While there exist in Islam many lamentable violations of human rights, a primary issue continues to cast ultimate doubt upon its claim as a valid religion. The taking of innocent life through terrorism remains a fundamental deal-breaker with respect to any possible acceptance of Islam as a genuinely legitimate faith.
Clearly, the institutionalized misogyny of purdah ― the Islamic confinement of women ― shall always loom large in any such decision process but many aspects of that dubious practice can be debated on cultural grounds as compared to the indisputable abhorrence of mass murder through terrorism.
Regardless of the damage being done to modern Christianity by its misguided attempts at universalism, the manner in which it is capable of sincerely embracing such noble concepts as universality or the Golden Rule is far more to the credit of Christian faith than the way in which Islam deceitfully channels all advantage to Muslims ― through such religiously sanctioned shams as taqiyya, kitman and hudna ― even while feigning an outward appearance of universality.
At the apex of these questions regarding legitimacy resides one of Islam’s most repugnant practices. Islamic doctrine purports to share with Christianity a similar regard for the sanctity of human life:
Qur'an Surah 4:29 ― (Surat An-Nisā')
O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful. [emphasis added]
Ostensibly, Islam condemns murder and suicide. However, a closer reading of its scripture makes clear that there are significant contingencies attached to this proscription. At its most basic, murder is only forbidden when it is committed against other Muslims. No better example of this exists than the original Bali atrocity of October 2002 that claimed over 200 lives. Many in the West welcomed how numerous Muslim religious authorities condemned the perpetrators for taking innocent human life.
What few people realized is that the preponderance of criticism leveled by Muslims at bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Samudra was based on how their terrorist act had claimed almost twenty Muslim lives. Throughout much of Islam, nowhere was there any concern or embarrassment over how the deaths of almost 200 non-Muslims went largely unnoticed, save unless they were joyously celebrated.
Further, it is indicative of how Islamic doctrine remains thoroughly imbued with war and hostility when one sees that the bombers themselves were referred to as “martyrs at the battle of Bali”. It requires a stunning degree of disconnection to call such one-sided and brutal mass murder a “battle”. Yet, this epitomizes just how pervasive the entire wartime mindset is throughout Islam.
In a similar manner to its professed condemnation of murder or suicide, Islam also decries any rejection of faith. However, once again, there emerges an essential divergence away from the tenets of Christianity. To this day Islam remains, essentially, a battlefield religion. An example being how, at its most basic level, Islam divides the world into dar al-Islam, “the house of Islam”, and dar al-harb, “the house of war”. Everywhere outside of dar al-Islam is a zone of conflict, struggle and, eventually, war. One need merely examine a map of global conflicts to see that most of them exist at Islam’s “bloody borders”.
Steeped in militancy, Islam extols the warrior spirit and rewards it with a sexual paradise. In diametric opposition is how Islam copes with apostasy. Departing the faith is a capital crime and punishable by death. There is no better analog than how a soldier’s desertion in time of war is an executable offense. The inescapable upshot of this being that Islam is in a perpetual state of war and all Muslims are soldiers. It is this element of death that permeates Islam which is so problematic for those who try and come to terms with it. That there are, in fact, no terms to be had with Islam, is another matter entirely and only cements this entire issue.
So we see that a Muslim’s rejection of Islam becomes an automatic death penalty. It strikes an odd and insincere note for any religion to coerce piousness out of its followers. Faithfulness under duress is hardly the definition of devout belief or even genuine allegiance, for that matter. Yet, this singular aspect of Islam goes largely unquestioned. No other large-scale creed in the world has a death penalty for apostasy.
In total contrast, Christianity’s own examples of believers who were encouraged to give up their faith tell an entirely different tale. Innumerable Christian Saints were cruelly tortured and slain even as they individually refused to abandon their belief. This concept of martyrdom lies at the very heart of a most glaring difference between Christianity and Islam.
It also returns us to the original question surrounding Islam’s legitimacy as a genuine faith. The Islamic definition of “martyrdom” is so diametrically opposed to everything implied by the Christian meaning of this word as to demand intense scrutiny.
Today’s modern Islamic “martyr” usually attains such status by donning a high-explosives laden vest whose charges are usually studded with ball bearings, bolts and other shrapnel that have often been coated with warfarin, a blood-thinning anticoagulant intended to enhance profuse bleeding in victims of the ensuing attack. The assailant typically seeks to enter into a crowded location, be it a disco, popular pizza parlor at mealtime or a commuter-packed city bus. The vest is then detonated in order to maximize loss of human life.
What follows is an excerpt from one of the several fatwan issued by Yusuf Qaradawi that sanction so-called “martyrdom operations”:
The martyr operation is the greatest of all sorts of jihad in the cause of Allah. A martyr operation is carried out by a person who sacrifices himself, deeming his life [of] less value than striving in the cause of Allah, in the cause of restoring the land and preserving the dignity. To such a valorous attitude applies the following Qur'anic verse: "And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen." (Qur'an, 2: 207)
But a clear distinction has to be made here between martyrdom and suicide. Suicide is an act or instance of killing oneself intentionally out of despair, and finding no outlet except putting an end to one's life. On the other hand, martyrdom is a heroic act of choosing to suffer death in the cause of Allah, and that's why it's considered by most Muslim scholars as one of the greatest forms of jihad. [emphasis added]
Please keep in mind that Qaradawi is widely regarded both as the “Pope of Islam” and as a moderate Muslim despite validating “martyr operations” along with his open declarations that wives should be “beaten lightly” and all homosexuals be put to death.
There can be no doubt that such a vicious act flies in the face of traditional Christian martyrdom. It is a total affront to every characterization of those Christian Saints who voluntarily refused to renounce their faith and, alone, paid the ultimate price for it. As can be seen from the above excerpt, both Islam and Christianity forbid suicide. Yet, as is all too often the case with Islam, loopholes are created by which even the most heinous acts can find approbation and religious sanctioning.
Far more disturbing is the notion that Islamic “martyrdom operations” amount to nothing more or less than human sacrifice. The unimaginable hatred of life required to engage in such activities is predictably alien to those in the West who have not been brought up from childhood on such a steady diet of genocidal hatred. Again, in another bizarre inversion of Christian traditions where nuns are wed to Jesus, prior to bomb vest attacks the perpetrator is given a “martyr’s wedding” to one of the virgins that supposedly await him in paradise.
The degree of this hatred is difficult to convey. Imagine a woman expressing pride that more than one of her own sons had committed such horrible acts. That woman would be Umm Nidal Farhat. Known as "mother of the struggle", she is now an elected legislator and a celebrity in Gaza for voluntarily sending three of her six sons to their terrorist deaths.
Umm Nidal: "Nothing has changed. The strength and honor have only increased. It doesn't matter to me whether I have two or three Shahid [sons]. [As far as I'm concerned], let all my sons be Shahids. [emphasis added]
To those who respect the sanctity of human life, Fahrat’s mindset may as well be from a different planet. It exemplifies not just a “life is cheap” attitude found throughout the MME (Muslim Middle East), but also reflects upon just how meager Islam’s estimation of human worth continues to be. It may be argued that rewards of the afterlife outweigh any momentary losses but there is a lingering taint of literally cannibalizing intensely devout converts ― as supposed “martyrs” ― who might have peacefully convinced far more people to join Islam had they lived full, productive lives.
Nor is there any sense of embarrassment over the magnitude of this hatred. There are video interviews of Muslim children calmly discussing how they want to become bomb vest murderers. Despite every imaginable gesture of conciliation, Israel is subjected to constant terrorist attacks, in some cases attacks led by those individuals who owe their health to the Israelis. No better example exists than the case of Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss
Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss is a 21 year old Palestinian woman, who lives in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza strip. In January 2005 she suffered burns in a cooking accident in her home. She was admitted for treatment to the Soroka hospital in the Israeli town of Beer Sheva. She became an outpatient and was issued by the Israeli authorities with a special pass entitling her to cross into Israel to receive medical treatment.
On 21 June 2005 she was arrested at the Erez crossing point, on her way out of Gaza and to Soroka, wearing 10 kgs of explosives in her underwear. On Israeli TV she admitted that she had planned to explode the bomb in the hospital where she was being treated. She stated that she had been recruited by the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and added that she had wanted to target as many children as possible. [emphasis added]
The depth of such ingratitude is beyond conception and remains largely incomprehensible to Western minds.
None of this even addresses other attacks by Palestinians — called “no-escape” attacks — as in how the chances of staying alive after, for example, firing on an army position or a settlement are next to zero. Intentionally using a soldier only once — for a martyrdom operation or “no-escape” attack — is not just inefficient but an obscene estimation of human worth. It betrays why Islamic militaries are so unsuccessful.
The level of indoctrination required to program a prospective Islamic “martyr” flies in the face of what a moral, free thinking — as in being able to refuse an order on conscientious grounds — competent soldier should be. It is strong evidence that Muslim terrorists are not fighting for freedom but, as they often will freely admit, abject slavery; in this case, to Allah. Again, it points to why Arabs lose wars.
It is also curious to note how few, if any, Muslims decried such “martyrdom operations” when they were only employed exclusively against Jews. By contrast, examine the Muslim outrage now that the use of bomb vests has been extended to the Sunni versus Shi’ia conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. This is exemplary of Islam’s narrow selectivity in conferring its graces upon Muslims only.
Concomitantly, it beggars the question of why isn’t there any significant outcry against Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi for his almost singlehanded role in sanctifying this ultimately rapacious form of terrorism. Why has there been no death fatwan sworn out by ostensibly “moderate” Muslims against the cleric who has inspired so much bloodshed and loss of Muslim life? One might ask the same question about Osama bin Laden during his last years but that is another matter. The fact remains that terrorism is so essential and irreplaceable in what is otherwise wholly ineffectual Islamic war-fighting capability, that even something so hideous and detrimental to Islam itself cannot be foresworn.
All of this makes it more than apparent that Islamic “martyrdom” is done in the name of political domination — jihad’s mission to impose global shari’a law — and, therefore, it is not a religious act but one that is strictly military in nature. While this is in total concordance with Islamic canon, it is wholly alien to most other religious doctrines, including the Christian Church militant.
Piety and Coercion
Perhaps most telling of all is how Islam remains satisfied with, and by, involuntary conversion. What then to make of its supposed martyrs, are they genuine or false? It makes torturing people for information, along with all the risks of inaccuracy that freight such a sordid practice, seem like some sort of minor ethical lapse compared to how Islam is naively willing to accept forced conversion even as it most cynically punishes even minor blasphemy, an oxymoron in Islamic terms, or other relatively innocuous, transgressions ― whose criminal behavior might be rehabilitated ― with irreversible amputation, or capital punishment.
Unless, of course, it is the case that many Islamic clerics know full well how most rational human beings cannot be persuaded to voluntarily adopt something so patently anti-life as Islamic doctrine and, therefore, they must be coerced and intimidated into accepting Islam rather than charismatically proselytized. Ultimately, this reliance upon coercion provides strong evidence that true love is a foreign concept in Islam. That Muslim women are often treated worse than animals bears this out. With its child brides, sanctioned spousal rape and physical abuse, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages, Islam continuously degrades human life and treats with contempt any sense of romantic love.
Another case involves an Iraqi woman named Samira Ahmed Jassim also known by the nickname Umm al-Mumineen or “the mother of believers”. This individual was responsible for enlisting some 80 young women to commit bomb vest attacks. Her method of recruitment involved having these young women gang raped. In Arabic culture they were “impure” and now effectively worthless as mates such that she then used their shattered self-esteem to persuade them how a sole path to “redemption” lay in carrying out so-called “martyrdom operations”.
This abject debasement of human life is a constant theme that permeates Islamic culture and drives out any notion of it being life-oriented. What’s more ― like Umm Nidal Farhat’s willing disposal of her own children ― Samira Ahmed Jassim betrayed her fellow women with brutal sexual assault and death. This is coercion of a most monstrous sort and bespeaks a heartless manipulation that could never succeed if left to stand on its own, admittedly nonexistent, merits.
This callous attitude is betrayed by another hideous practice that has recently come into play. It involves the use of retarded children, or young adults, in bomb vest terror attacks and represents an ultimately cynical method of disposal for all of the human detritus resulting from consanguineous Muslim marriages. If such heartlessness is disturbing, then how to describe the way that an Iraqi car bomber ― using two infants riding with him to get through a check point ― then left them strapped into their car seats to die in the subsequent explosion.
What sort of belief system could possibly accept such heinous acts as demonstrations of piety? Moreover, it demands an even harsher question of Islam. What Creator is worth worshiping that would reward with paradise the wanton destruction of his own creations? This is the sine qua non of any argument concerning Islam and its lack of respect for human life. For whatever shortcomings Christianity may have, it holds human life sacrosanct. No such thing can be said for Islam. It not only eliminates all discussion of moral relativism between these two ancient creeds but drags out into the disinfecting sunlight Islam’s true standing as a political ideology and no sort of legitimate religion.
This glaring and diametric opposition with respect to Christian and Islamic definitions of martyrdom must serve as a touchstone for Western minds as they learn to disassociate Islam from any genuinely religious context and relearn its more accurate status as a political ideology.