Purposeful suicide in contemporary Islam and the deep pathos in its frequency for religious ends is the main impulse to the topic of Faith at Suicide. The Islamic phenomenon needs to be set in a wider context which reckons with suicides incidence elsewhere, with its uneasy associations in martyrdom and with how it interrogates -- or is interrogated by -- the ethics of religious faith. The enigma of wilful suicide is no less a challenge to sanity or compassion when such faith is absent from the deed or dimly yearned for by it. I am pregnant with my cause, orators may boast. But they were never pregnant with themselves. Our birth was unsolicited on our part. We have all to reach a philosophy about our living, which is perpetually at stake and which we are free to curtail. Dark cynics have said that life is no more than forbearing not to commit suicide. While the sheer mystery of birth demands we disavow all such self-refusal, what then of those who resolve to make it forfeit for an end they must also abdicate in doing so? Selves are banished and betrayed when weary despair registers what ill-fate itself has done to them.
It is more darkly so when the precious human frame, the bodys wonder, by self-bombing encases lethal death in and for and from itself. This book sets out to explain how the issue of suicide belongs with the conscience of Islam today, and how suicide in all circumstances, with or without religious overtones -- be they Islamic or Christian or other faith -- is an inherent contradiction of our common humanity, as expressed in human birth which expressly involves us in mankind.
Kenneth Cragg was first in Jerusalem in 1939, and subsequently became deeply involved in areas of faith between Semitic religions under the stress of current politics. He later pursued doctoral studies in Oxford where he first graduated and became Prizeman' in Theology and Moral Philosophy, and where he is now an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College. He was a Bishop in the Anglican Jurisdiction in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Middle East, and played ecclesiastical roles in Africa and India. A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures is a companion book to his Readings in the Qur'an (1988; 1999), and more broadly to his Faiths in Their Pronouns: Websites of Identity (2002). Other works by Bishop Cragg, and published by Sussex Academic Press, include: With God in Human Trust -- Christian Faith and Contemporary Humanism; The Weight in the Word -- Prophethood, Biblical and Quranic; and The Education of Christian Faith.