The video recorded testimony of Bali suicide bombers made before launching their attacks (01/10/2005) indicates that suicide bombing has become a trend among Muslim youths in Indonesia. Did they become more radical and dauntless on executing a suicide bombing? Bellow is the interview conducted by Novriantoni and Mohamad Guntur Romli from Liberal Islam Network with Syu’bah Asa, a senior journalist and author of Tafsir Ayat-Ayat Sosial Politik (Tafseer on Social-political Verses of Quran), on Thursday (17/11).
JIL: Mr. Asa, the farewell video left by three Bali suicide bombers has shocked the traditional Muslim clerics in Indonesia. What do you see?
SYU’BAH ASA: They were shocked because they do not know exactly about radical Islamic movements and ideologies. They have been percieving Islam as peaceful and tolerant teaching. No wonder they were upset watching them who believe suicide bombing as a road to heaven.
I think the message of Salik Firdaus, one of terrorists, “Dear my brother and wife, God willing, when you see this recording I’ll already be in heaven” is a little bit ridiculous since heaven will exist only after the Judgment day. This indicates his shallow perception on religion.
JIL: Do the Indonesian Muslims become more radical and then determined to perform suicide bombing?
I don’t think so. Only few of them have the courage to do that. It is just a global trend which started from their involvement in Afghanistan and so on. But the motive of suicide bombing in Indonesia differs to the Middle East where there is a strong affinity between the activist and public. Here, they get no support and public have no idea why they want to do it.
However, the terrorist’s propaganda works well. Youths having shallow religious knowledge were encouraged by dreams to enter heaven through a short-cut, in this case by performing suicide bombing as istisyhâd, death in a martyr’s way. In fact they were ignorant and influenced by global Islamic propaganda based on various political factors.
JIL: Do the Islamic history recognize suicide bombing action as martyrdom?
Unfortunately, it does. A splinter group of Shi’ah Batiniyah, known as the assassin or hasyâsyîn, legitimized terror in order to uphold their dynasty and supremacy. The were known as the assassin, since they use all means to achieve their objective including murder, intimidation, and terror. But most of Shi’ite sects did not recognize and condemn them.
In the modern history, Irish Republikan Army (IRA) and Japanese Yakuza launched suicide attacks. Some Muslims implement it and think that they found Islamic justification for this action. Purportedly, a companion of the prophet Muhammad asked: “O Prophet, if I go to the battlefield, fight and die, shall I enter the heaven?” The Prophet said, “Yes”! He immediately jumped upon his horse and rushed toward the battle, and got killed.
Many have said that this is a part of suicide tactic. And some argued that it is not a suicide since he still had the chance to live. But some Muslim group justified their suicide bombing action based on this narration.
JIL: How to distinguish between al-istisyhâd (martyrdom) and suicide bombing?
Well, I think suicide bombing does not reflect the Islamic ethic. A Muslim, who seeks istisyhâd (martyrdom) in the battlefield, must defend himself and attempt to survive.
Suicide bombing is not justified in Islam because Muslim has to survive and honor the human life. Furthermore, Allah has said in Quran (al-Maidah 5: 32) “whosoever killed a human being for other than man slaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and who saved the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind”. The Prophet also condemned intihâr or suicide. In a hadits qudsy, Allah said that “anyone committed suicide shall be as if he did not accept My destiny.”
The suicide bombers do not understand that there are better and more rational ways to achieve their objective. Besides, their objectives are unreasonable at all. How could they fight against US, as they claimed, by killing people in Bali?
JIL: Sajida, the would-be suicide bomber who failed to detonate her explosives in Amman, Jordan, acted upon the fact that her three brothers died due to US aggression. Is this motive justifiable?
This motive is very personal and based on vengeance, which is not permitted in the time of Prophet. Sayyidina Ali, Prophet’s cousin and companion, cancelled his intention of killing an enemy who had spitted on him, afraid that he would only kill him on the motive of personal revenge and anger.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardlawi permitted Palestinian’s suicide bombing against Israel. Regarding the innocent victims of women and children, he argued that all citizens of Israel were soldiers according to the law of Israel. However, the very fact is that they are not soldier at all. Anyway, isn’t there any other solution for this matter? Of course, we understand the miserable life of people in Palestine and Bosnia. But is suicide a good solution? Wouldn’t it lead to a never-ending revenge among them?
Sometimes, justification for this kind of action is formalistic. How can one fight against United States, as the terrorists claimed, by killing people in Bali? Here, we have to learn from Japan that surpassed the US economic advance without violence or from the growing development of China or Vietnam. In order to exceed the West, Muslims have to work really hard to improve their economic by peaceful means. This is the only way to compete with others.
JIL: What about altruistic suicide or sacrifice for the benefit of many people?
I see a justifiable altruistic suicide only in the Armageddon movie. The movie illustrated that an asteroid is on collision course for earth and the only viable solution calls for astronaut to place a nuclear device deep within the asteroid’s core. He died and the earth is secured.
JIL: Could you distinguish between suicide bombings in Indonesia and in the Middle East?
In Palestine, there is a huge respect toward the fighters and there is a clear motive behind it, to back off the Israel soldiers. In Iraq, the terrorist’s motive is to drive the US aggressors out of the country. Ariel Sharon’s recent decision to pull Israel out of Gaza proves that these actions work. In Indonesia, the terrorist’s motive is unclear. However, I disagree with suicide bombing based on any motive, since its precedent cannot be found in Islamic teaching and the life of Prophet.
JIL: What about suicide bombing upon target regarded as the enemy’s ally like Shi’ite sect in Iraq?
Well, I don’t know exactly. But the militant and revolutionary action of violence such as suicide bombing always seems attractive, particularly to the youths having shallow religious knowledge. Setting up an underground plan or working on cells system arouses their adrenalins. Furthermore, they were pledged by heaven which, in their mind, full of beautiful angels and luxuries.
By launching such actions, man who was “nobody” becomes “somebody” and important person. Man like Amrozi or Imam Samudera (convicted Bali bombers) believes that they were on the right path. Desperate youths were main targets of this terrorist mission.
JIL: How to respond the US terrorism and global injustice regarded as being the trigger for terrors?
Terrors are not justified even if terrorism by powerful state such as US or Israel triggers these actions. What about the conspiracy theories attributing blame for the attacks to foreigners? Well, I’m not an expert in this field but even if there is conspiracy, the perpetrators are still Indonesians.
JIL: Will this trend of suicide bombing end two or three years ahead?
It depends on the response of public and ulema. At present, they maybe astonished by the guts of terrorist to commit suicide and kill. But if the ulema explain that such jihad is mistaken, this trend will not extend.
JIL: What should be the role of religion and religionist in order to decrease the terrorist conception?
In the end, we have to turn religion back to its proper position. I am hoping for the ulema’s concern and courage to talk about terrorism although sometimes there are not reliable. In the New Order era for instance, no ulema raise their voice against corruption. And now, all of them pay their attention upon this issue and raise their voice against it.
I think, they will raise their voice later on when this issue is over and the terrorist defeated. At the moment, many ulema refuse to be involved in anti-terror team as they have no courage to talk about the truth. However, we still hope that they will made Islam to be perceived as the true religion and blessing for the universe (rahmatan lil `âlamîn). URL: http://islamlib.com/en/page.php?page=article&id=947
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