Heads Are Literally Rolling in Iraq

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on Wednesday. (Reuters/Stringer)

As America looks on in a state of paralyzed shock, Muslims are slaughtering Muslims in Iraq, with reports that the heads of those decapitated are literally piling up in the streets.

A headline to an article in the Daily Mail reads, " 'They lined the streets with the decapitated heads of police and soldiers': Iraqi refugee reveals the horrors of the jihadi takeover as Baghdad vows to fight back."

In response to this report, and with sarcastic guns ablaze, Robert Spencer quotes the Quran and then adds his comments, " 'So when you meet those who disbelieve, strike necks' (Quran 47:4). But of course any Muslim who takes such a verse at face value is [a] misunderstander of Islam, unduly influenced by greasy Islamophobes. Somehow this aggressive organization of misunderstanders of Islam has been able to gain sufficient support and power to wreak havoc in Iraq."

It is true, of course, that war itself is hell and that our guns and bombs have the power to maim, disfigure and destroy. But rules of war still preclude harming soldiers who have surrendered or intentionally target helpless civilians for acts of violence.

Not so militant Islam, where beheading is often the death penalty of choice. How did this barbaric practice become so widespread?

In an article entitled "Christ, Muhammad, and the Culture of Beheading," theologian Kenneth Gentry noted that, "In Islam, the prophet Muhammad is the greatest example for the faithful to follow. He is the model of dedication to God par excellence; in fact, he is deemed the perfect example of submission to Allah. Hence, even deriding this perfect one is blasphemous, as witness the case of Salman Rushdie, who was put under a death sentence for belittling the prophet.

"Now then, what can we learn from the example and the teachings of the 'perfect' founder of Islam? Do his life and teachings discourage the horrible conduct we see engaged, tolerated and cheered by so many Muslims today?"

The answer to this question is found in early Islamic history.

"But what," asks Gentry, "is the example, the way, the path of the prophet? He not only engaged in caravan raids early in his career as a prophet and in war later, but he himself was involved in the massacre of the Qurayza Jews wherein he 'had trenches dug, and the men were led out in batches and beheaded.' Ibn Ishaq's ancient, authoritative Life of Muhammad records this event: 'There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.' "

The Muslims in Syria and Iraq and Pakistan who are beheading their enemies, most of whom are fellow Muslims, are simply following the example of their prophet.

Beyond these atrocities, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has just taken over Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq, seizing $429 million in Tikrit, "effectively governs a nation-size tract of territory that stretches from the eastern edge of the Syrian city of Aleppo to Fallujah in western Iraq—and now also includes the northern Iraqi city of Mosul" (as reported by The Washington Post).

Speaking of ISIS, the Huffington Post notes that, "They have live-tweeted amputations, carried out public crucifixions and have been disavowed as too extreme by al-Qaida."

Too extreme for the murderous al-Qaida? Seriously?

The tragic fact is that we simply cannot ignore the enormity of the threat of militant Islam worldwide, nor can we limit it to some dangerous pockets of the Middle East.

Al-Qaida already touched our nation on 9/11, while the Boston Marathon bombing is barely one year old.

As for our friends in Israel, positioned right in the midst of one of those dangerous Middle Eastern pockets, it is with good reason that, in a very real sense, the nation lives in constant high alert, with roughly 170,000 missiles pointed at its cities, with the terrorist organization of Hamas now in a unity government with the Palestinian Authority, and with militant Islam right at its doorsteps.

After all, Tehran is less than 1,000 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Tampa, Florida); Baghdad is just 569 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Cincinnati); and Damascus is just 133 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Albany, New York). And we fault Israel for not giving up more territory and making more concessions to the Palestinians?

We simply cannot underestimate both the resolve and the number of radical Muslims, from the Taliban to al-Qaida to ISIS to Hezbollah to Hamas to Boko Haram and more.

And so, as the bloodied heads roll in the streets of Iraq, we dare not stick our heads in the sand here in the West.

Michael Brown is author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

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