Does Islam permit suicide bombings?

Contrary to common belief in the world that Islam sanctions suicide bombings, in actual fact, Islam holds suicide bombings to be totally Unislamic.

Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic. This can in no way be termed ‘Shahadah’ (martyrdom). According to Islam we can become martyrs, but we cannot court a martyr’s death deliberately.

Religion based terrorism is perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon of Muslim history. Throughout Islamic history, that is, until very recently, action has always meant result-oriented action. But in modern times, for the first time, the Muslim mentality has become so distorted that, on occasion, fruitless action has also come to be considered desirable. Suicide bombing, which shows a preference for death over life, falls into this category. While in the early history of Islam this was an alien concept, in modern times, for Muslims, it has acquired the position of a superior course of action.

How has the act of suicide come to rate so highly as a solution to political problems? The reason is not traceable to some special devotional attachment to Islam, but is due rather to an inimical attitude towards man. As the suicide bomber ties the bombs on to his body, it is not pro-Islamic, but rather anti-humanity sentiments, which motivate him to adopt such a deadly course. This is a reality that no one in his senses can deny.

According to the Quran, a Muslim is one who is man’s well-wisher. But the greatest weakness of the Muslims of today is that they do not in their hearts possess any feelings of well-wishing towards others. They hold all nations to be their foes. This animosity has so increased that they are ready to cross all moral limits when it comes to attacking their supposed enemies. If they think they can harm them by killing themselves, they are willing to take the extreme step of suicide bombing.

The truth is that suicide is totally forbidden (haram) in Islam. It is forbidden to the point where, if someone is dying, and it is certain that he will not survive, even in his final moments Islam does not allow him to take his own life.

An incident, which illustrates this, has been recorded in Sahih Muslim. It took place in the lifetime of the Prophet during the Battle of Khaybar, one of the defensive battles fought between the companions of the Prophet and their enemies. A soldier from the Muslim side, by the name of Quzmaanuz Zufra, fought very bravely and his death. The Muslims said that he was a martyr and would go to Paradise. But the Prophet said that he would go to hell. The companions were astonished.

So the Prophet asked them to find out the cause of his death. On inquiry, it was discovered that he had indeed fought very bravely for the Muslims and then had fallen down gravely wounded. But then, finding the pain of his injury unbearable, he ended his life with his own sword. (Fathul Bari, Commentary Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, 7/540)

The Prophet’s disapproval of his action makes it clear that suicide bombing is not lawful in Islam under any circumstances. According to Islam, life is so precious that it can never be terminated at will on any pretext. Islam is a harbinger of life. It gives no license for premature death. That is why the virtue of patience is given the utmost importance in Islam. Patience (sabr) means tolerating the severest affliction rather than taking any such step as putting an end to one’s life.

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