The militant extremists ISIS has cut off the heads of two women in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said on Tuesday. The women were accused of “witchcraft and sorcery.” It was the first time the group carried an execution involving women.
The beheading occurred this week in the province of Deir Ezzor, Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Britain-based NGO, said. The women’s husbands were likewise executed.
The jihadists reportedly found the two couples possess charms in their homes. In Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, the use of amulets, charms and other folk religious practices is common. The people use it against bad luck or jealousy, as well as to solve or prevent other problems.
The ISIS considers the practice heretical and a form of “witchcraft.” Al-Islam.org states that Islam forbids sorcery. The religion believes the act reflects a disbelief in Allah (God) as well as a reliance on satanic rituals. According to portal Quran.com, fortunetellers and magicians are considered a form of sorcery.
Mamdouh Marzouki, a magician, told Vice.com that black magic is considered a “sin” in the Qur’an because it is considered “evil and the work of the devil.” A Pew report noted the use of sorcery is regarded as an activity not within the confines of Islamic tradition.
But Adam Silverstein, professor of Abrahamic religions at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University and himself an amateur magician, believes the source of the problem is linguistic confusion. “The Arabic word for ‘magic’ is sihr—pronounced with a guttural H—and in the Qur’an it means ‘magic’ in the sense of ‘black magic,’ but in modern Arabic the same word is used for ‘entertaining magic,’ ” Silverstein explains. “That can lead to unfortunate confusions that can, very occasionally, have serious consequences for magicians in the Muslim world.”
This isn’t the first time the ISIS beheaded people who have fascinations with magic. In January, a street performer who does illusions was beheaded in a public square in the city of Raqqa. He was known for making coins and cell phones disappear. But the ISIS found this offensive to Islam and sentenced him to death.
Over 3,000 people have died due to execution since the ISIS declared its Islamic “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report.