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What constitutes martyrdom

Reader comment on item: What Do Terrorists Want? [A Caliphate and Shari'a]

Submitted by Maggie (Australia), Aug 3, 2005 at 18:38

A martyr is someone who gives up his or her life for the sake of others. One of my favourite stories from the Scripture come from the Book of Maccabees, where the mother and her seven sons were martyred for their faith. The story is gruesome in its detail, however, it is a favourite because of the faith that is so evident in the mother and her sons. They were prepared to be tortured by their persecutors rather than give in and sacrifice to pagan idols. They set the example for the Christian martyrs who from the beginning, right up until now, have faced similar persecution at the hands of the "wicked" (not Islam or any other distinguishing group). They stood by their belief in God, and they refused to worship false idols.

Contrast what we understand from Scripture about a martyr (including the story of St. Stephen) and then compare that Scriptural understanding of martyrdom with that of a few radicals who are teaching that if you kill yourself whilst killing others you will be seen as a martyr.

I received an email from someone on a list that I own, regarding one of the men behind the terror in Britain. Here is a portion of the interview:

Hassan Butt, the young British Pakistani who was a spokesman for the extremist group al-Muhajiroun, and active in recruiting people to fight against the coalition forces in Afghanistan, embodies this journey from frustration and rootlessness to radical Islam. The world he describes before he was first approached, aged 17, by members of the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), was a disordered one. When I interviewed him last year, he described HT as showing him an Islam that could bring order to his life. Accepting Islam meant the creation of a social equilibrium that had been absent before. Islam was playing the role it had in 7th-century Arabia of bringing law and structure to decaying communities.

Butt parted ways with al-Muhajiroun (itself a breakaway from HT) and its founder Omar Sheikh Bakri because they supported the Islamic idea of a "covenant of security," by which Muslims in Britain are forbidden from any type of military action in Britain. Butt believed that military action against Britain would be unwise for the practical reason that it would jeopardise the protection "Londonistan" was offering radical Muslims, but he could not tolerate the position that such action was un-Islamic.

"I was reminded of Butt's cold hatred for Britain when a colleague of mine said that Beeston's younger generation were saying to her, a week after the London bombs, "Well what's the difference between al Qaeda and MI5 anyway?" and "It's sad people died, but what about the ones who died in Iraq?"

There is a lot more that is written down from this interview and one thing that stands out is that this man wants to establish the caliphate. Then this morning I was reading the newspaper headlines about the concern in Australia over the activities of the pro-terror Muslims. It must be understood that a majority here do not support this form of terror. However, the minority has been stirring up trouble and I read words that had a familiar ring.

We do not know what the terrorists want. They disguise their intentions by using the situation in Iraq, so that they can cry "victim". They seem to not understand that Muslims were the victims of other Muslims under the Saddam Hussein regime.
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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