Suicide Bombers
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

To what extent is suicide bombing allowed by Islam? Is not suicide, whatever the reason maybe, prohibited in Islam? Is killing people in market places including women, children and old people through suicide permitted in Islam? If yes, then to what extent. We have recently seen such events in Kashmir and now very much in Palestine.


Answer: Suicide bombing cannot be objected to provided the following conditions are fulfilled.

1. It is carried out by a state against an enemy against which war has been openly declared.

2. It does not target civilians of the enemy country.

Consequently, individuals and groups who carry out this activity against innocent civilians, as seems to be the case in Kashmir and Palestine, are doing something which is totally prohibited. No individual or group has been given the right to take human life. Only a state has this authority. And a state too has this authority over the combatants of an enemy against which war has been openly declared. Clandestine suicidal attacks against a country with which a pact has been made amounts to a breach of law which is a severe crime in the eyes of Islam. Similarly, civilians and innocent citizens must be protected at all costs if a state has to undertake such an activity. Muslims who kill innocent civilians must know that they are violating the directives of Islam and committing a crime against humanity. The Qur’ān calls the killing of an individual in this manner as tantamount to killing the whole mankind:

مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنْهُمْ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ (٣٢:٥)

He who killed a human being without the latter being guilty of killing another or being guilty of spreading disorder in the land should be looked upon as if he had killed all mankind. (5:32)

As far as the legitimacy of committing suicide bombings if the above mentioned conditions are fulfilled is concerned, let us first see why suicide is prohibited in Islam and whether such bombings can be termed as suicide.

It must be appreciated that the basic reason for which suicide is prohibited in Islam is that it amounts to rejecting the scheme of the Almighty according to which He has created man to test him through good and evil circumstances1. One should also remember that the Almighty has specifically mentioned in the Qur’ān that He never burdens a person with a responsibility he cannot bear2. So, however tough be the circumstances, a person should boldly face them knowing that they have been ordained for Him by the Almighty, and that he has also been equipped with the required resilience by the Almighty to face them.

If the above bases are true, then suicide bombings cannot bear the label of prohibition since a person is not committing suicide out of depression and desperation by rejecting the scheme of the Almighty. He is actually sacrificing his life to root out oppression and injustice on this earth – the only reason for which today a Muslim can wage Jihād – which surely is a noble cause. 



وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ(٣٥:٢١)

And We will test you with good and evil circumstances. To Us you shall be recalled. (21:35)


لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا (٢٨٦:٢)

Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. (2:286)


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