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Between shahadah and suicide
By M. Zeyaul Haque

As usual the ulama are divided over the legal status of the fidayeen

M. Zeyaul HaqueIn one of his recent write-ups Robert Fisk of the London daily Independent talks about the new-fangled expression coined by Western media to describe the cold-blooded murder of Palestine Authority officials and PLO leaders by Israeli special services units. The entire spectrum of Western media calls it "targeted killings" as per Israeli wishes, rather than assassination or cold-blooded murder of people opposing occupation and enslavement.
Fisk regrets the Western media’s ever-readiness to oblige Israel, although the BBC tries to maintain some semblance of neutrality by adding "which Palestinians call assassination" right after "targeted killing." Which is no remedy for the dilution of the criminality of the act described blandly as "targeted killing." Even the U.S. State Department, which in many ways is an extension of the Israeli Foreign Office, declares," "we do not support targeted killings." Yes, even they do not support these cold-blooded murders of political opponents by Israel, but very much support calling it "targeted killing," thus making it sound less heinous than it actually is. Like describing the murder of civilians through U.S. Air Force raids as "collateral damage."

All this makes Palestinian youth, hemmed in from all sides in PA ghettoes--denied basic rights, even denied their humanity, and forced to a sub-human existence--to think hard about their predicament. Even their murder is not murder; it is merely some technical operation called "targeted killings," not worth any public attention, merely a nuisance to be dealt with by the great Israelis. So, where do they go from here? Of course, up in flames, taking some Israelis along, to the Great Beyond, to Life Hereafter, which seems like a relief from all the humiliation and harassment, the unending occupation, the daily dose of Zionist atrocities.

In plain terms, an increasing number of Palestinian youth find it more honorable to die in fidayeen raids, killing some Israelis along with themselves, than to live a life of endless slavery. But all this looks suspiciously like a suicidal act, forbidden in Islam as the cause of eternal damnation. And, what do the ulema think about the young men dying while carrying out these raids? Are they committing the clearly banned act of suicide, or are they the shuhada (martyrs) of Islam who lay down their lives to protect the Islamic heritage. As usual the ulema are sharply divided over the issue from one end of the Islamic world to the other.

On one end we have the ulema who think that any warrior who is going out to fight for the Islamic cause is courting death. Some fighters expressly go out with the prayer and the intent that they should be accepted by God as a martyr to the cause a shaheed and earn the highest honours reserved for such people in the Life Hereafter. "This, in a way, is like getting oneself deliberately killed, but is really not," says a Oasimi aalim. He thinks calling the fidayeen suicidal is mere hair-splitting.

Among the ulema of international stature, we are told, Allama Yusuf Qaradawi does not think these acts of self destructions to be suicides, but shahadah (martyrdom). For his views he is reported to be on the hitlist of some groups. On the other hand, a recent issue of the Tooba (an organ of Jamia Ibn-e-Taimiya in Bihar) has published the fatawa (legal opinion) of famous Saudi ulema which are diametrically opposed to this viewpoint. The question is, whom do the world’s thousand million Muslims believe? The suicide or shahadah verdict?

Now let us look at some of the views of the Saudi ulema which are at variance with those of Allama Qaradawi, the leading lights of Al Azhar, the Iranian ulama, the Hezbollah and other theologians.

Replying to a query, Shaikh Abd al Aziz Aal al-Shaikh of Saudi Arabia has said that acting as a human bomb could possibly amount to suicide.
In another fatwa, Shaikh Mohammad bin Saleh rules that a person acting as a human bomb dies a haram death and would be consigned to hell by God.

However, the head of Egypt’s Al Azhar makes a distinction between fidayeen raids on civilians and those on Israeli security forces. Those who attack civilians are not shaheed, while those who attack combatants are.

The Tooba also quotes a detailed discourse of Allama Mohammad Nasiruddin Albani, which in short, is against suicidal attacks, because it can be conducted only by an "Islamic army" under an emir. Because (according to Allama Albani) there is no Islamic army in existence today, nor is there any emir on the scene, such combat tactics must be dropped immediately.

Against this, we have the view of a Hezbollah leader quoted by Robert Fisk in his write-up. The Hezbollah leader asks Fisk to think of a hot and humid sauna, separated by a door which opens on an air-conditioned room. The fidayeen just slide the door and go into the air-conditioned environs of heaven across the thin dividing line of life and death, where the territory of Life Hereafter begins. That, for the fidayeen, is the end of all misery, all humiliation, as per the Hezbollah.

So, where do we stand? Not clear? Then ask some more ulema. But don’t expect to be enlightened.

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