To the Editor.
—I am amazed that a respected journal such as yours chose to publish such an ill-researched and poorly thought-out article as the one by Dr Hanoch and colleagues.1 It is absurd to link the activities of the hashshashins with social and political frustration on the one hand and the Islamic concept of martyrdom on the other. The hashshashins were indeed an obscure sect, funded in part by their specialization in a form of contract killing. This was usually carried out under the influence of hashish—hence, the name—which both reduced any inhibitions on the part of the killer and provided the incentive, in the form of a further supply of the drug. Clearly this has nothing to do with the concept of sha'hid, which is all about earning forgiveness and hence paradise through sacrificing oneself in war against the enemies of the state. Significantly, one becomes a sha'hid by dying,
El-Murad J. Stab Wounds Associated With Terrorist Activities in Israel. JAMA. 1997;277(1):21. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540250029021