Why Suicide Bombers Attack on Eid Festivals


Abdullah Khan

  • Three people, including a former Awami National Party (ANP) Tehsil Nazim, were killed and nine people were injured in a suicide attack in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on November 7. ANP leader Hanif Jadoon was on his way back after Eid prayers when his vehicle was targeted by a suicide bomber, a senior police official said. He was accompanied by two of his sons, a guard, and a worker.
  • Two suicide bombers targeted worshippers on a key Muslim festival in northern Afghanistan, killing seven, including two local police commanders on November 6. The bombers struck as Muslims were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Old Baghlan City after prayers at the start of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice. In Afghanistan Eid is usually observed one day earlier than Pakistan.
  • A would-be suicide bomber was killed when his suicide vest exploded near an Imambargah in Hazara town of Quetta two days before Eid-ul-Azha.
  • At least 53 people were killed in suicide bombings and attacks in the northeastern Nigerian two days before Eid-ul-Azha. Taliban inspired Boko Haram group of Muslim militants have claimed responsibility.
  • A car suicide bombing at the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr on August 31, 2011 killed at least 11 people and injured 21 in Quetta.

Usually Muslim festivals are considered symbols of peace and harmony but it is not the case for Muslim militants who are waging war in different parts of the world against their enemies. Most dangerous and daring type of attack used by these militants against their enemies is suicide bombing. This act not only creates havoc in the ranks of enemies but also works as motivator for would be suicide bombers. Although every conflict where Muslim militants are fighting is basically a political conflict but after Afghan Jihad against Soviet Union the prime motivator is now philosophy of Islamic Jihad. Militant leaders may think politically but the fighters are not bothered about political motives or consequences. Majority of these Muslim fighters even do not know pros and cons of the political issue they are actually fighting to resolve. To them it is a war between Islam and ‘enemies’ of Islam.

Militant leaders find it easy to motivate a young man in the name of Islam rather than teaching him political aspects and arguments of the issue. These leaders argue that the fighter is not going to sit on a dialogue table. Instead, he has to go into a battlefield to fight physically. For this, a fighter must be physically as well as ideologically strong.

To make a fighter ideologically ‘strong’, militant leaders have developed a ‘Jihadi Curricula’, which is purely based on motivational part of Islamic Jihad. One can hardly find legal aspects of Jihad in ‘Jihadi Curricula’. Legal aspects are discussed but just to counter arguments of those who oppose private Jihad (without permission/announcement of a Muslim government).

For motivation the trainers use sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) in which he had encouraged Muslims to fight in the way of Islam. Some of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) used to indoctrinate militants are;

  • Allah’s Apostle said, “Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords.” (Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:73 [see also 4:52:210, and Sahih Muslim, 20:4681])
  • It has been reported on the authority of Jabir that a man said: Messenger of Allah, where shall I be if I am killed? He replied: In Paradise. The man threw away the dates he had in his hand and fought until he was killed (i. e. he did not wait until he could finish the dates). (Sahih Muslim, 20:4678)
  • It has been narrated on the authority of Masruq Who said: We asked ‘Abdullah about the Qur’anic verse: “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord” (Qur’an 3:169). He said: We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said: The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. (Sahih Muslim, 20:4651)
  • The Prophet said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya’ (army-unit) setting out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred. (Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:54)
  • Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone fights in Allah’s path as long as the time between two milking of a she-camel, Paradise will be assured for him. If anyone sincerely asks Allah for being killed and then dies or is killed, there will be a reward of a martyr for him. (Sunan Abu Dawud, 14:2535)

There are many other such sayings as well as Quranic verses about Jihad for Islam. Interestingly same sayings of Prophets and verses of Quran are used by Pakistani military as well as many other Muslim militaries to inspire their soldiers. However, militants fighting in the name of Islam consider Pakistani military as their prime target. They use these sayings out of context for their interests. Especially militants fighting in Pakistan lack support of learned scholars of any sect of Islam. Pseudo muftees fill the gap. Dejected youths of affected areas are used as human missiles against their own Muslim brothers.

During the training militants are motivated to ‘spend’ their Eid in Paradise. Therefore, they are encouraged to carry out suicide attacks before or on the day of Eid. Anyone who is killed on the Day of Eid is considered a ‘better’ martyr. They are enviable motivators for would be bombers. Unaware of what is going around the world Muslim militants struggle to get permission of their ‘Emir’ to conduct a suicide attack (which they call martyrdom attack) and celebrate their Eid in Jannah (paradise). This is the reason behind suicide attacks on eve of every Eid. It is also worth noting that carrying out suicide attacks on Eid occasion is not the only thing militants aim for. Other guerrilla attacks such as ambushes, raids, IEDs are also used.

In normal circumstances quarrel during fasting is not allowed. Islam even forbids verbal response to abusive language during fasting in Ramazan. Nevertheless, for militants Ramazan is the month of ‘Jihad’. They have many examples to quote such as; the battle of Badar was fought on 17th of Ramazan, the Battle of Makkah on 20th of Ramazan, Sindh was also conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim in Ramazan.

Muslim militants have developed their own ideology. They have their own frame of reference and worldview. Without understanding their ideological grounds, it is not possible to eradicate this menace.

The writer is an expert on Muslim militancy

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