Death's Pied Piper

A veteran of the Iran/Iraq war warned me that what the Prophet said and did was a much more powerful incentive for young people to go to their death than anything Allah revealed in his Koran.

The example of God's alleged last and greatest Messenger, he explained, was not lost on boys as young as 12 years old, perhaps even younger, who were used, in a tactic sanctioned by Khomeini, to clear a path through a minefield or in suicidal attacks to test Iraqi defences (experience soldiers were too valuable to risk in such enterprises).

Before the actual advance across a minefield or terrain to be shredded by enemy artillery, the children were given small plastic keys to hang around their necks, and told this key was the key to Firdaus.

Narrated Anas:

Um (the mother of) Haritha came to Allah's Apostle after Haritha had been martyred on the Day (of the battle) of Badr by an arrow thrown by an unknown person. She said, "O Allah's Apostle! You know the position of Haritha in my heart (i.e. how dear to me he was), so if he is in Paradise, I will not weep for him, or otherwise, you will see what I will do."

The Prophet said, "Are you mad? Is there only one Paradise? There are many Paradises, and he is in the highest Paradise of Firdaus."

The Prophet added, "A forenoon journey or an afternoon journey in Allah's Cause is better than the whole world and whatever is in it; and a place equal to an arrow bow of anyone of you, or a place equal to a foot in Paradise is better than the whole world and whatever is in it; and if one of the women of Paradise looked at the earth, she would fill the whole space between them (the earth and the heaven) with light, and would fill whatever is in between them, with perfume, and the veil of her face is better than the whole world and whatever is in it."

Bukhari 76.572

The signal to run to their death was a man in the distance on a black horse dressed in the black garb copied by Islamic State warriors brandishing a sword and pointing towards the Iraqi positions. The children were told this was the Prophet Muhammad. Their hero would be there to welcome them into Paradise should they be martyred.

After my immersion in the sayings and deeds of the man known as the Prophet Muhammad, which culminated in 1,001 Sayings an Deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, I more than appreciated the dark implications of what my Iranian veteran said about the example of the man revered by the believers as being the embodiment of the perfect human being, and so will you.

Bernard Payeur