I recently converted to Islam, which I had hoped would be whole hearted. I suppose I was counting on my partner to provide the stability to enter smoothly, if this is ever possible. Of course what I have learned is that I must take time. In doing so and in doing a little reading here and there, I have lately had a question on how the law of Islam, Shari`ah, regards suicide when someone kills themselves for there belief, i.e. suicide bombers or what the west views as terrorism. As I myself am an American and also formerly Jewish it is difficult for me to wholeheartedly embrace the annihilation of the Jewish state, which implies also the Jewish people, as my own family continues to worship this way.
I base my question on recently read articles which states the claim that yes, the Koran does look at these acts as praiseworthy and such. I’m just wondering if this belief is held by all of Islam or just part and if it is wholly felt, perhaps you can explain this to me in better light.
There can be instances where such an act may be considered as allowed. However, such allowance can only be in the battlefield, while fighting a war. For instance, a suicide mission to destroy the ammunition store of the enemy – while in a state of war – or a suicide mission to defend one’s people against the onslaught of the enemy may be considered as allowed. Nevertheless, a suicide mission – carried out in a covert fashion – to disrupt the civic life and to terrorize a society can by no means be considered as allowed.
Because of the fact that suicide bombings and other terrorist activities – in the absence of a war being declared by the state – against civilian targets is generally carried out in the name of ‘Jihad‘ (generally translated as ‘The Holy War’), it is therefore imperative to understand the meaning and implication of the Islamic term ‘Jihad‘.
The Islamic term ‘Jihad‘ has generally been misused in our present times to imply ‘killing the opponent using any means, whatsoever’. This is the reason why in the present times, many terrorist activities are carried out in the name of ‘Jihad‘. However, this implication of the term ‘Jihad‘ is far from being correct. ‘Jihad‘, on the contrary, is governed by strict laws and rules – derived from the Qur’an and the teachings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). For instance, ‘Jihad‘, according to the Qur’an and the teachings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) – after the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) – is a declared warfare against injustice and oppression carried-out by an organized Muslim state.
Keeping the foregoing definition of ‘Jihad‘ in mind, it can safely be said that no terrorist activities can fall within the ambit of ‘Jihad‘, even if such an activity is sponsored and silently backed by an organized state.
Besides the above definition, there are also some moral rules and ethical teachings regarding ‘Jihad‘. These moral rules and ethical teachings are also based on the fundamental teachings of the Qur’an and those ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). For instance, if a Muslim nation has entered into a no-war pact with another nation, ‘Jihad‘ cannot be carried-out against that other nation – even against injustice and oppression – until the appointed time of the pact expires or until the Muslim nation openly declares its withdrawal from such no-war pact. Furthermore, even in case of a declared warfare, women, children and the elderly can in no case be made a target of aggression.
In view of the above explanation, it should be clear that suicide bombings in some situations may be considered as allowed, while in another situation it may be considered as taking the life of individuals without a just cause.
5th January 2000