Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Death Lovers

The Death Lovers

I mentioned the line in Dr. Hasan's Power Point presentation about how Muslims love death more than we love life--a statement that I have seen Muslims make in other contexts. A reader points to this account in Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of the rise of Islam. (Why is this in a book about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire? Think Eastern Roman Empire, which persisted for a thousand years after the fall of Rome.)
The son of Abu Sophian was sent with five thousand Arabs to try the first experiment of surprise or treaty ; but on the eleventh day, the town was invested by the whole force of Abu Obeidah. He addressed the customary summons to the chief commanders and people of Aelia:

Health and happiness to every one that follows the right way ! We require of you to testify that there is but one God, and that Mahomet is his apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute, and be under us forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better than you do the drinking of wine or eating hog's flesh."
This notion that Muslims love death more than non-Muslims love life is apparently not a modern construct. The solution, of course, is not to become like our enemies, and love death, but to love life enough to persuade those who wish the Islamic martyrs' death of the error of their ways, or alternatively to assist them towards what they love so much.

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