“There is no good love that, in speaking its name, can change the world into the referent for that name. But in the resistance to speaking in the name of love, in the recognition that we do not simply act out of love, and in the understanding that love comes with conditions however unconditional it might feel, we can find perhaps a different kind of line or connection between the others we care for, and the world to which we want to give shape.” (Ahmed, 141)
I wonder if martyrdom is an act of love in the way Ahmed discusses it. Firstly, the religious implications of martyrdom perhaps link it do the love of a different kind of community than the nation. If a multicultural society does contingent upon everyone loving the idea of the nation or political community, then what is a community that martyrs die for what kind of love enables that gesture. I think martyrdom links its members to a different history, a legacy of redemption, and a promise of a life and community after this one that is just as alive as this one. In Islam, life on earth is often depicted as a second compared to the infinite life after death. The nation promises a place in history, redemption through the perpetuation of the community through members that come from them, but the nation does not link its dead members to a concrete “after life”, there is no rebirth for its individual members, only the constant cycling of the political community through time.
I think that martyrdom and the way it links the afterlife to the present asks for a more particular kind of love. And maybe this is the love religion asks for in general, it is the love for a figure, namely the prophet and God, or the love of the prophet and God, that is inextricably linked with guilt. The followers of that religion re-live the love involved in the crucifixion of Christ or the humility of Mohammad by simply being alive. The members of that religious community identify with the prophets and take divine “love” as the ideal; self-sacrifice becomes the lynchpin of identity. Since being alive is evidence of the love of the divine, being not alive and literally giving that breath and away, or back to where it came from, becomes the love of the martyr. It is a love for something so outside of oneself, its is a love for the very thing that allows that self to exist, and thus can command the self to self destruct in the name of that love.