Why is it so important to certain Muslims to practice beheading?


What is it with Muslims and beheadings? Where does that (tradition) come from?


Islam has no hesitation about capital punishment when proper legal procedures are observed and death is hudud (mandatory) under Sharia (religious law). Traditionally this covers such infractions as murder, adultery, homosexual activity, political rebellion, and apostasy, including (under the strictest regimes) conversion to a different religion.

Beheading has a long human history, but what’s remarkable in the 21st Century is its continued use by certain sectors of Muslims while, as the question implies, much of the world regards it as repugnant. Today’s terror sects demonstrate that decapitation remains singularly effective for striking fear into the hearts of subjects and for expressing contempt toward victims. The current “Islamic State” caliphate, a.k.a. ISIS, proudly posts its bloodthirsty videos for another purpose, inspiring excitable youths to join its revolt against traditional religious authorities and attack despised fellow Muslims and non-Muslims.

We also have official incidents -- minus video publicity -- such as Saudi Arabia’s mass execution January 2 of 47 alleged terrorists and political dissidents. The event included beheadings, including of a popular Shia activist, along with deaths by firing squad. Such executions are not unusual for the kingdom. By media accounts, it decapitated some 1,100 defendants in 1984-2004, and at least 57 in 2014 alone, for crimes ranging from drug-running to religious apostasy. Several Muslim regimes that formerly used this method of execution have abandoned it. That leaves Saudi Arabia as unique, and especially noteworthy because it purports to preserve pure and authentic Islamic practice.

Timothy Furnish of mahdiwatch.org (a Ph.D. in Islamic history teaching at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College) states that beheadings of captives date back to the Prophet Muhammad himself, and that during subsequent centuries Muslim decapitations of both living and dead enemies “are myriad.” A famous example was “Mahdist” insurgents’ 1885 beheading of British General Charles Gordon in Sudan.

There’s no pretense of following Islam’s judicial heritage with sporadic extra-judicial beheadings such as families’ “honor killings” of women, or when  “Islamists” dispatch innocent civilians. An early instance was the 2002 beheading of the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl, portrayed in the movie “A Mighty Heart,” apparently because he was both a journalist and Jewish. Though the Religion Guy hesitates to cite anonymous postings at wikipedia.org, that site lists 24 known “Islamic State” beheadings with 305 victims since mid-2014.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says “there is nothing in the Quran justifying beheadings,” but that referred only to Muslims’ terror killings of innocents.

Continue reading "Why is it so important to certain Muslims to practice beheading?" by Richard Ostling.

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