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DavidCook_martyrdom - THE JAMES A BAKER III INSTITUTE FOR...

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THE JAMES A. BAKER III INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY OF RICE UNIVERSITY SPONSORED BY THE JAMES A. BAKER III INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RICE UNIVERSITY - MARCH 2005 DR. DAVID BRYAN COOK ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES RICE UNIVERSITY RADICAL ISLAM AND MARYTRDOM OPERATIONS: WHAT SHOULD THE UNITED STATES DO?
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T HESE PAPERS WERE WRITTEN BY A RESEARCHER ( OR RESEARCHERS ) WHO PARTICIPATED IN A B AKER I NSTITUTE RESEARCH PROJECT . W HEREVER FEASIBLE , THESE PAPERS ARE REVIEWED BY OUTSIDE EXPERTS BEFORE THEY ARE RELEASED . H OWEVER , THE RESEARCH AND VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THESE PAPERS ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL RESEARCHER ( S ), AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE J AMES A. B AKER III I NSTITUTE FOR P UBLIC P OLICY . © 2004 B Y THE J AMES A. B AKER III I NSTITUTE FOR P UBLIC P OLICY OF R ICE U NIVERSITY T HIS M ATERIAL MAY BE QUOTED OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION , PROVIDED APPROPRIATE CREDIT IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND THE J AMES A. B AKER III I NSTITUTE FOR P UBLIC P OLICY .
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RADICAL ISLAM AND MARYTRDOM OPERATIONS: WHAT SHOULD THE UNITED STATES DO? Classical Muslim Conceptions of Martyrdom and Jihad Martyrdom operations or suicide attacks over the past twenty years have become one of the signature operations of radical Islam. From their first appearance among the Shi`ite Hizbullah in Lebanon during the 1980s to the use of suicide by a number of secular or semi-secular groups such as the Kurdish PKK and the non-Muslim Tamil Tigers and finally to the adoption of martyrdom operations by the Palestinians, Chechens and Kashmiris during the 1990s, suicide attacks have grown more and more popular. The purpose of this policy paper will be to examine their appearance, function and strategy among radical Muslim groups and to suggest possible counter-strategies. Muslim martyrdom is almost as old as Islam itself. The first Muslim martyrs appear shortly after the preaching of Islam in Mecca during the early seventh century. These seventh century martyrs were by and large Muslims in weak positions, usually under the authority or influence of polytheists. Under pressure from these authorities, the martyrs, when given the choice of giving up their faith or submitting to torture and sometimes death, chose the latter. However, this early phase of passive martyrdom did not persist in Islam, nor is it the norm. After the Prophet Muhammad’s hijra (emigration) to the oasis of Medina in 622, and especially after the great Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, Islam became closely associated with power, and for the most part, Muslims were not martyred solely for their faith. 1 Starting from the first Muslim military victories during the time of the Prophet Muhammad’s ministry in Medina (622-32), Muslim martyrdom became connected largely with death in battle.
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