History is full of all too many people who were not only willing to kill, but also to die, over their religions. Unfortunately, this is not something that ended in modern times. In fact, most notably with Islam, this willingness to both kill and die for religion has combined with technology to give the world suicide bombers. While this obviously causes agony for many people, it also raises questions about Islamic teachings and certainly reflects on them.
Islam’s exact teachings on suicide attacks are a matter of debate. While some Muslims will argue that it is always wrong and that Islam forbids these attacks, others will argue quite differently. Some Islamic teachings clearly can be read as condemning suicide and attacking civilians, other teachings on defending Islam (or spreading it) give room to argue that such actions can be justified in Islam. The fact that Muslims who are very sincere and knowledgeable about their faith can argue that suicide attacks can be justified does not reflect well on Islamic teachings. Assuming such attacks are against the spirit of Islam, then the author of its teachings should have been more careful to convey their intent in a way that would not be so easily misunderstood by human minds.
The fate of suicide bombers
In the end, there are people killing and dying in suicide attacks for Islam. What happens to those who carry out these attacks? Are they judged on the death and misery they cause or on their faith if Islam as divine word? These are some questions every Muslim who is serious about their faith should consider.
More moderate Muslims who do not approve of suicide bombings will say people who carry them out have gone against Allah’s will and are doomed to hell. On the other hand, there is a significant radical element that thinks these bombers have an eternity of virgins and other rewards waiting for them. Regardless of which side one takes in this debate, it raises uncomfortable questions.
Obviously, most people do not like the idea of mass murderers being rewarded for all eternity. However, is the alternative, according to Islamic teachings, really any better? If they are not going to heaven, then they are being sent for sadistic eternal torture in hell. Of course, mass murder is a horrible crime. Moreover, people do not give up their lives lightly. Certainly, a high percentage of these men thought they were doing divine will. Should someone be sadistically tortured for all eternity for being mistaken? As horrible as their crimes were, is not the most sadistic eternal torture imaginable for their delusions (again, assuming this was not the intention of Islamic teachings) even a bigger injustice?
Furthermore, where was Allah in all of this? If he is all knowing, then he would know that suicide attackers did what they thought was his will. Why not do something to correct their delusions before they committed their crimes? Why wait until they are about to be sent for sadistic eternal torture before telling them they were mistaken? In addition, this is supposed to be the same god that made the religion and the minds that understand it. Should not the creator of these things, and the world that they are in, share some of the responsibility for the actions of people?
So, it boils down to this. Either:
- People are sent to eternal paradise even though they are mass murderers.
- People are sent for sadistic eternal torture even though they thought they were doing what their god wanted.
Either way, it is hard to see perfect, divine, merciful justice in all of this.