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Martyrdom in Modern Islam
Piety, Power, and Politics


  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107635470

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About the Authors
  • The Islamic resurgence in modern times has received extensive treatment in scholarly literature. Most of this literature, however, deals with the concept of jihad and disputes between radicals and their rivals over theological and political issues, and far less with martyrdom and death. Moreover, studies that do address the issue of martyrdom focus mainly on 'suicide' attacks - a phenomenon of the late twentieth century and onward - without sufficiently placing them within a historical perspective or using an integrative approach to illuminate their political, social and symbolic features. This book fills these lacunae by tracing the evolving Islamic perceptions of martyrdom, its political and symbolic functions, and its use of past legacies in both Sunni and Shi'i milieus, with comparative references to Judaism, Christianity and other non-Islamic domains. Based on wide-ranging primary sources, along with historical and sociological literature, the study provides an in-depth analysis of modern Islamic martyrdom and its various interpretations while also evaluating the historical realities in which such interpretations were molded and debated.

    • Places martyrdom in a broad historical perspective
    • Studies the main spokesman of Islamic martyrdom
    • Links martyrdom to contemporary sociopolitical reality
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Meir Hatina's Martyrdom in Modern Islam is a remarkable study. Using primary and secondary sources in Arabic, English and Hebrew, which are employed through socio-political and cultural contexts, Hatina provides a comprehensive analysis of modern Islamic martyrdom and the historical events that shaped the concept.' Isaac Kfir, Journal of Islamic Studies

    'This eclectic book synthesizes a large body of research on the phenomenon of self-sacrifice. It offers the reader a comprehensive treatment of a subject that, perhaps unfortunately, remains timely and relevant for scholarly and policy communities concerned about resurgent violence in the Muslim world. In a single volume, Meir Hatina explores martyrdom in religious and secular struggles; Islamic and non-Islamic societies; Sunni and Shiite traditions; classical Islamic jurisprudence and modern Islamist ideology; and national and transnational conflicts.' Mohammed M. Hafez, Perspectives on Politics

    '[This book] is a well-written and comprehensive study of the historical and contemporary dimensions of martyrdom in Islamic thought, one that is firmly situated within the broader Abrahamic tradition and theoretical understandings of martyrdom as a form of witnessing and preaching. Hatina makes extensive use of both key primary and secondary sources as well, providing one of the best studies of the topic that has yet to be published.' Christopher Anzalone, The Muslim World Book Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107635470
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Defying the oppressor: martyrdom in Judaism and Christianity
    2. Dying for God in Islam
    3. Modern Islamist perceptions
    4. 'The army of shrouds' - 'suicide' attacks in ethno-national conflicts
    5. Al Qai'da's transnational martyrdom
    6. Martyrs as preachers
    7. Debating 'suicide' attacks
    8. Approaching 'suicide' attacks

  • Author

    Meir Hatina, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Meir Hatina is Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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