Inghimas In ' Suicide ' Warfare
Inghimas Or Self-Immersion
Into Enemy Ranks

( with two related texts )
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

  1. Intro
  2. 'Inghimas' proof-texts for ' suicide ' warfare
  3. 'Direct' causation and 'certainty' of death
  4. The 'suicidal' shaheed defined
In order to remove any doubt from the start, it has to be repeated that inghimas or self-immersion into enemy ranks has nothing to do with either killing non-combatants or civilians nor with killing women and children; all of which are forbidden actions - HARAM -according to the Islamic law and a great sin. [OKN] [link]

I. Introduction

Concerning the example of the 'lone Charger' who rushes into the enemy ranks knowing that he will die but after killing many of the enemies of Allah:

This is 'inghimas', which has many proof-texts supporting it. The most explicit legal textual proofs that are relevant to deliberate 'suicidal' warfare are those that fall under the rubric of inghimas or "self-immersion into enemy ranks," which is licit from any individual "without permission from the leader since one is asking for shahada and neither victory nor resistance is expected from it, contrary to duelling" (al- Buhuti, Kashshaf al-Qinaʿ 3:70).

II. 'Inghimas' proof-texts for ' suicide ' warfare

"I do not care, as long as I am killed [as being] a Muslim, on what side of mine I die for Allah / As such is for His sake and, if He wills, He shall bless even the joints of a torn trunk" ( fa-lastu ubali hina uqtalu musliman ʿala ayyi shiqqin kana lillahi masraʿi / wa-in yasha' yubarik ʿala awsali shilwin mumazzaʿi )
- sung by Khubayb al-Ansari as he lay dying, armless and legless, after being quartered and crucified.

Since shame no longer kills and stone has replaced hearts we can safely read these proof-texts and not skip a meal, not to mention survive. But at least we can weep. They show of what mettle the pious predecessors were and to what extent, in relation to the fathers, the sons resemble slaves in bondage more than free men.

The verse which is the foundation of all acts of self-sacrifice on the mujahid's part as the licit price of his purchase of Paradise is { Allah has bought from the believers their lives and properties... } (9:111). Another related verse is { Among people are those who sell themselves seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah has compassion for His slaves. } (2:207). As seen in the reports cited further down, the Companions took these verses as the proof that one who sells himself for Allah cannot be called a suicide even if, as a fighter, he acts recklessly by worldly standards.

The most explicit legal textual proofs for deliberate 'suicidal' warfare, although indirect and analogical, are those that fall under the rubric of inghimas or "self-immersion into enemy ranks," also called "taghrir bil-nafs" (cf. al-Nawawi in his Sharh Sahih Muslim 12:187, 13:46), both of which are licit from any individual "without permission from the leader since one is asking for shahada and neither victory nor resistance is expected from it, contrary to duelling" (al- Buhuti, Kashshaf al-Qinaʿ 3:70).

Inghimas presupposes that the mujahid is completely outnumbered, although the verse {How many a little company has overcome a mighty host by Allah's permission! Allah is with the steadfast} (2:249) shows that the indication of the balance of power in the Law is independent of worldly criteria. Accordingly, as the reports tell us, "the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, sent out Ibn Masʿud and Khabbab as a military expedition (by themselves) and he sent out Dihya as as military expedition (by himself)" (al-Bayhaqi, Sunan §18663), and "he sent out Hudhayfa on the Day of the Confederates as a military expedition (by himself)" (al-Tabarani §2932), and he sent out ʿAbd Allah ibn Anis as a military expedition (by himself)" (al-Tabarani §118).

Imam al-Ghazali said in his Ihya' ʿUlum al-Din (Ithaf 7:26):
"There is no disagreement that it is permissible for the single Muslim to attack the ranks of the disbelievers and fight even if he knows that he will be killed. . . . However, if he knows that his assault on the disbelievers will not harm them, such as, for example, a blind man or a feeble old man throwing himself upon the disbelievers, then it is strictly forbidden and is generally meant by the verse of self-destruction. What is permissible is only to go forward when he knows that he will not be killed before he kills first, or when he knows that he will demoralize the disbelievers when they see his audacity and realize that the rest of the Muslims also do not care a whit, but love shahada in the path of Allah, whereupon the disbelievers' power will be checked."

Al-Qurtubi in his Tafsir (2:364) on verse 111 of Surat al-Tawba cited the following words from Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan:
"If a single man charged against a thousand mushriks alone, there is no harm in it if he hopes to escape with his life or to at least harm the enemy. Otherwise, it is abominable, because he exposed himself to destruction without benefit for the Muslims. However, if his intent was to embolden the Muslims against the enemy as an example for them to follow, then it would not be far-fetched to say it is permissible because, from certain perspectives, there is benefit in it for the Muslims. and if his intent is to terrorize the enemy (fa-in kana qasduhu irhaba al-ʿaduw) so that the latter understand that the Muslims are unyielding when it comes to Religion, then it is not far-fetched to say it is permissible. WHEN THERE IS BENEFIT IN IT FOR THE MUSLIMS and HIS (THE MUSLIM'S) LIFE IS DESTROYED IN ORDER TO STRENGTHEN THE RELIGION OF ALLAH and WEAKEN UNBELIEF, THIS IS THE TRULY NOBLE STATION WHICH ALLAH MOST HIGH PRAISED WHEN HE SAID, {Truly Allah has bought from the believers their lives and properties} (9:111) AMONG OTHER VERSES PRAISING WHOEVER SACRIFICES HIMSELF (man badhala nafsah). In such fashion alone is the ruling of commanding good and forbidding evil understood."

Many of the reports of inghimas in the hadith show that it was a specialty of the Ansar, may Allah be well-pleased with them.

Among the hadiths of inghimas:

1. Mutarrif ibn ʿAbd Allah met Abu Dharr and said, "I have heard that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, told you: 'Allah truly loves three persons and hates three." Abu Dharr said: "Yes, and I would never lie about my beloved." Mutarrif said: "Who are those three whom Allah loves?" He said: "A man who went on a military campaign in the path of Allah, enduring patiently and expecting reward as a mujahid. Then he met the enemy and he fought until he was killed. You can find him mentioned before you in the revealed Book of Allah." Then he recited: {Allah loves those who fight in his path in ranks, as if they were a solid structure} (61:4). Narrated by Ahmad through the narrrators of the Sahih, al-Tabarani, al-Hakim, and al-Bayhaqi in Shuʿab al-Iman. The proof for inghimas here is "then he met the enemy and he fought until he was killed" and the mention of the solid ranks here is no more contradicted by inghimas than it is by buruz or duelling.

2. From Abu Dharr: The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "Three does Allah love." Then he mentioned among them: "A man who was in a military expedition, then they met the enemy and they were routed, then he put forward his chest either to be killed or to open a path to victory for them." Al-Tirmidhi (sahih), Ahmad, Ibn Abi Shayba (ʿAwwama ed. 10:238 §19664), Ibn Abi ʿAsim, and others.

3. From ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAs: They asked: "Messenger of Allah! What jihad is the best?" He replied: "Whoever hamstrung his steed, and his blood was spilled." Ahmad, al-Tayalisi, al-Darimi, Ibn Abi Shayba, al-Tabarani, and Ibn Hibban with a sound chain. In this authentic hadith the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, was asked about jihad but replied about the mujahid, saying the best one is the one who does not retreat, even at the cost of his life.

4. From Abu Musa al-Ashʿari: "I heard the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, say: 'The swords are the keys to Paradise." A disheveled man said to him: "Abu Musa! Did you really hear this from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ upon him blessings and peace?" He said yes. Whereupon the man drew his sword, broke his scabbard, turned toward his companions, and said: "I bid you farewell!" Then he went forward toward the enemy and fought until he got killed. Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and others.

5. Ibn al-Mubarak from al-Awzaʿi from Yahya ibn Abi Kathir, mursal: The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "The best mujahids are those that are thrown into the battle-ranks and who do not turn away their faces until they are killed. Those bask in the upper chambers of Paradise, your Lord smiles at them, and when your Lord smiles at a people, it means they will suffer no reckoning." Narrated thus by Ibn Abi Shayba (10:262-263) and Ibn al-Mubarak. It is strengthened by narrations with connected chains by Ahmad, Abu Yaʿla, and others from Nuʿaym ibn Hammar al-Ghatafani, and by al-Tabarani from Abu Saʿid al-Khudri, both with good chains according to ʿAwwama.

6. Ibn Masʿud narrated that the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "Our Lord is most pleased at two men: 'A man who gets up from his bed and his wrap, leaving his beloved and his wife to go to Salat, desiring what I have and fearing what I also have; and a man who goes on a raid in the path of Allah Most High, then his companions flee, but he knows what he shall have to pay for fleeing and what he shall gain in returning, so he returns until his blood is spilled. Then Allah Most High says to His angels: My angels! Look at My servant: he returned until his blood was spilled, desiring what I have and fearing what I also have." Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Yaʿla, Ibn Abi Shayba (ʿAwwama ed. 10:288 §19748), Ibn Abi ʿAsim, al-Tabarani, and al-Hakim, with a fair chain according to al-Haythami (2:255). Ibn al-Nahhas al-Dimashqi (d. 814) in his encyclopedia of jihad entitled Mashariʿ al-Ashwaq ila Masariʿ al-ʿUshshaq (1:318 §929) said of this hadith: "Even if we had no other hadith, this one by itself is enough to show the immense merit of inghimas."

7. Jabir narrated that a man asked at Uhud: "Messenger of Allah, where will I end up if I am killed?" The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, replied: In Paradise." The man tossed the dates he had in his hand then fought until he was killed. Al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Nasa'i and others. Ibn Hibban (10:510) says: "This was Haritha ibn al-Nuʿman al-Ansari."

8. From Anas in Sahih Muslim: The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said at the time of Badr: "Let none of you fight unless I am behind them!" Then he said: "Rise to (enter) a garden as wide as the heavens and the earth," whereupon ʿUmayr ibn al-Humam al-Ansari said, "Messenger of Allah, a garden as wide as the heavens and the earth?" He said yes. ʿUmayr said, "Well, well! (bakh bakh)" The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said, "What makes you say 'Well, well'?" He replied: "Nothing, I swear, Messenger of Allah, except I dearly wish to be one to get such a garden!" The Prophet replied: "and so you shall." ʿUmayr then brought out some dates he had with him and began to eat. After a while he said, "If I live to eat all my dates here, it would truly be too long a life!" He threw away the dates he had and entered the fray until he was killed.

This hadith shows that although the Prophet ﷺ had commanded them to fight in ranks, to the point that he would poke back into line anyone whose chest he saw jutting out, nevertheless, ʿUmayr found himself so motivated that he could not wait to fight and get killed, and the Prophet did not condemn his haste. May Allah Most High grant the Ansar and all the Companions the highest Firdaws! Theirs was not a mindset of discoursing and procrastination.

Ibn Ishaq in his Sira relates that when Sawad ibn ʿAmr al-Ansari stood in the ranks of the Companions of Badr and the Prophet ﷺ upon him and them blessings and peace, was arranging the ranks with his switch (miqraʿa) and he nudged Sawad's belly with it, scratching him inadvertantly, with the words: "Align yourself with the others," Sawad said: "Ya Rasulallah, you hurt me, so give me reparation!" The Prophet handed him the switch and said: "Take reparation." Sawad approached him and kissed his belly. The Prophet ﷺ said: "What made you do that, Sawad?" He replied, "Ya Rasulallah, the time has come for what you see, and I loved that my last action in this world be to touch you." Another narration in Abu Dawud's Sunan identifies him as Usayd ibn Hudayr al-Ansari.

9. During the conquest of Constantinople under ʿAbd al-Rahman ibn Khalid ibn al-Walid the Byzantine army was facing the Muslims with its back against the city walls, whereupon a man among the Muslims charged them by himself. The Muslims said: "Stop, stop! Subhan Allah, he is casting himself into destruction by his own hands!" But Abu Ayyub al-Ansari said: "People, you misinterpret the verse. It was revealed concerning us, the Ansar. When Allah Most high made Islam strong and its helpers many, we said to one another in private, not in front of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ upon him blessings and peace: 'Our properties are falling apart and Allah has now made Islam strong and its suppoerters many. Why not return and live in our properties so that we can repair whatever is falling apart. At that time Allah revealed to His Prophet the verse in refutation of what we were saying: {Spend your wealth in the way of Allah and do not cast by your own hand to ruin. and do good. Allah loves the beneficent.} (2:195)." After that, Abu Ayyub did not stop struggling in the way of Allah until he was buried in Constantinople. Narrated from Aslam al-Tujibi by al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih gharib) and Abu Dawud.

Al-Bayhaqi narrated it in his Sunan, in a chapter entitled: "The permissibility of a man or several men singly raiding in the lands of the enemy, as indicated by the permissibility of going forward before one's group, even if it is most probable they will kill him."

This hadith and especially the dialogue between a senior Companion and those who had misinterpreted the verse, illustrate the a fortiori inevitability of misunderstanding self-sacrificing acts as acts of reckless suicide in later times, when both knowledge and faith are exponentially weaker and the scales of judgment turned upside down.

10. The battle of Mu'ta in Jordan is a famous example of the power of inghimas in lifting morale and demoralizing the enemy. Abu Qatada narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, sent out the "army of the commanders," saying: "Your commander is Zayd ibn Haritha; if Zayd is struck down, then Jaʿfar [ibn Abi Talib]; if Jaʿfar is struck down, then [the Prophet's poet] ʿAbd Allah ibn Rawaha." They departed and were away for as long as Allah wished. Then, [one day,] the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, climbed the pulpit and ordered that people be summoned to congregational prayer. The people gathered then he said to them (Abu Nuʿaym: "with eyes brimming with tears"): "I shall tell you what happened to your army. They marched forth and met the enemy. Zayd was killed as a martyr. Then Jaʿfar seized the flag and fought the enemy hard until he was killed as a martyr. Then ʿAbd Allah ibn Rawaha took the flag and stood his ground firmly until he was killed as a martyr. Then Khalid ibn al-Walid took the flag and assumed command of his own initiative." Then the Messenger of Allah said: "Truly he is one of Your drawn swords and You grant him victory!" Thenceforth, Khalid was named Sayfullah.

Narrated from Abu Qatada al-Harith ibn Ribʿi al-Salami al-Ansari by Ah.mad with a chain of trustworthy narrators as per al-Haythami (6:156), Ibn Saʿd (2:129-130), al-Nasa'i in al-Kubra (5:48 §8159, 5:76 §8282) and Fada'il al-Sahaba (p. 18 §56, p. 53 §177), Ibn Abi Shayba (7:412 §36966), al-Tabari, Tarikh (2:151), Ibn Hibban (15:522 §7048 isnad sahih), al-Bayhaqi in the Dala'il (4:367-368), and from Anas by Abu Nuʿaym, Dala'il (p. 530 §458). The title "Sword of Allah" for Khalid ibn al-Walid is narrated from Anas, Abu Hurayra, Abu Bakr, ʿAbd Allah ibn Jaʿfar, and Abu Saʿid al-Khudri in al-Bukhari, al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and al-Hakim.

11. Muʿadh ibn ʿAfra' said: "Messenger of Allah ﷺ what does Allah laugh about on the part of His servant?" The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, replied: "His immersing his hand into the enemy bare," whereupon Muʿadh threw away a shield that was on him and fought until he got killed. Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba (ʿAwwama ed. 10:337 §19848 "hasan"), al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan (9:99-100), Ibn Hazm declaring it sahih in his Muhalla (7:294 §923).

12. Abu Dharr narrated that the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "Three are the ones Allah loves." Then he mentioned: "A man who meets an enemy troop, then his own troop becomes vulnerable, so he fights from behind them until he is killed, or until Allah gives him victory; a man who travels by night with some folk until they alighted to sleep, then he gets up and prays until he wakes them up so they could resume travelling; and a man who has a bad neighbour and endures his harm patiently." Narrated by Ahmad, Ibn al-Mubarak in al-Jihad, Ibn Abi Shayba (ʿAwwama ed. 10:263-264 §19701), and Ibn Abi ʿAsim. This hadith is not so much about inghimas than about a deliberate choice of the most dangerous fighting spot of all.

13. From Abu Hurayra in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "Among the best lives one can lead is that of a man who holds the reins of his horse in the path of Allah. He flies on its back every time he hears an alarm call or a startle. He flies on his horse, asking to be killed and certain to die."

This hadith and the next are among many hadiths that praise and validate the mujahid's lust for death, since his motive is to help the Religion and his incentive is a paradise that is as wide as the heavens and the earth.

14. From Abu Hurayra in Ahmad, the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "There shall dawn a time when the best of people is a man holding his horse's reins in the path of Allah, every time he hears an alarm call he straightens himself on top of it then he searches for death and is certain he will die."

15. Al-Bara' narrated that a steel-helmeted man from Banu al-Nabit, a tribe of the Ansar, asked at Uhud: "Messenger of Allah, should I submit or fight?" The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, replied: "No, submit first, then fight." He said the shahada then stepped forward and fought until he was killed, whereupon the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, said: "This one did a little work but got much reward." Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and others.

16. From Anas in al-Bukhari, the story of his uncle Anas ibn al-Nadr al-Ansari who had been absent from the battle of Badr, so he said to the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace: "If Allah allows me to witness combat with the mushriks I swear He shall witness what I am capable of." On the Day of Uhud, after the Muslims were routed and becamse vulnerable, he marched forward but Saʿd ibn Muʿadh (his commander) faced him. Ibn al-Nadr said: "Saʿd ibn Muʿadh, Paradise, Paradise! I swear by my father's Lord that I can smell it just behind Uhud!" Saʿd later said: "Messenger of Allah, I was unable to control him." Anas said: "We found him with eighty to ninety cuts from sword-blow or spear-stab or arrow-wound, and we found that the mushriks had mutilated him after killing him so that no one could recognize him except his sister, by his finger-tips. We considered that this verse was revealed about him and his like: {Among the believers are men who proved true to the pact they had made with Allah}." Even a child knows that with such men among its fighters, no nation can be defeated.

17. After a group of Muslims were killed but for an Ansari survivor and ʿAmr ibn Umayya al-Damri, they were watching from a distance as the birds were scavenging the bodies of their companions at a small distance from the enemies. The Ansari said: "I shall go forward and face those enemies and they can kill me, but I will not hang back from a battlefield in which our friends were killed." He did, and was killed. When ʿAmr came back and told the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, the latter praised the Ansari and said to ʿAmr: "You too could have gone forward and fought until you got killed." Al-Bayhaqi, Sunan (§18664).

O Allah, cause us to die with love in our hearts and decent tongues toward those who proved true to the pact they made with You, and count us among them!

III. 'Direct' causation and 'certainty' of death

It was argued that inghimas or self-immersion into enemy ranks forms no proof for 'suicidal' warfare because, in the latter case, the fighter's death comes about at his own hand while in the above cases it always came about at the hands of the enemy. Another objection is that inghimas entails only an "overwhelming assumption" (ghalabat al-zann) of getting killed, whereas in 'suicidal' warfare getting killed is a certainty.

( 1.) The reply to the first objection is that the fact that death comes about at someone's hand does not preclude the complicity of others who are then equally responsible in the eyes of the Law. For example, if A forces B to kill C, A is equally the murderer and not only B. Likewise, if someone sets in motion the causality of his own death, he is equally responsible whether the resulting death comes about at his own or someone else's hand.

Among the proof-texts for this is Abu Dawud's narration from ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAs who was leading the expedition of Dhat al-Salasil and woke up one very cold morning in a state of major impurity. Rather than wash and risk death he made a dry ablution and led the prayer. Upon being asked why by the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, he replied: "I heard Allah Most High say: {and do not kill yourselves. Truly Allah is full of mercy towards you} (4:29)." The Prophet ﷺ smiled and said nothing. So in his reply ʿAmr equated an act possibly leading to death with actual suicide and the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, approved him.

Also in the Sunan, when a wounded Muslim woke up in the same junub condition during another expedition and was ordered by his leaders to wash despite frigid weather, then died, the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, exclaimed: "They killed him, may Allah kill them! Could they not ask if they knew not? The only cure for ignorance is to ask." So the Prophet equated the command to wash which led to the man's death with the direct causation of that consequence, namely killing him by their own hands.

In another report narrated in al-Zuhd by Imam Ahmad, when Samura ibn Jundub's son was reported as having slept out due to surfeit and indigestion, Samura said: "If he had died I would not have prayed on him," equating the act of eating, which led to surfeit and indigestion, which might have led to death, with the act of one who kills himself intentionally, although his son would not have actually meant to harm himself.

In light of the above paradigms, if, by immersing himself into enemy ranks, a fighter brings about his own death, such self-immersion is legally the same as bringing about his own death by his own hand. In this respect there is no legal difference between the direct hand of the self-detonating suicide fighter and the proxy hand of the outnumbered fighter entering the fray [battle, fight] alone.

Yet, despite the irrefutable legal status of this causation and the actual misgivings it gave rise to among some of the Tabiʿin (as in the hadiths of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Mudrik ibn ʿAwf, and al-Bara' ibn ʿAzib already cited, may Allah be well-pleased with them), the Companions and subsequent generations made clear that in inghimas, deadly causation was superseded by greater concurrent aspects that are validated by the Law. Inghimas, therefore, must not be viewed as reckless self-destruction but as the highest valor and courage. More than that, as Abu Ayyub indicated with his Tafsir of al-Baqara 195 before entering the fray at Constantinople and fighting to the death, they viewed inghimas as life itself.

Accordingly, the following hadiths also qualify as proofs for "suicidal" inghimas, although they are, literally, only proofs for controlled self-sacrifice for the sake of Allah:

Muslim narrates in his Sahih from Suhayb, from the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, the story of the People of the Trench (As-hab al-Ukhdud) in which a Muslim young man was miraculously saved twice from a king's would-be assassins, after which he said to the king: "You cannot kill me until you do what I ask you to do." The king asked: "What is that?" He replied: "Gather the people in a plain and crucify me on a tree-trunk. Then take an arrow from the quiver and say: 'In the name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.' Then shoot it. If you do that you will be able to kill me." So the king called the people in an open plain and crucified the boy on a tree-trunk, then he took an arrow from his quiver, placed the arrow in the bow and said: "In the name of Allah, the Lord of the boy." He shot the arrow which hit the boy's temple. The boy placed his hand on his temple where the arrow had hit him and died. The people said: "We believe in the Lord of the boy! We believe in the Lord of the boy! We believe in the Lord of the boy!" The courtiers came to the king and said: "Do you see what you feared? By Allah, what has happened is exactly what you feared. The people have affirmed their faith!" The king commanded ditches to be dug where all the roads started. They were dug and fires were lit in them. The king ordered that whoever did not recant from his religion should be thrown in the fire or told to jump in. They did. A woman came with her young boy and she shrank from jumping into it but the boy said to her: "Mother, endure it for you are upon truth." In this report the crucified boy is entirely responsible for sacrificing himself, even if the death-blow comes from a hand other than his. However, because he did so for the Word of Allah to prevail, he cannot be called a suicide.

In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, another marfuʿ hadith from Ibn ʿAbbas illustrates the same form of self-sacrifice: The Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, on the night of Isra' and Miʿraj noticed a fragrant wind and asked: "O Gibril, what is this sweet scent?" He replied: "This is the scent of the lady who combed the hair of Firʿawn's daughter and that of her children. As she combed the hair of Firʿawn's daughter the comb fell and she said: "Bismillah, taʿisa Firʿawn – In the name of Allah, perish Firʿawn!" whereupon Firʿawn's daughter said: "Do you have a Lord other than my father?" She said yes. Firʿawn's daughter said: "Shall I tell my father?" She said yes. She told him and he summoned her and said: "Do you have a Lord other than me?" She replied: "Yes, my Lord and your Lord is Allah." This woman had two sons and a husband. Firʿawn summoned them and he began to entice the woman and her husband to give up their religion, but they refused. He said: "Then I shall have you killed." She said: "Please bury us all together in a single grave if you kill us." He replied: "Granted, and it is your right to ask us." He then ordered that a huge cow made of copper be filled with boiling liquid [of oil and water] and that she and her children be thrown into it. The children were taken and thrown in one after the other. The second and youngest was still an infant at the breast. When they took him he said: "Mother! fall and do not tarry for verily you are on the right." Then she was thrown in with her children.

( 2.) As for the second objection that inghimas entails only an "overwhelming assumption" (ghalabat al-zann) of getting killed, whereas in 'suicidal' warfare getting killed is a certainty: This difference was invoked by Shaykh Hasan Ayyub in his book al-Jihad wal-Fida'iyya fil-Islam (p. 166) in which he allowed that the bomber be killed only as a consequence of his bombing the place where he himself is found (tafjir al-makan), as opposed to exploding his device on his own person (tafjir al-nafs), which he deems illicit. Al-Bara' ibn ʿAzib, for example, came out of inghimas alive. During the devastating battles of Yamama, the Muslims ended up besieging an enclave where Musaylima had walled himself up with his best fighters. Al-Bara' had himself catapulted over the wall and, after killing several enemy fighters and opening the gates for the Muslims to pour in, emerged alive. Al-Bayhaqi, Sunan (9:44).

However, legally speaking, even when there might be a difference in the outcome between the life and death of the fighter, nevertheless, the legal status is one and the same, since (1) the enactor and implementer of the killing is the bomber and (2) he expects to be killed in either case, or knows he will be.

Furthermore, in the near-totality of cases in the Law, overwhelming assumption has the status of certainty. This issue can be delved at length elsewhere.

Even in the hadith of al-Bara', the difference between the high probability of getting killed and the certainty of getting killed is imperceptible since catapulting or throwing over a wall alone is enough cause for death, not to mention being thrown into the midst of enemy soldiers.

Therefore, even if such difference were perceptible, nevertheless, in many cases the words of the fighters themselves or of their witnesses makes clear that the assessment of the situation is not that of probable but of certain death. For example, after a protracted battle against the Byzantines at Yarmuk, ʿIkrima ibn Abi Jahl said: "I fought the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, in every spot, and I should run away from you today?" Then he called out to the Muslims: "Who will pledge death?" (Man yubayiʿ ʿala al-mawt?) after which four hundred Muslims including cavalry pledged, among them al-Harith ibn Hisham and Dirar ibn al-Azwar, then they fought until they were martyred. Al-Tabari, Tarikh (2:338) and Ibn ʿAsakir, Tarikh Dimashq (24:391).

When battling the Persians the Muslims were so harmed by the elephants that a man built a mud elephant and trained his horse not to be afraid of it. The next morning, he prepared to charge at the elephants. He was told: "They will kill you." He replied: "There is no harm in it if I am killed and the Muslims achieve victory." Al-Qurtubi, Tafsir (2:364). [2 December 2007]

IV. The 'suicidal' shaheed defined

Is the 'suicidal' mujahid a shaheed? The *accidentally* 'suicidal' mujahid IS termed a shaheed by the Malikis, Shafiʿis, and Hanbalis, while the Hanafis said that the remains of any mujahid who killed himself are washed (contrary to the shaheed, who must not be washed) and he is not considered a shaheed in this world although he is considered one in the next, because of the connection of his intention to the disbelievers.

Ibn Nujaym wrote:

"In the Tajnis [=al-Marghinani's al-Tajnis wal-Mazid fil-Fatawa]: 'A man who pursued (qasada) the enemy to strike him but erred and struck himself then died is washed [as a non-shaheed deceased], because he did not become killed by an act attributed to the enemy; however, he is a shaheed in the reward he obtains in the hereafter, because he was pursuing the enemy, not himself.' The term 'killed' is unconditional and includes direct killing or killing through secondary causes, as [in either case] his killing is attributed to them [the disbelievers]:

- Whether they have their mounts trample a Muslim;
- or they isolate a Muslim's mount and it throws him off;
- or they throw a Muslim off a rampart;
- or they collapse a wall on top of him;
- or they throw fire and burn the Muslims' ships;
- or any such means and causes, any Muslim killed then has the above two statuses [i.e. he is washed as a non-shaheed deceased but has a shaheed's reward in the hereafter].

"If the mount of a mushrik breaks free without anyone riding it then tramples a Muslim; if a Muslim aims at the disbelievers and hits another Muslim; if a Muslim's mount makes a run from the hold of the disbelievers or the Muslims make a run from their hold, whereupon they corner them with their backs to a trench or a fire or something like it, or if they surround them with spikes, then a Muslim treads on them and dies through that, he is not considered a shaheed, contrary to Abu Yusuf's opinion, because his act is disconnected from them, as is the act of a riderless mount. For their being surrounded with spikes was not a causation [of death]. Only what is intended to kill is a causation, not what is not, and they only intended confinement by means of them, not killing." Al-Bahr al-Ra'iq (2:211 Bab al-shaheed)

In the Maliki School the shaheed is defined as "he who was killed in the course of battling those at war with the Muslims" even if inside a Muslim country which was invaded by the enemies of the Muslims, and even if he was not fighting, for example if he was drowsy or sleeping, or if a Muslim killed him thinking he was a disbeliever, or if his horse trampled him to death, or if his sword or his arrow came back and struck him, or if he threw himself down a well or fell off a cliff at the time of fighting." Al-Dirdir, al-Sharh al-Kabir (1:425-426).

In the Shafiʿi School, the shaheed is defined as "he who died - including women, slaves, the under-aged, and the insane - fighting the disbelievers, even only one disbeliever, regardless whether the latter are actively at war with us, or apostates, or covenantees (ahl dhimma) who aimed to rob Muslim travellers or the like, all because of it, that is, fighting, whether a disbeliever killed him, or a Muslim's weapon struck him by mistake, or his own weapon struck back at him, or he threw himself into a well, or something collapsed on him, or his mount gored him to death... or he was found killed after the war ended, without the cause of his death being known, even if there is no trace of blood on him, because the outward evidence is that his death was caused by fighting." Al-Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj (1:350).

The shaheed is also defined as "he who is killed in war with the kuffar, going forward, not fleeing, sincerely.... [Why 'sincerely'? because] the term shaheed could also be applied to one killed in war with the kuffar but he is not so in the hereafter for some reason, such as defeatism or the corruption of intention." (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, 6:44).

In the Hanbali School, "If the shaheed has had his weapon turn against him and kill him, he is like one who was killed by the hands of the enemy. [Opposing this view,] the Qadi [Abu Yaʿla] said it is likelier he must be washed [like a non-shaheed] and prayed upon because he died by other than the hands of the mushriks and other than in battle. Supporting our position, however, is the narration of Abu Dawud from one of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, who said: 'We raided a locality of Juhayna and one of the Muslims went in pursuit of a man and lunged at him but missed and hit himself with his own sword instead [killing himself].'" Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni (2:206). The hadith in question states that when the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace, was asked about him, he replied, "Yes, he is a shaheed, and I am a witness for him", and he prayed over him after burying him in his blood-stained clothes.

Despite the minor difference between the Hanafis and the Jumhur, in all of the above discussions the defining criterion by which the mujahid is considered a shaheed, whether in both worlds or in the next world only, is his dying in conditions of war with the disbelievers regardless of the way or agent of death, even* and including by way of accidental suicide which, furthermore, kills no-one else but him and therefore is, in itself, detrimental to the Muslims rather than benefiting them.


*The sources I cited here only show that the basic hadd of the mujahid is the Muslim who fights the kuffar, while the basic hadd of the shaheed is the mujahid who dies or is killed in that activity, of which the objectives are to harm the enemy and empower the Muslims.

The phrase "even and including by way of accidental suicide" was meant to highlight that such shahada paradoxically includes an abortive scenario which, in military terms, is a worthless or wasteful act since it fails to achieve any such objective; the mujahid, furthermore, dying by his own hand. Why is his act included? Because of the overriding rule of matters being evaluated according to their objectives.

By the same standard, intentionally suicidal warfare would be included a fortiori into the hadd of the shaheed, since the subject not only fits its definition (being killed as a mujahid), with the same objectives regardless of success - except his act also more nearly achieves the objectives which the accidental suicide failed to achieve.

GF Haddad

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