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Shahid or Shaheed (شهيد), often translated martyr or suicide bomber, is an Arabic word with roots in Shi'a Islam. Indeed, the roots of "Shi'a" and "Shahid" are the same word.
Husayn ibn Ali, the the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, was the first Shi'a martyr who died for his faith. Like Christ, the willingness to give one's life for their faith was considered totally crazy by Sunni Muslims. It was easier to behead someone in a forced conversion rather than be beheaded yourself for your beliefs. As a result of their persecution, the Shi'a have adopted a messianic orientation similar to Judaism and Christianity, which Sunnis further consider un-Islamic.
Modern Shahid attacks
Since the suicide attack of 1983 on the U.S. Marine Corp barracks in Lebanon by Shi'a Muslims resulting in the death of 241 Americans, Sunni jihadis witnessed the effectiveness of Shi'a bombers causing the retreat of the United States military. Ever since, Sunni Islamists began recruiting and training their own brand of Shahid, changing fundamentally the long held defining differences between Sunni and Shi'a. This is ironic considering Sunni Islamist entities such as DAESH are actively at war with Shi'a Islam over their historic cultural differences.
- The Suicide Bomber as Sunni-Shi'i Hybrid, by Benjamin T. Acosta, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2010.
- See the Wikipedia article on Istishhad.
- See the Wikipedia article on Kill ratio.
- 1 Cor. 1:23
- Jonathon Randal, Osama, Knopf, 2004, p. 74.