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Sunday, November 28, 2004
The suicide bombers and martyr culture at Al-Najah University in Nablus:

Special Information Bulletin
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S) October 2004

The suicide bombers and martyr culture at Al-Najah University in Nablus
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

At the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year the youth movements affiliated
with the various Palestinian terrorist organizations distributed "propaganda
and indoctrination kits" to new students. This respectable, prestigeous
academic institution continues to serve as a hothouse for terrorists and
suicide bombers, as was illustrated in recent months.

The names of 19 shaheeds, all students at Al-Najah University, appear on the
back cover of the "information kit" distributed byFatah's Shabiba student
movement. All the student movements on the Al-Najah campus, whether
affiliated with Hamas, Fatah or the PalestinianIslamic Jihad, conduct
intensive propaganda and indoctrination campaigns and recruit students for
terrorist activities, including suicide bombing attacks against Israel.

www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and


Al-Najah University, located in Nablus, like other Palestinian academic
institutions in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered territories, is
a stronghold for the various terrorist organizations. It is a center for
propaganda, indoctrination and terrorism for all the Palestinian terrorist
organizations, especially Hamas and Fatah, and a convenient site for
recruiting students into the ranks of their operational-terrorist wings. It
is estimated that during the 2004-2005 school year there will 11,000
students and 200 faculty members at the university (the largest in the
PA-administered territories).

The terrorist organizations (supported by sympathetic faculty members) work
through the student organizations. The most prominent among them are Hamas'
Islamic Block, Fatah's Shabiba, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Al-Jama'
ah al-Islamiyyah. Of the 13 members of the university student council
(including one in Israeli army custody), eight (among them 'Alaa Hamidan,
the council chairperson) belong to the Islamic Block, allowing Hamas to
enjoy an obvious advantage; three belong to Shabiba and two to other Fronts.

The practical outcome of the propaganda and unrest spread by the terrorist
organizations at the university is the increasing number of students
involved in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombing attacks, within
Israeli territory, and the dozens of students who died in such attacks
during the current violent confrontation. The organizations promote the
students who became "martyrs" as role models to be identified with, and the
organizations' members studying at Al-Najah today are called upon to follow
in their footsteps.

The suicide bomber and shaheed culture has spread to other institutions
linked to Al-Najah University. For example, at the Hashem al-Hajawi
Technical College, which belongs to the University,[1] a great deal of
propaganda material, published by all the Palestinian terrorist
organizations, was found during an Israeli army operation in August 2004.
Among the items confiscated were posters of shaheeds, flags, magazines and
pamphlets. In addition, the main campus bulletin board was covered with
announcements of the various terrorist organizations, especially Hamas.

[1] The college is located in eastern Nablus. Al-Najah University has other
academic branches: Al-Najah College and Al-Mujtama' College in Nablus and
the Kadouri College in Tul Karm.

The following are two examples of the current status of the suicide bomber
and terrorist culture:

A Hamas squad was exposed in Nablus (July 2004), composed almost entirely of
Al-Najah University students. They
intended to perpetrate a series of attacks in Israel, among them kidnapping
an Israeli soldier as a bargaining chip, shooting attacks in Israeli
villages in the area around Qalqiliya, infiltration into Shoham (a town near
Ben-Gurion International Airport) and a suicide bombing attack in the
industrial center of either Netanya or Ariel (both in central Israel). The
squad leader, who was arrested by Israeli security forces, was 'Alaa' Zuhayr
Nimr Jayusi, one of the heads of the Islamic Block, the Hamas student
movement at Al- Najah University. Other members of the squad, all Islamic
Block activists, were also arrested.

A Fatah/Tanzim squad was exposed in Nablus , directed by Hezbollah ( July 2,
2004). Its members, who were arrested in Ramallah, reached Nablus and were
on their way to perpetrate a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem. Guiding
the prospective suicide bomber was Shadi Masoud 'Izzat 'Umar, an Al-Najah
University student.

In April 2004, the university governors, fearing the Israelis would close
the institution, took steps to make a show of preventing political
activities on campus, particularly those organized by Hamas' Islamic Block.
For example, the university gates were closed for three days during April
2004 because of arguments over a proposed rally. At the end of June 2004 the
administration instituted a clean-up project, in which posters of shaheeds,
stickers issued by the various organizations, etc., were removed from the
university's walls.

Nevertheless, judging by past experience, in Israeli assessment no
significant change can be expected in the activities of the various
terrorist organizations, whose influence on Al-Najah students is substantial
. The organizations often bend the university administration to their wills,
and it is reasonable to assume that it will continue to serve as a center
for propaganda and indoctrination and a terrorist organization-hothouse for
recruiting terrorists.

The student movements of the various terrorist organizations wage an
unending ideological battle to promote terrorism. Following are typical
examples of the activities taking place on the Al-Najah University campus.
The Appendix contains the Masters' thesis of a Fatah student terrorist --
currently in Israeli custody (November 2004) -- whose advisor was a
well-known Hamas-affiliated teacher.

The Palestinian terrorist organizations indoctrinate terrorist ideology with
a propaganda kit and "study aids."


During July and August 2004 the terrorist organization student movements
prepared propaganda kits for Al-Najah University freshmen. Such kits were
confiscated at Israeli army road blocks in the area around Nablus. Typical
examples of their contents follow. In addition, there are examples of "study
aids" containing incitement to acts of terrorism distributed on the
university campus in past years.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

A propaganda and indoctrination kit of the sort distributed to new students
at Al-Najah University by the PIJ student movement was found in the Jenin
offices of Al-Ehsan "charitable society." It is printed on high-quality
glossy paper and contains support for terrorism couched in radical Islamic
terms. In the cover there are pockets for handouts and posters. Similar kits
prepared by Fatah and Hamas were found by the Israeli army during its
activities in the PA-administered territories (See below).

Description of the kit

At the top of the front cover the following inscription appears: "Trusting
in the victory of Allah, Al-Jamaa' al-Islamiyyah, Al-Najah National

www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

The front cover of the propaganda kit distributed by Al-Jamaa'
al-Islamiyyah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad student movement at Al-Najah
University. In the bottom right-hand corner is a picture of a masked suicide
bomber armed with an explosive belt and a headband bearing the inscription
" Jerusalem Battalions" (the terrorist-operative wing of the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad).
Above his head is a photograph of Al-Najah University. At the left is the
dedication, which says, among other things, "to those who are well aware,
understand [this] well, that rights are taken by force and not given as a

Inside the propaganda kit (at the bottom and at the left) are
militantIslamic messages; for example, "This is the story of men who are
certain of the victory of Allah. the story of awareness and jihad [holy
war];" ". a revolution of the spirit of jihad, the spirit of faith and of
Islam. A revolution of blood against the chains, swords and hangmen." "Our
ideas and words are. [behind] as lifeless corpses. However, when we
sacrifice our lives for them and nourish them with our blood, they [the
corpses] will come to life and live [again] among the living."[2]

[2] A quote from Sayyid Qutb, an extremist Egyptian Islamic ideologist,
executed by the Egyptian authorities in 1966. The Islamic terrorist
organizations and followers of radical Islam present him as an idol and
source of inspiration. One of his pamphlets was found in the
Hamas-influenced Al-'Ayn mosque, near Ramallah.


The Hamas propaganda and indoctrination kit

Below is the kit distributed to students by the Islamic Block (Al-Kutlah
al-Islamiyyah), the Hamas student movement.
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

The front cover of the kit

The back cover, featuring a quote from Hamas' former "spiritual leader,"
sheikh Ahmad Yassin, nicknamed "The Martyrs' Sheikh [i.e., the head of the
martyrs]." It says, "allow us to die with [the] honor [reserved for] whoever
fights in a holy war [ mujahid]."

Student timetable commemorating a Hamas suicide bomber

The biography of suicide bomber Karim Nimr Mufarja, who died on January 22,
2002. According to the document, he was head of the Islamic Block at the
School of Islamic Law at Al-Najah University. He was also a member of the
student council and head of an Izzedine al-Qassam Battalions (the
terrorist-operational wing of Hamas) military squad. [Note: Karim Mufarja
was well known as a Hamas terrorist responsible for planning a number of
attacks against Israeli targets, including suicide bombing attacks.]

Student timetable commemorating a Hamas suicide bomber

A picture of Karim Mufarja, who was responsible for perpetrating a number of
terrorist attacks. The inscription above his head reads, "The shaheeds are
in the company of their Sovereign, [from whom] they receive their reward and
from whom light radiates."[3]The Islamic Block emblem . It depicts the Qur'
an, the globe, a raised assault rifle upon which is the jihad flag and a map
of " Palestine" in the background.

[3] This phrase reminds the Muslim reader of part of a popular Qur'an verse,
widely used to encourage and justify those Palestinian shaheeds perpetrating
mainly suicide bombing attacks against Israel [see Surah 3 (Al-Imran) verse

Student "martyrs for the sake of Allah," members of Hamas
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

Pictures and names of students (including one coed in the center of the
picture, her head covered), shaheeds, all members of the Islamic Block at
Al-Najah University who died during the current ongoing violent
Palestinian-Israeli confrontation (from the Islamic Block magazine, Al-Najah
University, Issue No. 18, November 2003).

Student time-table distributed by the Hamas-backed Islamic Block for the
2004-2005 academic year

At the left: Pictures of sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Dr. 'Abd al-Aziz
al-Rantisi, two Hamas leaders who died in targeted killings (March-April
2004) At the right: The picture and "ten commandments" of Hassan al-Bana,
the founder of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, out of which grew
Hamas (its Palestinian branch).

Beneath the picture of Yassin and Rantisi are traditional Islamic phrases in
support of the shaheeds: "Every day columns of shaheeds [arrive] in
paradise, with whom the one who knows the hidden things [Allah] is

An Islamic Block school supply fair for the 2004-2005 academic year

The following pictures were taken at an Islamic Block school supply fair
held during the first week of studies at Al-Najah University (from the
Islamic Block Internet site, www.islamic-block.org, September 12, 2004).[4]
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

[4] The (partial?) writing on the picture in the left corner reads "Those
are the [heroic Muslim figures] whose pens have voiced [the Muslims'
concern] so that they will be written with our blood." The figures are
Hassan al-Bana (on the right), sheikh Ahmad Yassin and 'Abd al-'Aziz
al-Rantisi (on the left).

A Fatah propaganda and indoctrination kit
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

The following kit was distributed at Al-Najah University by the Martyrs'
Block of the Shabiba student movement, which belongs to Fatah. In it were
found handouts addressed to new students.

The back cover of the kit. The upper inscription reads "From the sea of
martyrs' blood.we will build the country." Beneath it are the names of 19
Al-Najah University shaheeds who died during the ongoing (2000-2004) violent
confrontation with Israel. At the bottom is a map of "greater Palestine"
with a fist upraised in defiance surrounded by barbed wire. The front cover
of the Shabiba kit. On the right there is a prominent picture of Yasser

[5] To the left of Arafat's picture appears the Shabiba emblem, and
underneath the inscription "The Shabiba Student Movement - The Martyrs'

The culture of martyrs and suicide bombers seen through the Fatah student
organization publication
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

The front cover of the Martyrs' Magazine issued by the Martyrs' Block of the
Shabiba student movement in the School of Social Sciences (nicknamed "the
School of Martyrs"). On the emblem appears the movement's motto: "From the
sea of martyrs' blood we will build the state ."

Fatah Hamas, Popular Front The Islamic Jihad The Democratic Front (?)

The statistics (in the Martyrs Magazine) regarding suicide bombers
[Al-Istishhadiyyin] in the Nablus area (in a district known as the Mountain
of the Fire), among whom Fatah members clearly lead the field. A list
follows of the names of shaheeds from the various Palestinian terrorist
organizations who died during the ongoing violent confrontation, at least
some of whom died in suicide bombing attacks (list updated to May 2004).


Yassir Mahmoud 'Ali Abu Bakr , a Nablus resident born in Kuwait, received
his BA from Al-Najah University in management and registered for the MA
degree in political planning and development in 1999.

As an undergraduate (1997-1999) he became active in the Fatah regional
headquarters in Nablus and was put in charge of Shabiba, the Fatah student
movement, at Al-Najah University, at Al-Quds Open University and other
Palestinian institutions and schools in Nablus as well.

He later rose in the ranks of Fatah/Tanzim and became close to Nasser
'Uwais, the Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander in Nablus. He
participated in shooting attacks, laid explosive charges and transmitted
weapons and explosive belts to suicide bombers (coming full circle when he
wrote a thesis preaching suicide bombing and at the same time putting theory
into practice.) Because of his terrorist activities he was arrested during
Operation Defensive Shield (April 2002).

His thesis adviser, Dr. 'Abd al-Sattar Qassam

Dr. 'Abd al-Sattar Qassam , his thesis adviser, is a well-known and
highly-appreciated teacher who is identified with Hamas. He is outspoken and
his militant opinions are widely quoted in the Palestinian media. Yassir Abu
Bakr was greatly influenced by and often quoted him.

The following are summaries of two articles Dr. Qassam published in recent

Denial of media reports about the exploitation of children as suicide
bombers and (by implication) the justification of suicide bombing attacks :
In an article appearing on June 4, 2004, in the London-based popular Arabic
daily newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, he rejected the media reports that the
Palestinians send their children to perpetrate suicide bombing attacks. He
(falsely) claimed that it was a matter of children's games or an attempt by
Israeli intelligence to distort the image of the "Palestinian resistance"
and to enlist public opinion against suicide bombing attacks [ istishhad].
He noted, however, that that in no way contradicted the fact that
Palestinian children were ready and willing to perpetrate suicide bombing
attacks because of the "Zionist terrorism" and the "ugly picture" of the
"Jewish criminals who kill people."

A call to kidnap Israelis for prisoner exchanges : In a posting to the
official Hamas Internet site on August 20, 2004, he asked why the
Palestinian prisoners were forced to conduct a hunger strike. He called for
what amounted to a "plan" which would lead to the exchange of prisoners. He
mentioned the "pioneering action" of the Jibril organization (in that
context) and accused the Palestinian [terrorist] organizations of not doing
what they should. The posting attacked the Palestinian Authority's
helplessness, blaming it for doing nothing beyond performing for the media,
and noted that because of agreements signed with Israel, it was helping
arrest Palestinians.

On September 10, 2003, Dr. Qassam told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that he was planning
to announce his candidacy for the office of president, if and when
Palestinian elections were held.

The following is a translation of Yassir Mahmoud 'Ali Abu Bakr's thesis on
the concept of istishhad, namely the willingness of (Palestinian) Muslims to
sacrifice their lives and detonate themselves and die for the sake of Allah
to kill their enemies - in this case the Israelis (in other words the
would-be suicide bombers).

The Development of the Concept of Istishhad in Palestinian Society
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

In the name of Allah the all-merciful
[Hand written:] Yassir Mahmoud 'Ali Abu Bakr
Brother Abu Muhammad,
The research and detailed work were done by the student on the specific
topic of specialization and not [taken] from newspaper articles. In
addition, current conditions are not conducive to the publications of this
Al-Najah National University
The Graduate School
Political Planning and Development
The research topic:

The Development of the Concept of Istishhad [a martyr's death for the sake
of Allah, i.e., suicide bombing] in Palestinian Society
Submitted to Dr. 'Abd al-Sattar Qassam [identified with Hamas]
Prepared by: Yassir [Mahmoud 'Ali] Abu Bakr [head of the Fatah student
movement at the university]
December 2001

Table of Contents
2.Definition of the terms shahadah [in Muslim tradition: declaration of
faith and martyrdom for the sake of Allah] and istishhad [the act of
martyrdom for the sake of Allah]
a.Shahadah - an Islamic term.
b.Istishahad - between shahadah and intihar [an act of suicide for personal
c.meaning of intihar.
3.Istishhad and human nature -- between good or evil.
4.The motives for istishhad and the factors that accelerate it.
5.The internal impetus.
6.Ideology and faith.
7.Palestinian society and the conducive atmosphere.
8.The suffering of the Palestinian people.
9.The continuing Israeli occupation.
10.The failure of agreements and negotiations and the success of the
intifada and the active resistance.


In the past, the suicide bombing attacks [ al-'amaliyyat al-istishhadiyyah ]
in Palestine were the subject of many arguments about the extent of the
benefits derived from them, especially in the political arena. At the same
time, they were a kind of violent reaction to the harsh steps and revolting
actions taken by the Israeli forces of occupation against our Palestinian
people. However, despite the arguments, Palestinian society has recently
witnessed the growth of the concept of istishhad and unprecedented support
for it within all the organizations and even among Palestinians who do not
belong to them.
That is the subject of this thesis, which focuses on the following [two
central] questions:
A. What are the meanings of shahadah and istishhad , and what is the role of
the individual regarding them?
B. What were the factors which accelerated the development and spread of the
concept of istishhad in Palestinian society?
Based on those two questions, I constructed my basic hypothesis, that is:
the concept of istishhad has arisen and spread within Palestinian society in
direct proportion to the intensifying of [active] Palestinian resistance.
The importance of this work lies in the great but neglected argument
regarding the issue of an individual's killing himself for the sake of
shahadah . Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to reveal the meanings of
istishhad and shahadah and the causes that accelerate the concept of
istishhad within Palestinian society. The study relates [only] to
Palestinian society now during the era of the Al-Aqsa intifada .
The research methods used by the student for this thesis were description
and analysis. The work is divided into sections in which the meanings of
shahadah and istishhad are explained, and in later sections the factors
behind the motivation of the concept or istishhad in Palestinian society
[are also explained].

The definitions of shahadah and istishhad

Shaheed : literally, the person who has made a declaration of faith [of
Islam], or "the one who bears witness;" and [at the same time, it is also]
the person who has died for the sake of Allah. In the plural form, shuhadaa'
and ashhad; from that [is derived] the term al-shaahid , in the sense of the
person who is present, attends or testifies, and in the plural, shuhuud and
ashhad; another meaning [of the term] relates to someone [i.e., a Muslim]
who has carried out the act of shahadah .
One of the meanings [of the term shaahid ] is al-dalil [the guide](Note
1).6Shaheed as concept: the [Muslim] scholars have given it several
definitions (Note 2).

According to the [school of the] Hanafis, a shaheed is someone who killed
mushrikun [polytheists], or someone who died in battle or upon whose body
were found signs of an internal or external wound, for instance, blood
flowing from an eye, etc.

According to the [school of the] Malikis, a shaheed is only someone who was
killed as a [holy Muslim] warrior under the assumption that he was killed
within Islam and while he was fighting among Muslim warriors. That is, he
was not [killed] because he was distracted or because he fell asleep. A
person cannot be considered a shaheed if he was killed by a Muslim who
[erroneously] thought he was an infidel, or if he was trampled to death by
horses, or if he was wounded by his own sword or arrow, or if he fell into a
well or fell [and was killed?] while he was watching the battle.

According to the [school of the] Shafi'is, a shaheed is someone who was
killed in war against the infidels while leading warriors with perfect
faith, and did not run away [during the battle.]

According to the [school of the] Hanbalis, a shaheed is someone who died in
war while fighting the infidels, whether man or
woman, adult or minor, whether he was killed by the infidels or by his own
weapon, of whether he fell from his animal [and died as a result], or
whether he was found dead with no signs on his body, as long as [the warrior
who left for battle did so] with perfect faith.

The quotations [cited by the author] above are presented to illustrate the
differences between the definitions among [Muslim] scholars. Some of the
definitions are narrower and some are broader, while some concentrate on the
importance of [dying because of] spilled blood while others claim that not
to be important.

The difference between the definitions reminds us of the differences between
the religious rulings describing istishhad and intihar [i.e., committing
suicide for personal reasons], which will be dealt with below.

In any case, the common denominator of the aforementioned definitions is
that the shaheed is [anyone who] was killed for the
sake of Allah, may he be exalted . However, it is not correct to state that
the shaheed is someone who [really] died for the sake of Allah, may he be
exalted, for [in the Qur'an] it is written: "Do not in any way say that
those who were killed for the sake of Allah are dead. Quite the opposite,
they are alive, but you are not aware of it (Note 3)."

Thus it can be seen that shahadah is a select, pure term [signifying] an
honorable status. Thus anyone who dies as a shaheed for the sake of Allah
will always enjoy the mercy of Allah in paradise because he is [there]
amongthe living, in the presence of the prophets and the just, as opposed to
those who are [really] dead; for the link with life of those who simply die
a normal death is ended as soon as they [are really] dead.

6. The author's references appear at the end of the document, in the Arabic
version only and were not translated. It seems, however, that there is some
confusion with the correct order of the references after #28.

Shahadah - an Islamic term

Shahadah was a familiar practice even during the time of [Muhammad's]
prophecy and was manifested in the daring exhibited by the Muslims in face
of their enemies, daring intended to kill the enemy, defeat him and gain
shahadah [i.e., to die the death of a martyr in battle] for the sake of
Allah, while fulfilling the following:

1.Condemnation of [anyone who] clung to life in this world , as it is
written: "therefore, find those who most cling to life [in this world](Note

2.Encouragement of jihad , as it is written: "Allah preferred the mujahadin
[those who waged a holy war] over those who shirked their duty [to wage a
jihad] [in that] he gave them a great reward (Note 5).

3.Praise for the shaheeds , as it is written: "Do not consider those who
died for the sake of Allah as dead. Not at all, they are alive in the
presence of their Sovereign, who sees to their needs (Note 6)."

During the time of the prophet Muhammad many stories were told about
istishhad , among them:

Sa'id bin 'Amru and Suwaid bin Sa'id told the following story: "Sufyan bin
'Amru said he heard Jaber say that someone said: 'Oh messenger of Allah
[Muhammad], where will I be if I die?' And he answered: 'In paradise.' Then
he threw down the dates in his hand and then fought the enemy until he died
(Note 7)."

A story told by Abu Bakr bin 'Abdallah bin Qais, who said about his father:
"I heard my father say in the presence of the enemy: 'The messenger of
Allah, may the prayer of Allah and his blessing of peace be upon him, said:
"The gates of paradise open to the ring of swords." A man wearing rags rose
up and said: "Abu Mousa, did you really hear the emissary of Allah, may the
prayer of Allah and his blessing of peace be upon him, say those things?"
And he answered: "Yes." He [then] returned to his friends and said: "May
peace be upon you." Then he broke the scabbard of his sword and threw it
aside, and advanced toward the enemy with [drawn] sword and smote them until
he died (Note 8).'"

A story told about the Muslim army: Their horses were frightened by the
[enemy's] elephants, and they fled. [Because of that] one of the Muslims
fashioned an elephant out of clay. Then he trained his horse not to be
afraid of it, and when the time came his horse was not afraid and did not
try to flee the charging elephant, rather, his horse attacked it. People
told him to be careful, for it would kill him, and he said: "Never mind, if
I die, [eventually] Muslims will be victorious [in battle] (Note 9)."
In that context, Dr. Yussuf al-Qardawi says: "The concept of istishhad ,
according to which a [Muslim] dies for the sake of a Muslim victory [in
battle] is an ancient concept among Muslims (Note 10)."

That is, the concept of istishhad , according to which the individual must
sacrifice himself and his soul to achieve shahadah , and thus to satisfy
Allah, attain paradise and glorify his name, has its roots in the dawn of
Islam, and the assumption is that it is the closest and easiest way to
attain paradise , to fulfill the goal, that is, to glorify the name of
Allah, to fight the infidel, to spread Islam and to remove the injustice
[done] to Muslims so they might live with honor and liberty.

Throughout the history of Islam, that concept has been rooted in Muslim
awareness, generation after generation. Thus for centuries Muslims have
waged many wars, one after another, and the history books are full of
touching [sic] stories about shahadah and istishhad for the sake of Allah.
[The two concepts] became the [ultimate] goal of the mujahid [a Muslim holy

In that context it may be said that the term shahadah is specific to Islam
and Muslims. True, the literal meanings of the terms shaheed , shaahid and
shahadah are used by Muslim Arabs: [the shaheed is] the one [who testifies
for others to be eligible for paradise, having first arrived there himself
following the testimony Allah, the angels, the prophets, etc., as to his
good character]; [the shahid is] the spectator; [ shahadah is] the Muslim's
testimony of faith. (However, a shaheed in the Shari'a sense (Islamic
religious law) refers to the Muslim individual who is killed for the sake of
Allah and for the glorification of His name, and it is a purely Islamic

It is true that recently we have seen many non-Muslims borrowing the term
and using it to describe their comrades who died in wars and battles [waged
against the enemy], but in that case it is a question of "casualties" and
not of real shaheeds .
In that context, according to the Lebanese author Muhammad 'Ali Qutb:
"Certain ideologues, influenced by the transcendent meaning and exalted goal
[of the term], have used it in a way that deviates [from its true meaning]:
They use the expression shaheed to describe an individual who died for the
sake of a [certain] idea or worldview, and thus make an analogy between [the
true shaheed and] one of their followers who died in [any] battle or as the
result of a distorted judicial sentence or arbitrarily (Note 11)."

Therefore, the discussion over the definition of the term istishhad and the
Muslims' eagerness to remove the injustices [they have suffered] and to
defeat their enemies and thus to achieve shahadah [the death of a martyr for
Allah during battle with the enemy], led many to have doubts about istishhad
, based on the fact that it was [seen as] a question of an act of suicide
for personal reasons [ intihar ] whose goal was to kill oneself and nothing

Currently, especially in view of our [Palestinian] situation, the issue has
led to a debate regarding the question of the difference between istishhad
[sacrificing one's life for the sake of Allah] and intihar [suicide
committed for personal reasons].

Istishhad between shahadah and intihar

Since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada [late September, 2000],
Palestinian society has been witness to the return and development of the
concept of istishhad against the Israeli occupation in a way that draws a
lot of attention to it. Causing the debate over the definition of istishhad
was the use of the term in the sense of killing oneself, that is, suicide,
and not the death of a martyr for the sake of Allah in the sense of shahadah

When discussing the definition of istishhad and the activities accompanying
it, that is the act of istishhad (acts of suicide in the eyes of others
[original parentheses]), one must note the debate over the difference
between the suicide of an individual who takes his own life [ intihar ] and
the death of a martyr for the sake of Allah who carries out an act of
istishhad , which usually leads to the death of Israeli civilians (as they
are customarily described [original parentheses]).

That debate has led to the issuing of many conflicting religious Islamic
decisions dealing with a prohibition on carrying out acts of istishhad
because they are acts of intihar . That may lead to a distortion, or
exchange or change in the definition of istishhad and prompt a change in the
decisions, causing the addition of words to the definitions of shahadah and
istishhad which will prevent or forbid the act of self-sacrifice for the
sake of Allah in Palestine.

I would now like to relate to what I have already mentioned regarding the
differences of opinion among theologians as to the definition of shahadah :

According to an article entitled "Acts of istishhad between religious
decisions and ijtihad [a personal judgment about an unprecedented question
made by a qualified Muslim scholar basing his personal judgment by drawing
his conclusion based on various traditional Muslim sources]" by Dr. 'Abd
al-Sattar Qassam [the author's thesis advisor], "Without a doubt, this
contradiction reflects an ideologically difficult question is Islam (Note
12). In truth, the definitions of concepts must be exact and use must be
made of the research tools of exact science lest confusion become one of the
more prominent traits of current Islamic ideas (Note 13)."

Dr. 'Abd al-Sattar Qassam goes on to note that the "[Muslim scholar] finds a
difficulty when he issues such a religious decision, since he is far from
the arena of the conflict, and on the assumption that there are no clear and
unambiguous texts which prevent a [Muslim] individual from carrying out an
act of ijtihad. Sothat the definition of the term ijtihad be as accurate as
possible, it is essential that [the Muslim scholar's decision] "experience"
the circumstances of time and place [regarding which he is to make his
decision about the issue in question.] Otherwise his decision will be
divorced from reality [the situation to which it relates] and it becomes
entirely possible that a mistake may be made [in making the decision] (Note

The meaning of intihar

An act of suicide [ intihar ]: literally, it means "[knowingly] killing
oneself for personal reasons," "committing suicide (Note 15)."

There is no difference of opinion whatsoever that an individual is forbidden
to kill himself [commit suicide], as it is written [in the Qur'an]: "Do not
kill yourselves, for Allah will have mercy on you. Whoever does so out of
aggression and injustice [towards himself], we will cast him into fire.
Allah can do that easily (Note 16)."

In the words [of the prophet Muhammad], may Allah's prayer and blessing of
peace be upon him: "Whoever chokes his own soul chokes it with fire, and
whoever stabs his soul, stabs it with fire (Note 17)."

According to Dr. Amir 'Abd al-'Aziz in his [Arabic] book Man in Islam:
"Committing suicide [intihar] is a loathsome and disgraceful act in which a
desperate, miserable individual, an infidel who has lost the true path, in a
dangerous moment, [knowingly] decides to kill himself (Note 18)."

Those traits are completely opposite to the characteristics of an individual
filled with faith, happy to meet his Creator, an individual who desires the
shahadah to glorify the words of Allah.

Dr. Yussuf al-Qardawi reinforces the opinions of Dr. al-Sattar Qassam, that
is: the importance of the [Muslim] religious [scholar's] edict regarding the
suicide bombing attacks [al-'amalyyiat al-istishhadyyiah] in Palestine will
"experience" the circumstances of time and place [to which his decision

In the religious edict [which he issued] al-Qardawi stated: "Those
activities are considered the most sublime of the [various] kinds of jihad
for the sake of Allah. Despite the fact that they are [wrongly] described as
'terrorism' (in the modern negative sense) [irhab], they are nevertheless
legitimate because in the words of Allah, the Qur'an says: 'Prepare against
them [i.e., your enemies] what force you can [arrange], including steeds of
war, to thereby strike terror (turhibun) into the hearts of the enemy of
Allah and your own enemy' [Qur'an, Surah [8] [Al-Anfal], verse 60]. Calling
such [heroic] actions 'suicide' is therefore both wrong and misleading. They
are worthy acts of self sacrifice and are far from being acts of suicide.
Therefore, whoever carries them out is far from committing suicide. A
suicide is someone who [knowingly] kills himself for himself, while such an
individual [who carries out the act of istishhad] sacrifices his life for
his [Muslim] religion and nation."

[Thus it can be seen that] the action of those heroes is not suicide, as
some narrow-minded individuals might think. Quite the contrary, it is an
action that requires taking a risk, a legitimate action, praiseworthy
[within the framework of jihad], intended to defeat the enemy and terrify
others. Since Israeli society is militaristic, necessity allows [the
Palestinians] to do what it is [otherwise usually] forbidden to do.8The
jihad in Palestine is a religious duty which each individual must take upon
himself (Note 20).[9]

Therefore, in Palestine the act of self-sacrifice [istishhad] is completely
different from the act of suicide [intihar]. The individual carrying out
istishhad is a person who sacrifices the thing most important to him to
extol the words of Allah for the sake of his country, his people and his
nation. That is the opposite of the person who [knowingly] kills himself for
personal reasons. In addition, the difference between the two lies in that
the istishhad sacrifices his life to goals, the most important of which is
to satisfy Allah and to achieve paradise. The suicide, on the other hand,
kills himself [to achieve] no [supreme] goal, only out of frustration and

The following, therefore, are the definitions we give to the terms
associated with istishhad:

Shahadah: The status attained by the shaheed who kills himself for the sake
of Allah.
Istishhad: The desire to perform the shahadah and the efforts made to
realize it.
Istishhadi: The individual who decides to perform the istishhad and who
indeed does so.

The act of istishhad: The act the istishhadi carries out.

The definitions show us that the individual is the fundamental factor here
and that without the individual who is the istishhadi, istishhad cannot be
carried out with the goal of achieving shahadah. If such an individual is
not completely convinced or if his faith is not well rooted, he will never
really aspire to the shahadah and istishhad, which raises questions about
the true nature of an individual who allegedly thinks about istishhad.

[8]. A reference to a well-known Arab saying in other contexts (primarily
literary). Here al-Qardawi uses it in the specific context of permitting an
act of istishhad in the circumstances in which it is performed.

[9] It should be noted that al-Qardawi echoes the seminal Muslim religious
edict (fatwah) issued in 1984 by the radical Muslim scholar 'Abdallah
'Azzam. Accordingly, it was a personal (rather than collective) duty of
every Muslim to liberate any occupied Muslim land globally (with the
emphasis on Afghanistan and Palestine). For further information see our
bulletin regarding 'Abdallah 'Azzam.

The act of istishhad and human nature - between good and evil

Philosophers and intellectuals have differences of opinion about human
nature, and the following question is asked: Does an individual possess
certain forms of behavior from the day he is born? Is he just or evil? Plato
dealt with an important point regarding human nature: man is naturally good
[he said], and when he lives in an appropriate environment he exudes
goodness. If his environment conflicts with human nature his activities will
be contrary to his nature (Note 21). According to Thomas Hobbes, conflicts
and wars are always the result of man's evil, egotistical nature (Note 22).
According to John Locke, man is naturally good (Note 23). According to Karl
Marx, throughout history there has always been a conflict between men;
hence, all the forces of evil contained within the conflict will disappear
once Communism becomes the dominant system (Note 24).
These various views of human nature allow us to see that historical
circumstances and environment are the factors forcing themselves on the
individual and his cognitive processes. Hobbes, for example, who thought
that man was evil by nature, lived during the 17 th century at a time
fraught with conflicts and bloodshed.

According to Dr. 'Abd al-Sattar Qassam: "An individual is influenced by his
environment and by his own body. His body has needs which must be satisfied.
When the body's impulses grow and burst their boundaries, the individual
becomes evil (a slave to his impulses [original parentheses]) and then he
satisfies his impulses at the expense of others. If he takes care to satisfy
them moderately he appeals to his [basic] good nature and thus becomes a
good individual. However, his environment leads him to evil if his impulses
overcome him (Note 25)."

According to Muhammad Qutb's [Arabic] book, Studies on the Soul of Man: "Man
is a combination of body and spirit. As a result of his true nature, when it
is the spirit that rules him, he is given wisdom, understanding, will and
choice. But when he is ruled by his body, he does not act in accordance with
his true, sincere nature. When he is ruled by his body, the influence of the
spirit upon him and its transparency fade. The body rejects wisdom,
understanding, will and choice. That is, a man is evil when his body rules
his nature and he is good when his spirit rules it (Note 26).

Therefore, when the body rules, man [only] aspires to satisfy the need for
food and the sexual instinct and thus he fosters evil. The spirit, on the
other hand, urges him to focus on the goal of all the actions he performs
because it is associated with his awareness and insight and thus he fosters
good for himself and for those around him.

Such an individual who relinquishes both body and spirit not to satisfy his
lusts or for a [materialistic] action in this world, but
rather to achieve something good by driving away the evil from his people
with an act of istishhad intended to defeat the enemy [and reward him in the
next world], is therefore a good person.

However, an evil individual, who [knowingly] committed suicide, has
completely different motives. It was despair that made
him kill himself. Therefore, comparing the two is like comparing what is
permitted and what is forbidden, or what is good and what is evil.

The courage exhibited by the istishhadi [who is willing] to sacrifice his
life is not a chance or unprepared reaction. Rather, it is the fruit of
certain factors which convinced him [to carry out the act of istishhad]
through clear thinking, deeply-rooted ideology and great faith. However, the
question is asked how [such] conviction becomes rooted in an individual and
what the true motives are which lead him to think of istishhad as the basic
way to actively resist the enemy.

The motives for istishhad and the factors that accelerate it.

Before we deal with the motives and factors accelerating [the act of
istishhad], after what has been written it should be noted that Palestinian
society is Muslim and therefore is committed to the ideas of shahadah and
istishhad, as has already been made clear, based on the fact that they are
Islamic terms.

The internal impetus.

"An individual's acts against the claim of a painful situation are not born
out of a vacuum, but rather rise from a previous human act which is at least
characterized by thoughts about the practical steps which should be taken to
cope with that situation. The human being will lose its essence if awareness
is not translated into a practical desire which will reflect the actions of
the being, which will then be realized (Note 27)."

[We are] striving to prove the existence of a human being aware of his
ability to cope with the painful situation in which he or she lives. [Then
we try] to transform that situation into an effective will, turning it into
an action which will harm the enemy and frustrate his goals and plans
destroy the individual's morale. That effort, based on internal conviction
intended to push the individual to carry out an act to the point of killing
himself and [thus performing the] istishhad [is in fact our ultimate goal].
[Indeed,] in our case, that of the Palestinians, the occupation attempts,
using various methods, to destroy the morale of the Palestinian people with
its daily acts of oppression, expressed by the closure and choking blockade.
It also tries to weaken the active Palestinian resistance by eliminating its
commanders [the so-called targeted killings]. However, the increase in acts
of istishhad has well expressed how the istishhadi is aware of the painful
situation, to the point at which it has caused him to translate that
awareness into the desire to perform a practical act. That desire has led to
the act intended to express his internal conviction of the importance of
istishhad and to act accordingly . That expresses the might of the morale
which provides the foundation for the promise of victory of the individual
over his enemy.

Ideology and faith

By ideology we mean Islamic ideology and by faith the faith in Allah, may He
be praised.

Islamic ideology deals with the emotional and intellectual realization that
Islam infuses into the hearts of the faithful about Allah, about
descriptions of Him, about the individual and his relation to his Creator,
about paradise and hell and other Islamic images in life (Note 28).

Faith is the situation in which the heart and soul complement one another,
urging the individual to do what concurs with his faith in accordance with
ideology (Note 29). Without an ideology on which the individual can rely,
faith will remain within the realm of the intellect and heart and will not
be realized. Therefore, ideology and faith are combined in practical
application beyond the realm of emotion and logic.

In general, the individual acts enthusiastically and with dedication to
realize the ideology in which he believes and which has taken root in his
heart and mind to turn them to a practical desire which will influence the
direction of his practical actions.
Islamic ideology instills in whoever adheres to it two important principles:

1.Perfect faith in the victory of Allah, when the individual trusts in

2.High morale which gives the individual the extraordinary courage to be
ready to sacrifice his life at any time.

For the believer to achieve Allah's mercy and paradise, he strives to
participate in a jihad and to sacrifice his life for the sake of Allah so
that he may "profit from the deal," as it is written [in the Qur'an]: "Allah
has acquired from the faithful their souls and money [and in return] he
promises them [eternal] life in paradise. [Therefore] they fight for the
sake of Allah [and thus] slay and are slain [for his sake] (Note 30)."

Having faith relying on ideology, such as Islamic ideology, is a firm, solid
base on which to climb on. The higher the individual climbs, the greater the
ability to create believers who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the
sake of Allah and to remove the injustice done to their people. "It is a
commitment [placed] on him [Allah], the true God, in the Torah, the New
Testament and the Qur'an; for is there anyone who is greater at fulfilling
his commitments than Allah? Therefore, rejoice in the binding 'deal' you
made with him, for it [promises you] the great victory" [Qur'an Surah 9
(Al-Tauba) verse 111].

Palestinian society and the conducive atmosphere.

Within Palestinian society the soil is fertile and the environment favors
the development of the idea of istishhad and its dissemination, and the
significant growth in the number of istishhadis, especially since it is a
question of an Islamic society, as noted above.

A.Palestinian society, as a Muslim society, glorifies and respects the
shaheed and is proud of him . When he dies he is buried in his clothing,
mass processions are organized in his honor in which he is carried on the
shoulders of the marchers, who shout out emotionally. Portraits of him are
made. Everyone praises him and recalls his good qualities and bravery. Tents
of blessing and not mourning are erected in his honor in which [people sit
and] speak about the mercy of the shaheeds and about the fact that the
shaheed lives in the presence of Allah who tends to his needs, whereas
unfortunate is the individual whom Allah does not choose as a shaheed, as it
is written [in the Qur'an]: "If you were wounded, be sure others were
wounded. Days of varying fortunes are the fate of all men, each in turn.
Therefore, Allah knows well who the [true] believers among you are, and from
among them he chooses the shaheeds, because Allah loves not those who are
unjust" [Quran Surah 3(Al-Imran), verse 140] (Note 31). As it is also
written [in the Qur'an]: "Do not consider those who died for the sake of
Allah as dead. Nay rather, they live in the presence of Allah who tends to
their needs, happy in the mercy Allah grants them. They glory in the grace
and bounty of Allah, for Allah does not forget to reward the faithful" [Qur'
an Surah 3 (Al-'Imran) verses 169, 171] (Note 32).

B.Responsibility: the growing feeling of responsibility of the individual
for his society , and for his right and the right of his society to live
with honor and liberty. In addition, the firm steadfastness of the
individual grows stronger and his is willing to cope with all the evil steps
taken by the occupation against his right and the right of society, and thus
his internal motive grows for taking the revenge of a shaheed and of society
on the enemy .

C.Commitment : based on the right to live in security, the individual is
duty-bound to turn words into deeds, to answer killing with killing, hatred
with hatred, and to that end to use all his energy and capability.

In that way the individual in society is convinced of the importance of
attaining shahadah through istishhad, to stand up to the enemy and smite him
. [In such a situation] every individual can die as a shaheed, even sitting
at home, whether child or old person or woman. The occupation does not
differentiate between them.

Therefore, it is worthy for anyone who dies in the struggle with the enemy
to die through istishhad and to cause casualties to the enemy, and thus to
attain honor in this world and in the next. Better to die thus than to die
at home.

The suffering of the Palestinian people.

The suffering of the Palestinian people began with the British Mandate for
Palestine in 1917. Since then there has been killing by Jews and the
building of [Jewish] settlements [10] on Palestinian land. With the
establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, after thousands of Palestinian
were evicted from their lands and emigrated, the suffering of the
Palestinian people increased. There were difficult times full of prolonged
crises, and then the Palestinian people suffered the fiasco of 1967 and the
defeat of the Arabs.

Palestinian pain did not stop there. Throughout its history the Palestinian
people have often been massacred by Israel, acts which to this day are
supported by the United States, Israel's strategic ally.

In response to the historical injustice and pain our people feel,
Palestinian acts of resistance have been carried out, beginning with the
[Izzedine] al-Qassam revolt [during the British Mandate for Palestine],
through the outbreak of the modern Palestinian revolution in 1965, and up to
the first Palestinian intifada in 1987.

The continuing historical development, in which Palestinians did not stop
their acts of active resistance to the Zionist enemy and its supporters, had
cumulative influence. Many ideas were fixated on and first among them were
active resistance [ muqawamah ] and shahadah . More than ten years [sic]
have passed since the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed agreements
with Israel, as a result of which the Palestinian Authority was established
with limited powers. Therefore, Palestinians increasingly began to feel that
the agreements were futile, and instead of achieving lives of honor and
liberty, the humiliation continued, and with it the heinous actions of the

Then another intifada broke out, one which still continues, the Al-Aqsa
intifada , which focuses on attaining one goal: the end of the occupation.
That is done by developing means of action which makes its nature that of
armed resistance. There is complete agreement as to the importance of
strengthening the active Palestinian resistance to defeat the occupier,
inspired by the actions of Hezbollah against the Israeli enemy in southern

In this intifada the ideas of active resistance and istishhad have tangibly
risen to the surface in a way that has threatened and caused fear among
Israelis, thedirect result of acts of istishhad [i.e., suicide bombing
attacks] in which for the first time all the factions of the Palestinian
resistance have participated. That came about after a time during which acts
of istishhad were reserved only for the Islamic [religiously-oriented]
factions . That proves how the idea of istishhad grew and developed in
[Palestinian] society.

In that context [it should be noted that] the increasing, daily suffering of
the Palestinian people created the impetus for the growth of the idea of
istishhad . It was caused by the choking closure placed on all the
Palestinian cities and villages [which extended into] every facet of life:
social, economic and political. It is unnecessary to note the Palestinian
inability to move [freely], the humiliation [they undergo] at the Israeli
roadblocks and the suffering of the Palestinian farmers who cannot reach
their lands because of the settlers who pursue and kill them. There is no
need to recount the destruction of buildings, which reached unprecedented
numbers, and the uprooting of olive and fruit trees. More than two million
Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza live below the poverty level.
Fourteen point one percent of the families have no source of income and
57.9% find it difficult to obtain health services (Note 33).

The goal of [this] researcher in giving the above short historical survey is
to show the historical stages of the Palestinian people and the injustice
[done to them] and to expose their injustice, oppression and suffering.
Throughout history insights and traditions have become rooted in human
societies, and in Palestinian society as well. The conditions and
environment in which they live and the suffering they experience have
influenced the way they think.

Day after day the importance of active resistance became more deeply rooted
among them, indeed it became a desire take action and influenced them to the
point of [carrying out a] concrete activity, which expressed itself in the
strengthening of the active resistance, parallel to the escalation of
Israeli [sic] terrorism. With the strengthening and development of the
resistance, the idea of istishhad developed in Palestinian society as one of
the ways of expressing that resistance with the goal of ending the
[Palestinian] injustice and suffering.

[10] On various Palestinian maps in Arabic Israel villages, towns, cities,
etc., built within the 1948 lines (the Green Line) are called "settlements"
to stress their temporary and illegitimate nature.

The continuing Israeli occupation.

The continuing Israeli occupation and the escalation of the steps it takes
against the Palestinian people are reminiscent of the acts of slaughter that
have been committed by the Israeli occupation forces since the days of the
British Mandate and afterwards, at many times during the history of the
occupation. Today, during the Al-Aqsa intifada, the daily killing by the
occupying forces and the harm done to the young generation in front of
adults, the arrest of fighters, the elimination of the leaders of the
intifada and the cruel methods used by the occupying forces, in which they
bring to bear all their military capabilities - are all a genuine cause for
many Palestinians, whether they belong to one of the organizations or not,
and encourage them to respond to the increasing, continued aggression, which
leads to the growth of the active resistance and the idea of istishhad .

In that context, according to Dr. Ahmad Sidqi al-Dajani,[11] the
continuation of the occupation is the result of "the colonialist ideology
adopted by the colonialist Zionists. Its goal is to invade Palestine and the
Arab homeland and to take radical steps:
"The forces of the colonial and racist Zionist takeover.[sic]; Zionist ideol
ogy and the ideology of the forces of Western rule, which the leadership of
the United States currently adopts, are today at the forefront in this
respect. The ideology in question is racist and serves Zionist ideology and
the Zionists to ensure that the Israeli entity carries out its colonialist
strategy in the Arab homeland and in the realm of our Islamic culture (Note

[11] Dr. Ahmad Sidqi al-Dajani wrote a book published in Egypt justifying
suicide bombing attacks called Al-Quds, the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the
Globalizing War, published by the Arab Information Center, 2002 (second

The failure of agreements and negotiations and the success of the intifada
and the active resistance.

The failure of the agreements and negotiations are manifested by the

1. Non-fulfillment of Israel's commitments and its evasion of [implementing]
the articles of the agreements.

2. Lack of the establishment of a Palestinian State at the time or times
decided upon.

3. Reoccupation of Palestinian cities and their isolation from one another.

4. Attacks on buildings belonging to the Palestinian Authority and its
apparatus to gradually destroy it.

5. Shattering illusions and revealing the maximum Israel is willing to give
the Palestinians: autonomy under Israeli rule or a state with neither
sovereignty not capabilities, also under full Israeli rule.

The success of the [current] intifada and the active resistance are
manifested by the following:

1. The heavy economic damage inflicted on the State of Israel.

2. The decrease in the number of new immigrants to Israel.

3. The damage inflicted on all sectors of Israel, particularly commerce and

4. The political damage inflicted on Israel, particularly its depiction as
racist at The Forum of Non-Government Organizations in Durban [ South

5. The lack of security and the spread of fear and apprehension among
Israelis, in which the istishhadis played a central role.

6. The great number of Israeli casualties in comparison with the

Thus a balance of terror has been created with the Zionist entity ( Israel)
[original parentheses]: the active resistance has begun to deter them as
they [the Zionists] deter us, to frighten them as they frighten us and to
kill them as they kill us.

According to Ibrahim Abu al-Hijaa', in an article entitled "The importance
of Palestinian self-sacrifice in balancing the conflict:"

"If we use our power to strike at their weak points, we will be able to
achieve the balance of terror we desire, for the Palestinian fidaa'i [12]
aspires to die while the Israeli is weak and fears for his life." Abu
al-Hijaa' adds: "Israeli power, however great it might be, will not stop the
fidaa'i who aspires to die (Note 35)."

The two factors for failure and success we noted had a strong, clear
influence on inculcating the idea of istishhad in Palestinian society.
Indeed, along with the success and growth of the active [Palestinian]
resistance, in the wake of the escalation of the terrorism exerted by the
State of Israel [sic], the ability and talents of the active resistance
within the framework of the balance of deterrence and the response to
[Israeli] hostility developed [as well]. Thence followed the most important
result, which was the spread of the idea of istishhad and its development to
the point of psychologically breaking the Israelis and raising the morale of
the Palestinian people.

By eliminating Palestinian leaders such as Abu 'Ali Mustafa in Ramallah,
Jamal Mansour and those close to him in Nablus, and Thabet Thabet in
Tulkarm, Israel tried to destroy the morale of the Palestinian people and
exhaust the members of the resistance. However, one act of istishhad was
sufficient to raise the morale of the Palestinian people and to decrease and
shatter the morale of the Israeli people and its government.

The increase [of the strength] of the active resistance has today become an
fundamental factor in the growth of the idea of istishhad in Palestinian
society more than in the past. Shahadah for the sake of Allah and striving
toward it have turned into weapons in the hands of weak Palestinians in the
face of the mighty weapons of war of the Israeli army of occupation, indeed
into a limitless force which strikes at the heart of the [Zionist] enemy
[and brings him] fear and terror. That is the weapon of those who demand a
life of honor through noble death.

[12] Fidaa'i: Someone who endangers his life and is willing to sacrifice it
for the sake of a group to which he belongs and to which he feels committed.


In that context, shahadah has not only become the mere death the enemy
forces upon the holy warrior [ mujahid ], for he chooses that death with
complete awareness and feeling, with all his will, in full consciousness and
at a level of internal conviction which became rooted in him in the wake of
the idea of istishhad . He achieves a balance of terror and a balanced
reaction to end the oppression and injustice of the [Israeli] occupation,
and to achieve liberty and a life of honor and security.
Thus, the istishhadi is [every] one who leaves his home, his studies, his
work and his whole life and strides towards death. He kills himself
[sacrifices his life] to harm the enemy, and he himself is his own weapon -
the dearest gift Allah gave him.
In that situation, for him death is life in the next world and giving life
to others in this world and removing injustice from them.
[Next two paragraphs in box]

That shaheed is witness to something no one can deny, namely that the
shahadah is the [best] way to resist the painful reality we live in , and
that istishhad is the [best] means to achieve it. The first facet of
istishhad is the shaheed's spilled blood, which is meant to outline the best
way to oppose the occupation. The second facet of istishhad is the message
of the shaheed's defiance and firm steadfastness in the face of the
[Israeli] occupation and the whole world.

In this world, which has lost its feeling of responsibility and is unable to
act or even express its opinion about the end of the historical injustice
done to the Palestinian people, in such a world the shaheed is like a heart
pumping blood into [this] world as it lies on its deathbed .


[The bibliography was not translated. Interested individuals can find the
sources mentioned in it at the end of the text in Arabic, which follows.]

The Development of the Concept of Istishhad in Palestinian Society
Original Document
www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm for illustrations and

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