SABBATICAL NOTES. 27 JULY 2014. SUNDAY. N1.
On suicide attackers.
FROM AN Associated Press report carried by Honolulu Star-Advertiser today, July 27, comes the words of an American suicide attacker who carried such an attack in Syria, in that civil war that country is embroiled in at this time. [HSA, 27 Jul 2014, A4]
Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha said: 'I want to rest in the afterlife, in heaven. There is nothing here, and the heart is not resting. Heaven is better.'
The AP report talks of a video left behind by Abu-Salha and released by the Nusra Front. The video contains the words of other fighters who carried out the May 25 attack of 'several army positions at the same time.' Two of the three simultaneous attacks in Idlib, the report says, were carried out by fighters from foreign countries.
Abu-Salha was an American.
Smiling at that video, he says he 'looks forward to going to heaven.'
Reading this account on a Sunday morning makes one sit down and think. And think through.
There are many unsaid things this account is telling us, including allusions to the promised heaven with virgins and rest to those who do such a thing in the name of something greater and grander than their puny selves.
We get those.
But we need to ask other questions as well, some metaphysical inquiry into what kind of a world are we building up for the young of whatever faith, country, religion, of community he or she comes from.
The older generations owe these young people--Abu Salha was only 22 when he carried that suicide attack--the good life, and that good life is not only in heaven but also on this earth.
We owe all of the young people this: the building up of a kinder world for them, a world where the good life is not only made accessible to those who did not have to fight it out and become suicide bombers or attackers.
The escape to heaven--the escape to another world beyond this world--is plain and simple escape. There is no other name for that except that we are showing these people a way out by deceiving them, by telling them of something that has no proof, by promising them something and using that 'leap of faith' as the raison d'etre of that deed.
Any which way we look at this, this is not a case of Islam alone.
He said it so for us to remember, and remember for always: 'There is nothing here, and the heart is not resting.'
We need to argue otherwise: That there is something here, and that something is the possibility of the good life, of social justice, of equity, of kindness, of care, of understanding.
Of humanity at its best.