As America looks on in a state of paralyzed shock, Muslims are slaughtering Muslims in Iraq, with reports that the heads of those decapitated are literally piling up in the streets.
A headline to an article in the Daily Mail reads, “‘They lined the streets with the decapitated heads of police and soldiers’: Iraqi refugee reveals the horrors of the jihadi takeover as Baghdad vows to fight back.”
In response to this report, and with sarcastic guns ablaze, Robert Spencer quotes the Quran and then adds his comments, “‘So when you meet those who disbelieve, strike necks…’ (Qur’an 47:4) But of course any Muslim who takes such a verse at face value is a misunderstander of Islam, unduly influenced by greasy Islamophobes. Somehow this aggressive organization of misunderstanders of Islam has been able to gain sufficient support and power to wreak havoc in Iraq.”
It is true, of course, that war itself is hell and that our guns and bombs have the power to maim, disfigure, and destroy. But rules of war still preclude harming soldiers who have surrendered and intentionally targeting helpless civilians for acts of violence.
Not so militant Islam, where beheading is often the death penalty of choice. How did this barbaric practice become so widespread?
In an article entitled “Christ, Muhammad, and the Culture of Beheading,” theologian Kenneth Gentry noted that “In Islam, the prophet Muhammad is the greatest example for the faithful to follow. He is the model of dedication to God par excellence; in fact, he is deemed the perfect example of submission to Allah. Hence, even deriding this perfect one is blasphemous, as witness the case of Salman Rushdie, who was put under a death sentence for belittling the prophet.
“Now then, what can we learn from the example and the teachings of the ‘perfect’ founder of Islam? Do his life and teachings discourage the horrible conduct we see engaged, tolerated, and cheered by so many Muslims today?”
The answer to this question is found in early Islamic history.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.