“Infidels,” or non-Muslims—or those who are not Muslim enough or the wrong kinds of Muslims—are often seen as the natural recipients of Islamic violence as prescribed by Islamic law, or Sharia.
Few, however, are aware that Sharia can cause individual Muslims to do violence upon themselves.
According to France24, on January 15, a Muslim boy in Pakistan “cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act.”
After an imam told a mosque gathering after Friday prayers that those who love Muhammad always say their prayers, he rhetorically asked if anyone present doesn’t pray. Mohammad Anwar, the overly eager 15-year-old boy, impulsively raised his hand, apparently thinking that the imam was asking who among the crowd does, as opposed to doesn’t, pray.
The response was typical: “The crowd swiftly accused him [the boy] of blasphemy so he went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric.”
On his way back to the imam, the boy was “greeted by villagers in the street as his parents proclaim[ed] their pride” in the young Mohammad for amputating his blasphemous appendage.
Although this story received some media attention, it is not aberrant. In 2013, Ali Afifi, then 28-years-old, told his story, which appeared primarily on Arabic language media. A practicing Muslim in Egypt, Ali cut off both his hands to punish himself for, and prevent himself from, stealing. He had been stealing since childhood and couldn’t stop, or, as he put it, couldn’t overcome “the devil’s whisperings.”
He went to several Islamic clerics asking them to cut off his hand “in accordance with Islamic Sharia” (normative Islamic law calls for the amputation of the hands of thieves, see Koran 5:38). They refused, saying they didn’t have the authority and that he should find those responsible for such issues.
So Ali took matters into his own hands (pun unintended). One day he placed his left hand on a train track and waited for the locomotive. A speeding train came and severed his hand. After Ali regained consciousness, he ran to the townspeople waving his bloodied and handless arm while yelling, “O People, I was a thief, and praise Allah, he has forgiven me.”
Yet it wasn’t long before he returned to stealing with his right hand. So, in Ali’s own words:
I saw that I did not deserve Allah’s mercy unless I amputated my other hand. Shortly before January’s revolution , I myself amputated my right hand using the same method I used for amputating my left hand [placing it under a speeding train]. I did this because I discovered that nothing was changing; I cannot repent unless I amputate my hand. Thus, I became the authority [sultan], judge, and executioner…. I went to the railroad tracks with joy, placing my right hand under the wheels of the train, experiencing peace of mind knowing that I will not steal again. Despite feeling this peace of mind as a result of my repentance to Allah, my family and neighbors were in shock.
During his 2013 interview, Ali said he prays to become a role model for every repentant Muslim and that authorities would begin to implement Islamic Sharia as he applied it to himself.
What does one make of these Muslims who enforce Sharia’s draconian punishments on themselves, in this case, hand chopping? In retrospect, the Pakistani boy may have acted preemptively: in Pakistan, the blasphemy accusation is punishable by death, especially when the angry mob (in this case, the mosque congregation) gets involved. He may have reasoned that personally cutting his hand off would not only appease the mob but gain him some praise, as it did.
The alternative could’ve been murder—such as when Pakistan’s Muslim mobs threw a Christian couple in an oven and, when the husband and his pregnant wife didn’t catch fire, the mob pulled them out, tied flammable material to them, threw them back in, and watched to cries of “Allahu Akbar” as the “blasphemers” slowly roasted to death.
At any rate, if a very small minority of Muslims are willing to punish themselves with extreme severity “according to Islamic Sharia,” then surely a very large majority of Muslims will only be too happy to enforce Sharia on non-Muslims, the “infidels”—whom Islam commands Muslims to hate on principal, and to manifest this hate by abusing, plundering, enslaving, raping, and slaughtering them.
From here, one can begin to understand the greater part of world history and current events where Islam is concerned.