The Counter Crusade

Friday, December 16, 2005


Here I will be discussing the position of the Islamic and Christian texts themselves on suicide and suicide bombing, and not the actions of the followers of these religions who could be misguided.


In Islam, suicide is strictly forbidden. “And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into the fire, and that is easy for Allaah.” (An-Nisaa 4:29-30).

and the hadith:

“There was among those who were before you, a man who had a wound. The man could not bear the pain of that wound, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it and as a result, bled to death. Allaah then said: “My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly and for this, I have made Paradise forbidden for him.” (Al-Bukhaaree). and many more...

and suicide is even forbidden in the context of Jihad:

In one of the battles that the Prophet and his followers fought, the prophet pointed at a Muslim who was fighting the enemies of Islam and said, "Whoever wishes to see one of the dwellers of Hell, should look at that man". So one of the Muslims decided to observe him to see why he would go to hell even though he was fighting in war against the enemies of Islam. He then returned to the Prophet and said, "I swear that you are the messenger of Allah!" and when the Prophet asked him why he made this comment, he said that he followed that man in battle as he fought against the enemies of Islam, until he was dealt a fatal injury. The man was in so much pain that he could not bear to wait until death took him, and he killed himself with his sword. Sirat-un-Nabi; Bukhari

Thus, suicide in any form and for whatever purpose is completely forbidden in Islam, but the Christian texts do not condemn it. Job, in the Bible, asks God to kill him because of all of his pain and suffering, whereas in the Islamic version of the story Job is patient and keeps thanking God continuosly, despite his unbearable pains. Saul, in the Christian texts, chooses to die by his sword rather than be caught by the Philistines, and the hero Razis does the same when fearing being caught by the wicked. In the Qur'an, Jonah was forced to jump off the ship whereas in the Christian texts he begs the mariner to throw him off so that he may die.[1]

Suicide Bombing

As you can see above, the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet re-tell the stories of many biblical prophets and personalities, giving a different account of what happaned. But one biblical hero who is completely left out of the Qur'an is Samson, Israel's "little sun"[2].

According to the Bible, God sent an angel to Samson's mother, telling her that she will have a very special son and that she should not cut his hair (as his hair will give him incredible power). Samson became so strong that he once killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey! (I wonder if they were all soldiers or if they included women and children). He was also one of the Judges of Israel for 20 years.

When Samson was finally caught by the Philistines, they gouged out his eyes. He was later placed between the two main pillars of a temple during a great celebration. He asked God to give him strength one more time, so that he may pay back the Philistines for the loss of one of his eyes, and asked God that he may die with the Philistines. He pushed against the pillars and brought down the temple, killing more civilian Philistines than all the people he had killed in his entire lifetime! [3]

So this judge of Israel, this special "sun" of Israel whom God wanted to grow up this strong, killed thousands and thousands of innnocent Philistines to pay back for the loss of one eye! And he wanted to go down with them in the process. So if the followers of every religion were actually following the spirit of their religion, we would have Christian and Jewish suicide bombers instead of Muslim suicide bombers!

In fact, suicide bombing is considered unlawful in Islam because of two reasons:
1) It kills non-combatant civilians
2) It involves suicide.

Suicide bombing was only accepted when one of the founders of the Palestinian group Fateh, Khalil El Wazir, told the people that it is acceptable and that those who died in suicide bombings are martyrs and will go to heaven.[4] Khalil El Wazir became known as Abu Jihad.

But since then, many Islamic scholars have denounced suicide bombings as completely unacceptable. But of course such voices are not heard because they dont make interesting news. See for example the fatwa of the famous Salafi scholar al-Albani declaring suicide bombing unlawful. According to him, they will either cause those who do them to reside eternally or temporarily in Hell. He also says that killing Jewish civilians by suicide bombing has no benefit and is harmful to the Islamic call.

More recently, 500 British Muslim religious leaders issued a fatwa saying that suicide bombings are "vehemently prohibited". They continued, "Islam's position is clear and unequivocal: murder of one soul is the murder of the whole of humanity; he who shows no respect for human life is an enemy of humanity.

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdallah Al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia has also issued a fatwa against suicide bombings. There are on the other hand, one must admit, some Arab Islamic authorities who are afraid to speak up against suicide bombing because of all the passion that Arabs have toward the Palestinian cause. Other scholars, like the Shaikh of al-Azhar in Cairo Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, said that suicide bombings against civilians are unacceptable but against fighters they are ok because they are not really suicide, but are "a sort of martyrdom" and in "self defence". He can say whatever he wants but suicide bombing still involves suicide, and they are not the only option.

There is a complete refutation of suicide bombings as Islamic in this pdf file.

How strange it is then, that many misguided Muslims think suicide bombing is acceptable, whereas it is the Bible that shows Samson as a great hero!

* This post was inspired by the quote, "Suicide bombing is so foreign to the Quranic ethos that the Prophet Samson is entirely absent from our scriptures" in the article "Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists " , by Abdul Hakim Murad.
1. The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism
2. The word samson means "little sun".
3. Biblical people: Samson
4. Thomas, Gordon. Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad".


  • I agree with your comments about Islam, but I disagree with the ones about Christian suicide bombers.

    Indeed, Islam preaches that Christians and Jews are "people of the book" too. The Quran shows several parts of the Bible to be "wrong" but no where does it refute the story of Samson as being true.

    A Christian can, in fact, be considered a "Muslim." All the Prophets were, for example. Abraham, Moses, Jesus etc.

    I think rather than calling Christians terrorists, you should be saying that no religion should be called terrorists or supporting terrorism.

    By Blogger Steve, at 10:36 PM, December 16, 2005  

  • Interesting. The first suicide bombing in Lebanon was a Christian, and there were more than few.

    By Blogger Abu Sinan, at 10:44 PM, December 16, 2005  

  • I didnt call Christians terrorists, and I specifically said that christians aren't following in the footsteps of samson.

    this blog however is a "counter crusade" against those who attack the quran and the sunna.. specifically to show what other texts say about the things Islam gets criticized for.

    interesting comment abu sinan. thanks.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 10:56 PM, December 16, 2005  

  • silencer -- thats worse. you're saying if only christians followed their religion they'd be terrorists!

    By Blogger Steve, at 8:01 AM, December 17, 2005  

  • abu sinan - dont forget the first terrorists in Israel were Zionists, blowing up British offices!

    The question is, do people do such things because their religion tells them to? I would say no.

    By Blogger Steve, at 8:05 AM, December 17, 2005  

  • I remember reading about a guy called the "naked warrior", during the time of the prophet (peace be upon him). He was called that because he'd throw off his breastplate in battle to signal his desire for matyrdom. Do you know who I'm talking about? How does he fit in to all this?

    By Blogger DA, at 8:26 AM, December 17, 2005  

  • Yes you can signal desire for martyrdom, but you cant end your life with your own hands. If there is a prophet or an Imam who tells you to charge into an enemy tens of times your number and you do, knowing you probably wouldn't come out alive (like al-husayn).. its also not suicide. plus you never know, God said he sometiems lets a small army defeat one many times its size. but you cant charge into such an enemy with unbeatable odds without the command of a muslim commander in an army. (that's at least al-albani's view and i agree)

    also many ppl, as steve said, dont do these things for religious reasons.. and Allah said that any action made for Allah and another reason, then Allah will count it for that reason only, for Allah can't have partners. If there was really another reason that drove them like nationalism or despair then they're not really doing it for Allah and they would have killed themselves in vain.

    also the guy who threw off his breastplate is showing that he's not afraid to die. And as i said, its not wrong to desire martyrdom or to fight knowing for certain you will die. but you cant actually do the killing yourself. For example the prophet tells us that martyrs will be so honored in heaven that they will ask God to send them to earth to die for his cause again and again and again.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 10:08 AM, December 17, 2005  

  • steve,

    there are a million websites about interfaith dialogue and and loving all religions. and i do like and respect the christian faith and its followers.

    however there are many christian and jewish and hindu websites that attack islam, and there are other websites defending islam...

    the purpose of this blog is to say:

    "ok, you are saying this point is bad in islam. i'll show you what your own religion says about it".

    because ppl are only scrutinizing islam and not the other religions. i dont like doing this.. i really dont.. i regretted starting this blog the minute i named it "the counter crusade". but i felt that its just something that has to be done.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 10:11 AM, December 17, 2005  

  • DA,

    I looked up the "naked warrior".. only found a snippet about him on a wikipedia article. he sounds cool anyway if the story is true.

    It says however that in his most important battle he advanced forward in a full armor and a Byzantine elephant hide shield taken from a dead soldier to protect himself from spears or arrows.

    Challenging Byzantine champions to a deul, he yelled out his battle cry: "I am the death of the Pale Faces, I am the killer of Romans; I am the scourge sent upon you, I am Zarrar Ibn al Azwar!" He is said to have slain several Byzantine champions who accepted his deuls, including the governers of Tiberius and Amman.

    in any case, i have found the best way to clarify that position: suicide is when one chooses his moment of death, or charges into death without being ordered to attack by a muslim commander who sees a good tactical reason for that attack.

    the "naked warrior" did not choose his moment of death, and there was no guarantee that he would die by taking off his breastplate.

    By Blogger Silencer, at 12:27 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • An excellent and thought provoking piece that just confirms what I'd long believed to be true. So-called suicide bombers have no place in a religious context at all. Your comments about a biblical perspective has certainly made me think!

    I can't understand soldiers who profess to be Christians either. I don't know how anyone can claim to turn the other cheek with a gun in their hands.....

    By Blogger Greywulf, at 2:11 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • Well, for what it's worth, Islam (And Judaism, for that matter), do not advocate turning the other cheek. In Jewish law, in fact, if you turn the other cheek, you share responsability for the 2nd blow.

    By Blogger DA, at 5:43 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • My "favorite" verse from the Bible on this point is John 15:13
    "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

    I think it should be pretty clear (from this and other factors) that suicide bombings are occuring, not because of something intrinsic to Islam but because of the situation the Palestinians are in culturally, politically, psychologically. It's a reflection of the desperation that Palestinians are actually feeling due to the occupation.

    By Blogger Abdul-Halim V., at 9:47 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • A great thought-provoking article.

    In Chritianity, though.... if thou shall not kill, surely though thou shall not kill theyself.

    If war involves killing, I suppose we could say: Thou shall not war... or at least not kill the enemy. Just give him a slap on the cheek and let him turn the other one.

    By Blogger Michel (travelnotes), at 11:12 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • Michel,

    If you actually translate the original crypto-hebrew, strictly speaking it does not say "Thou shalt not kill", it says "Thou shalt do no muder". It's a different word from a generic "kill". A closed circuit 'no killing' commandment would have made life nearly impossible for the Israelites. They had the death penalty (life imprisonment just wouldn't be tenable for desert nomads); they had to wage war for their survival at some points, which involved killing; and they had to be able to slaughter animals, as they were herdsmen, not agriculturalists at that point. This does not imply that killing is good, simply that not killing is not always relaistic.

    By Blogger DA, at 7:27 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • Silencer, are you aware that there is no direct link to your blog?

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 12:16 AM, December 24, 2005  

  • elizabeth, i dont know what you're talking about. can you please explain?

    By Blogger Silencer, at 11:01 AM, December 24, 2005  

  • what I mean is that to look at your blog, I cannot simply put the URL in my browser. I have to go to your profile and click on the blog from there.

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 2:37 AM, December 27, 2005  

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