The phrase “Allahu Akbar” has become commonly associated with terrorism in societies. It is often shouted by Muslim individuals involved in acts of violence and self-destruction which has raised questions, about the significance of this phrase within such a perspective.
In this article, we will discuss the motivations behind terrorists’ utilization of “Allahu Akbar” and its interpretation within the teaching of Islam.
Understanding the Meaning of Allahu Akbar
“Allahu Akbar” is an expression that translates to “God’s the greatest.” It is the most commonly used phrase by Muslims, who use it in situations like performing salah (prayer), expressing gratitude, or admiring the magnificence of God’s creations.
This phrase is also present in calligraphy which can be seen displayed in mosques and other places of Islamic worship.
The Employment of Allahu Akbar by Terrorists
Terrorists often shout “Allahu Akbar” before carrying out suicide attacks. The intention behind this action is to reaffirm their belief that their actions are being undertaken solely for the sake of Allah as an act of submission to his commands while seeking to glorify him.
By doing they aim to align their actions with a religious cause and anticipate receiving divine rewards such as eternal paradise.
The phrase “Allahu Akbar” being used before an attack can be traced back to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) when he led a raid on the Jews residing in Khaibar which was a neighboring oasis located ninety miles north of Medina. To initiate the attack the Prophet declared; “Allahu Akbar Khaybar is destroyed!”.
It was narrated that Anas said:
“The Messenger of Allah reached Khaibar in the morning, and they came out to us carrying their shovels. When they saw us they said: ‘Muhammad and the army!’ And they rushed back inot the fortress. The Messenger of Allah raised his hands, then he said: ‘ Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Khaibar is destroyed. Verily, when we descend in field of a people (i.e. near to them), evil will be the morning for those who had been warned! Acquired some donkeys there and we cooked the., Then the caller of the Prophet called out: ‘Allah and His Messenger forbid you to eat the flesh of donkeys, for it is an abomination.”‘Sunan an-Nasa’i 4340
Islamic Teachings Regarding Suicide Attacks
According to the teachings of Islam, suicide attacks and the killing of innocent people are not endorsed and are considered haram (sin). It is believed that those who commit suicide will be punished in the afterlife.
Allah states in the glorious Quran that;
O you who believe! Do not consume each other’s wealth illicitly, but trade by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves, for God is Merciful towards you.Quran 4:29
Furthermore, the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) also prohibits suicide by stating that anyone who takes their life with something from this world will face punishment on the Day of Resurrection (Sahih Al Bukhari).
Different Interpretations of Suicide Attacks
The majority of scholars condemn suicide attacks be it for self-defense or defending one’s country. Terrorist organizations often justify their use of suicide attacks by referring to clerics and issuing statements through their leaders.
These scholars they referred to either do not understand the teaching of Islam or might be taken out of context by the terrorists.
The use of “Allahu Akbar” by terrorists before carrying out suicide attacks is not part of Islam and no scriptural backup can be found in the Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
Islam does not condone suicide attacks or the killing of innocent people and it is important to understand that the actions of terrorists do not represent the entire Muslim community and that the vast majority of Muslims condemn terrorism and violence.