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Themes in Islamic History #4: Martyrdom in Islamby David Cook
Synopses & Reviews
In recent times Islamic martyrdom has become associated with suicide missions conducted by extremists. However, as David Cook demonstrates, this type of martyrdom is very different from the classical definition which condemned suicide and stipulated that anyone who died a believer could be considered a martyr. Ideas about martyrdom have evolved to suit prevailing circumstances, and it is the evolution of these interpretations that Cook charts in this fascinating history. The book covers the earliest sources on martyrdom including those from the Jewish and Christian traditions, discussions about what constituted martyrdom, and differences in attitudes between Sunnis and Shi'ites. A concluding section discusses martyrdom in today's radical environment. There is no other book which considers the topic so systematically, and which draws so widely on the literary sources. This will be essential reading for students of Islamic history, and for those looking for an informed account of this controversial topic.
Ideas about Islamic martyrdom have evolved across the ages to suit prevailing circumstances. It is the evolution of these different interpretations, from the time of Muhammad to the present, that David Cook charts in this fascinating history of the role of suffering and peoples' willingness to die for their faith.
A fascinating history of the role of martyrdom in the Muslim faith.
About the Author
David Cook is Assistant Professor in Religious Studies at Rice University. His publications include Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic (2002), Understanding Jihad (2005), and Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (2005).
Table of Contents
Preface; 1. Martyrs in religion; 2. Martyrdom in the genesis of Islam; 3. Legal definitions, boundaries and rewards of the martyr; 4. Sectarian Islam: Sunni, Shi`ite and Sufi martyrdom; 5. Martyrs: warriors and missionaries in Medieval Islam; 6. Martyrs of love and epic heroes; 7. Patterns of prognostication, narrative and expiation; 8. Martyrdom in contemporary radical Islam; 9. Conclusions; Glossary; Chronology; Appendices; Bibliography.
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