughed and did not say anything”

In another hadith, Junaid bin Abdullah reported the Prophet SAW as saying;

“a man who had been wounded in the battlefield became

impatient with his pain and killed himself and Allah SWT

said ‘my servant has hastened his own death himself,

and I forbid him the Garden’.

It becomes obvious from these hadiths that to interpret the verse in Suratul Nisa’ to mean that Muslims must not kill one another will be an erroneous interpretation.

He who commits suicide is considered to have died akafir (as an unbeliever) and will not be entitled to the rites performed on a deceased Muslim. The body of a man who had committed suicide was brought to the Prophet Muhammad SAW and he turned away from him refusing to perform the funeral prayer for him[^24] .

There is no doubt that the Muslim who kills himself will have, as his reward, punishment with Hellfire. The Prophet Muhammad SAW goes further to provide

“anyone who kills himself with steel, then in Hellfire the same steel will be in his hands with which he will keep stabbing himself in the stomach forever, if anyone kills himself by ingesting poison, then in Hellfire he will keep ingesting the same poison forever, and if anyone commits suicide by throwing himself off a cliff, he will keep throwing himself off a cliff in Hellfire forever” [^25]