The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches targeted Roman Catholic churches and hotels, killing at least 290 and injuring 500 others, were carried out by seven suicide bombers linked to the Islamist group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (TJ). While national security officials issued an advisory 10 days prior that churches may be targeted, it was unclear what safeguards, if any, were taken. According to Anne Speckhard, the director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, the motives of the TJ were to wipe out Christians as part of their global Islamization: “It is about religion and punishing … as if they came right out of the ISIS, al-Qaida, global militant jihadist playbook, as these are attacks fomenting religious hatred by attacking multiple churches on a high religious holiday.” Yet while Muslim apologists and their political sympathizers say that the suicide bombings are not part of Islamic teaching—once again arguing that Islam is a religion of peace—the truth of the matter is quite the opposite.
First, Allah himself gave the order to kill non-Muslims if they fail to convert: “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists [including People of the Book: Jews and Christians] wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Sura 9, 5) Second, while suicide is prohibited in Islamic teaching, killing oneself while fighting Allah’s adversaries carries a religious epitome that is intertwined with the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, which invite the faithful to fight and, if necessary, become martyrs for Islam: “He who goes forth in Allah’s path and dies or is killed is a martyr, or has his neck broken through being thrown by his horse or by his camel, or is stung by a poisonous creature, or dies on his bed by any kind of death Allah wishes is a martyr and will go to Paradise.” — Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 15, hadith 2493
As I explain in my book, Islamic martyrdom in itself, begets a politicization of the relationship between rival groups while imbuing the political challenge between them with a significant meaning: the promise of eternal life: “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed.”—Sura 9, 111
A suicide bomber is considered a martyr, a shahid: one who bears witness to the truth, and is therefore the witness to which he physically stood by. In this manner, “and by his struggle and sacrifice for the sake of the truth [the purpose of jihad], he becomes a model, a paradigm, and an example for others, worthy of being copied, and worthy of being followed. While sharia scholars equate a Muslim’s martyrdom to a Christian’s, there is a clear contradiction between the two. A Christian martyr is a man, woman, or child who is killed professing their faith but not resisting it. An Islamic martyr is a man or woman who dies for the Islamic faith on the battlefield, “more often in endeavoring to force it upon others than defending his own exercise thereof.”
Part of the jihadist recruitment strategy of martyrdom is the abundance of sexual pleasure which awaits the selfless male Muslim in heaven. Hamas recruiter Muhammad Abu Wardeh used to explain to his recruits before they blew themselves up, “If you become a martyr, [Allah] will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness.”
The aforesaid appeal to enlist holy warriors as an apparatus dates back to at least the ninth century. As reported in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Habal and Sunan al-Tirmidhi, the martyr, whether he dies in the battlefield by his own hand or not, will be raised in heaven, where
- he shall be forgiven of his sins from the first moment his blood is spilled;
- he shall be granted to intercede for seventy of his relatives, and
- he shall be coupled with seventy-two spouses from the wide-eyed maidens of Paradise.
The end goal of these so-called holy warriors is to comply, as the twentieth-century jurist Muhammad Hamidullah said: “First to preserve one’s own power and then to break that of the unbelievers and to subjugate them.” [In other words], to establish a theocracy, a Kingdom of Allah on earth. This is why it is important that we not mourn and lament in silence before the continual jihadist attacks, especially since they seek to undermine our Christian and democratic principles. It is not just a right to make ourselves be heard but it is a duty and a moral obligation to do so for our sake and for our children’s children. Let not let the lives of those who have been killed by jihadists be left in vain.