Tuesday, March 07, 2006
In the Middle East, those who are about to die believe profoundly in the afterlife - Robert Fisk: 12 March 2005
We Westerners, we Christians are always so puzzled by the Muslim suicide bombers. We cannot fully comprehend why they do this. We understand sacrificing one's life to a noble cause, but we cannot see as noble blowing up a wedding party at a hotel or the bloody massacre of innocents.
Christians believe in the afterlife. In times of mourning we derive comfort by the promise of being reunited with our loved ones when we pass on. We comfort ourselves by saying, "He's in a better place," or "He's with God, now, safe in the arms of Jesus."
Yet most of us, except in extreme conditions, do not willingly and eagerly embrace death. Our loved ones are reluctant to release us from this life, to be robbed of our presence, to face the grief and loss suffered when a beloved one passes.
So we are mystified by the actions of suicide bombers. We are mystified and appalled by the joyous celebrations of the friends and familes of a suicide bomber. Some of us regard them as callous, unfeeling, having no love for the dead one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Muslims love as deeply as we do, they care as intensely as we do, and they mourn their dead as grievously as we do. If any of you have seen the Iraqi war photos you will have seen their profound expressions of grief as they mourn their dead. The comparisons are incomprehensible to Westerners.
I can but offer an example from my own family.Most are devout Christians; some are conservative and some are Charismatic members. When my 93 years old father died, our funeral service would have puzzled people unfamiliar with the religious concepts the family at large embraced. In most conventional funerals the seating music before services begin is quiet organ music. The family opted for joyous, fast beat songs of praise and worship, all celebrating the glorious entrance of the deceased into heaven. Some of the mourners in the pews often clapped their hands in time to the music and some actively joined in the song. Some raised their hands in praise. Services were upbeat, praising the rewards of heaven for my father. Only in private did the family express their personal crushing grief over the loss of our family Patriarch. Joy for his liberation from the suffering in this world was combined with the grief of personal loss.
This may help explain why families of suicide bombers celebrate. But the question remains, "Why Do They Suicide?" Robert Fisk's article explains that, and a major difference between Christian and Muslims view of the afterlife.
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