Saudi Columnist: Muslim Clerics Too Afraid to Speak Against Suicide Attacks

The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders following a terrorist attack 11 September 2001 in New York.

TEL AVIV – Suicide – and therefore a suicide attack – is one of the most grievous transgressions of Islamic law, a column in the Saudi daily Al-Watan claimed, and Muslim clerics do nothing to combat the brainwashing by terror groups which convinces young people to carry out these forbidden acts in the name of Allah.

Columnist Sattam Al-Muqrin slammed clerics who are too afraid to speak out against suicide attacks in an August op-ed translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Suicide is prohibited in Islamic law and is considered one of the worst transgressions after polytheism, based on the Koranic verse ‘and do not kill yourselves,’” Muqrin writes.

Muqrin continues by saying that according to some Islamic sources, suicide is greater sin than murder and as such a Muslim who kills himself will not have his body washed or prayed over.

Furthermore, Muqrin claims, many Muslim clerics demand severe punishment for anyone who attempts suicide.

“On this basis, the idea of suicide has become synonymous, in the consciousness of Muslim societies, with heresy and eternal hellfire. This begs the question: How do the theocratic leaders of terrorist groups manage to persuade innocent youngsters to blow themselves up and commit suicide, despite the opposition to this notion in Islamic societies?”

According to Muqrin, terrorist organizations use two main methods to persuade terrorists to blow themselves up: First, they convince the potential terrorist that he will become a martyr and enter Paradise whereupon “black-eyed virgins” await him.

Second, terror leaders convince their protégés that they are killing themselves in order to defend the oppressed and the weak as well as to sanctify Islam and Allah.

“After that, the brainwashing begins, with tales and traditions from Muslim history praising self-sacrifice for the sake of Allah, as well as with reiteration of a number of ancient and contemporary fatwas issued by certain clerics,” he writes.

One example is in the case that a Muslim encounters a group of “infidel” who outnumber him. If he fights back, even if he knows without a doubt he will die, it will not be considered as suicide since his “goal is to harm one of the enemies” of Islam.

Muqrin cites a famous tale often used by terrorist groups to justify and extol the idea of suicide. Al-Baraa’ ibn Malik, who was known as the Companion of the Prophet, came up against an impenetrable wall with a gate shut by infidels.

Al-Baraa’ ibn Malik asked his men to throw him over the wall. At first they refused, knowing that it would result in instant death. But upon his insistence, they complied. Al-Baraa’ ibn Malik lived and even killed infidels when he reached the other side of the gate.

Nevertheless, the story is used as evidence to justify suicide attacks and the desire to die a martyr’s death, Muqrin writes.

Indeed, a video from Syria emerged in 2012 in which a group called the “Al-Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade” declared it would fight the Assad regime with suicide bombers.

Six years earlier, a specialized cell of suicide bombers who also went by the same name formed in Iraq to join Al Qaeda.

Muqrin adds that there are ancient fatwas that permit suicide for four reasons: “a man’s desire to die a martyr’s death; in order to subdue the enemy; in order to encourage the Muslims in the face of the infidels; and in order to weaken the enemy’s spirit, so that they will think, If one of [the Muslims] can do this, what about the rest of them?”

According to Muqrin, Muslim clerics will justify the victims of suicide attacks by saying that if they were infidels, they had it coming to them. And if those killed in the attack were Muslims, then they too will be considered martyrs and will receive rewards in Paradise.

“Thus, any potential human emotion in the terrorist is extinguished, eliminating any hesitation in committing his heinous crime,” Muqrin asserts.

He lambastes clerics for not questioning the historic traditions that justify suicide attacks and for not “revisit[ing] obsolete terminology that is lacking all concept of humaneness.”

Muqrin concludes with an ominous prediction.

“Sadly, some clerics are still unable to criticize, or even to deeply examine, the issue of suicide attacks, for fear of criticizing [our] historic heritage, and out of opposition to innovation. When will they wake up – [will it be] before the religion is hijacked by terrorist groups, if it hasn’t been already?”


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