To understand why the Islamic State not only decapitates its “infidel” captives, but also mutilates and mocks their corpses—and all to sadistic laughter—one need only turn to the Koran and deeds of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Koran exhorts believers to “Fight them [those who oppose Islam], Allah will torment them with your hands, humiliate them, empower you over them, and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts” (Koran 9:14-15).
As usual, to understand the significance of any Koran verse, one must turn to the sira andhadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context.
Thus we come to the following account concerning the slaughter of ‘Amr bin Hisham, a pagan Arab chieftain originally known as “Abu Hakim” (Father of Wisdom) until Muhammad dubbed him “Abu Jahl” (Father of Stupidity) for his staunch opposition to Islam.
After ‘Amr was mortally wounded by a new convert to Islam during the Battle of Badr, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, a close companion of Muhammad, saw the “infidel” chieftain collapsed on the ground. So he went to him and started abusing him. Among other things, Abdullah grabbed and pulled ‘Amr’s beard and stood in triumph on the dying man’s chest.
According to Al-Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya (“The Beginning and the End”), Ibn Kathir’s authoritiative history of Islam, “After that, he [Abdullah] cut his [‘Amr’s] head off and bore it till he placed it between the hands of the Prophet. Thus did Allah heal the hearts of the believers with it.”
This, then, is the true significance of Koran 9:14-15: “Fight them, Allah will torment them with your hands [mortally wounding and eventually decapitating ‘Amr], humiliate them [pulling his beard], empower you over them [standing atop him], and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts [at the sight of his decapitated head].”
The logic here is that, pious Muslims are so full of zeal for Allah’s cause that the only way their inflamed hearts can be at rest is to see those who oppose Allah and his prophet utterly crushed—humiliated, mutilated, decapitated. Then the hearts of the believers can be at ease and “healed.”
This is surely one of the reasons behind the Islamic State’s dissemination of gory videos and pictures of its victims: the new “caliphate” is trying to heal the hearts of every believer inflamed for the cause of Allah.
If this sounds too farfetched, consider the following picture of a decapitated “infidel” from the Islamic State’s websites. The Arabic caption to the left says “healing for hearts”—a clear reference to the aforementioned Koran verse… Click for images and to keep reading