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Islamic Misinterpretations And Suicide Attacks Essay

1333 words - 6 pages

Islam is not just a religion or system of theological thought, but it is the primary source for creating legal norms, guidelines, and demands in order to adhere and devote one’s life to Islam. Islamic doctrine delineates between acts of martyrdom and what the Western world describes as terrorism. Islamic jus in bello, or the laws of waging war, clearly outlines actions that can and cannot be justified according to Islam when engaged in war. Historical Islamic definitions of jihad in modern society have been redefined and interpreted in order to justify suicide attacks despite Islamic texts indicating otherwise.
Jihad in its truest form does not promote violence, but the utilization of ...view middle of the document...

Terrorist networks, including Al Qaeda in Iraq, have made the terms martyr and suicide synonymous in order to legitimize suicide attacks as a means of diminishing the presence of foreign entities within the Arabian Peninsula. The Islamic definition of suicide is “an act of self-murder by the believer, acting with the…intention to take his or her life”, which is not acknowledged as a heroic or an act worthy of achieving a place in paradise (Fordham). The Prophet declares that “whoever kills himself…will be punished in the same manner in the fire of Hell” (Franz Rosenthal, On Suicide in Islam). A suicide attacker expects to die, but does so under the impression that he is conducting martyrdom operations.
A martyr is “anyone who is killed as a result of oppression or persecution...everyone who dies in the midst of battle defending his homeland or fighting evil is worthy of the ranks of the martyrs” (Strickland). Martydrom, as defined by Islamic law, is allowed if the following circumstances are met: must occur during a time of war; must be carried out by soldiers; the soldiers must not pretend to be non-combatants; the attacks must not harm civilians or civilian property; and the tactic used must not mutilate their bodies (Munir). Contrary to a suicide bomber, a martyr does not expect to live or die, but to fight in the hopes of surviving.
Imman Muhammad Ibn al-Hassan al Shaybani, known as the father of Islamic international law, outlines conditions that must be met in order for suicide attacks to be justified. In order for a suicide operation to be legitimate there must be an active struggle between the Muslims and their enemy, the attacker has hope of survival, and if he does die, his death must be as a result of enemy fire (Munir). These conditions fail to reveal that the individuals must not be soldiers pretending to be civilians or they are in violation of prohibitions set forth by jus in bello. Islamic jus in bell, laws governing war, prohibits treachery and perfidy, actions that are prevalent in modern suicide bombings. Additionally, several hadiths, or Islamic traditions, are interpreted and used to justify those who chose to die, or commit suicide, in the interest of Islam. The narrative of the servant fighting without armor until he was killed or the story of a young boy who was to be killed by his king because of his religion are two hadiths that Islamic scholars site to explain that suicide missions are equivalent to martyrdom missions. However, these hadiths depict a soldier’s sacrifice in honor of Allah, not soldiers masking themselves as civilians. In many instances, soldiers dress in civilian drab in order to penetrate a crowd or camouflage themselves more effectively to target areas that will yield higher casualty rates. Even more common are terrorists disguised in security force uniforms or in the uniforms of American soldiers in order to penetrate heavily guarded targets.
Islamic jus in bello...

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