Powered by WebAds

Monday, May 07, 2007

Islam and torture of the grave - why Muslims become suicide bombers

Until I read this article, I thought that Muslims become suicide bombers in order to make it to Heaven and perpetually have sexual relations with seventy-two virgins. But there's also a deeper, darker side to why Muslims become suicide bombers, according to Professor Leor Halevi of Texas A&M:
According to Islamic doctrine, between the moment of death and the burial ceremony, the spirit of a deceased Muslim takes a quick journey to Heaven and Hell, where it beholds visions of the bliss and torture awaiting humanity at the end of days.

By the time corpse handlers are ready to wash the body, the spirit returns to earth to observe the preparations for burial and to accompany the procession toward the cemetery. But then, before earth is piled upon the freshly dug grave, an unusual reunion takes place: The spirit returns to dwell within the body.

In the grave, the deceased Muslim - this composite of spirit and corpse - encounters two terrifying angels, Munkar and Nakir, recognized by their bluish faces, their huge teeth and their wild hair.

These angels carry out a trial to probe the soundness of a Muslim's faith. If the dead Muslim answers their questions convincingly and if he has no sin on record, then the grave is transformed into a luxurious space that makes bearable the long wait until the final judgment.

But if a Muslim's faith is imperfect or if he has sinned during life by, for example, failing repeatedly to undertake purity rituals before prayer, then the grave is transformed into an oppressive, constricting space.

The earth begins to weigh down heavily upon the sentient corpse, until the rib cage collapses; worms begin to nibble away at the flesh, causing horrible pain.

This torture does not continue indefinitely. It occurs intermittently and ends at the very latest with the resurrection - when God may well forgive Muslims who have endured the punishment.

Surely this violence sounds medieval. Belief in "the torture of the grave" indeed stretches way back in history. It appears in eighth-century epitaphs and in early Islamic traditions, which elevated this belief to the status of dogma.

But pious Muslims today continue to adhere to this belief. In invocations, funeral prayers, sermons, and popular literature, Muslims are frequently reminded to heed this punishment.


Muslims can escape the torture of the grave by dying as martyrs. In Islam the category of martyr does not belong exclusively to those who die fighting in God's path. According to Islamic tradition, Muslims who die in a fire, by drowning, in the collapse of a building or in some other way involving great physical suffering merit the rank of martyrs in the afterlife.

This means that immediately after death, their spirits do not return to dwell within mutilated or burned corpses. Instead they enter the Garden of Eden, where they receive new bodies, perfectly reformed, so as to enjoy the rewards of martyrdom until the resurrection. Those who have lost a relative in a violent and shocking death - in the bombings in Baghdad, for instance - may find some consolation in this belief.
While I was in Boston two weeks ago, I received a copy of the new movie Suicide Killers, which I watched on the plane coming back here. It's a deeply troubling movie which I plan to re-watch (I had problems with the sound whenever anyone spoke in English; I was fine with the English translations from Hebrew and Arabic). Islam as a religion is full of incentives to commit suicide. This is not just Israel's battle - and in the movie (which I highly recommend) they were very specific about that.


Post a Comment

<< Home