"One person's "martyr" is another person's "terrorist," and one person's "martyrdom operation" is another's "suicide bombing." Suicide attacks around the world have raised many troubling questions about martyrdom. What is martyrdom? Why are some people drawn towards giving up their lives as martyrs? What place does religion play in inciting and creating martyrs? How are martyrs made? In order to answer such questions and to understand the contemporary debates about martyrdom, this Very Short Introduction considers martyrdom's diverse roots. Jolyon Mitchell looks at examples from a wide range of historical, religious and cultural contexts, including a mother's martyrdom in a Roman arena, the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the burning at the stake of a young Joan of Arc, the execution of a novelist in nineteenth-century Asia, and, more recently, many self-inflicted deaths in the Middle East and beyond. This wide range of examples helps to illustrate how the term martyrdom has developed and is still used differently in various contexts around the world. Each chapter draws on visual images to illustrate the topic of martyrdom."--Publisher's website.… (more)
What precisely is martyrdom, and who can be called a martyr?
His comments eight months before his murder might have been forgotten if he had lived, but instead they continue to circle the globe: 'It is very easy to kill, especially when one has weapons, but how hard it is to let oneself be killed for love of the people.'