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Islam Our Future – Chapter 14
End Time Martyrdom
While the last chapter dealt with the concentrated hatred and murderous spirit of Islam toward the Jewish people, this chapter deals in a more general sense with the worldwide persecution and martyrdom that will be waged against anyone who is a follower of Jesus or who refuses to become a Muslim during the last-days.
Beheadings In The Last-Days
In the Book of Revelation, chapter twenty, the Apostle John sees a particular company of people. John gives us a very brief synopsis of what he sees. He is specifically describing the future end-time Martyrs:
I’ve dwelled on this verse many times. The Bible says that in the last-days, beheading will specifically be the primary method by which people will be martyred. They will be killed specifically for their "testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God." It is a strange picture to try to imagine. Is the Bible implying a worldwide resurrection of guillotines in every town square? What exactly is the Bible inferring will occur that will result in a worldwide standard of using beheading specifically, as a means of executing Christians? As I have tried to envision the nature of the end-times and what they will look like, I have often wondered about this verse. There are other passages that are very similar to this one. They also speak of a future persecution and a global trend of executing Christians for their faith in Jesus:
Here Jesus warns His disciples that they will be hated and ultimately put to death as a result of their identification with Him. But then there is a prophetic expansion on this prediction. Jesus says that "you will be hated by all nations because of me." Jesus specifically predicted a global element to this future persecution against Christians. This next verse gives us even further insight:
In this passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus is initially speaking to the disciples outside of a strictly end-time context. He first warns the disciples that in the days ahead they would see his followers put out of the synagogues. This prophecy came to its fullest expression after what became known as the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132-135 A.D. It was during the Bar Kochba rebellion that the final separation of church and synagogue took place. Bar Kochba was a false Jewish Messiah. He was supported and endorsed by the highest level of the rabbinic authority at the time, the renowned Rabbi Akiva. As a result of Akiva’s support, Bar Kochba was authenticated as Messiah in the eyes of the Jewish people. When Bar Kochba led the Jews in a rebellion against Rome, any Jew who did not participate was viewed as a traitor to the Jewish nation. The Jews who were followers of Jesus however, who before this time, still regularly participated in the synagogue services, could not support a rebellion led by someone whom they knew to be a false Messiah. As a result the Jewish followers of Jesus were expelled from the synagogues en masse and Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled in the second century.
But in the second part of this verse, Jesus is speaking of the end-times. "In Fact", he goes on to say, "the days will come when your persecutors will do far more than merely expel you from a synagogue; they will literally kill you." But the most bewildering and intriguing aspect of this verse is the next portion of Jesus’ statement. He says that those who kill you will literally think that in doing so, they are offering a service to God. It is this portion of the verse that is key. How could someone in today’s world literally think that God demands the killing of other human beings simply because they believe differently? It’s such a completely foreign concept to most modern western minds. It is not, however, a foreign concept to history. Both Islam and Christianity – both Catholic and Protestants, are guilty of this very thing, murdering those who are perceived to be heretics from the only true religion. Jihad, the Crusades, the Inquisitions – all fit the bill of murder for and in the name of God. One thing is for sure, an absolutely necessary ingredient in any such bloody exchange would have to be a firm conviction that God is on one’s side and that He commands such executions. It is impossible to imagine any belief system or philosophy on the earth that could carry out such a thing other than a well-established world religion. While totalitarian regimes are certainly capable of such a thing, this verse specifically says that the ones who carry out these executions will believe themselves to be serving God in doing so. No, the system that carries this out will be a religious system that views itself as the earthly steward of some form of global divine government. It must view itself as God’s only organization or community on the earth. Only such a scenario can account for the actions that we read about in these verses.
In summary then, when we compare these three verses we get a very specific picture of what end-time persecution and martyrdom will look like. Firstly, it will be global. Secondly, it will necessitate a belief system that views itself as having a divinely appointed governmental role on the earth. Thirdly, it will involve the specific method of beheading as its primary method of execution. So we have a global religion that will view itself as a divinely appointed system on the earth authorized by God to behead those who refuse to join. As we are about to see, in terms of religious systems that exist in the earth today, only the religion of Islam fulfills these requirements.
Beheadings in the News
At the time of this writing, in late 2004, there is in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and a few other countries, a new story, now just about weekly of foreigners and Christians being beheaded by Islamic radicals. As such there has been a debate raging about whether or not this practice is indeed "Islamic" or if it is merely the barbaric practice of a few radicals who are violating the true principals of Islam. Among the public statements intended to be picked up by the western media are the usual statements denouncing of such incidents as having anything to do with "true Islam." In most cases, the western media gobbles these disavowals up and reprints them without much question. But if we examine not only Islamic tradition and history, but also the "word on the street" feelings of those Muslims who make their opinion known everyday, on Internet message and chat groups, we find a much different reality. Islamic message boards all over the Internet have been debating the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of such actions since they have become front page news stories. An article from CBS News entitled, Saudia Arabia’s Beheading Culture, dated June 27, 2004, also picked up on some of this Internet "chatter":
The only mistake that CBS made is to assume that most of the participants who use such forums are indeed "radicals." I have participated in several such Islamic "communities" and have befriended many Muslims through such groups. Many in these forums presently live in the USA and Canada and many are converts from Christianity. While the writer of the CBS article assumes that because of the barbaric nature of such discussions that the individuals are all thus "radicals," I have found many of them to simply be individuals who take their faith as a Muslim seriously, even as I take my faith as a Christian seriously. While some of the members of these discussion groups seem to be disgusted and ashamed by the recent rise of beheadings, the overarching majority seem to be far more focused on doctrinal issues such as whether the beheadings were done properly or if the specific victims were considered enemies or were innocent parties etc. Sam Hamod, who is the former director of the Islamic Center in Washington D.C., when given the opportunity to chime in on this issue, in an article featured in the Washington Times used the moment not to condemn the beheadings, but to make the point that the men committing the beheadings in Iraq and elsewhere are doing it all wrong:
Beheading In Islam: Muhammad’s Example
Beheading in Islam is not a new phenomenon by any means. Due to the utter disgust of many throughout the West with regard to this practice of late by radical Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere, many moderate Muslims and Muslim apologists have repeatedly been making the claim that beheading is not an officially sanctioned Islamic practice. They claim it defies the basic tenants of Islam. These claims are made to create a better image of Islam in the western eye. Unfortunately, these claims are either made out of ignorance of Islam’s history or are made with an active intent to deceive. Indeed, as we are about to see, beheading is the very heritage of Islam. Beheading is not only commanded as a specific method of killing ones enemies in the Quran, but as we will see, it was also a favored method of killing by Muhammad and many of his followers.
When Muhammad began his career of violence and aggression, his band of Muslim warriors was still very small. Caravans traveling back and forth from Mecca and Damascus became Muhammad’s favorite soft targets. Because the inhabitants of Mecca depended on these caravans for their life they were more than a bit disturbed after several attacks by Muhammad and his gang of marauders. Finally, men from the tribe of Quraysh came from Mecca to attack Muhammad and his men. This battle, which came to be famously known as the Battle of Badr, saw Muhammad and his fledgling army gain a surprise victory over the Quraysh. Among the people who were slain was Abba Hakam.
Sadly the blood lust of Muhammad and his followers only increased from here. In 627 A.D. Muhammad himself oversaw what can only honestly be called a mass slaughter. Muhammad and his army laid a siege around the Jewish village of Qurayzah. After twenty-five days, the village surrendered, hoping that Muhammad would be merciful to them. Instead Muhammad had his soldiers dig several trenches and forced between six to nine hundred men to march into them. At the hands of Muhammad’s soldiers, they were all beheaded. The trenches became mass graves. From Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul, Islam’s earliest and most well received biography of Muhammad we read the gruesome account:
Apparently, after this great slaughter, something was awakened in Muhammad. Those 600-900 men from Qurayza who were beheaded were not enough. Soon after this incident, Muhammad had 400 more Jews beheaded. Muhammad was allied with two groups of men, the Khazraj and the Aus. The Khazraj were in charge of beheading the four hundred Jews but the Aus were standing by on the sidelines. When Muhammad looked and saw that the faces of the Khazraj were taking pleasure in beheading all the men and the Aus were standing on the sidelines, he ordered that the last twelve beheadings be carried out by the Aus:
Later, another campaign of beheading took place under Muhammad as he re-entered the city of Mecca with his army of ten thousand he called to the warriors in his army from Medina and asked them, "Do you see the soldiers from Quraysh (from Mecca)? Go and slaughter them." Mark A. Gabriel explains the meaning of the word that Muhammad used for slaughter in Arabic:
So this is where it all began, with Muhammad. But it’s certainly not where it ended. Remember that whatever Muhammad says or does is considered just as authoritative and as inspired as the very Quran itself. It is the actions of Muhammad that dictate the model for living that Allah has ordained as his will for all Muslims:
By slaying the men of these Jewish villages this way, Muhammad set the example of what Allah has ordained and even commanded for all faithful Muslims to follow.
Beheading Among Muhammad’s Followers
Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s best friend and successor, became the first "rightly guided" Caliph of Islam after Muhammad’s death. Abu Bakr’s general was Khalid bin al-Walid al-Makhzumi who also fought under the leadership of Muhammad. Under Muhammad, Khalid fought so effectively that he earned the title, The Sword of Allah.
Upon Abu Bakr’s orders, in 633-634 A.D., Khalid extended an invitation to the people of Arabia to accept Islam. This "invitation" however, was actually nothing more than an overt threat of war and death to those who refused to convert and submit to the rule of Islam. The actual invitation read as follows:
After this "invitation" to Islam, many refused to convert to Islam. Among those who refused were a group of Persians and Christians from Ullays on the Euphrates River. Khalid attacked them in 633 A.D. The battle was fierce and so Khalid made a vow to Allah during the battle that if he could defeat them that he would make the canal that surrounded their village literally run with their blood. He commanded that all who were defeated by taken alive. There were so many captives that it actually took a day and a half to behead all of the men. The blood however, coagulated and Khalid’s troops were forced to eventually release water into the canal in order that it would run red with the blood of the slain lest Khalids vow be left unfulfilled. Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir At-Tabari, the early Islamic historian and theologian recorded this event:
Some of Khalid’s men proclaimed to him:
Amir Taheri, an Iranian born journalist, in an article from the New York Post, May 14, 2004 entitled "Chopping Heads", outlines several other incidents throughout Islam’s history of the practice of beheading:
Thus the pattern had been established and now the principal that Muhammad had modeled now came back and touched his own family. Eventually stories of beheading came to fill Islam’s history. Andrew Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad points out that in the late fifteen century,
Skipping forward to a slightly more modern era, Taheri continues:
The practice continued during the 1980’s, in Afghanistan, where an estimated 3,000 Soviet troops were beheaded by the Afghani warriors. The practice of beheading was also a common practice throughout the Iranian revolution:
Taheri even makes reference to one Algerian "specialist" named Momo le nain, who was recruited by an Islamic group known as the GIA specifically for the purpose of chopping off heads:
Taheri likewise relates the situation in Pakistan where:
And today, we see the power of beheading on the Indonesian Island of Borneo, where Muslims have been using beheading as means to drive out the Christian majority. Nearly half of the Christians have fled the island.
And beyond all of these very incriminating examples there are also the government sanctioned beheadings that take place weekly in Saudi Arabia after Friday prayers just outside the Mosques:
Allahu Akbar was also the phrase being screamed by the murderers of Nicholas Berg, the Jewish-American contractor, and Kim-Sun-il, the Korean translator and evangelical Christian, whose dream of one day being a missionary to Muslims was indeed both fulfilled and brought to an end in the very same moment…
So while it is clear what the history of Islam teaches, we also need to look at what the scriptures and scholars of Islam have to say about this subject.
The Value Of A Non-Muslim Life
Whenever a Muslim "extremist" carries out a horrifying act in the name of Islam, most Muslims that I know are very quick to state that, "That is not Islam! Islam is not to be judged by the behavior of a few, but needs to be studied to see what it really teaches." Fair enough. So the question then is: What does Islam really teach about the killing of non-Muslims?
The first thing that should be pointed out is that according to Islamic law, Muslims are for all practical purposes, allowed to kill non-Muslims. This is based on the law of Qisas. Qisas is essentially the law of reciprocity. It is the Islamic version of an "eye for an eye." Qisas for instance states that if a Muslim murders another Muslim, then that Muslim will likewise be executed. Amazingly though, this law does not apply to a Muslim who murders a non-Muslim. This teaching is found in a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
In some cases of course, other penalties such as prison or a fine might be given to the murderer. But sadly, reality bears out that in such a culture that does not value the life of non-Muslims as much as that of Muslims, a blind eye is most often turned to the murder of non-Muslims. If you go to the website of the Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.org, or the Barnabas Fund, at www.barnabasfund.org, you can read hundreds of stories, updated daily, of Christians who are mistreated or even murdered without any legal repercussions for the Muslim murderer. The statement below is a perfect example of the mentality that I have often encountered when talking to many Muslims from the Middle East. This statement was made on an Internet interfaith discussion group. Notice the attitude toward the killing of non-Muslims (kaffirs):
Do you see the altogether twisted mentality expressed in the above comment? The "beautiful religion" that allows the killing of those who do not belong to it??
The Quran On Killing Infidels
Perhaps the quranic verse that is most often quoted by westerners to demonstrate the violent nature of the Islamic religion is the verse known within and without Islam as "the verse of the sword":
As many times as this verse is quoted, there has been a Muslim who has stated that this verse is not applicable today. While I would certainly love to believe this, the real question that needs to be asked is: How do the teachers and scholars of Islam interpret this verse? Do they say that it still applies today? The overriding majority of modern and classical Muslim scholars agree that it does. Remember the concept that the behavior of all Muslims is dictated by both the Quran and the Sunna (sayings, actions and behavior of Muhammad). From Ibn Kathir, the renowned eighth-century scholar, we learn the true Islamic interpretation of this verse. Kathir begins by citing for support of his interpretation, several eminent early Muslim Hadith narrators/scholars; Mujahid, `Amr bin Shu`ayb, Muhammad bin Ishaq, Qatadah, As-Suddi and `Abdur-Rahman. Kathir then explains the meaning of the verse:
This doesn’t really leave any room for debate. Ibn Kathir lays it out as clearly as anyone could. We see that Muslims are allowed and even commanded to fight against the unbelievers (Mushrikun) and even seek them out where they are in order to force them to convert to Islam or accept death. Again it must be noted that Kathir is not an "extremist" Muslim but is perhaps one of Islam’s most universally received classical scholars.
Another pertinent verse from the Quran that applies to our discussion is the infamous "beheading: verse:
Ibn Kathir explains that the purpose of this verse is to:
So when we look at these verses we see that Muslims are commanded to behead (or at a bare minimum "smite the necks") of those non-Muslims whom they are fighting against. Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad, judge of the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) court in Great Britain, as well as the secretary general of the Islamic World League and the spokesman for the International Islamic Front however, has a slightly different opinion:
After examining just a sampling of Islamic texts as well as the opinions of Islamic scholars, spokesman and everyday Muslims, we see that Islam not only commands the killing of non-Muslims but also supports a culture where killing non-Muslims has become an acceptable practice. But before we finish this discussion, there is one more very specific tradition that will surely come into play if indeed the person of the Mahdi ever becomes a reality.
Death To Those Who Dispute The Authority Of The Caliph.
The leadership role of a Caliph in Islam is a very powerful concept. The Caliph is viewed as the both the successor of Muhammad, and the leader of all Muslims. He is in a sense, the Pope of the Muslim world. The last Caliph that both Sunnis and Shia’ accept as justifiably elected was Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. Ali died in 661. Since then, many other Caliphs have held office, but none that held the universal sway that the first four Caliphs held. Muslims have been awaiting the restoration of the Caliphate to restore unity and leadership to Islam worldwide. As we have already seen, the Mahdi is expected to fulfill this role. From a Hadith in Sahih Muslim we read of the punishment for those who dispute the authority of the Caliph:
The Saudi Arabian Government holds this same opinion as well. On the official Saudi Arabian Islamic Affairs Department (IAD) website, we find a similar declaration:
According to Islamic law, anyone who simply disagrees with the authority of a seated Caliph should be beheaded.
Summary and Conclusion
Now let us review the points that have been made. First, we have seen that the end-times as described in the Bible will be a time when Christians will be persecuted and murdered for their faith. The specific manner of death that the Bible mentions for Christians will be martyrdom by beheading. As we have most clearly demonstrated, it is quite undeniable that beheading is a tradition that stretches throughout Islamic history. Islam itself has thoroughly documented the fact that Muhammad and his immediate successors practiced beheading as the specific means to kill "the enemies of Islam." This practice has continued in certain quarters of Islam to this very day. The Quran itself actually encourages beheading, or at a bare minimum, "smiting the necks" of "idolaters" and any "prisoners of war." We noted some examples of the beheadings of such "prisoners of war" that have recently been in the news in Iraq and elsewhere. The death sentence is also prescribed for those who do not submit to or agree with the authority of the Caliph. As such it is actually very fair to assume that in the Islamic vision of the last-days, if a Caliph, specifically the Mahdi comes forward and accepts the notion that all Christians, Jews, Israelis, and any who support them are considered "enemies of Islam", then it would be considered universally lawful and indeed even obligatory for all Muslims to "make war" and "smite the necks" of all Christians, Jews, or westerners, etc. as well as any who dispute the authority of the Caliph.
Once again then, Islam, its practices and teachings, fulfill exactly the description of the forces that will gain power and dominate the world in the biblical end-time scenario. Having seen the murderous nature of the Islamic texts, as well as the proper Islamic interpretation of them, it is important to see the reality of how this mentality plays out in the mind of an ordinary Muslim from the Middle East. Following is a post from an Islamic/interfaith Internet message board. It is the kind of post that is only too common on such forums. We end this chapter with one Muslim’s thoughts regarding the murder of Daniel Pearl, the slain American journalist:
1. CBS News, Saudia Arabia’s Beheading Culture, June 27, 2004
2. Beheadings Allowed by Islam, but Only in Extreme Situation By Julia DuinThe Washington Times, June 24, 2004
3. Ali Sina, The Examples of Muhammad http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sinaawa40621.htm
4. A. Guillaume The Life of Muhammad: (Oxford University Press, Oxford England), p.464
5. ibid. p. 752
6. Mark A. Gabriel, Jesus and Muhammad, (Lake Mary Charisma house, 2004) p. 60
7. At-Tabari, Vol XI, The Challenge to the Empires, In series: The History of at-Tabari, (Ta’rikh al-rasul wa’l-muluk), Translated by K.Y. Blankkinship, SUNY series in near Eastern Studies, Bibliotheca Persica, State University of New York Press, Albany New York, 1993, p.44-45; as quoted in http://www.muhammadanism.com/Islam/islam_beheading.pdf
10. Chopping Heads by Amir Taheri New York Post May 14, 2004
11. The Baburnama –Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, translated and edited by Wheeler M. Thacktson, Oxford University Press,1996, p. 188; as quoted by Andrew Bostom, FrontPageMagazine.com, May 13, 2004, The Sacred Muslim Practice of Beheading
16. CBS News, Saudia Arabia’s Beheading Culture, June 27, 2004
17. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 111
19. Tasfsir Ibn Kathir Surah 9:5 available at: http://www.tafsir.com/Default.asp
20. Ibid. -Surah 47:4
21. Joseph Farah, World Net Daily IslamicTerror.com? Muslim Websites in West Defend Bin Laden, Call for ‘5th Column’ November 13, 2001
22 Sahih Muslim Book 20, Number 4546
23 Saudi Arabian Islamic Affairs Department website: Rights Dictated by Nature – The Rights of the Rulers and the Ruled Ones. http://www.iad.org/The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
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