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Question - - 02/28/2013
How is it that so many Muslims are willing to commit suicide in order to achieve a terrorist attack against those they perceive to be their enemies?
Answer by Arachim
Our response is based on the basic assumption that today's Muslims are the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, our forefather. It is clear that over the centuries, additional tribes and ethnic groups have joined the original core of Muslims. Many of these may indeed be physical descendants of Ishmael. Ideologically, all Muslims consider themselves the offspring of Ishmael.
The current impulse of suicide fighters goes against basic human nature. Man's nature is to struggle against all odds to survive. A tendency to suicide has long been considered a sign of mental or emotional illness.
During the last months of World War II, there were a limited number of Kamikaze fighters who agreed to execute suicide attacks against the United States in hopes of stemming the US advance on Japanese goals. Their attacks were widely publicized in hopes of inspiriting others to follow their example of self-sacrifice. However, they were few in number. At the time, analysts surmised that one of the factors that led them to volunteer for suicide missions was the fact that the Japanese nation was "programmed" from youth onward to robot-like submission to the Japanese crown, so much so, that they were hardly capable of making an independent decision.
This situation has no parallel among the Muslim community today. The phenomenon from which we suffer today is based on a combination of factors; however, even taken together, they do not suffice to explain the obsessive desire to put an end to one's life.
The phenomenon has long gone beyond the limits of religious zeal. Many young people whose lives have little to do with faith or religion are prepared today to blow themselves up. They themselves view their proposed act of "heroism" as motivated by nationalism, and not religious motives.
The mystery of what impels them to act is immense and threatening.
The Torah describes Ishmael thus: "He will be an untamed man; his hand is upon everything, and the hand of all is upon him" (Genesis 16:12).
The characteristic which typifies Ishmael is "unrestrained, untamed." Its repercussions are felt in his utter disdain for the basic morals held by the rest of mankind. He has no regard for the universal values of mankind; he relates to everyone and everything with utter abandonment.
The Creator imbued man with a basic sense of responsibility for his deeds, with an intrinsic sense of self-respect. This makes it natural for him to respect the elevated qualities that refine human beings, such as a desire to bring benefit to others. Man is naturally endowed with a sense of the great value of life, so that he values each and every moment of his existence, and is driven to extend his life as much as possible.
All this applies to an individual whose character traits are balanced and stable. He acts logically. However, when even the most basic restraints are lacking, an individual cannot make a decision based on logical judgment. Inevitably, he will relate to the events in an unreasonable manner, lacking all judgment and ration.
In his characteristic state of abandon, Ishmael can be controlled and manipulated only by external factors; he lacks the personal values and ideals that normally mould, restrain, and elevate one's conduct. Ishmael, by his very nature, is subject to external forces. He destroys all limits established by civilized nations, and rebels against any rein that attempts to tame his forces and to direct them to constructive purposes.
The result is graphically described in the Bible: "His hand is raised up against all, and everyone's hand is against him." The standard rules of human interaction are no longer valid where Ishmael is involved.
Islam lives by its sword. Ishmael views this as his way of life. Life itself is of secondary importance; this world outlook has many ramifications in the life of a Moslem. Life is "cheap" in his eyes, and lacks value.
Unfortunately, Israel's enemies today are numbered among those whom the Torah defines as "untamed." This description indeed fits the figure cut by today's Islamic terrorist movements.
We can only pray to Heaven, from the depths of our hearts, and plead that G-d extend His protection over us, and once again bring us to fulfill our mission of serving as "a light unto the nations."
At that time, Ishmael's will relate to the Jewish people as a guiding light. We look forward anxiously to this time of our ultimate redemption, when our enemies' swords will be transformed to ploughshares, and their spears to pruning forks, and peace will reign throughout the world.
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