Overcoming a Reluctance to Kill

In conflict situations… [there is] a powerful resistance to killing one's own kind, a resistance that exists in every healthy member of every species.

Konrad Lorenz, in his definitive book, On Aggression, notes that it is rare for animals of the same species to fight to the death. In their territorial and mating battles, animals with horns will butt their heads together in a relatively harmless fashion, but against any other species they will go to the side and attempt to gut and gore.

Similarly, piranha will fight one another with raps of their tails but they will turn their teeth on anything and everything else, and rattlesnakes will wrestle each other but they have no hesitation to turn their fangs on anything else. Lorenz suggests that this 'non-specicidal' tendency is imprinted into the genetic code in order to safeguard the survival of the species.

From A Resistance to Killing by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman

Only lunatics, sociopaths/psychopaths, those who have been conditioned to kill as a reflexive reaction (soldiers) and finally those who believe they are doing God’s work will kill another human being in cold blood. Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall, Chief Historian of the European Theater of Operations in World War II, in a series of interviews with American riflemen concluded that only 15 to 20% of them fired their weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. His conclusions have been supported by other studies. This has led the military to find ways to overcome this resistance in a normal person to killing another human being, even in theaters of war.

The modern military has largely overcome this reluctance to kill through repetition and operant conditioning (modification of behaviour based on stimulus/response), making it an automatic reflexive reaction for a soldier to fire his weapon at a threat, real or imaginary. What if your objective is to deliberately and methodically eliminate a segment of humanity for which you will require the assistance of the general population? You do what the NAZIs did. You dehumanize that portion of humanity you wish to eradicate, making their elimination the moral equivalent of getting rid of a pest.

In his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen presents evidence that the dehumanization of the Jews by the Christian churches for the purported murder of Christ and other offences, predisposed Germans to accept and participate in the murder of millions of Jews.

The Koran has taken this dehumanization process one step further, adding demonization to the mix.

4:76 Those who believe fight for the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight on behalf of the Devil. Fight then the followers of the Devil. Surely the guile of the Devil is weak.

Islam, as a religion, has proven particularly effective at overcoming people's strong genetic predisposition against killing one of their own kind by concentrating on a thorough indoctrination in the Koran. As mentioned earlier, it starts as soon as a child can, with the assistance of an adult, usually its mother, mouth the words. This home-schooling in what philosopher Robert Redeker, writing in Le Figaro, described “as a book of incredible violence", is usually followed by a more formal and structured indoctrination at a madrassa (Islamic school). But, it does not stop there. What the child has been taught at home and at school is reinforced every day of their lives through mandatory daily prayers where they are compelled to repeat some of the most hateful, cruel scriptures known to man.

Nonetheless, the most important thing God did to overcome peoples’ natural reluctance to kill their own kind was making absconding with the property of the men you murdered on His behalf—including his wives and daughters—the right thing to do.

8:68 But for a prior ordinance of Allah, you would have been afflicted on account of what you have taken (an ordinance which made it lawful for Muslims to take spoils and captives) by a terrible punishment.

Revelation 8:68 in action:

80 Yazidi men from the village of Kawju were shot dead by Islamic State holy warriors and their wives and daughters taken, it is speculated, to the city of Tal Afar, a gathering area for foreign fighters.

BBC Aug 16, 2914

“One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law,”

CNN quoting Islamic State, Oct 14, 2014

[Islamic State] terrorists explained in a new publication their justification for taking women and using them as sex slaves, saying simply that it’s a practice that’s as old as Sharia law — and allowed by Islamic beliefs.

Washington Times Oct 13, 2014

They are simply following the example of the Prophet. Take for example the assault on the Jewish settlement of Khaibar (also spelled Khaybar), a farming community north of Medina. The taking of a town or village by Muhammad and his horde of holy warriors was as straightforward as it was pitiless: prayers, then the blood-curdling cry, Allahu Akbar, announcing an imminent slaughter in Allah's Cause, as it does today, followed by an assault on the unbelievers' position while chanting the holy warrior’s battle-cry of “Kill, Kill.”[5] Last, but not least, the apportioning of the property of those killed.

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) offered the Fajr prayer when it was still dark, then he rode and said, “Allahu Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. When we approach near to a nation, the most un-fortunate is the morning of those who have been warned."

The people came out into the streets saying, "Muhammad and his army." Allah's Apostle vanquished them by force and their warriors were killed; the children and women were taken as captives.

Safiya was taken by Dihya Al-Kalbi and later she belonged to Allah's Apostle who married her and her Mahr (dowry) was her manumission.

Bukhari 14.68

Young women and girls were especially prized as slave-girls. It was at Khaibar that God’s fifty-eight year-old spokesman and holiest of holy warriors took for his troubles the seventeen-year-old Safiya (also spelled Safiyya). He had already given her, sight-unseen, to a holy warrior when he was told of her beauty. How could he resist?

Technically, Muhammad was taking for himself a slave-girl. The Koran expects a prospective groom to give his bride-to-be a dowry. This is meant to give her the means to look after herself, if only for a short period, should he divorce her and send her packing. A wife’s dowry is her only possession; everything else, including the family home, is exclusively her husband’s. Her dowry is also one of the few means she has of ransoming herself, such as foregoing it to obtain a divorce from an abusive husband: “Divorce may be pronounced twice… it is no offence if the woman ransoms herself [pays money to be set free]”, Revelation 2:229.

Muhammad essentially got his eleventh wife cost-free, deeming that his setting her free, i.e., manumitting her before marrying her on the way back to Medina, was the equivalent of her dowry. The customary revelations validating his breaking of the rules appear never to have been sent.


Muhammad, as God's spokesperson, was not only entitled to the female of his choice and one fifth of the booty obtained the hard way, but all the booty gained without a fight: the Fai. Valuable farmland known as Fadak north of Khaibar had not been fought over. The Jewish farmers of Fadak, hoping to avoid the fate of their brethren at Khaibar, sent a message to the Prophet offering him half their land and half of what they produced every year if he held his pillaging horde in check. The merchant in Muhammad knew a good deal when he saw one and did not attack Fadak.


ISIS is on solid legal ground when it argues that its treatment of female captives is “a practice that’s as old as Sharia law — and allowed by Islamic beliefs“, as is the killing of captured and surrendered boys and men (more evidence forthcoming).

Revelation 8:68 stands as the most powerful enticement for young men to join the ranks of holy warriors. All they have to do is say the magic words: “I declare there is no god except God, and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of God” and what had been both illegal and immoral became, not only lawful but praiseworthy. With a few simple words, wrong became right and sexual gratification there to be had if you were prepared to kill to get at her. Kill as many unbelievers as you can before gratifying yourself.

8:67 It is not up to any Prophet to take captives except after too much blood is shed (after the enemy is hard hit and subdued) in the land. You desire the fleeting goods of this world, but Allah desires the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

It was a given that you could have sex with your female booty, with or without its consent. However, until Muhammad offered his considered opinion, some holy warriors were unsure about whether coitus interruptus, which they practiced if their captive was destined for the auction block (pregnancy would have reduced her value) was halal.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

That while he was sitting with Allah's Apostle he said, "O Allah's Apostle! We get female captives as our share of booty, and we are interested in their prices, what is your opinion about coitus interruptus?"

The Prophet said, "Do you really do that? It is better for you not to do it. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence."

Bukhari 77.600

If a husband could be ransomed you might not kill him. That did not prevent you from having sex with his wives. A revealed truth within a hadith (both reinforcing each other) meant to reduce the resistance of some believers to raping wives in front of their unbelieving husbands.

The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (4:24) "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess."

Abu Dawud 2.215

The revelation in question:

4:24 Or married women except those your right hands possess (captives of war or slave-girls). This is Allah’s decree for you. Beyond these it is lawful for you to seek, by means of your wealth, any women, to marry and not to debauch. Those of them you have enjoyed, you should give them their dowry as a matter of obligation; but you are not liable to reproach for whatever you mutually agree upon, apart from the obligatory payment (the dowry). Allah is indeed All-Knowing, Wise.

To get men to fight His battles Allah made larceny, murder and rape into reward-worthy moral obligations, and that, on top of a thorough indoctrination in the Koran, did the trick!

Why Holy Warriors Have No Qualms about Murdering Children

On December 16, 2014, six Taliban entered a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and slaughtered 141 people, including 132 children between eight and eighteen years of age. How a Taliban supporter justified the killing of children:

Human life only has value among you worldly materialistic thinkers. For us, this human life is only a tiny, meaningless fragment of our existence. Our real destination is the Hereafter. We don’t just believe it exists, we know it does. Death is not the end of life. It is the beginning of existence in a world much more beautiful than this. As you know, the [Urdu] word for death is “intiqall.” It means transfer, not end.

Paradise is for those of pure hearts. All children have pure hearts. They have not sinned yet… They have not yet been corrupted by [their kafir parents]. We did not end their lives. We gave them new ones in Paradise, where they will be loved more than you can imagine. They will be rewarded for their martyrdom. After all, we also martyr ourselves with them. The last words they heard were the slogan of Takbeer [Allah U Akbar]. Allah Almighty says himself in Surhah Al-Imran [3:169-170] that they are not dead. You will never understand this. If your faith is pure, you will not mourn them, but celebrate their birth into Paradise.

Sam Harris, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Harvard University Press, 2015, p. 86


[5] Martin Lings writing about the battle of Uhud in Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources: “The emigrants and Helpers fought like the incarnation of the Muslim battle-cry ”Amit, Amit” which means “Kill, Kill.