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 image is intended as a funerary image to commemorate the deceased figures in the picture. At the very top, the inscription begins with the basmala (the phrase “bi-ismi Allah al-rahman al-rahim” [in the name of God the merciful and compassionate]), and is followed by a Qur’anic verse (3:173). The verse contains at its end a traditional phrase often repeated “hasbuna Allah wa-ni`ma al-wakil” (God is sufficient for us and the best guardian). The image also contains the date of death (in fine print at the bottom above the PIJ name), in this case it is August 1, 2007; a day being commemorated as “the massacre at the mosque of Ard al-Ribat.” It is a reference to clashes between Hamas forces and the PIJ on that day.
According to Muslim law, any person who died in defense of his faith is entitled to a Muslim burial without the customary ablution or purification process, or the change of clothing, which is necessary in the case of corpses of those who did not earn the rank of martyr (shahid). In other words, the rank of martyrdom renders a corpse legally pure. For this reason, it is fairly common for photos of bloody faces to appear in various jihadi media releases, as well as in posts on forums, as the images serve as evidence that the deceased attained the desired rank of shahid.
The dripping red blood is the color of fire, passion, impulse and danger. It is fundamentally linked to the vital force, and to warlike qualities. In addition, the appearance of a shrine or mosque conjures up martyr’s shrines or tombs, which constitute a class of Islam funerary monuments, these range from humble piles of stone to soaring structures. Their appearance remind the viewer of the importance of martyrdom in Islam. The large font caption on the right reads: “al-mihrab al-shahid `ala al-dam” [“the mihrab (prayer niche in the mosque designating the qibla, direction of prayer toward Mecca) is a witness to the blood”].