Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad entered the courtroom today with a mission of self-proselytization.
"If I am given 1,000 lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah," said Shahzad." ... Decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree regarding the life of this world," he proudly stated to the court.
This is a precursor of the rhetoric that the world can expect to hear from apprehended terrorists everywhere. These words are a powerful trifecta: they are a warning, a calming maxim, and a recruitment vehicle for al-Qaeda.
As a warning to his enemies, they are an effective tool to demonstrate Mr. Shahzad's level of commitment to his cause. As a calming maxim, they allow Shahzad to take comfort in the idea that his suffering is finite. And finally, as a recruitment tool, they strike at the heart-strings of all Muslims. Every Muslim wants to sacrifice for God. Isn't every act of charity, at its fundamental level, a sacrifice of personal wealth to the poor for God's sake? Here we have someone who was ready to sacrifice his life (and others) for God.
Doubts can easily creep into a Muslim youth's heart. There must be something we don't understand, how can he be evil when he's suffering for no selfish cause, no personal gain? Here we are enjoying good food and good times, and he is in a prison cell.
What Shahzad means to emphasize is that suffering doesn't matter to him; he is unaffected no matter what the court would throw at him. His hope isn't for material gain or a comfortable life in this world, he is after the afterlife. When it is convenient and in the public eye, Shahzad wears the pious cloak of the martyr, ready for torture or death.
However, there are tremendous contradictions in his few public statements. They demonstrate a deep confusion of basic orthodox Islamic principles and outright hypocrisy.
When the Sufis said similar words about the fleeting nature of this worldly life, they embodied that understanding in totality. They universalized that concept to allow people to understand that personal suffering was transient. Whether it was a mother who lost her child or someone stricken with bankruptcy, everyone found benefit in considering their own mortality. This is the faith that allows Muslims to face terminal illnesses with perseverance, acceptance and strength.
Yet, Shahzad rebels against universal suffering:
"If you call us terrorists ... then we are proud terrorists ... and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace," Mr Shahzad also stated in the courtroom.
So while it has been established that he, ostensibly, doesn't care for his own personal welfare in this world, he is clearly enraged at the suffering of some land and unnamed people.
One wonders if Shahzad will rage against God, should he finally become aware that God permits many to suffer?
These types of contradictions shine through Shahzad's words even when dealing with himself. In one breath the court can do him no harm, yet in another he complains, " ... I asked for the Miranda. And the FBI denied it to me for two weeks, effecting harm to my kids and family, and I was forced to sign those Mirandas."
Shahzad's words reek of a disconnection to the truly spiritual elite of Islam, and even the accomplished warriors of Islamic history. They are remembered not for their hypocrisy (a grievous sin in Islam) or their proud proclamations which they acted contrary to. They are remembered for their consistency in faith and practice, and results which delivered Muslims into a closer relationship with their Lord.
In other comments, he brushed off a question from the judge about the oath of loyalty he took when he became a U.S. citizen last year -- "I did swear but I did not mean it".
So Muslims say:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
"They (hypocrites) swear to you by Allah in order to please you, but it would be more fitting for them to please Allah and His Messenger if they are believers." (Holy Quran 9:62)