REVELATION 20 AND ISLAM'S PRACTICE OF BEHEADING

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This article deals with the world-wide persecution and martyrdom that will be waged against anyone who is a follower of the Messiah or who refuses to become a Muslim during the last days.

In the Book of Revelation the apostle John has a vision of a particular group of people and gives us a brief synopsis of what he sees. The vision specifically describes future end-time Martyrs --
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been BEHEADED because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).

I have thought about this verse many times. The Bible says that in the last days, BEHEADING will specifically be the primary method by which YEHOVAH's people will be martyred. They will be killed specifically for their "testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God." 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 in the Bible, very similar to this one, that also speak of a future persecution and a global trend of executing Christians for their faith in the Messiah:
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (Matthew 24:9).

Here the Messiah 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. Yeshua says that "you will be hated by all nations because of me." Yeshua specifically predicted a GLOBAL ELEMENT to this future persecution against Christians. This next verse gives us even further insight --
All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you (John 16:1-4).
In this passage from the Gospel of John, the Messiah 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 Yeshua 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 Yeshua were expelled from the synagogues en masse and Yeshua's prophecy was fulfilled in the second century.

But in the second part of this verse, the Messiah 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 the Messiah's 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 YEHOVAH 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 Catholicism -- and Protestants to a degree -- are guilty of this very thing, murdering those who are perceived to be heretics from what they consider to be the only true religion. Jihad, the Crusades, the Inquisitions -- all fit the bill of murder for and in the name of their 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 their 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 YEHOVAH 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

Over the past few years we have heard many news reports of foreigners and Christians being beheaded by Islamic radicals in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and a few other countries. As a result, 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 principles of Islam. Among the public statements intended to be picked up by the western media are the usual statements denouncing such incidents as having nothing to do with "true Islam." In most cases, the western media gobbles up these disavowals 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, Saudi Arabia's Beheading Culture, dated June 21, 2004, also picked up on some of this Internet "chatter" --

And on Islamic Internet forums, mostly used by radicals, beheading has been a popular topic in recent weeks, with many participants describing it as the "easiest" way to kill an American or a Saudi from the ruling family.

The only mistake that CBS made is to assume that most of the participants who use such forums are indeed "radicals." 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 therefore "radicals," you will find that many of them are simply individuals who take their faith as a Muslim seriously, just as we take our 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 overwhelming 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! 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!

"You can't do it like the idiots on TV. The right thing to do is slit the person's throat, not cut off the entire head" ("Beheadings Allowed by Islam, but Only in Extreme Situation," by Julia Duin. The Washington Times, June 24, 2004).

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 one's enemies in the Quran but, as we shall 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.
Aba Hakam was severely wounded but still alive when Abdullah, the servant of Muhammad, ran up, put his foot on Aba Hakam's neck, got a hold of his beard and started insulting the fatally wounded man whom his own people had named "the father of wisdom." Abdullah cut off Abba Hakam's head and carried it to his master. "The head of the enemy of Allah!" exclaimed Muhammad joyously; -- "Allah! There is no other god but he!" -- "Yea There is no other!" responded Abdullah, as he cast the severed head at the Prophet's feet. "It is more acceptable to me;" cried Muhammad, hardly able to contain his joy, "than the choicest camel in all Arabia" (Ali Sina, The Examples of Muhammad http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sinaawa40621.htm). 
Sadly the blood lust of Muhammad and his followers only increased from here on. In 627 A.D. Muhammad himself oversaw what can only honestly be called a mass slaughter. Muhammad and his army laid siege around the Jewish village of Qurayah. 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:
Then they (Qurayza) surrendered and the apostle confined them in Medina...Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches...They were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figures as high as 800 or 900...This went on until the apostle made an end to them (A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, p. 464).
Apparently, after this grisly slaughter, something was awakened in Muhammad. Those 600-900 men from the 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:

Abu 'Ubayda told me on the authority of Abu 'Amir the Medinain, when the apostle (Muhammad) got the better of the sons of Qurayza he seized about four hundred men from the Jews who had been allies of Aus against Khazraj, and ordered that they should be beheaded. Accordingly Khazraj began to cut off their heads with great satisfaction. The apostle saw that the faces of the Khazraj showed their pleasure, but there was no such indication on the part of Aus, and... when he saw that there were only twelve of them left he gave them over to Aus, assigning one Jew to every two of Aus, saying, "Let so-and-so strike him and so-and-so finish him off" (ibid., p. 752)
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 --
The Arabic word for slaughter presents the picture of a farmer harvesting his crop with a scythe. In other words, Muhammad was telling them, "Cut their heads from their bodies as you would cut fruit from the branch of a tree" (Jesus and Muhammad, Lake Mary Charisma House, 2004, p. 60)
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:
Sura 3:31 (Shakir): If you love Allah, then follow me (Muhammad). 
Sura 33:21: Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of (conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day. 
By slaying the men of these Jewish villages in this fashion, 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:
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. From Khalid bin al-Walid to the governors of Persia. Embrace Islam so that you may be safe. If not, make a covenant with me and pay the Jizyah tax. Otherwise, I have brought you a people who love death just as you love drinking wine (Al-Tabari, Vol. XI, The Challenge to the Empires).
After this "invitation" 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. Since the battle was extremely fierce, Khalid made a vow to Allah that if he could defeat them he would make the canal that surrounded their village literally run with their blood. He commanded that all who were defeated be 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 Khalid's vow be left unfulfilled. Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir Al-Tabari, the early Islamic historian and theologian, recorded this event --

Khalid said, "O Allah, if you deliver their shoulders to us, I will obligate myself to you not to leave any one of them whom we can overcome until I make their canal run with their blood." Then Allah defeated them for the Muslims and gave their shoulders to them. Khalid then commanded to his herald to proclaim to his men, "Capture! Capture! Do not kill any except he who continues to resist." As a result the cavalry brought prisoners in droves, driving them along. Khalid had detailed certain men to cut off their heads in the canal. He did that to them for a day and a night. They pursued them the next day and the day after, until they reached the Nahrayn and the like of that distance in every direction from Ullays. And Khalid cut off their heads (http://www.muhammadanism.com/Islam/islam_beheading.pdf).
Some of Khalid's men proclaimed to him:

"even if you were to kill all the population of the earth, their blood would still not run...Therefore send water over it, so that you may fulfill your oath." Khalid had blocked the water from the canal. Now Khalid brought the water back, so that it flowed with spilled blood. Owing to this it has been called Blood Canal to this day (ibid.).

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:

In 680, the Prophet's favorite grandson, Hussein bin Ali, had his head chopped off in Karbala, central Iraq, by the soldiers of the Caliph Yazid. The severed head was put on a silver platter and sent to Damascus, Yazid's capital, before being sent further to Cairo for inspection by the Governor of Egypt. The Caliph's soldiers also cut off the heads of all of Hussein's 71 male companions, including the one-year-old baby boy Ali-Asghar.

Thus the pattern had been established and the principle 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,
Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, who is revered as a paragon of Muslim tolerance by modern revisionist historians, recorded the following in his autobiographical "Baburnama," about infidel prisoners of a jihad campaign: "Those who were brought in alive [having surrendered] were ordered beheaded, after which a tower of skulls was erected in the camp" (The Baburnama -- Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, translated and edited by Wheeler M. Thacktson, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 188).
Skipping forward to a slightly more modern era, Taheri continues:
In 1842 the Afghani Muslims overtook the British garrison in Kabul and beheaded over 2,000 men, women and children. The heads were placed on sticks around the city as decorations.
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:
In 1992, the mullahs sent a "specialist" to cut off the head of Shapour Bakhtiar, the shah's last prime minister, in a suburb of Paris. When the news broke, Hashemi Rafsanjani, then president of the Islamic Republic, publicly thanked Allah for having allowed "the severing of the head of the snake" (ibid.).
Taheri even makes reference to one Algerian "specialist" nicknamed Momo who was recruited by an Islamic group known as the GIA -- specifically for the purpose of chopping off heads --

In 1996 in Ben-Talha, a suburb of the capital Algiers, Momo cut off a record 86 heads in one night, including the heads of more than a dozen children. In recognition of his exemplary act of piety, the GIA sent him to Mecca for pilgrimage. Last time we checked, Momo was still at large somewhere in Algeria (ibid.).
Taheri likewise relates the situation in Pakistan where:
Rival Sunni and Shite groups have made a habit of sending chopped off heads of each other's activists by special delivery. By one estimate, over 400 heads have been chopped off and mailed since 1990 (ibid.).
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:

The Saudi government beheaded 52 men and one woman last year for crimes including murder, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking...A condemned convict is brought into the courtyard, hands tied, and forced to bow before an executioner, who swings a huge sword amid cries from onlookers of "Allahu Akbar!" Arabic for "God is great" (CBS News, Saudi Arabia's Beheading Culture, June 27, 2004).
"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 EXTREMELY 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 are very quick to state "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:
Narrated Ash-Sha'bi: Abu Juhaifa said, "I asked Ali, 'What is (written) in this sheet of paper?' Ali replied, it deals with The Diyya (compensatory blood money paid by the killer to the relatives of the victim), the ransom for the releasing of the captives from the hands of the enemies, and the law that no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for the killing of (a disbeliever) -- Emphasis mine (Volume 1, Book 3, Number 111).

In some cases of course, other penalties such as prison or a fine might be given to the murderer. But sadly, reality bears out the fact 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 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):
The kaffirs (unbelievers) have been attacking Muslim countries killing Muslim people from the beginning of time...when we have done nothing. Like the people of Israel attack the Muslims from Palestine because they do it for the land and because they hate Arabs/Muslims...we defend them for Allah. We try and spread Islam, the one and only true word of Allah. They rejected it, therefore we are allowed to kill them. It is not haram (forbidden/illegal) to kill a kaffir. Of course we want to Inshallah (by the will of Allah) peacefully live with them and Inshallah teach them about the beautiful religion (http://forums.gawaher.com/index.php?showtopic=4154&). -- Emphasis mine

Do you see the altogether TWISTED AND PERVERTED MENTALITY expressed in the above comment? The "beautiful religion" that allows the killing of those who do not belong to it?? This is nothing but the spirit of Satan.

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":

Surah 9:5 (Shakir): So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the obligatory charity, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. --  (emphasis mine)
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 --

The four months mentioned in this verse refer to the four-month grace period mentioned in an earlier verse: "So travel freely for four months throughout the land." Allah said next, "So when the Sacred Months have passed," meaning, upon the end of the four months during which [Allah] prohibited you from fighting the idolaters, Muslims are to, "fight and kill the idolaters wherever you may find them." "Whenever you find them" means, on the earth in general...Allah said here, to execute some and keep some as prisoners. "Besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush" means, do not wait until you find them, rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam...Abu Bakr [Muhammad's closest friend and successor upon Muhammad's death] used this and other honorable verses as proof for fighting against those who refrained from paying the obligatory charity tax. This verse allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations (Tasfsir Ibn Kathir Surah 9:5 available at http://www.tafsir.com/Default.asp).
This DOESN'T 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:




Surah 47:4 (Khalifa): If you encounter (in war) those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks. 
Surah 47:4 (Rodwell): When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads.
Ibn Kathir explains that the purpose of this verse is to
(Guide) the believers to what they should employ in their fight against the idolaters, Allah says, "So, when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), smite their necks," which means, when you fight against them, cut them down totally with your swords. "Until you have fully defeated them," meaning, you have killed and utterly destroyed them. This is referring to the prisoners of war whom you have captured (ibid.).
So when we examine 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. However, 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 -- has a slightly different opinion --
What's the verdict? "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement" (Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, IslamicTerror.com? Muslim Websites in West Defend Bin Laden, Call for '5th Column', November 13, 2001).
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 article, there is one more very specific tradition that will surely come into play if 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. 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. 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 --

Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah and the Last Day...He who swears allegiance to a Caliph should give him the pledge of his hand and the sincerity of his heart (i.e. submit to him both outwardly as well as inwardly). He should obey him to the best of his capacity. If a man comes forward, disputing his (the Caliph's) authority, they (the Muslims) should behead the latter (Sahih Muslim, Book 20, Number 4546). -- Emphasis mine

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:
The Noble Prophet said: 'It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen and obey (to the authority of the Caliph) whether he likes it or not...One who has already taken an oath of allegiance to one leader (Imam) and has committed his hand and heart to him, should obey him as much as may be possible for him. If somebody else opposes and contests the authority of that leader (Imam), the said opponent should be beheaded" (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). -- Emphasis mine

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 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 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 article with one Muslim's thoughts regarding the murder of Daniel Pearl, the slain American journalist:

Firstly Pearl is a Jew, a Munafiq, [a hypocrite] a Spy, and a Kaffir [unbeliever]. Do not be fooled by these people. Their hatred for Islam can be seen from their mouths and what their heart conceals is much worse. I do not see where the sick part is in slaughtering...In Islam we...can't even torture the kaffir -- we just slit their throat, and it's proven when you pass a special area in the neck, they no longer feel pain...And remember when we Muslims capture a Muslim munafiq, we do the same to him, we slaughter him. What do you think of a Dirty Jew, Stupid Munafiq, Two-Timing Spy, and a Kaffir? We do the same to him. Walhumdulilah. [Thanks be to Allah] And Remember the Rasoul [Muhammad] slaughtered a great number of Jews in one battle; the best of creation did this, because the Jews backstabbed Prophet Muhammad. And if you think this is still sick, InshaAllaahi [I hope by the will of Allah] you're alive when Mahdi is around cause your going to see many Jew/munafiqqin [Jews/hypocrites] heads on the floor.
Satan is alive and well and carrying out his plan of deception and murder in the form of the religions he has spawned on this earth!

-- By Joel Richardson and John D. Keyser.