Suicide Bombers and the Myth of “72 Virgins”

Suicide Bombers and the Myth of "72 Virgins" 1

One of the biggest Islamophobia propaganda myths is the invention of 72 virgins as a Muslim reward for suicide. This has been repeated to the Western world so often that most people have accepted it as fact. The media wants us to believe that there cannot be anything wrong about Israelis — who must be seen as eternal victims — to cause anyone to commit suicide as a means of striking back at them. It is a sick and despicable mind that feels it has a right to attack, steal, murder and cause harm to others but if the others dare fight back they are wrong and therefore terrorists.

This in a nutshell describes the Israeli thinking and the Zionist ideology which guides their policies. They believe that they are superior and entitled to do anything to other people and those people better not retaliate. As a result they have done more by way of propaganda to take the legitimate fight of those who are against their wrongs and demonize them. We now have this ongoing enormous propaganda campaign to make Palestinians (and anyone belonging to the same religion as Palestinians) to be seen as mindless terrorists and suicide bombers with no cause other than to do evil. And, of course, vicariously receiving 72 virgins as a reward in Paradise for committing suicide to kill a few Israelis.

The Qur’an and valid, authentic hadiths are very clear about what happens to anyone who commits suicide. According to various ahadith:

Narrated Jundab the Prophet said, “A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him.”1

Narrated Thabit bin Ad-Dahhak: “And if somebody commits suicide with anything in this world, he will be tortured with that very thing on the Day of Resurrection.”2

There are many more hadiths which condemn suicide, but I would also like to make a reference the Qur’an. Amongst the many verses against suicide is one that makes it very clear that the taking of one’s life is strongly prohibited and that there is no reward for anyone who does that.

“But let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God hath been to you Most Merciful! If any do that in rancor and injustice, soon shall We cast them into the Fire: And easy it is for God.”3

So where did the reward of 72 virgins in Paradise for “suicide bombings” came from? Are there any Islamic teachings we can point to endorsing that?

When we look at the highest authoritative source in Islam — the Qur’an — we find that there is nothing in it which endorses a reward for suicide. Instead, we find the strongest condemnation with severe punishments for those who commit suicide. When we look at the hadith collections, which after the Qur’an is second most important authority in Islam, we find nothing in the authentic Bukhari and Muslim ahadith endorsing suicide either. Instead, we find a strong condemnation for it.

Searching what Muslims refer to as gharib (weak or strange) hadiths, we do find something about 72 wives but not virgins. The hadith we find is the following:

The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: “The smallest reward for the people of Paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana’a [Yemen].”4

This is as a weak hadith that has no sanad — line or sequence of narration. Although listed in an authoritative collection, this particular hadith has technical weaknesses in its chain of transmitters and is therefore not considered impeccable. As a result, Muslims are not required to believe in it. Even if the hadith was true, there is nothing about it that says that if someone commits suicide, they would obtain “72 virgins in Paradise”.

Muslims know that the description of Paradise or Heaven in the hadiths and Qur’an are allegorical. Otherwise Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would have allowed us to take our bodies with us when we die. But the vehicle by which we could enjoy the physical things (especially 72 virgins mentioned as being in Heaven!) is left behind here in this world to rot and decay away. So we know for a fact that for heavenly rewards, physical things of this world are used to describe things totally non-physical. A hadith to always keep in mind is as follows:

The Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s Cause).”5

I am sure that 72 physical virgins are a small part of the whole world to be given to someone who has experienced Paradise to come back to. Yet the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has said that the martyr who experiences Paradise would not want to come back to this world even for everything this world has to offer. If he was getting 72 physical virgins in Heaven, then surely he would get more than that from the world and would be enticed to come back.

On the other hand, martyrdom in war for an Islamic cause is praised extensively as in the above hadith. The Qur’an teaches:

“Do not consider those killed [while engaging] in God’s cause dead. Rather, they live with their Lord, who sustains them!”6

The Qur’anic idiom, “killed while engaging in God’s cause” is a reference to martyrdom for acting on being a Muslim, whether as a persecuted and powerless individual or as a warrior fighting in defense of Islam, country, justice, freedom and peace. A hadith in Sunan at-Tirmidhi states that in contrast to the suicide, the martyr does not even feel the pain of his death7. He is also forgiven all his sins and has the right to intercede on behalf of his own family to enter Heaven. So, suicide is forbidden, killing of non-combatants is forbidden but martyrdom is rewarded with entrance into Heaven and therefore with great material rewards in the world to come.

What I wrote about Islam’s position on suicide is not secret, esoteric knowledge. It is common knowledge, well-known and can easily be discerned by anyone doing a very elementary study of the religion. Yet what we have today is the knee-jerk, unconscious association of the religion of Islam with suicide bombings, even to the point where claims of getting 72 virgins are an “Islamic prize” offered for suicide. This is a cruel and ugly lie about Islam that has been so widely perpetuated that it is accepted as fact. Corrections to the association of Islam with suicide and the killing of innocents are not made in the media. Instead it is glued even tighter by reporting that not a person disobeying Islam, but a Muslim imbued with Islamic religious fervor committed suicide.

We have a media that is too eager to enlighten and spread the word about crazy Muslims killing themselves for 72 virgins. We read and hear everyday about suicide bombers in Iraq killing themselves and other Iraqis with them. We are to believe that a religion that strongly condemns suicide, promises severe punishment in Hell for those who commit it and has never had a strategy of using suicide to fight wars until recent contact with Israelis — somehow has spawned the most suicide killers on earth.

Oddly enough in this saga about suicide killings, we read the following headline from an Israeli newspaper: “Fewer officers to be armed as suicide becomes IDF’s top killer”. The leading cause of death for the Israeli Defense Forces is suicide! Well, well it looks like suicide is really an Israeli problem and not a Muslim one. Their IDF commit far more suicides than what is being blamed on Muslims.

We already know that Israel leads the world in trafficking prostitutes and that there are hundreds of brothels in Tel Aviv. Who knows, maybe having access to one prostitute at a time on a soldier’s salary was not enough for those IDF soldiers. Maybe these soldiers believed the lies told about Muslims and were trying to get their 72 virgins too. See how strong an effect Zionist lies have on their own people. Explaining Islam

  1. Sahih Bukhari, 2:23:445 []
  2. Sahih Bukhari, 8:73:73 []
  3. Qur’an 4:29 – 4:30 []
  4. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2562 []
  5. Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:53 []
  6. Qur’an, 3:169 []
  7. Fada’il al-Jihad, 26:1663 []

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