||2017-09-21 10:23:27, 조회 : 542, 추천 : 161
Voting as a Christian
Chapter 4 (Part 2)
Those Who Love Death
Last week, we began our discussion about "those who love death." We learned that the love of death and the afterlife are instilled in Muslims by reminding them to conduct ritual prayers that are orally recited five times a day. The love of death becomes a way of life for many Muslims today. Death and the afterlife is the focus point and a goal. Today, we will continue our discussion about martyrdom and what can be done in order to turn minds from the love of death to the love of life.
We learned that last week, Islam uniquely practices martyrdom. To be more specific, Islam uses individual martyrs to commit suicide and murdering others to advance their religion. One of the first martyrdom operations were conducted by Muslims on November 1980. A thirteen-year old Iranian boy used explosives by taping it onto his chest and blowing himself up in the Iran-Iraq war. The boy was revered as a hero and became a source of inspiration for others to volunteer themselves to become martyrs. Since then, there have been thousands and thousands of people that volunteered to be martyrs. This form of suicide bombing has become the most regular way that Shia and Sunni Muslims to murder each other. Another martyrdom operation that shocked the nation is in the 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S, Marine Corps in Lebanon. This suicide bombing killed 241 American military personnel. This attack was conducted by the Islamic Jihad. This shocked then President Ronal Reagan, that he withdrew his troops and gave victory to the jihadists. Due to its success, the Palestinian militants use suicide bombings to kill Israeli people. Suicide bombings became the choice of killing among the Muslim world.
While I am using the word "suicide," Ali highlights the significance in the word "suicide" and "martyrdom." Ali states, "Suicide they explain, is for those without hope. Martyrs are living successful lives, but nobly choose to sacrifice their lives for the higher good." In addition, these martyrs are then celebrated by their fellow Muslims and are hailed as heroes, There are streets, towns and squares named after these martyrs. Everyone talks about them as if they were going off to get married. While money is not the main goal for these martyrs, money incentives are also present. For example, Saddam Hussein has openly paid up to $25,000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers that attack Israelis. The Arab Liberation Front officials would deliver these checks personally. In addition, these families would also get support from charities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
As Westerners, we try to grapple with this idea of suicide bombings in terms of Western thinking. How can the mothers of these suicide bombers be proud? How can their fellow Muslims applaud these actions? While we may view them as cowards, they are actually "religious zealots" that believe that they will not suffer and go immediately to paradise. We cannot categorize them as cowards, if they are longing to go to heaven. In fact, Ali states that we cannot define them by using "Western terminology."
The call for modern martyrdom is present everywhere. The calling can be heard in mosques, schools and media platforms like YouTube. The calling is geared towards the youth that are listening. In a interview, Dr. Subhi Al-Yazji of the University of Gaza stated that the people would sacrificed their lives are all "mature and rational." In fact, they believe that the "Muslim faith requires us to make sacrifices." This appeals to the youth because it shows that martyrdom is not only for the helpless, but also for those that are successful. Another way the call for martyrdom can be seen, is the way in which the reward is emphasized in Islamic studies in school. For example, Professor Ismail Radwan talks about the reward that one would receive if he or she embraces death. He said, "When the Shahid meets the Lord, all his sins are forgiven from the first gush of blood, and he is exempted from the torments of the grave. He sees his place in Paradise...marries 72 Dark-eyed. He is a heavenly advocate for 70 members of his family." Even the mothers of the martyrs can be seen as a problem when handling the youth. Ali attempted to understand the "mother of martyrs" also known as "Umm Nidal" who encouraged three of her sons to perform attacks in Israel. The mother states, "It is true that there is nothing more precious than children, but for the sake of Allah, what is precious becomes cheap." Her reason was also followed by her own definition of love. She writes "Because I love my son... I wanted to choose the best for him, and the best is not life in this world...The greatest honor [my son] showed me was his Martyrdom." Even the way the newspapers report the deaths of these martyrs as their "wedding" instead of their funeral can be encouraging to the youth. Therefore, while the call for martyrdom may seem subtle, it is very effective. A perfect Muslim that wishes to give up their life for the sake of Allah is not mere "rhetoric" but a longing that manifests in reality.
What other problems arise from focusing on death and the afterlife? Ali says that Muslims then treat this life as a "way station." This view can be translated into the way Muslims live their lives. For example, when Ali was a translator for Somalis in Holland, she noticed how the Dutch were often responsible about their litter and kept their environment tidy. However, the Somali people would throw trash on the grounds, cigarette butts and their chewed qat. Their children would run around recklessly without any adult supervision. This would then anger the Dutch residents in which the Muslims would then reply that it is "God's will." The trash is "God's will" and the children running around is just "God's will." Ali states that this happens because Muslims are taught that "Allah has willed it to be this way; it is there because Allah has willed it. And if Allah has willed it, Allah will provide." What is the point of picking up garbage or disciplining your children if none of these things can provide a reward for you? These are not behaviors that boosts you to become a good Muslim at all.
What can be done to change the belief of wanting to die to wanting to live? Golda Meir (the Prime Minister of Israel) stated, "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." In 2013, 120 Muslim scholars wrote an open letter to the fighters of IS to denounce them as "un-Islamic." The letter denounced killing emissaries, ambassadors, diplomats and innocent people. It also stated that it is allowable for one to be loyal to its country. However, nowhere in the letter did they challenge martyrdom. This had very little impact on the IS fighters. If Muslims continue to focus solely on the afterlife and not in this world, they cannot live in this world. If imams were to begin talking about making this world a place like paradise and preaching that life here is important too, then Muslims can begin to be a part of this world and taking responsibility for it. Ali states, "Only when Islam chooses this life can it finally begin to adapt to the modern world."
1) What is the difference between "suicide" and "martyrdom"? Do you think it is important to point out these differences?
2) How is martyrdom encouraged in Islam?
3) What does it mean to be a perfect Muslim? Can a perfect Muslim live in the modern world?
4) Why do you think Muslims and non-Muslims are afraid to challenge martyrdom?