While participating in jihad gives a jihadist important religious credibility, death in battle provides immortality, as the deceased is ranked a martyr. It is believed that Muslim martyrs will be highly rewarded in the afterlife for their sacrifice and hold a special position in heavenly paradise. It is therefore not surprising that martyrdom is a central theme in jihadi visual propaganda.

The caption at the top of the image follows the typical formula for honoring the dead. First, following common Muslim funerary epigraphy, the inscription contains a Qur’anic verse. Specifically, the text partially quotes Qur’anic verse 3:169, which reads: “wa-la tahsabanna lladhina qutilu fi sabil Allah amwatan bal ahya’un ‘inda rabbihim yurzaqun” (“Do not consider those killed in the path of God dead, on the contrary, they are alive, being sustained by God”). Most often the inscription will also include the name of the deceased and the date of death. Here, the text reads: “harakat al-jihad al-islami fi filastin wa-janahiha al-‘askari saraya al-quds tahtasibu ‘inda Allah al-shahid al-mujahid aba maslama hasan ibrahim al-qatrawi” (“PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and its military wing Saraya al-Quds considers the martyred fighter Abu Maslama Hasan Ibrahim al-Qatrawi to be with God”). Abu Maslama was reportedly a student of the shaykh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi, deceased leader of Jund Ansar Allah (JAA) and a member of JAA, who was killed January 10, 2010. The fact that the image was produced by PIJ indicates membership crossover between PIJ and JAA.

In addition to the picture of the deceased and the caption, the image contains a number of elements that are part of the jihadi visual propaganda repertoire, including the Dome of the Rock. While Muslims across sectarian lines share a reverence for many holy sites, some sites hold special significance for certain groups. For instance, the Dome of the Rock is recognized and revered by all Muslims, as it was built in 692 A.D. by the Umayyid caliph ‘Abd al-Malik on the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in his mi‘raj (night journey). Indeed, it is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and al-Madina. At the same time, the Dome of the Rock is a powerful symbol of Palestinian nationhood.


More Information
Group Name Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) - Saraya al-Quds [al-Quds squadrons] aka Shqaqi faction; the logo indicates under it the words: al-i`lam al-harbi [military media]
Group Type Jihadist Group
Dominant Colors Blue, Yellow
Secondary Colors White, Red
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans 1) wa-la tahsabanna lladhina qutilu fi sabil Allah amwatan bal ahya'un `inda rabbihim yurzaqun (Q 3: 169) 2) harakat al-jihad al-islami fi filastin wa-janahiha al-`askari saraya al-quds tahtasibu `inda Allah al-shahid al-mujahid aba maslama hasan ibrahim al-qatrawi
Image Number 0274
Groups Region of Operation Middle East
Groups Country of Operation Israel/Palestine
Date Image Created Online 10/08/2010
Weapons Firearms, Automatic / Assault Rifle
Body Parts Face / Bust
Air Analysis Sun. Blue sky.
Air Celestial Bodies, Clouds / Fog, Sky
Fire Light Rays / Light
Geopolitical Symbols Non-country Flag, Symbol of party, movement or company, Slogan
Geopolitical Analysis Black. PIJ logo - Qur'anic verse 2:191 arched over a takbir and the Dome of the Rock sitting on two yellow fists with two crossed rifles jutting out in the back; a red map of Israel/Palestine down the middle; the phrase saraya al-quds is arched under the logo, completing the circle with the top arch.
People Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis PIJ and JAA operative Abu Maslama Hasan al-Qatrawi
Religious Textual References Quranic Text, Quranic Citations
Religious Textual References Analysis 3:169
Religious Symbols Holy Site, Black / White / Green Banners
Religious Symbols Analysis Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa
Fauna Dove / Default Bird
Topography Horizon, Man-made Structure / Landmark
Topography Analysis Domed mosque
Visual Themes The image also features birds, a black figure with a black banner, and blue skies and clouds in the background, all of which are also common elements in jihadi imagery. The world of birds in general is very important in the symbolic language of Islam. Pre-Islamic Arabs imagined soul birds fluttering around the grave of the deceased, and the bird continues to symbolize the flight of the soul beyond the confines of this world. Doves in particular are considered sacred, since they are believed to have protected Muhammad during his nocturnal journey. It is in this manner that the dove can be linked to the notion of martyrdom and the rise of a martyr’s soul to heaven. The dove is also a symbol of loving fidelity, which is manifested by the collar of dark feathers around its neck, called “the dove’s necklace.”

According to prophetic tradition (hadith), the black flag was the battle flag of the Prophet Muhammad and it was carried into battle by many of his companions. Furthermore, in the 8th century, the flag was used by the ‘Abbasids during their revolution against the ruling Umayyad clan and its Caliphate. The image of the black flag has been used as a symbol of religious revolt and engagement in battle (i.e., jihad). In the contemporary Islamist movement, the black flag is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate.

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