Hamas on October 7th: The Teachings of Islam on Display — Part 3

In this part we will look at Torture and Beheading, and I will have some concluding remarks. 


Many of those killed by Hamas showed signs of torture. Does Islam allow torture? It does.

There are a number of verses in the Koran in which Allah commands Muslims to be harsh toward non-Muslims:

Chapter 9, Verse 14: Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them…

Chapter 9, Verse 73: O Prophet (Muhammad)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them, their abode is Hell…

Chapter 9, Verse 123: O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you…

Chapter 48, Verse 29: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves…

Chapter 66, Verse 9: O Prophet (Muhammad)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe against them; their abode will be Hell…

And Muslims can even severely hurt non-Muslims as a warning, and in order to create fear among other non-Muslims. This is found in Koran Chapter 8, Verse 57:

So if you gain the mastery over them in war, punish them severely in order to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may learn a lesson.

The Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir said this about Koran 8:57:

…by severely punishing [the captured people]…This Ayah commands punishing them harshly and inflicting casualties on them. This way, other enemies, Arabs and non-Arabs, will be afraid and take a lesson from their end.[1]

Based on the comments of an Israeli police commander in an article titled “Hamas gang raped and beheaded women at rave massacre, fresh testimony reveals,” it appears that the HAMAS jihadists had Koran 8:57 in mind:

Israeli police investigating sexual violence committed on October 7 say they have collected thousands of statements, photographs and video clips documenting Hamas’s crimes.

Shelly Harush, the police commander leading the probe, said: “It’s clear now that sexual crimes were part of the planning and the purpose was to terrify and humiliate people.[2]

What did Muhammad have to say about torture? After the conquest of Khaybar in 628 Muhammad ordered the torture of at least three individuals. Muhammad had asked a Jew, Sa’yah ibn-‘Amr, about a bag of treasure:

“What has become of the bag which Huyai brought from the banu-an-Nadir?” To this Sa’yah answered, “Wars and expenses have emptied it.” But the Prophet remarked, “It was a short time and a big sum of money. Moreover, Huyai was killed before that.” The Prophet then turned Sa’yah over to az-Zubair and the latter put him to the torture.

As a result of the torture, Sa’yah revealed where some of the treasure was hidden.[3] It had been hidden by Kinana bin al-Rabi, who had earlier denied knowing anything about that treasure.

Muhammad then ordered the torture and beheading of Kinana bin al-Rabi. After that, Muhammad…commanded that the other Ibn Abi l-Huqayq (the brother of Kinana) also be tortured and then handed over to the care of Bishr b. al-Bara’ to be killed by him. Some say that he cut off his head. After that the Messenger of God felt he had the right to their property and imprisoned their children.[4]

Muhammad also had no criticism of the torturous murder of an elderly female captive. In January 628, Muhammad’s adopted son, Zayd bin Harithah, led a Muslim raiding party to Wadi al-Qura. The raiding party fought and took captives from the Banu Fazarah tribe. Among the captives was an old woman named Umm Qirfah. She met a cruel fate:

Zayd b. Harithah ordered Qays to kill Umm Qirfah, and he killed her cruelly. He tied each of her legs with a rope and tied the ropes to two camels, and they split her in two.[5]

There was no recorded comment from Muhammad about this intentionally cruel killing of a woman. Zayd allowed it because he knew that Muhammad would not disapprove of it.

Islam allows people to be tortured, and the Hamas jihadists acted accordingly.


For this we return to what Allah commanded in Koran 8:12:

(Remember) when your Lord revealed to the angels, “Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes.”

As previously noted, Ibn Jarir, an authoritative Muslim scholar, stated that the command to the angels in this verse to smite over all their fingers and toes was actually also a command to the Muslims to do the same to their enemies. Therefore, it would be implied that Allah’s command to the angels to strike them over the necks (behead them) would then also be a command to the Muslims to do the same.

Nevertheless, Allah’s command about beheading was later repeated directly to the Muslims in terms of how to deal with non-Muslims; we find this in Koran 47:4:

So, when you meet (in fight – Jihad in Allah’s Cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives)…

Muhammad also commanded people to be beheaded. He specifically said, “If someone changes his religion – then strike off his head!” This was said in the context of a Muslim leaving Islam.[6]

Muhammad even said it was permissible to behead a person who denied a verse of the Koran:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever denies a Verse of the Qur’an, it is permissible to strike his neck…”[7]

As we saw above, Muhammad ordered the beheading of Kinana bin al-Rabi. And on another occasion, he sent one of his warriors to behead a Muslim who had illegally married a woman.[8]

In March 627, Muhammad supervised the beheading of 600-900 captured Jewish males from the defeated Banu Qurayza tribe. As it was later described:

The Messenger of God breakfasted at the market and gave instructions for a furrow to be dug there [in which to bury those to be killed]…The Messenger of God sat with the distinguished among his companions. He called for the men of the Banu Qurayza, and they came out at a leisurely pace, and their heads were cut off.[9]

Muhammad had ordered that all of the males who had reached puberty were to be killed, whether combatant or non-combatant.[10] As one pre-pubescent survivor later related:

It was narrated from Sufyan: “Abdul-Malik bin ‘Umair narrated to us; ‘Atiyyah Al-Qurazi narrated to me, he said: I was among the captives of Banu Quraizah, and they examined (us). Those whose pubes had started to grow were executed, and those whose pubes had not started to grow were not executed. I was among those whose pubes had not started to grow.’”[11]

It was a hot summer day, and eventually Muhammad felt some compassion for those waiting to be beheaded:

The Messenger of God said, “Be good to your captives. Let them rest; quench their thirst until they are cool. Then, kill those who remain. Do not apply both the heat of the sun and the heat of the weapons.” It was a summer’s day. They let them rest. They quenched their thirst and fed them. When they were cool the Messenger of God began to kill those who were left.[12]

And for a number of years, Muhammad had a standing order to mutilate and behead a certain non-Muslim if he was captured:

I have not seen the Messenger of God send an expedition ever, except he said: If you defeat Habbar cut off his hands and legs and then his head.[13]

Habbar saved himself by converting to Islam before he could be captured and punished.

In January 630, as Muhammad was leading a Muslim army of 10,000 warriors against Mecca, he ordered the killing of certain Meccans. One of them was ‘Abdallah b. Sa’d b. Abi Sarh, who used to be a scribe for Muhammad and wrote down the “revelations” Muhammad received. However, ‘Abdallah had left Islam and become an apostate and it was alleged that ‘Abdallah arbitrarily altered “revelations” received by Muhammad or had boasted about doing so after he became an apostate.[14] Muhammad wanted him beheaded. ‘Abdallah was saved from being beheaded only by the inaction of the Muslims around Muhammad:

[After Mecca had been conquered] He [‘Abdallah] fled to ‘Uthman [a Muslim leader], who was his foster-brother, and ‘Uthman hid him. ‘Uthman later brought him to the Messenger of God after the people of Mecca had become calm. He asked the Messenger of God to grant him a promise of safety. The Messenger of God is said to have remained silent for a long time and then to have said yes. After ‘Uthman had taken him away, the Messenger of God said to his companions who were around him, “By God, I kept silent so that one of you might go up to him and cut off his head!” One of the Ansar said, “Why didn’t you give me a signal, Messenger of God?” He replied, “A prophet does not kill by making signs.”[15]

Even today, beheading is still frequently done in Saudi Arabia, home of the two holiest cities in Islam,[16] and it was done by the Hamas jihadists on October 7th.


I was originally going to include in the endnotes for each “atrocity section” links to various sources reporting the related actions of the Hamas jihadists. However, I quickly found that the number of sources is very large, and many articles cover various atrocities about which I have written. So I will leave it up to the reader to conduct an internet search if there is an interest in obtaining more information about a certain atrocity.

On October 24, 2023, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, was interviewed on LBC TV (Lebanon). In this interview he stated that Israel should be annihilated, and

“The existence of Israel is illogical. The existence of Israel is what causes all that pain, blood, and tears. It is Israel, not us. We are the victims of the occupation. Period. Therefore, nobody should blame us for the things we do. On October 7, October 10, October 1,000,000 – everything we do is justified.”[17]

According to Hamad, their claim to be “victims of the occupation” justified their response on October 7th, and future responses. His claim and justification can be topics for debate, But it is the nature of that response, the seven atrocities committed in that response, that we have focused on. As for justifying these atrocities from a religious standpoint, there is no debate. The Hamas jihadists believed they had the right to commit these seven atrocities because these atrocities are allowed to Muslims by the teachings of Islam.

So we should not be surprised at the general lack of criticism of Hamas and October 7th among Muslims in the United States; nor should we be surprised about the extent of the expressions of support for Hamas and October 7th among Muslims in the United States, especially in Michigan (Dearborn and Detroit).[18] After all, to criticize Hamas’s actions on October 7th is to criticize Islam itself and reject the commands of Allah and the teachings and example of Muhammad. And apostasy is not looked upon kindly in Islam.


Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of six books about Islam. His latest book is Islamic Doctrine versus the U.S. Constitution: The Dilemma for Muslim Public Officials.

RELATED ARTICLE: UN Report: ‘Reasonable Grounds To Believe’ Hamas Members Sexually-Assaulted, Raped Abductees


[1]           Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, p. 341.

[2]           “Hamas gang raped and beheaded women at rave massacre, fresh testimony reveals,” The Jewish Chronicle, December 3, 2023, https://www.thejc.com/news/israel/Hamas-gang-raped-and-beheaded-women-at-rave-massacre-fresh-testimony-reveals-blp0ghdl.

[3]           The Origins of the Islamic State, p. 43.

[4]           The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, p. 331.

[5]           The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, p. 96. The same story is related in The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 665. That Umm Qirfah was killed in this manner is also mentioned in The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, p. 278; and Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 112.

[6]           Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi, Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas: The First Formulation of Islamic Law, trans. Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley (Inverness, Scotland: Madinah Press, 2004), 36.18.15, p. 303, in a section titled “Judgement on Abandonment of Islam.”

[7]           Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, No. 2539, p. 455.

[8]           Ibid., No. 2608, pp. 494-495.

[9]           The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, p. 252.

[10]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), pp. 465-466; and The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, p. 38.

[11]         Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 5, No. 4404, p. 45.

[12]         The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, p. 252.

[13]         Ibid., p. 422.

[14]         Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, Vol. IX, trans. and annotated Ismail K. Poonawala (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1990), n. 979, p. 148. Similarly, there was a Christian convert to Islam that used to write down the “revelations” for Muhammad. Later on he returned to Christianity and used to say, “Muhammad knows nothing but what I have written for him.” He later died, but it was reported that the earth refused to accept his body. See Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 61, No. 3617, p. 492.

[15]         The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, pp. 178-179.

[16]         Caroline Hawley, “Secretive Saudi executions leave families in the dark,” BBC, January 31, 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-64338876.

For an historical overview of the history of beheading under Islam, see Timothy R. Furnish, “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” Middle East Forum, Spring 2005, https://www.meforum.org/713/beheading-in-the-name-of-islam.

[17]         “Hamas Official Ghazi Hamad: We Will Repeat The October 7 Attack, Time And Again, Until Israel Is Annihilated; We Are Victims – Everything We Do Is Justified,” MEMRIhttps://www.memri.org/reports/Hamas-official-ghazi-hamad-we-will-repeat-october-7-attack-time-and-again-until-israel.

[18]         Andrew Bostom, “Muslim leaders, mosques and orgs DEVOID of condemnation and rife of support for violence against Jews,” Israpundit, February 23, 2024, https://www.israpundit.org/muslim-leaders-mosques-and-orgs-devoid-of-condemnation-and-rife-of-support-for-violence-against-jews/.

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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