Weapons are often symbols. They can take on meaning beyond the purposes they were created for. Such is the case with blades and the second largest religion on earth.
Muhammad was a military and political leader as well as a religious one. He and his army employed various blades throughout his life – so much so that one of the Arabic titles for Muhammad is “Sayfullah”: The Sword of God.
This would not be a problem if it were not for Surah 33:21, “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah [Abdullah Yusef Ali Translation].
Many non-Muslims struggle with the word and concept that is “Sunnah”. It is the root that the word “Sunni” is derived from. It means “life”, “habits’, “way”, or “mores”. Generally speaking if Muhammad did something it is acceptable and even good. Muslim scholars and jurists have systematized and expanded upon this but the life of Muhammad is the basis for much of Islamic law. Muhammad is the last and greatest of the prophets. Like all the prophets he is sinless and unlike the other prophets he has the seal of Surah 33:21 as an archetype from God.
Do you see the problem here? His life is descriptive and prescriptive. There are many parts of Muhammad’s life that are “problematic” but stabbing and hacking people for their stuff or because they will not convert to your religion is at the top of the list. Because he did “it”, “it” is now THE pattern for Muslims to follow in addition to the verses in the Koran that directly command Muslims to fight unbelievers if the unbelievers will not embrace Islam.
It is beyond the scope of this article to give every example but if you read the Islamic biographies of the prophet (Sira) there are numerous instances where Muhammad ordered, presided over, or accepted the killing of his enemies sometimes by decapitation. Because this is the example Muslims are to follow, the world should not be surprised when some Muslims actually try to follow it. And it is not just terrorists. Beheadings for all sort of “crimes” including apostasy were carried out for hundreds of years in Muslim lands and is still practiced in Saudi Arabia.
Look at the flags of some of these groups. The Emblem of Khorasan (the region of Afghanistan) has two crossed swords. The standard of the Caucasus Emirate has a sword beneath the Shahada (the Islamic creed of faith). If you protest that these are just terrorist groups then know that the flag of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the same except there the background is green and not black. Also, the nation of Oman has a Khanjar dagger over two crossed swords.
Do not just take my word for it. Research the life of Muhammad as narrated in Muslim biographies on him. To state that the prophet of Islam spread Islam by the sword is simply a matter of taking the word of Muslims on this issue. In a world on fire please take the time to know when and why Islam bears the sword.