Beheading in the Qur’an

james-foley-isis A brutal act of inhumanity has spread like wildfire throughout terrorist organisations such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Images of western journalists kneeling in front of masked Jihads has become an all too common image in our headlines, its sad how it has become almost normal for us too see another man about to be decapitated.

Used as a form of bragging and propaganda, the harsh images are supposed to strike fear into the minds of everybody who opposes them. British and American media continue to report the barbaric act, fuelling the terrorists ambitions. But why do they behead? The men recently seen in Islamic State videos are reportedly grown in Britain and the US, so how have they got the nerve? Bought up in a civilised society, when did they become so psychotic? They must be victims of extreme brainwashing techniques and genuinely believe what they are being told, they must have no doubt.

Beheading was a internationally used form of punishment many years ago but was abandoned by all except very few. It is still a legal form of execution in Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, however, Saudi Arabia are the only country where the method is still used. Amnesty international reportedly counted 73 executions in Saudi in 2013, a majority of which were public be-headings.

Using be-headings as a form of capital punishment is very different to how the Islamic state militants we see use it. They claim there use of the callous technique is justified, they claim they are following the words of Allah, and in a round about sort of way they are. There are many different interpretations of the Qur’an, one Muslim may interpret it different from another, perhaps one more extreme then the other. Surat Muhammad, the 47th Sura of the Qur’an says “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.” or a different translation reads “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks.”

Having read these two passages, to me they sound violent, however many scholars think they are simply just translated out of context. One may interpret them different to another and those who adopt a more violent view of Islam will see this as justification for beheading.

One of the first modern instances of using beheading as an act of terrorism was in the First Chechen War when Yevgeny Rodionov was executed for refusing to convert to Islam after being abducted. It is now commonly used by Islamic extremists all over the middle east. I suspect that the real reason organisations so widely known to us all such as ISIS carry out be-headings is to install fear into us, and the people who wish to fight them. If a Kurdish fighter, who is not particularly well paid, learns that his fate may be decapitation, then perhaps he might be discouraged to fight. Fear is a powerful weapon. The Islamic state knows every video will be put onto Western Headlines, and this is why they will continue to do it. The way they film there be-headings for all of us to see says a lot about the reasons why they do it. Propaganda for future potential Islamic state militants and scaremongering for westerners.