|Current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri|
Terrorism, a systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. It is a controversial term that has not been universally agreed because some may view it as an heroic act, and merely a term use or applied to a faction by an opponent to make the cause look bad.
Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war. On the other hand, the use of similar tactics by criminal organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group.
Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations for furthering their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.
The word "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. The concept of terrorism may itself be controversial as it is often used by state authorities and individuals with access to state support to delegitimize political or other opponents, and potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (although such use of force may itself be described as "terror" by opponents of the state).
It is controversial, but perhaps, one thing is being agreed on the term - it uses brute force and it brings terror to mankind (whether it be to an innocent civilian or an enemy). An abiding characteristic of terrorism, therefore, is the indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual.
Another concept to add to the existing definition we currently have is that it holds to the belief that "if you are not with us, you are against us" or "you're either with us or against us". This then forces witnesses, bystanders, or other unaligned with some form of pre-existing conflict to become allies with the speaking party, otherwise lose favor. An act of terrorism therefore is hell bent on terrorizing or destroying everyone who are not considered an ally.
Now, let's define what is a terrorist. The term terrorist can be as controversial as the term "terrorism", but to make it simple, a terrorist is an agent carrying out acts of terrorism.
Are Islamic terrorists heroes, martyrs, or deluded?
Whatever answer you might give, it would come out subjective or "mere opinion" unless you can provide strong grounds or basis to support your answer.
So instead of giving a direct answer, let's analyze... let's see where the term terrorist really fits in.
Are they heroes?
The definition of hero is "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life."
Since some terrorists are courageous, and has risked or sacrificed their lives for a purpose, they can be called heroes by their allies. However, it is questionable if their purpose is noble. For instance, the acts of Islamic terrorists, who destroys innocent lives including the lives of their own fellow peaceful Muslims cannot be called noble. It even contradicts with the peaceful ways of Islam. And although Islam permits Jihad against non-Muslims, Jihad is "a religious war for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims" that some Islamic teachers believe was only meant for self-defense. Using evil as a means to promote the religion is not the right way of a "good" religion, neither can the end justify the means, for the more they do this, only the more Islam is being hated.
By terrorizing the world, by killing innocent lives, by endangering their fellow Muslims, they cause more harm to Islam than good. This makes Islam look as if it's a religion of war (contrary to being a religion of peace), it makes Islam look like as if it's an enemy to mankind and something to be disgusted and feared. In other words, they bring bad meaning to Islam, and this can't be called noble nor can this be called "heroic."
Furthermore, Islamic extremism as inspired by "Qutbism" ideology, maintains a political and religious agenda that's not universally accepted. They may be heroes to their own, but they will always be an enemy to the world, even to some of their fellow Muslims.
Are they martyrs?
By proper definition, a martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept a belief or cause.
In the case of Islamic terrorists, they are the ones who persecute others - killing innocent lives who are not aligned with them is an act of persecution. If they are to be called martyrs, then they should be the ones who should have been persecuted, but it's the other way around. In other words, martyrdom favors the defensive position and shuns aggression.
But some may say that terrorists were also persecuted and hunted down by their enemies, therefore, they are martyrs. This is, of course, an understatement. Regardless of who strike first, they were hunted down and persecuted because they have been at war; to such point that they had became a threat to mankind; a persecution they invited and which was merely carried out of self-defense, and you can't be a martyr when your persecution was merely a result of your evil deeds. This is similar to the case of a criminal paying for its crime.
Are they deluded?
A delusion is a "false belief" held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. It is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, poor memory, illusion, or other effects of perception.
So can we call terrorists deluded? If a terrorist is merely being the result of gullibility or ignorance, we cannot call them deluded because they are merely victims of deception themselves. However, if that terrorist is the one perpetrating or strongly adheres to the false belief, he/she can be called deluded. Unless, he/she is totally aware of what he/she is doing and does it simply to manipulate others. Such an act can be called a "fraud" rather than a "delusion."
Furthermore, Qutb's ideology "Qutbism" (the ideology that inspired Islamic extremists) that states "all non-Muslims including Muslims who they believe strayed from Islam were infidels" is not universally accepted even by some Muslims. This philosophy is of course, false, for even in some non-Muslim religions, there is a belief in God, the difference perhaps is the way they understand and worship God; which is different from that of the Muslims (something which is brought about by diversity). Also, to Non-Islamic religions, Muslims may also be called infidels for not belonging to their group. So, this is a case of everybody is an infidel. This is also the reason why there is a never ending conflict existing among different religious groups, most especially among Abrahamic (Christian, Judaism, Islam) religions.
Also note that while these religions have a shred of truth and moral lessons in each and every one of them, they are also guilty of nonfalsifiable claims, a reason why they are at constant odds with the more reliable Science and some humanistic philosophies. Their inconsistency with some scientific facts and their failure to provide objective proof (such as proof to support supernatural claims) also proves the point that they are merely subjective views. Claiming any of these religions to be "absolutely true" (note the word "absolutely") while they are significantly lacking evidence, can already be called a religious delusion. Moreover, some religions were also criticized by humanistic groups because they were willing to compromise anything including human rights and safety for the sake of "mere" belief.
Furthermore, Qutbism stresses that only Islam can bring true goodness to mankind but encourages Muslims to wage war against Non-muslims. The truth is, any religion can have some "good" and "bad" in them. Claiming Islam as the only good religion is a bias statement. This shows that Qutb was, perhaps, deeply indoctrinated in Islamic ways, but had never studied other religions nor even got a chance to be properly acquainted with them. His jumping to such conclusions may simply be due to blind subjugation and ignorance.
Qutb can be called deluded, and his delusion may spread to other minds like a disease.
And also, acts of aggression, most especially, towards the innocent has never been viewed "good" by the world. To believe that it is, is therefore, a false belief. However, contrary to ad populum, the idea I have here is not to base my point of view with the most numbers of like thinkers, but with regards to its consistency with the world view or the standard moral principle found in all religions (ie. the golden rule, compassion, humility, hope, etc.).
Perhaps, some Muslims might disagree with me, but ask yourselves this question, what have these so-called religious wars brought so far? Well lets see... the world now fears Islam, the reason why Muslims had been banned in some countries. This fear also lead to the discrimination of Muslims. It had also estrange Islam to the rest of the world. It had brought so much death, hate, and sorrow. It had made Islam an enemy to mankind. So ask yourselves... can that be any good? I'm simply saying, terrorism or war is not the way to go as it is bound to damage Islam's reputation.
Finally, it's also worth noting that the word "terrorist" has never been a good word to begin with. A reason why even some terrorist hate being called a "terrorist", although they carry out acts of terrorism anyway.
A Quote from the Quran
"And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good]."Good Reads
Does the Quran promote violence? By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
Does the Quran teach to kill, tax or convert? By Ustadha Zaynab Ansari