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Death penalty by beheading NOT a Quranic culture

June 21, 2017, 07:42:01 am Zeynab: Shukran sis Heba.  Allah Bless. Ameen.
June 21, 2017, 07:39:56 am Heba E. Husseyn: Leialtul Qadr Mubarak.  For details on Leilatul Qadr please read MV post Leila-tul-Qadr
May 04, 2017, 05:35:01 am N. Truth Seeker: Alhumdulilah, Alhumdulilah.  Still 22 days left.  InshAllah we can thank Allah for granting us the opportunity to experience another of this blessed month for the betterment of our souls.  Thanks for mentioning Sister.
May 04, 2017, 05:20:37 am Ruhi_Rose: I can hardly keep track with the speed at which time flies.  Ramadan 2017 only 22 days away!
September 12, 2016, 03:17:09 am N. Truth Seeker: Wa salam sisters. So kind of u to remember. Alhumdulilah that Allah gave us another chance to live thru the blessed month of Zil Hajj.  Was a busy time for all of my family.
September 11, 2016, 08:26:43 am Zeynab: Wa'salaam my dear Sis Heba Smiley  Yes, Alhumdulilah, the 10 days of this blessed month went well by the Grace & Mercy of Allah. I wish the same for all.
September 11, 2016, 02:20:02 am Heba E. Husseyn: Salam my dear MV team and other sis and bros.  I pray the first 10 days of the bless month of Zil Hajj has passed well for all.  Hajj culminates in about 2 days. InshAllah.
August 22, 2016, 09:50:39 pm Zeynab: Wa'salam.  Thanks brother Smiley  Sis Heba helped me a lot too.
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Author Topic: Death penalty by beheading NOT a Quranic culture  (Read 3731 times)
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« on: March 07, 2008, 01:26:09 am »


Let's be loud and clear about the truth.  The Noble Quraan says nothing about beheading.  The Quraan does not anywhere define the method of execution that convicted murderers should receive death by beheading.  The Quraan mentions nothing about any methods of execution.  There is not a single verse in the Quraan that says or even remotely hints that death sentence of a convicted criminal must be carried out by beheading nor public beheading.

As per the values of this Great Book, the only thing that must be considered is that if a convicted criminal is given the death penalty, his or her execution must be carried out in as painless and humane a  method as possible. 

The Quraan is very particular about this aspect.  Even the slaughter of animals for the purpose of food is to be done as quickly as possible with the minimal of pain.  For this reason the Almighty Allah has forbidden those animals as food that have died by beating, or by being strangled, or by being gored, or by falling from a height.  These are all painful methods of death.  Also, the Almighty God has forbidden the consumption of the animal's blood as food, because the Noble Quraan forbids and abhors all gestures of brutality.  By the way, hunting in Islam is permissible only for the purpose of acquiring food.  There is no concept of the practice of hunting as a mere sport in the Quraan. 

It's also important to know that when the Quraan mentions of having witnesses to a punishment, that does not mean making the act 'public' as commonly presumed by unperceiving and belligerent critics.  To witness such an event simply refers to an official confirmation of carrying out a sentence according to its legal requirements and for purposes of maintaining an official record.  These witnesses are not to be from the general public, but only a handful of people representing the legal institution and the law enforcing agency.  This practice of witnessing executions exists uptil the present time in every country.  In the United States when a condemned prisoner is taken for execution (which is by lethal injection nowadays), that person's death is witnessed by members of the police and legislature.  I suppose the total number of witnesses would be not more than 7 or 8 people approximately.  However, this may differ from country to country.   If Saudi Arabia carries out executions in the midst of the general public, the Saudi government is as usual implementing its own wayward and twisted ideas with complete disregard to the infinitely compassionate commandments of the Quraan, and ignoring the norms of civilization.   Such practices are the fault of the government and community, NOT the responsibility of Islam.

Considering the above aspects as matters of civilized consideration towards animals, one can imagine the great importance of Quraanic values concerning humane methods of execution for human beings.

The reason why the method of execution of  convicted murderers in history was either by beheading or hanging was because in the distant past these were the only 2 methods easily available.  Lethal injections, electric chairs or gas chambers were discoveries that came about much, much later. 

Way back, since death by beheading was the quickest method of execution causing minimal of pain, it might be the only worthwhile option for the law to approve.  But with the passing of time as the world advances technologically, and subsequently more painless methods of execution are discovered, implementing these other methods is in NO way a violation of the Quraan.  Much to the contrary, it's very much in accordance with Quraanic values because as already mentioned, the Quraan has by NO means endorsed beheading.

Moreover, the Noble Quraan promotes the use of rationalism.  With the availability of more positive social and legal practices, the Quraan does not give preference to blind adherence to old traditions.  Besides, be it old traditions or new ideologies, these are to be accepted or rejected on the basis of their spiritual and ethical correctness or lack of it.  Traditions by themselves carry no importance if they violate the indispensible values as elucidated in the Noble Quraan.

Yet, each time there's a discussion on death by beheading, the practice is taken for granted as being synonymous with Arabs and Muslims in general.

Well, in a way I understand why the rest of the world point their fingers at us, Muslims, on the issue of beheadings or public beheadings.  This is because no Muslim country since the past 1,000 years has followed the true precepts of the Noble Quraan.  However irritating it might sound to a Hadith follower, the truth is that the Hadith has spread so much of negative innovations and violations that for the implementations of all such non-Quraanic laws, it is the Hadith that must be held squarely responsible.  It is the Hadith from which ensue the Shariah and Fiqah that rule the Muslim world.  It is the Hadith that presents itself as 'Islam' to the international world.  The non-Muslims know nothing about separating the huge differences of the Quraan and Hadith.  They take the words of the imams and other clergy at face value that Hadiths are the "sayings of the Prophet."  Most non-Muslims also refer to the words of Hadith as Quraanic contents. This is the extent of ignorance both among the traditional Muslims at present and the non-Muslim communities at large.

The present monarchy of Saudi Arabia, a country that has gone into the greatest of depths in renouncing the Noble Quraan in preference to the Wahabi practices with the title of "Shariah" etc. follows the practice of public beheadings most rigidly according to these man-made shariah laws.  It goes without saying that the culture of beheading in Saudi Arabia is purely the brainchild of the Wahabi clerics with absolutely NO links with the Noble Quraan.  Like 'honor killing,' this too is precisely the practice of the society, NOT the Faith.  The Saudi monarchy and the Wahabi clergy have since long had this unwritten political alliance with the understanding that the monarchy will accept the medieval laws of the Wahabi clergy in the name of "Islam" and in return, the Wahabi clergy will tolerate the rule of the Saudi royals with all their flaws and double standards.  This is absolutely no secret.  But the onlookers must have the rational perception of read this cheap political deal.  We must all know that just because the Arabian peninsula was the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the land from where Islam began to spread, does not mean that the people of that land throughout history will be known as the final authortiy on Islam.  In factual terms, Islam means the Quraan only.  The Quraan gives no importance to geographical boundaries.  The Noble Quraan judges humanity only and only on the basis of moral and ethical merits and the sincerity of their intentions.  Present-day Arabian peninsula commonly known as Saudi Arabia does NOT speak for Muslims, it has no connections with the Quraan because it does not follow the Quraan, in fact it does not even have a system of government compatible with the practical demonstrations of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  The Prophet strongly disagreed with any hereditary system of governance.  Kingdoms and monarchies have NO place in the true ideology of Islam.   Similarly, the Wahabi law of death by beheading in Saudi Arabia is a Saudi law, NOT and an Islamic law.  It is imperataive to recognize the difference between the desires of a soceity and commandments of the Faith.

Thus, for so many incorrect reasons, execution by beheading has conveniently become the hallmark of Islam.

However, a careful inspection of the basics of history says a very different story.  Here's how it goes.  Beheading was widely used in Europe and Asia until the 20th century, but now is confined to Saudi Arabia and a few adjoining countries.  The following are excerpts quoted from the Richard Clark website on beheadings.

"Beheading with a sword or axe goes back a very long way in history, because like hanging, it was a cheap and practical method of execution in early times when a sword or an axe was always readily available.  The Greeks and the Romans considered beheading a less dishonourable (and less painful) form of execution than other methods in use at the time. The Roman Empire used beheading for its own citizens whilst crucifying others."

"Beheading was used in Britain up to 1747  and was the standard method in Norway (abolished 1905), Sweden (up to 1903), Denmark and Holland (abolished 1870), and was used for some classes of prisoners in France (up until the introduction of the guillotine in 1792) and in Germany up to 1938.  China also used it widely, until the communists came to power and replaced it with shooting in the 20th century. Japan too used beheading up to the end of the 19th century prior to turning to hanging."

In France .. "Beheading was seen as by far the most humane method of execution at the time and was allowed to people of noble birth in many countries. Ordinary prisoners were slowly hanged, broken on the wheel (an horrendously cruel form of execution) or burnt at the stake. The idea of a standardised, quick and humane death was much more in line with revolutionary thinking."   Also in France .. "Up to 1939, executions were carried out in public - normally just outside the prison gates. The crowds saw very little as the guillotine was always surrounded by gendarmes but reporters and invited witnesses were permitted. Eugene Weidmann became the last to suffer in public outside the Pallais de Justice at Versailles before a large crowd on the 17th of June 1939 for multiple murder. This execution was photographed and the shots appeared in the French press. The general public obviously enjoyed it more than was felt good for them and a week later, the government changed the law making all executions private."

"Saudi Arabia uses public beheading as the punishment for murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy, armed robbery, apostasy and certain other offences.  2007 has been the record year for executions with 153 men and three women executed."  Followed by description of public beheadings in Saudi Arabia. 

"There were two distinct forms of beheading - by the sword and by the axe. Where a person was to be decapitated with a sword, a block is not used and they are generally made to kneel down although they could, if short, be executed standing up, and in Germany women were sometimes allowed to sit in a chair."

" .. in Sweden where some 600 people, including nearly 200 women, were beheaded in the 19th century until manual beheading was replaced by the guillotine in 1903."

"In Britain, beheading was introduced during the reign of William the Conqueror for the execution of Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland in 1076. It was confined to those of noble birth who were convicted of treason, or in a very few cases murder. Several members of Royalty were beheaded, including Charles 1st, Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Grey. Many other Earls, Lords and Knights, including Sir Walter Raleigh, and even some Bishops were beheaded.  The majority of English beheadings took place at the Tower of London. Seven were carried out in private within the grounds, of which 5 were of women and just over 100 on Tower Hill outside the walls of the Tower, where there stood a permanent scaffold from 1485. Only a very small number of beheadings were carried out elsewhere, as the Tower was the principal prison for traitors. It should be noted that treason often meant displeasing the monarch, rather than in any way betraying the country."

Then there came the trend of using the guillotine.  Guillotine was an execution machine that first came into use in France.  It allowed beheadings to be done much faster than those carried out manually.  "France was not the only country to adopt the guillotine as many other governments saw the advantages in speed and humanity of it compared to the other methods then available. It was used by Algeria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Tunisia and Vietnam. The Papal States in Italy used the guillotine from 1814 to 1870 for 369 executions.  Sweden purchased a guillotine from France in 1903 so that they could end decapitation by the axe."  The author also writes in detail of the guillotine being used widely in Nazi Germany and Austria between 1938 and 1945.

The author also writes "Beheading is effective and is probably as humane as any other modern method if carried out correctly. When a single blow is sufficient to decapitate the prisoner, they lose consciousness within a few seconds. They die from shock and anoxia due to haemorrhage and loss of blood pressure within less than 60 seconds. However, because the muscles and vertebrae of the neck are tough, decapitation may require more than one blow. Death occurs due to separation of the brain and spinal cord, after the transection (cutting through) of the surrounding tissues.  Consciousness is probably lost within 2-3 seconds, due to a rapid fall of the 'intracranial perfusion of blood' (blood supply to the brain).  It has often been reported that the eyes and mouths of people beheaded have shown signs of movement. It has been calculated that the human brain has enough oxygen stored for metabolism to persist about 7 seconds after the head is cut off."  However, personally I would say that to what extent beheading (or any other method of execution) is quick and painless would only be known to the soul of that person, and of course, the Almighty God is best aware of everything.  For whatever our eyes can see, beheading presents a gory and bloody picture .. something can be easily be avoided by opting for other methods of execution readily available in the present era.

It is more than evident that execution by beheading has NOTHING to do with the Quraan .. and true Islam is only the Quraan, not the writings and fatwas of the imams.

It should also be noted that the Quraan is the first source that brought about the concept and option of granting clemency to a convicted prisoner as early as the 7th century as an officially established law.  In the modern era, a condemned prisoner can appeal for mercy to the head of that state.  In the Quraan the family of the victim has the authority to grant mercy.  The death sentence can be averted if the accused or his family offer financial compensation to the family to the victim and the victim's family agree to accept it. 
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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 06:36:34 pm »

Salaam and thank you sister for this very well researched work. 

Cultures of beheading and 'honor killing' are just a couple of those totally social customs that existed worldwide since much before Islam, even before Christianity, but have been pinned to the Islamic Faith by different institutions with different motives.  Before blaming the outsiders, I would blame my own Muslim community for this gross misunderstanding and misreporting.  It all started because the Muslims have gradually slipped into the ignorance and apathy of the pre-Islamic age.  They've brought back those former social system by changing its title and calling it "Islam."  Acts like 'honor killing' and public beheadings are thus pinned to Islam because of the so-called present followers of Islam who have refused  to give them up.  For the non-Muslim hardliners this is like achieving their goal on a silver platter.  Since they have now given up these practices, they have conveniently hidden their own sordid history.  And it has become super simple for them to paint the present-day Muslims as "primitive" because these so-called Muslims still adhere to those same laws which was rife among non-Muslims, Jews and Christians in the yester years.

After so many generations, the present so-called Muslims are guilty of yet another blunder.  First they turn back to those old practices which Islam had abolished, and secondly, they fool themselves by thinking that by bringing back these practices they are following Islam.  O Allah! I seek refuge in You from suggestions of the evil ones.

Indeed, the Quran is the first source of law that brought about the act of intervention for the purpose of granting clemency to a convicted prisoner.  That's because forgiveness is the best course in accordance with Quranic principles.  Alhumdulilah.

I further appreciate your clarification on the issue of witnesses.  Yes, this means professional witnesses for reasons of official registration of the sentence.  It doesn't mean inviting the general public to watch the execution like a sport.  Here I would also add that many members of the public globally are just as insensitive as those who implement such laws.  Whether ancient or modern times, many individuals among the public are inherently drawn to watching public executions, if not directly then indirectly.  An example is the execution of Timothy McWeigh in the U.S. just a few years ago.  He was executed by lethal injection.  The family members of those who were killed in the Oklahoma bombing made a special request that they should be shown his execution on TV because they wanted to watch him die.  Their request was accepted and more than 200 people were shown McWeigh's execution on a closed circuit camera.  At best, I would interpret this as a refined version of the practice of watching a public beheading in Saudi Arabia.

Also read:
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2008, 02:14:45 am »

Very good work indeed from both sisters.  I appreciate this much.

I also checked the link to richard clark's website.  While most of the things seem true, one thing isn't.  He mentions that executions by beheadings are widely practiced in Iran.  That's totally wrong.  Beheadings hardly happen in Iran.  Executions are either by death squad or most commonly by hanging.  That bit by Clark was a propaganda.

Walaikum salam
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2008, 03:47:01 pm »

Thank you for this very good research, sister zeynab. I hope it enables closed minded people to arrive at the facts more easily.

Br. TS u r right.  In Iran they don't have beheadings.  After all Richard Clark served in the US govt., so u can expect that from him.
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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 04:25:21 am »

Some mega idiot friend of our family was arguing with us yesterday that beheading comes from Muslim culture.  I told the bugger to please talk after he's done his research and sent him this thread.  He had nothing to say, as usual. 

Additionally, for info of our readers, also see this article: History of Beheading.

And the image below is from an article in Intifada Palestine titled American Exceptionism.  This pic is during the times of early colonization in America. It's self-explanatory.

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