Jan Kubis, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, yesterday tweeted this (hat tip: Arsen).
I can only imagine what is in this “necessary reading.”
In an interview granted on April 16, 2007, to Al-Kawthar, an Iranian Arabic-language TV channel, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy, laid out his concept of the culture of martyrdom for the sake of Allah ( thaqafat al-shahada ), that is, suicide culture. In the second part of the interview, Sheikh Naim Qassem provided insights into the nature of the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran . What follows are excerpts from the interview in English translation.
On martyrdom culture (known as suicide culture in Israeli and Western terminology)
Regarding the culture of death [ thaqafat al-mawt ] or the culture of martyrdom [ thaqafat al-shahada ] or the culture of life [ thaqafat al-hayat ] or whatever else we choose to call it it is no secret that the materialist West and the infidels in general, and all those who see the power of Islam rise to influence particularly with regard to the philosophy of martyrdom [i.e., suicide bombing terrorism] they all take a negative stance, exerting pressure [on Islam] to make the believers abandon the culture of martyrdom [i.e., the culture of suicide bombers].
What is the reason for that? They [the West] are looking for a purpose in this world, and they are competing on this world’s terms. They know that if we compete [on the terms of] their world, they will defeat us, because they are stronger than us in the material sense. On material standards alone, they will [surely] defeat us. But if they compete against us on the level of faith, we will defeat them, because the power of faith in [times of] struggle is stronger and more influential [than material power].
They [the West] challenge us and taunt us and give us such names as the culture of death, as if martyrdom were death, in order to make us give it up. If we give up martyrdom, our power will become a [faithless] power with [only] arms and a few people, and then they can defeat us. [Then] our enemies can defeat us.
Do we really believe in the culture of death? Absolutely not. We believe in the culture of martyrdom [ thaqafat al-shahada ] and martyrdom is a noble, great, holy, and honorable thing. It is not a blame [that can be laid at our feet]. It is an honor for us to be accused of martyrdom culture.
What is shahada ? It is death for the sake of Allah, may He be glorified, to protect what is true and righteous [in the spirit of Islam]. Can martyrdom change the fact that each man dies at a time of [Allah’s] choosing? When the time comes [for human beings to die], they will not remain [alive] for even one hour or die one hour sooner.
We say that, whatever the circumstances, each man dies at his predestined time. My brother, instead of dying in your bed when your time comes die on the battlefield by martyrdom for the sake of Allah [ istishhad ]. You will profit, since you will be ending your life in a wonderful way which is accepted by Allah, may He be exalted
Let us see whether the culture of martyrdom is the culture of death or the culture of life. This is the culture of life. For all those who aspire to shahada aspire to improve their material lives [because martyrdom shahada is designed] to prevent the enemies from occupying their lands and live their lives in pride, dignity, and freedom. [Therefore] they improve their living conditions by preventing the enemies from realizing their objectives. Accordingly, it is the most honorable culture both in this life and [also] in the next if [a person] ends his life [by martyrdom for the sake of Allah]…
On the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran
Hezbollah relied [i.e., and relies still] in its Islamic religious position, which has to do with its activity in general and its jihadist activity in particular, on the decision of al-wali al-faqih [in Khomeinist ideology, the ruling jurisprudent]. The ruling jurisprudent is the one who allows and the one who prohibits . When Hezbollah commenced activities in 1982, it did so according to the opinion and religious ruling of Imam Khomeini, may Allah bless his secret, 4which considers the fight against Israel a duty. We are committed to his view .
And yet, how should we fight against Israel ? What equipment should we prepare? When can we and when cannot we attack? These questions have Islamic and shar’i principles that may be followed whenever possible. We have backed our stance of jihad regarding the fight against Israel by a decision made by al-wali al-faqih. It is a jurisprudent decision, and as for all the other details if we need shar’i counsel on what is allowed and what is forbidden on the [front] of jihad we ask, receive general answers, and then apply [them]. This is even true for acts of suicide for the sake of Allah [ al-amaliyyat al-istishhadiyya ] no one may kill himself without a jurisprudent permission.
As the Shura [Council], 5we have the authority to give instructions regarding acts of suicide for the sake of Allah [ al-amaliyyat al-istishhadiyya ], and then transfer it to operative channels in order to carry it out. [However,] if a Lebanese civilian decides to carry out an act of suicide without consulting anyone, it is not known whether he commits a duty according to religious laws. He might be committing a felony, for despite the holiness of such an act, he needs to receive [the Shura’s] permission. Also needed are operative channels [to carry it out] and someone able to assess whether the act will be beneficial or harmful, since it is a question of life and death.
Even when it comes to firing rockets on Israeli civilians, when they [ Israel ] bombed the civilians on our side, to put pressure [on Israel ], even [that decision] requires an in-principle jurisprudent permission [ ijaza shar’iyya ].
I would say unbelievable if it wasn’t so believable for a UN official.