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The word Martyr conjures in me images of fear, ecstasy, faith and terror. The Christian stories of the martyred saints, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and Joan of Arc are both inspiring and chilling.
Especially the supreme sacrifice of Jesus.
I have never really had the courage to stand for anything I believe in and the thought of dying for a principle frightens me to death (no pun).
However, it seems to me that the crux of Martyrdom is the giving of one's life for one's belief.
Perhaps the most ominous example is that of the early Christians who chose to face Lions rather than denounce their faith in Christ.
In all religions, faiths, cultures there are probably stories of people who have died for causes. They have killed and been killed "In the name of God."
Legions have given their lives for causes worthy and unworthy, just and unjust.
Witness the recent debate over whether Jihadists who strap bombs on themselves killing dozens of infidels, including women and children, for the sake of their Deity, presumably assuring themselves a special place in heaven, are martyr or terrorist.
But we have a new ingredient in the mix. The martyr is supposed to die!! What if he screws up and lives after killing others in the name of God? Shouldn't he ask for a tighter noose, a sharper axe or sword, a second bullet, a hungrier lion and submit to dying?
Or will he say "Ooopps, God, I'm sorry I really didn't mean it!? Epecially, after he has taken the lives of a dozen poor souls?
Point in question: the recent massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. While no one knows for sure, the media talk is that the act for Nidal Malik Hasan was one of Jihad. If it was, he should have died, yet he lived. He should therefore request immediate death, and not accept another breath of life.
Yet today on CNN, his lawyer is saying Hasan is considering a plea of not guilty for reason on insanity!
Doesn't that automatically negate the act as one of Martyrdom? You can't have it both ways! Unless, of course, he means that Jihad is insanity.
I wonder where failed Martyrs go, Heaven or Hell? Or Limbo? Or whether they even go at all?