April 9, 2008 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 419

Women's Forums on Islamist Websites - Tools For Preparing Women to Carry Out Jihad and Suicide Operations

April 9, 2008 | By D. Hazan*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 419

A number of Islamist websites include special forums for women and for the Islamic family. A review of these forums reveals that over two-thirds of their participants are men, that their objective is essentially indoctrination, and that their principal concern is with issues such as encouraging women to carry out suicide operations − for example, by relating and extolling biographies and testaments of female martyrs in Islamic history and in modern times. These forums urge women to take an active part in jihad, or at least to support its fighters through financial contributions. They also promote jihad education from an early age, publicize various sheikhs' fatwas on jihad and martyrdom, and highlight the reward that awaits both male and female martyrs in Paradise.

The following are excerpts from materials from the following websites: - a forum for women and Islamic families; - an Islamic women's forum; and - an Islamic family forum.

"How I Hoped to Turn My Body into Slivers to Tear the Sons of Zion to Pieces, and to Knock with Their Skulls on the Gates of Paradise"

An Al-Hesbah subscriber calling herself Umm Hamza Al-Shahid wrote a message titled "Secure Yourself a Chandelier under the Throne [in Paradise]," in which she encouraged Muslim women to carry out suicide bombings. Following are excerpts:

"The souls of the martyrs dwell inside the bellies of green birds [that roost] on chandeliers hanging from the royal throne [of Allah in Paradise]. They roam freely in Paradise, and then come to roost on the chandeliers... Sister... [think] what a [wonderful] life that is, how [wonderful] Paradise is, and what we miss living here [in this world]... You know that a martyr does not die. He lives, and will never know death, for it is said [in Koran 2:153]: 'And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, [they] live, but you do not perceive [it].'

"You surely ask: 'What is the way to martyrdom for me, as a woman?... How can I find the way?' Before I answer, let me say: Has it occurred to you that the very first Muslim who had the privilege of becoming a martyr was a woman, [namely] Sumayya bint Khayyat? She was cruelly tortured by the leader of the infidels, the bitter enemy of the faith, Abu Jahl, but remained steadfast in her religion and faith... She spat in his filthy face, leaving him no choice but to draw his sword and stab her, and then her pure body was cast in the desert of Mecca, while her pure soul ascended to Paradise... Take her example, sister. She had the honor [of becoming a martyr] before the [first] man had [this honor]. Allah does not prevent us from... following in her footsteps.

"Sister, do you fear the horror of death and the agony of dying? [Know that] the pain felt by a martyr as he is killed is like the pain of a [wasp's] sting. Having heard this, are you still afraid to dare? Don't you wish such an end - an easy transition from this world to Paradise, without pain or agony?... Since death is inevitable, why should we not leave this transient [world] in our best capacity, [that is,] as martyrs? These are the words of one of our sisters who has already achieved this goal, Rim Al-Riyashi. [1] She was only 22 years old, and a mother of two small children, but she considered her life [in this world] of little worth [and sacrificed it] for the sake of Allah in order to wave the banner of Islam, saying in her will: 'I have long yearned for this martyrdom for the sake of Allah. I have long anticipated it. How happy I will be, and how great will be my joy if Allah accepts me as a martyr. By Allah, my heart is filled with many emotions, and I cannot control them... As if a beautiful dream were taking over my body, as if my heart were beating out the words, "Allah, accept me as a martyr." How I have yearned to turn my body into slivers that would tear the sons of Zion to pieces; and to knock with their skulls on the gates of Paradise. By Allah, even if you broke my bones and hacked me to pieces, you would not be able to destroy my faith or rip my banner. How I kept telling myself: The Jews are the enemies of Allah, so fill with hatred for them and turn your blood into a path on which you will walk to Paradise." [2]

"She Penetrated Deeper into the Crowd, Her Breath Coming in Spurts and the Spark of Death Shining in Her Eyes, and... Allah Akbar!... The Body-Parts of the Jews Scattered Everywhere, and the Black Blood Spilled on the Soil of the Prophets, While Her Pure Soul Ascended to Paradise"

In another posting, headed "Indeed, Men Do Not Have a Monopoly [on Martyrdom]," Umm Hamza Al-Shahid described the last moments of a woman suicide bomber: "She recited the morning prayer... and then sat invoking [the name of] Allah until dawn. In her mind she heard the words of a brother who had [chosen] the path [of martyrdom]: 'Even if I had died while praying, [3] I would have regretted having missed the opportunity to die as a martyr [in a war] for the sake of Allah.' She went out and walked silently... her [soul] filling with a deep and confident tranquility. She fingered the explosive belt hidden under her clothes to make sure that it was tightly fastened. She went on. Then a crowd of filthy Jews appeared in the distance and she hurried to meet them. She managed to slip into the crowd without anyone noticing her. Her heart palpitated, not out of fear of the despicable [Jews], but because her momentous meeting with Allah was drawing near. It seemed to her that the sky shone lighter and brighter than before. She penetrated deeper into the crowd, her breath coming in spurts and the spark of death shining in her eyes, and... Allah Akbar! The explosion rang out loud, violent, deafening and destructive. The body parts of the Jews scattered everywhere, and the black blood spilled on the soil of the Prophets, while her pure soul ascended to heaven, to the chandeliers [of Paradise, an abode of] light, peace and eternity." [4]

A subscriber calling himself Sayf Allah [Sword of Allah] posted a link to a video, accompanied by a message titled "To [Women] Who Seek Martyrdom": "To our sisters on this dear forum, and to all [sisters] everywhere who are devout in their faith, here is a simple video about several women who became martyrs and who, [their final testaments,] urged others to [wage] jihad." [5]

The women's forum on the Islamist website Al-Shumoukh featured an excerpt from a book titled Jihad and Combat in Shari'a[-Based] Policy (Al-Jihad Wal-Qital Fi Al-Siyassa Al-Shar'iyya), by Dr. Muhammad Khayr Haykal, which included the following: "Martyrdom for the sake of Allah is one of the values that Islam glorifies and which confers prestige on the one who implements it... Through [martyrdom], one receives eternal life and avoids death, which is the lot of everyone else. The gates of Paradise open [before the martyr], and the life in this world goes on while the martyrs [bask in] the pleasures of Paradise... After their souls leave their bodies, Allah builds them palaces." [6]

"A Woman... [Usually] Dreams of a Husband, a Large House, Children... But There Are Other Women... Jihad Fighters... Who [Sacrifice] Their Souls alongside the Men"; "She Donned a Shroud, Strapped on the Explosive Belt, and Left... That Was the Pivotal Moment in her [Decision] to Meet Allah as a Martyr"

A subscriber calling herself Rabab Khatem wrote under the heading "Women Jihad Fighters in Modern Times Will Go Down in History": "For a long time, I have been thinking about that woman who left everything, abandoned the sweet pleasures of this world... gave up her soul and her money in order to prove herself [equal] to men... [and to prove] that the religion of Allah is more important than her [own life]... I tried to find other women like her among my people, but found only flashy TV hosts, dancers, singers, etc., who present themselves as role models for mankind, and indeed serve as role models for those who wish to follow their [unworthy] example... I have been planning to write about her for a long time... I looked for the most beautiful words that have been said about her, and found many, but none as wonderful as the those written about her by the forum subscriber Louis 'Atiyyat Allah [under the heading] 'Lament for a Muslim Woman Knight':

"'...As I write these words, my sorrow that I am not among you sears my heart. I wish I could be among you, for that would have been an immense privilege. What value is there in a pleasant life that ends in the grave, without glory that will go down [in history, and without] having faithfully served Allah's religion... [The woman knight] said: Allah, accept my blood today and be pleased with it... A woman in this world [usually] dreams of a husband, a large house, children... However, there are other women - praise them - who have decided [to sacrifice] their souls alongside with men, and are undoubtedly jihad fighters...

"The women of the courageous Chechen people have sacrificed their children and their money... They joined the march of the martyrs; they refused to [accept] oppression, and as the enemy intensified its [cruel oppression], their steadfastness and [readiness for] self-sacrifice grew ever stronger... One woman was apprehended by the Russians, and a senior Russian officer violated her honor... She swore revenge... She started preparing, counting the days until she would sacrifice her most valued possession for the sake of religion and honor. She donned a shroud, strapped an explosive belt around her body and went to him; and when the moment came, she approached him, and it was then that she consummated [her resolve] to meet Allah as a martyr...

"This is a story of young women, in the spring of their youth, who entered a Russian theater disguised as newspaper reporters, committed to martyring themselves. One of them concealed [the surprise] that she had prepared for the Russians in her camera, while the other had it wrapped around her waist. As soon as the senior regional Russian officials gathered together at the premises, the doors were locked, so that they could savor [in full] what had been prepared for them, and the end came before [the event could even] begin... Praised be their deeds, which will go down in history." [7]

"One's Heart Rejoices [at the Sight of] a Woman Whose Soul Yearns for Jihad for the Sake of Allah"

The Al-Hesbah website posted an item written by Sheikh 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sahim praising women who join jihad. Following are excerpts:

"By Allah, one's chest expands at the sight of processions of [martyrs] returning to Allah... One's heart beats faster at hearing about a young woman... who rises above the world of fashion and relinquishes the material world. One's soul rejoices [at the sight of] a woman with great aspirations whose soul yearns for jihad for the sake of Allah. [At the sight of such things,] I say: The nation is still sound. It is unfortunate for its enemies that they are fighting a nation which has women of such [character]... A nation that gives rise to [women] of this kind is a nation that will never die... By Allah, my heart is ready to leap out of my breast as I read the inquiry by a young woman not yet 20 years old regarding the war against the enemies and regarding taking part in jihad through martyrdom... Today my nation needs women who bear the burden, rather than ones who are themselves a burden on the da'wa and the preachers. Therefore [I say to the women:] Be the one who bears the burden of da'wa and the banner of victory and glory." [8]

"If You Can Sacrifice Your Soul - What a Great Sacrifice That Will Be!"

The Al-Shumoukh website posted an item titled "An Appeal from the Mother of Martyrs to Her Sisters in the Forums," dated October 1, 2007, in which the anonymous author states: "My sister, you are an inseparable part of this glorious jihad, and without you no armies would advance and no banners [would be] raised. Therefore, do not underestimate the value of your effort, for it has a significant impact... If you have a friend or a relative whom you trust, try to direct them onto the path [of jihad] - and great will be your reward! Do not reveal your intentions to anyone - even to the one closest to you, since secrecy is the key to success... If you can sacrifice your soul, what a great sacrifice that will be!... Know, my dear, that the more you sacrifice, the greater your reward in this world, and also in the world to come." [9]

"Why Shouldn't Contemporary Women Jihad Fighters... Sacrifice What Is Most Precious To Them, and [Give] Their Soul for the Sake of Religion?"

Another posting on Al-Hesbah, titled "The Islamic Woman Knight" by a participant who signed himself "[Admirer] of Sheikh Abu Mousab [Al-Zarqawi]," called on Muslim women to follow the example of the women of early Islam and sacrifice their souls for the sake of religion. Following are excerpts:

"My sisters, the Muslim jihad fighters... We want to follow the path of grace and jihad taken by our mothers and sisters of the early Islam. Unfortunately, [however,] the weakness of our times, which is currently besetting the Muslims, has cast a shadow on their lives, creating distortions that Islam repudiates... Why shouldn't contemporary women jihad fighters... sacrifice what is most precious to them, and [give] their souls for the sake of religion[?]... Didn't Muslim women in the days of the Prophet and the Righteous Caliphs [10] join the army and set out on jihad?... Women continued to take part in [wars waged by] Muslim armies, [helping to get] supplies, providing medical aid, and [taking part in actual] fighting - until the Muslims gradually estranged themselves from Islam, abolishing many Islamic traditions - among them those that granted women legitimacy to wage jihad." [11]

My Muslim Sister, You Bear Much of the Responsibility for the Present Defeat of Islam - Had You Fulfilled Your Mission, This Humiliation Would Not Be Plaguing the Nation

A subscriber calling herself "Martyr's Sister" urges women to fulfill their crucial mission in jihad, or at least not to obstruct a man's way to jihad. Following are excerpts:

"The woman can be a force that either impedes or spurs jihad... Our deeds must guarantee that we place the love of Allah and His Messenger, as well as the love of jihad for the sake of Allah, over and above the love of transient [things]. This is what will cause the sons of the nation to sacrifice their souls for the sake of Islam and the Muslims, and [free] us of our apathy, so that the infidel nations will never rule over our nation - for they will see that we have men who love death as much as [the infidels] love life; that we have merchants who are ready to sacrifice all their capital for the sake of the victory of our faith... and that we have mothers who cannot find peace because their fathers were not part of jihad. Given all this, it is clear that Allah's enemies will think a thousand times before [attempting to] harm [the Muslim] nation and to attack it...

"While the woman can be one of the greatest obstacles to Muslim victory, she can also be one of its crucial motivating forces, provided she fulfills her mission with utmost courage and selflessness... Moreover, Islam, in its times of prosperity, could never have achieved victory over the infidels, which surpassed it in numbers, equipment, and capital, had it not been for the woman, [who fulfilled her role] responsibly and appropriately. She is the one who raises her children to jihad and watches over the man's honor and property when he sets out to wage jihad; she is the one who bears up in the face of hardship, encouraging her children and everyone else under her guardianship to endure and follow this path - indeed, 'behind every glorious jihad fighter there is a woman.'

"The enemies of the [Islamic] nation only endeavored to liberate the woman once they realized that the [Muslim] woman is the foundation of the nation, and that if she is corrupted, everything she brings forth, and everyone around her, will be corrupted as well. They made the worst [possible] use of her, and she internalized the illusions and believed the [false] claims [regarding emancipation]... However, if today you, [the Muslim woman,] refrain from participating in the struggle and preparing for it, the nation will also refrain [from the struggle] - for then who will educate the children for this struggle, who will stand behind the men urging them to take part in this war, [and] who will raise the mothers of the next generation to complete the task you began?...

"The woman is an important element in today's struggle, and she must take part [in it], supporting it in every way and [contributing] all the resources she can muster. Her role in this struggle is by no means secondary [to the man's]; on the contrary, her participation is considered one of the foundations of victory and continuity. Therefore, my Muslim sister, it is imperative that you understand that your role is even greater than you might imagine, and that you bear much [of the responsibility] for the present defeat of Islam - for had you fulfilled your mission, this humiliation would not be plaguing the nation...

"I am warning you of Allah's wrath... Do not stand as an obstacle on the men's path to jihad. The minimum that is required of you when the men set out on jihad is to keep quiet and be content with what Allah has commanded. You must know that when you keep the men from waging jihad, it is as if you are turning your back on Allah's ways... You are forbidden to prevent the men from embarking on jihad, unless their action would bring about perdition for you and for your children... Do not serve as a tool to be wielded by Allah's enemies to destroy the values of the nation." [12]

Mother Who Lost Four Sons: "Allah Be Praised for Honoring Me with Their Martyrdom"

The Al-Faloja website posted a story describing the reaction of a mother upon being informed that her four sons had become martyrs: "The announcement did not perturb her, nor did her facial expression change; she asked the man [who had delivered the news]: Did they all die? The man said: They were [a unit] that destroyed the enemy one by one. They set up a rendezvous with martyrdom, and whenever one wavered, the other encouraged him, strengthening his resolve and motivation. The [mother] was happy... and said: Praised be Allah for honoring me with their martyrdom. I pray for Allah to let me join them in His abode. Tell me now, what fate did Allah grant you, [the jihad fighters]? He replied: We attained a decisive victory. She raised her hands to heaven and said: Praise Allah, praise Allah! Then she went off in the direction of her tent, praising Allah over and over" [13]

In another document, the Al-Hesbah website appeals to mothers of jihad fighters, expounding the importance of their sons' role as defenders of the faith and detailing the advantages of martyrdom: "To every mother of a jihad fighter combating Allah's enemies... You have borne us a hero - one of the Islamic heroes of which the nation is proud and who are [fighting on the various jihad] fronts... Were it not for Allah, and for [your son] and his brothers, Muslim lands would have become forfeit, and religious commandments would have been annulled; however, owing to his ideals, [your son] stands like a bastion against the enemies of religion. Hence, [as] his mother, you are blessed... Wouldn't you like your son to attest to your righteousness on Judgment Day? Wouldn't you like his death to be easy?... Wouldn't you like your son to be among the best of the martyrs of Allah's Messenger?... Wouldn't you like Allah to extol your son before His angels?" [14]

"The Prophet Said: 'Ye Women, Give Charity, for I Have Seen That You Are the Majority in Hell...'"

Al-Hesbah posted an article from the magazine Sada Al-Jihad titled "Why Not Wage Jihad Out of Your Own Home?" and calling on women to fulfill their obligation with respect to jihad by extending financial help to jihad fighters:

"My Muslim sister! I do not believe that you have any doubts as to the importance of money for the victory of Allah's faith or regarding its role in supporting jihad... You are aware that this important aspect of jihad for the sake of Allah is mentioned in the Koran - for money is the [vital] artery of jihad... In many [Koranic] verses, Allah gives priority to jihad by means of financial [contribution], preferring it to jihad by means of martyrdom... This is [because] the latter kind of jihad is impossible without money, while it is possible for a Muslim to wage jihad by means of his money without sacrificing his life... Furthermore, in this respect, the Islamic faith appeals specifically to women, highlighting the issue for her; thus, the Prophet said: 'Ye women, give charity, for I have seen that you are the majority in hell...' Therefore, let us be open-handed for the sake of Islam's victory and contribute our money to jihad fighters... My sister, don't you see that jihad fighters are today in urgent need of funds, since they are being subjected to ever-growing pressure?... In the history of Islam, there are exemplary cases of faithful women who contributed [everything] they had [to bring about] the victory of Allah and His Messenger, and to defend religion. Shall we not emulate them by assisting and supporting our brothers? My sister, do not forget that aiding jihad is [in itself a form of] jihad." [15]

Our Basic Mission Is to Send the Lions Forth to Battle; They Will Vouch For Us on the Day of Judgment

Another article from the magazine Sada Al-Jihad posted on Al-Hesbah, titled "Raising Children to Jihad," said: "Children's education starts while they are still in their mother's womb. An infant feels the love of Islam while still in its mother's womb - through [her] love and devotion to her faith... And when she listens to the Koran on a regular basis... her feelings are passed on to [the fetus]... This has been proven by modern research... At least during its first years, the baby needs its mother's full attention - hence, she is preoccupied only with raising the child preacher, [and] jihad fighter - to lay down the stages we shall follow together. Let us press our children to our hearts and hoist our weapons onto our backs in preparation for the ultimate [stage]. We strive to fulfill our basic mission of sending the lions forth to the battlefields, like Al-Khansaa, [16] and they will vouch for us on the Day [of Judgment]." [17]

*D. Hazan is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[1] Hamas member Rim Al-Riyashi carried out the January 14, 2004 suicide bombing at the Erez crossing on the Gaza border, killing four Israelis and wounding 10 others.

[2], July 7, 2007,, July 8, 2007.

[3] In Muslim tradition, death while praying is considered a mark of virtue.

[4], July 7, 2007.

[5], April 21, 2007. The link to the video is no longer active.

[6], April 19, 2007.

[7], June 13, 2007.

[8], June 17, 2007.

[9], October 18, 2007.

[10] The first four Caliphs that followed Muhammad (Abu Bakr, 'Omar, 'Uthman, and 'Ali).

[11], December 13, 2007.

[12], August 9, 2007;

[13], June 15, 2007.

[14], October 11, 2007;

[15], July 14, 2007.

[16] Al-Khansaa bint 'Omar was a poet of the pre-Islamic period who converted to Islam in Muhammad's time. She is considered "the mother of martyrs" because when her four sons died in the battle of Qadisiyah in 637 CE, she did not did not grieve, but said, "Praise be to Allah who honored me with their martyrdom. I pray for Allah to let me join them in Paradise."

[17], March 29, 2007, reproduced from Sada Al-Jihad, vol. 14, Rabi' Al-Awl 1428 (March-April 2007).

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