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Martyrdom in Islam


  • Page extent: 224 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.3 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521615518)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$27.99 (G)

In recent times Islamic martyrdom has become associated with suicide missions conducted by extremists. However, as David Cook demonstrates, this type of martyrdom is very different from the classical definition which condemned suicide and stipulated that anyone who died a believer could be considered a martyr. Ideas about martyrdom have evolved to suit prevailing circumstances, and it is the evolution of these interpretations that Cook charts in this fascinating history. The book covers the earliest sources on martyrdom including those from the Jewish and Christian traditions, discussions about what constituted martyrdom, and differences in attitudes between Sunnis and Shi'ites. A concluding section discusses martyrdom in today's radical environment. There is no other book which considers the topic so systematically, and which draws so widely on the literary sources. This will be essential reading for students of Islamic history, and for those looking for an informed account of this controversial topic.


Preface; 1. Martyrs in religion; 2. Martyrdom in the genesis of Islam; 3. Legal definitions, boundaries and rewards of the martyr; 4. Sectarian Islam: Sunni, Shi`ite and Sufi martyrdom; 5. Martyrs: warriors and missionaries in Medieval Islam; 6. Martyrs of love and epic heroes; 7. Patterns of prognostication, narrative and expiation; 8. Martyrdom in contemporary radical Islam; 9. Conclusions; Glossary; Chronology; Appendices; Bibliography.


"...highly recommended for both non-specialists as well as specialists in Islam. It reflects existing scholarship on this issue and complements it. It should, therefore, prove very useful for those interested in understanding the rich authentic legacy of classical Islam with its contemporary implications for the contemporary Muslim as well as non-Muslim world." - Canadian Journal of History

"Cook ambitiously seeks to provide a broad vision of martyrdom and its meaning and the practice in the Islamic tradition, combining historical analysis, global coverage ranging from Africa to Southeast Asia, and a thematic approach ot the definition of the martyr in the Sunni, Shia, and Sufi traditions in order to locate martyrdom both within Islam and in comparison to other religious traditions, notably Judaism and Christianity.... The writing is engaging, and Cook cleverly chooses his excerpted tidbits for their dramatic impact.... The major contributions of this book are many." - The Historian

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