Koranic Sanction for Beheading Infidels, i.e., Koran 8:12/47:4, Explained by Renowned Theologian S.A. Usmani (d. 1949)

The gruesome spate of IS/IL beheadings continues apace, “complemented” by Oklahoma Muslim convert Jah’Keem Yisrael’s (previously, Alton Alexander Nolen) brutal decapitation of his female co-worker, Colleen Hufford. Yisrael/Nolen’s Facebook page included a graphic beheading image, juxtaposed to the citation of Koran 8:12 (“I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them”), which reads like a plausible Islamic motivation for the murderous action he took.

Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (1886-1949) was a renowned theologian, writer, orator, and politician, with particular expertise in the study and interpretation of the Koran, and the traditions of Muhammad, or hadith. Usmani’s magnum opus was his Koranic commentary, Tafsir-e-Usmani, which drew upon some 14 prior commentaries. Usmani’s glosses on Koran Koran 8:12, and the same themes expanded upon at verse 47:4, in his respected commentary, far from rendering Colleen Hufford’s beheading by Yisrael/Nolen, or the IS/IL beheadings, senseless, “un-Islamic” acts of bigoted madmen—as relentlessly depicted by media pundits, and Muslim dissimulators alike—conveys with modern, chilling authority the Koranic rational for such behavior.

Regarding Koran 8:12, Usmani opines:

If the satans were encouraging the unbelievers in the person of men and were prepared to fight against the Muslims by insinuations and whisperings, they (the Muslim angels Jibraeel and Mikaeel) should confirm the hearts of the oppressed Muslims. On the one side they (Muslim angels) would encourage the Muslims, on the other side He (Allah) would cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They (the Muslims) should smite the necks and cut the finger-joints of the unbelievers because the unbelievers united against Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad); so they should come to know what severe punishment was to be given to the opponents of Allah. The punishment which would be given Hereafter would be the real punishment but in the World too they should see a sample of that punishment and taste somewhat of the Divine Chastisement.

But it is Usmani’s gloss on Koran 47:4, a verse which reiterates these themes, where one can see mainstream, authoritative sanction for beheading infidels as an essential tactic to assure the ultimate success of Islam’s eternal jihad campaigns—cast as “severe but reforming operations”—to subjugate the world to an Islamic order.

The Truth and Falsehood are always at daggers with each other. So when there is a war between the Muslims and the unbelievers, the Muslims should perform with full strength, valor, and courage. The might of Falsehood can be smashed only when their haughty ring leaders are slain and their bands dispersed. Hence do not give way to indolence, cowardice, depression, wavering hesitation, indecision and delay in the commotion of engagement, and do not feel any fear in smiting the necks of Allah’s enemies. After wide slaughter and bloodshed when your terror prevails over them and their might is torn, at that time captivity also suffices…This imprisonment may possibly work as a lesson to them, and living in the company of the Muslims they may get the occasion of observing their and your condition and reflecting on the teachings of Islam, so happily they may adopt the path of truth and righteousness by degrees. Or if you see expedience you may set them free by grace without any ransom. At such behavior very probably many of them may be impressed by your beneficence and excellence of morality and get inclined to your and love your religion (i.e., Islam). You can also accomplish this by taking ransom money and setting them free, or you may release them in exchange for Muslim captives. There are many advantages in [these behaviors].

In brief, if you return these captives to their country, it can be done in only two ways: (1) Either set them free by grace without ransom; (2) Or set them free by exchange or compensation

The Imam (Head of the state) can adopt one of the two, according to discretion and preference…But if it is not expedient to return those prisoners of war to their country then there are three options: (1) To allow them to live like dhimmis (subjects of the second order; [i.e., humiliated, non-citizen pariahs subjected to all the legal and religious discriminations, and physical insecurities of the Sharia]); (2) To make them slaves; (3) To slay them

Slaying the prisoner of war is allowed in the Traditions [of Muhammad] in particular conditions, when that prisoner of war has committed such a serious crime that its punishment could not be less than slaying. Of course there is no hindrance in keeping them as slaves.

Warring and smiting, arresting and imprisoning shall go on incessantly till the war lays down its weapons (loads) and the battle has ceased.

Allah has power to annihilate the unbelievers without a war from the side of the Muslims, by some heavenly chastisement…[B]ut He [Allah] desired to examine His servants by institutionalizing Jihad and slaying, to see how many Muslims are prepared to sacrifice their wealth and life in the Name of Allah, and to see how many souls among the unbelievers wake up by these severe but reforming operations, and they may avail themselves of the respite, given by Allah, that like past nations He does not seize them and exterminate them all of a sudden.

Some 13 centuries earlier, Islam’s prophet, and founder of the Muslim creed, Muhammad, encapsulated this “triumphant” formula, succinctly, as recorded in a canonical hadith (Sahih Bukhari,Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220):

I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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