“This is not permissible, Sheikh.” That’s what someone had scrawled in Arabic on the decapitated corpse found last month in the eastern Syrian city of Al-Mayadeen, reports the Los Angeles Times. The reference was to a cigarette still firmly planted between the lips of the severed head — which also explains the reason for the gruesome murder: “Although smoking is allowed under Islam,” writes author Nabih Bulos, “some ultraconservative variations of Sharia law condemn the practice as a slow form of suicide, and therefore haram — forbidden.”
That nugget of information comes roughly halfway through an article that purports to be about the savagery of the Islamic State. The whimsical title is “Islamic State: Smoking will kill you, one way or another.” And, indeed, the man who was beheaded had a connection to the Islamic State — but as an officer in it, not a prisoner.
The piece, which addresses an uncompromisingly Draconian code of conduct, appears to confuse precepts of Islam with practices of ISIS, which as the author further notes has shuttered tobacco shops and water-pipe cafes since taking over “large swaths of Deir Elzur province in eastern Syria.” This is no accident. The Times is simply adopting the position of the Obama administration, which similarly refuses to acknowledge that the rigid rule enforced by the terrorist group are part of Islamic law.