Sacred Beliefs and Sacred Terrorism

Terrorism phenomenon has taken many contemporary embodiments and has also been subject to many changes. Different terrorism undertakes operated in many different parts of the World. This phenomenon has embodied a dreadful scene of sacred terrorism led by ideological contradictions and conflicts of political and religious interests. It has been composed of interrelated dynamics including the sacred, symbols and myths that provide terrorism with energy and legitimacy. Religious violence has been generated in the most extremist image. It has taken religion away from its original objectives that intend to emphasize super human values of human beings to change these values into tools of violence that depend on violent practices experienced by human beings throughout years. Religious violence has got its cultural and knowledge incubator which produces violence, exclusion, sidelining and the use of harsh power for human relationships.   

Religious terrorism and its connection with mythological symbols

Terrorism, survival instinct and domination tendencies have recently reached to existential battles fought by different individuals to prove themselves by defending their own religious and social holly concepts. Terrorist groups mixed politics with religion. These groups have turned their members into timed explosive charges led by the concept of self-sacrifice for the “holly”. Such culture imitates ancient civilizations and the concept of offering sacrifices to gods. Self-sacrifice was part of submission and total obedience. The first and most violent representation was the first crime when Habeel killed his brother, Kabeel while they were conflicting over materialistic gains. Superiority of sacrifices, with their religious symbolism, laid the foundations for an era of violence led by “sacred doctrines” that grant them legitimacy and acceptance. As a response, individuals, using all possible means, have the right to do whatever they think to be in favor of the good and virtues as they think. All theist and atheist religions charged some of their followers with the “ultimate truth”, and therefore, fighting for this ultimate truth is intended to prove commitment to belonging to the sacred doctrine which, deep inside, bears violence against the other away from moral rules and human, religious and moral absolutes. The concept of satisfying God has changed into a tool in the hand of some fanatically religious undertakers to appeal God for more blessing instead of leaving this authority of punishment and blessing for God.

From self-sacrifice to sacrificing others

The connection between piety and self-sacrifice, as part of obedience to God, has changed into sacrificing oneself and others together which is an imitation of the concept of sacred sacrifice. Therefore, suicidal terrorist attacks have been associated with sacrifices which have been used as organized and deliberate terrorist attacks long time ago. Between 66 and 73 BC, during the resistance of Jews against the Romans, Sikari Group[1] established the first terrorist group of its kind. It is an extremist Jewish group led by Ille A’zer Ben Yaeir.  Members of this group fortified in Masa’da citadel. They adopted unusual ways of assassination against their rivals, especially Jews cooperating with the Romans and supporting the Roman occupation of Palestine. Jewish figures and leaders who used to be connected with suspected Priests of the Temple were targeted. In other word, all those who had different ideas from the Sakari Group were also targeted with small draggers as the Jewish historian, Nachman Ben Yahuda stated in his book “Masa;ada Myth, the collective memory and the Creation of Myth in Israel”.   

Assassination doctrine moved to Christianity when Yuhana Al Ma’madan was beheaded, Jesus Christ was crucified and his advocates and followers were either burned or beheaded. Although its intentions changed, the concept of assassination of rivals remained.  

As for Islam, suicidal attacks were not part of proselytization, and they were not used throughout the history of Islam until the 11th century by the Hashasheen [2]Group which was established and led by Hassan Ben Sabah. Almote Citadel was their stronghold. Members of this group used to launch suicidal attacks against local governors and Sultans. It played a prominent role in the region and many myths and superstitions were circulated about this group. Paradise and eternal blessings have been enough to convince suicide attackers to jump over forts and behead others just to win the fabricated eternal blessings of paradise that were allotted by Sheikh Al Jabal.   

Al Hashasheen Group gave its name to many European modern languages. Ever since the Crusaders’ Campaigns in 1096 AD, the word “assassin” was of interest for the West and enhanced the assassination phenomenon as a political weapon to be used against rivals. Bishops and leaders recruited killers to get rid of their religious and political rivals.

As religious wars flourished, the rate of assassination rose up to the level of a sacred duty of which religious conflicts made a virtue rather than a crime.

Suicidal attacks and ideologization of politics

Suicidal attacks became well-known at the time of World War II. It was known as Kami Kazi in Japan when Japanese pilots attacked American fleets with suicide warplanes. Tameel Tigers separatists also used suicide attack in Sri Lanka just like what happened in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. This phenomenon widely spread and became an integral part of terrorism progression.    

Although committing suicide is against all celestial legislations, suicide attacks have been based on political and national concepts. During the war with Israel, suicide attacks in Palestine constituted a form of resistance. This kind of attacks were also used by Hezbollah in Lebanon during the 1982 war with Israel. Suicide attacks have been confusingly named martyrdom operations and were subjugated to doctrinal and ideological concepts that if any one denies them, he is considered an opponent of Islamic doctrine. Such ideology paved the way for the growth of religious terrorism and the monopoly of the right course, and the production of human bombs that have turned into fatal weapons in the ongoing war fought by different entities with different doctrines. The concept has been even used by apostasy advocators even against other Muslims just because they don’t share the same concepts.      

The concept of suicide attackers in dominant Islamic pious communities has changed into a common culture that is adopted and followed by most religious and political organizations which have placed religion above human beings. Sacrificing life and killing others for the sake of religion has become an integral doctrinal part of the terrorist aspects.

The sacred and the symbols’ war

11 September attacks constituted a turning point in the history of religion violence and counter political violence in the life of human societies. Following these bloody attacks a conflict of civilizations started as a title of the relationship between the West and the Arab World. Terrorist organizations restored the potential tension between the West and the East that had been hibernating ever since the Crusaders’ Campaigns and moving to modern colonization. They did so to create justifications and attract those who are sidelined to launch a symbolic war based on sacrifices. The new tactics of terrorist groups have been based on terrifying the other and symbolically defeat their enemies. On the other side of the conflict, a large-scale war against terror was declared. For both parties to the conflict, the influence of symbolic sacred concepts had a big influence.

For millions of suppressed people in the Arab World, the collapse of the two towers in New York city symbolized the fall of the United States of America and international capitalism. This is followed in all suicide attacks that are intended to fulfil religious intoxication with its puritanism even if hundreds of innocent Muslims die in such attacks for the death of one American soldier. Likewise, the United States launched the war against Iraq in 2003, and the American President, George W. Bush identified the aspects of American policy in its war against the evil axis. The American approach to that war was printed in the minds of Westerners as a set of values wearing a clown of ideological sacred war, a war between the good and the evil. The war took religious and cultural perspectives.      

Boundless Sacred Terror

Religious violence moved from being a local phenomenon to a global one with the ability to cross borders and overcome all bans and prevention, and deepened political attitudes and jumbled papers. Some organizations used the sacred symbols in a manipulating manner to help them gain legitimacy in the minds of those who have been dreaming of the restoration of Islamic Nation’s role in civilization, and the annihilation of crimes committed against the nation of Muslims and the violation of its rights. The power to kill has been considered as the only way to save the nation. The direct reply to this was the war against ideology-oriented terrorism. This war against terrorism gained its holiness as a just war in the religious and civil sense. It acquired its legitimacy and holiness in the minds of fundamentalist, religious and nationalistic movements in the West. These movements didn’t only oppose Islamic fundamentalists as suicidal ideological groups that move in areas of tension and conflicting realms, but also against Islam itself. Muslim emigrants paid for this new trend as they found themselves in front of another social holiness which is not less dangerous than the religious one. This new trend encouraged hatred discourse and Islamophobia under the title of defending the Western culture and civilization. Thus, Muslims have been exposed to hostilities like what has recently happened in New Zealand attacks on the two mosques. Wars for the sacred symbols have become a real challenge to humanity and civilization that faces humanity as a whole.     


In the end, contemporary religious violence has contributed to the establishment of a dark human vision in which all forms of holiness exist despite the absence of any religious references as religions are away from conflicting ideologies. This conflict in not found in races either; no races are purer than others. This violence is not prompted by civilization which is usually composed of multi cultures and achievements. This violence exists only in the minds of those who subjugated religion to politics and changed human beings into sacrifices in the context of a globalized violence that devastates human existence in a human slaughterhouse, where blood is cleaned by blood.

[1]  “Sikari”, which means “the dragger” is a group of Jews which used to assassinate any Jew cooperating with the Roman and supporting their occupation of Palestine. They used small draggers to kill without being noticed by the public.

[2]   Al Hashasheen is a bloody group of Shai Muslim which first appeared in Iran in the 11th century and was later active in Levant. This group tried to spread Ismaeli doctrine with criminal means. It was exterminated two centuries later. It was established by Hassan Ben Sabah. It targeted Abbasids, Fatimis and saljuks.

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