Monday, July 7, 2014

Ready to Die

The Star, Malaysia, July 07, 2014, page 01

Today, the Star features Malaysian jihadists (p 04). Those portrayed went overseas to bear arms and fight “Allah’s cause” or so they alleged. They claimed they were answering a “call from God” to defend Islam against the atrocities committed by its enemies. 

These jihadists are no different from the suicide bombers – they are all ready to die for the cause. 
Is that all there is to it or is there the added motivation to fight and even perish because they will be considered martyrs who will get to enjoy rich sensual rewards on reaching paradise? The sensual rewards come in the form of seventy-two virgins. 

I recall an August 2001 interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel aired by American television channel CBS. Abu Wardeh was quoted as saying: "I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness." 

[Wardeh was in fact shortchanging his recruits since the supposed rewards in Paradise for martyrs was 72 virgins]. 

Of course, suicide is clearly forbidden in Islam – although the concept of martyrdom is an altogether different issue. 

It is a matter of interpreting intentions. The above-mentioned Hamas spokesperson correctly uses the word martyr (shahid) and not suicide bomber, since those who are ready to blow themselves up, have no intention of killing themselves per se but that they are prepared to die for the noblest of causes, i.e. in the defence of Islam or to advance the cause of Islam. 

There are those who assert that the promised virgins are delectable metaphors for the divine joys of the afterlife. The description of paradise is allegorical. If not, then Allah would have allowed us to take our bodies with us when we die. But the vehicle by which we could enjoy the physical things (especially the 72 virgins) mentioned as being in heaven, is left behind here in this world to rot and decay away. So we know for a fact that for heavenly rewards, physical things of this world are used to describe things totally non-physical. This makes sense, right? 

But who am I to deny others who dearly wish to believe that seventy-two celestial babes will actually be waiting in heaven to give them eternal pleasures? Martyrdom gives them instant access to paradise – and this in itself makes it an enticing prospect. 

Note: There is nothing in the Quran that specifically states that the faithful are allotted 72 virgins apiece – only the hadiths seem to make reference to that promise.

Whatever the higher purpose that these Islamic fighters are advocating, the battle-ready individuals are described as militants. It can be noted that not everybody has gone abroad since many are also in the country. Already Malaysian police have reportedly detained nineteen individuals believed to be involved in militant groups that had links with those in southern Philippines and Middle Eastern countries. They are ready to fight. And ready to die.

In light of the above, this post, therefore, gives timely advice:

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