Martyrdom in jihad has long been promoted within Islam, especially Shia Islam. However, the “Islamic” suicide bombing is a relatively new concept that emerged in the 1980s.
The earliest historical examples of suicide bombings occurred as acts of revolution in Czarist Russia. Then, more famously, there were the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of WWII.
An Iranian boy self-martyred during the Iran/Iraq War, Mohammed Hossein Fahmideh, is celebrated in Iran as history’s first Muslim suicide bomber. He allegedly strapped himself with explosives and ran under an Iraqi tank during the Iran/Iraq War.
The Iranian back Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah soon adopted suicide bombing, most famously in the 1983 attack on the US Marines Barracks in Beirut.
The secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) led by George Habash (a Christian) and the pseudo-secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Sunni Muslim Yassar Arafat later adopted suicide bombing, as did the Sunni Islamist group Hamas.
The predominately Hindu Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, whose cause was more ethnic than religious, soon adopted the practice. Until the warring Sunni (al Qaeda in Iraq which has since become ISIS) and Shia (Maqdi Army) factions in post-Saddam Iraq broke their record, the Tamil Tigers (a non-Muslim group) had the record for carrying out the most suicide bombings in history. Most Tamil Tigers suicide bombers were teenaged girls.
Today suicide bombing is predominately carried out by Sunni Islamic extremists of groups such as Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and The Taliban.