As a possibly convenient way of rationalizing what one desires while still being able to feel “pure,” anything and everything that is otherwise banned becomes permissible. All that supposedly matters is one’s intention, or niyya.
Not only did the original “underwear bomber” Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri hide explosives in his rectum to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef—they met in 2009 after the 22-year-old holy warrior “feigned repentance for his jihadi views“—but al-Asiri apparently had fellow jihadis repeatedly sodomize him to “widen” his anus in order to accommodate the explosives— all in accordance with the fatwas [religious edicts] of Islamic clerics.
A 2010 Arabic news video that is making the rounds on the Internet gives the details. Apparently a cleric, one Abu al-Dema al-Qasab, informed jihadis of an “innovative and unprecedented way to execute martyrdom operations: place explosive capsules in your anus. However, to undertake this jihadi approach you must agree to be sodomized for a while to widen your anus so it can hold the explosives.”
Others inquired further by asking for formal fatwas. Citing his desire for “martyrdom and the virgins of paradise,” one jihadi, (possibly al-Asiri himself) asked another sheikh, “Is it permissible for me to let one of the jihadi brothers sodomize me to widen my anus if the intention is good?”
After praising Allah, the sheikh’s fatwa began by declaring that sodomy is forbidden in Islam,
However, jihad comes first, for it is the pinnacle of Islam, and if the pinnacle of Islam can only be achieved through sodomy, then there is no wrong in it. For the overarching rule of [Islamic] jurisprudence asserts that “necessity makes permissible the prohibited.” And if obligatory matters can only be achieved by performing the prohibited, then it becomes obligatory to perform the prohibited, and there is no greater duty than jihad. After he sodomizes you, you must ask Allah for forgiveness and praise him all the more. And know that Allah will reward the jihadis on the Day of Resurrection, according to their intentions—and your intention, Allah willing, is for the victory of Islam, and we ask that Allah accept it of you.
Two important and complementary points emerge from this view: 1) that jihad is the “pinnacle” of Islam—for it makes Islam supreme (based on a hadith, the formerly oral history of the life of Muhammad); and 2) that “necessity makes permissible the prohibited.” These axioms are not limited to modern day fatwas, but in fact, were crystallized centuries and ago agreed to by the ulema [Islam’s leading religious scholars]. The result is that—because making Islam supreme through jihad is the greatest priority—anything and everything that is otherwise banned becomes permissible. All that comes to matter is one’s intention, or niyya.
From here one may understand the many ostensible incongruities of Islamic history: lying is forbidden—but permissible to empower Islam; intentionally killing women and children is forbidden—but permissible when performed during holy war, or jihad; suicide is forbidden—but also permissible during jihad, only then called “martyrdom.”
Indeed, the Five Pillars of Islam—including prayer and fasting—may be ignored during the jihad. So important is the duty of jihad that the Ottoman sultans—who often spent half their lives on the battlefield—were not permitted to perform the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca.
More recently, these ideas appeared in a different form during Egypt’s elections, when Islamic leaders portrayed voting as a form of jihad and justified anything—including cheating, which was deemed “obligatory”—to empower Islam.
According to these two doctrines—which culminate in empowering Islam, no matter how—one may expect anything from would-be jihadis, regardless of how dubious the effort might seem to us.
Ironically, this mentality, prevalent throughout the Islamic world, is the same mentality that many Western leaders and politicians think can be appeased with just a bit more respect, well-wishing, and concessions from the West.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.