(My words Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie) Some Muslims have mistakenly thought burning alive prisoners of war by is halaal in Islam due to the actions of Abu Bakar As Sadeeq, during the apostate wars in early Islam in which some Arab tribes apostated from Islam after the prophet Mohammeds death and tried to fight the Islamic state. He (But Bakar) burned the apostate prisoners of war and Khalid Ibn Waleed did that under his instruction. Also due to the actions of Ali Ibn Abi Taalib when he burnt some people alive for claiming he was Allah and publicly calling others to this heretical belief.
However these actions of these blessed sahaba oppose authentic hadeeth from the prophet Mohammed on the issue of burning captives (prisoners of war). So there actions are haraam.
But they onlyed from them due to not knowing the prohibition of such action as the hadeeth had not yet reached them. As not all of the sahaba knew every hadeeth. However when they did know about these hadeeths they stopped this action.
Lastly we as Muslims should also know that there is an ijmaa (scholarly consensus) against burning alive prisoners of war (obviously the sahaba mentioned above did their actions before the ijmaa was reached). (End of my words)
Shaykh Abdul Qaadir Al-Junayd put together the following on the issue of burning prisoners of war in Islam;
Imam Bukhari narrates in his Saheeh (2954) ahadeeth from Abu Huraiarah: that he said, “The messenger of Allah sent us on a mission and said to us if you find so and so – they were two men from Quraish he named them both – then burn them both with fire. Then we went to him to say goodbye when we were ready to leave. Then he said: I instructed you to burn so and so and so and so with fire, but no one punishes with the fire except Allah, so if you catch them both then kill them both.”
Imam An Nisaai named a chapter heading in his Sunnan al Kubra (8599), “The impermissibility of burning the polytheists after overpowering them.”
Hafidh al Bayhaqi also named a chapter heading in his sunnan al Kubra (18063), “Chapter – Prohibition of the burning of polytheists with fire after imprisonment.”
Imam Abu Dawood narrates in his Sunnan (2673) from Hamza al Aslami, That the Messenger placed him in charge of a campaign, so he said I went out with it and he said if you find so and so then burn him with fire so I left him then he called me back so I went back to him and he said, “If you find so and so kill him and do not burn him because non punishes with fire but the Lord of the fire.”
Imam al Albani said in his Silsilatu Ahadeeth Asaheeha something about its fiqh and benefits (1565), “This chain is saheeh, all its men are trustworthy (thiqaat) to the level of men from Saheeh Muslim.”
Imam al Bagawi al Shafe’i said in his book Sharhu Sunnah (p55 v11), “As for burning a disbeliever after taking him prisoner, and burning an apostate then the general commonality amongst them was that it is not permissible.”
Imam Ibn Qudamah al Hanbali said in his book Al Mughni (9/286-287), “As for the enemy (combatant) if he is overwhelmed then it is not permitted to burn him with fire, with no difference of opinion as we know it. Abu Bakar as Sadeeq use to order the apostates to be burned and Khalid ibn Waleed did that under his instruction, as for today then I do not know of any difference amongst the people in this.”
Also, Hamzah al-Aslamee narrated that the Messenger of Allah placed him in charge of a battalion. He stated: “So I departed with it (battalion) and he said to me: ‘If you capture so and so, then burn him to death.’ I went away and then he called me, upon which I returned. He then said, “If you capture so and so then kill him and do not burn him to death as verily no one punishes with fire except the Lord of the fire.”” (Narrated by Abu Daawood, Sa’eed and he also narrated other ahaadeeth with the same meaning.)
Bukhari and other than him narrate from Abu Hurairah from the prophet similar to the hadeeth of Hamza.
Al Faqhee al Maaliki Ibn Munaasif said in his book: Al Injaad fi Abwaab al Jihaad (p196) “They differed in killing the enemy without weapons, like killing by burning with fire and drowning and similar to that from cruel types of killing which contain torture or mutilation. As for the one who was overwhelmed from them then I do not know any difference in that that it is not permissible to burn the enemy if it is possible to kill them in another way. And they did not burn any of the Muslims so the founding principle in that is the hadeeth in Bukhari from Abu Hurairah who said, “The messenger of Allah sent us on a mission and said to us if you find so and so – they were two men from Quraish he named them both – then burn them both with fire. Then we went to him to say goodbye when we were ready to leave. Then he said, “I instructed you to burn so and so and so and so with fire, but no one punishes with the fire except Allah, so if you catch them both then kill them both.””
Muslim narrates from Shadaad bin Awsaal who said two things I memorized from the messenger of Allah, “Verily Allah has written gentleness on everything so if you kill then perfect your killing, and if you slaughter (animals for food) then perfect your slaughter, let him sharpen his knife and be caring to the animal.”
And in the book of Abu Dawood from Abdullah who said the messenger of Allah said, “Forgive the people and ….”
Also in it is a narration from Samra bin Jundab and Imran bin Hussein also, they both said, “The prophet use to encourage us to give in charity and prohibit us from mutilation.”
In the hadeeth of Buraidah by way of Muslim from the prophet in his advice to the leaders of his armies, “Do not go to extremes, do not be treacherous, and do not mutilate.”
And in the book of Muslim from Anas who said, “Rather the prophet poked out their eyes because they poked out the eyes of the shepherds.”
And the Faqhee Al Hanbali Abu al Faraj Ibn Qudamah said in his book al Sharhu al kabeer ala Matan al Muqn’I (10/396), “And when the enemy is overpowered it is not permissible to burn him with fire, there is no difference in this that we know of. Abu Bakar as Sadeeq use to order burning the apostates with fire and Khalid ibn Waleed did that under his instruction. As for today then we know no difference in this amongst the people.”
And Hamza as Salami narrates that the Messenger placed him in charge of a campaign, so he said I went out with it and he said if you find so and so then burn him with fire so I left him then he called me back so I went back to him and he said, “If you find so and so kill him and do not burn him because non punishes with fire but the Lord of the fire.” (narrated by Abu Dawood and Saeed)
And Bukhari narrates from Abu Hurairah from the prophet similar to the hadith of Hamza.
(Shaykh Abdul Qaadir Al-Junayd concludes) So if this prohibition and impermissibility is regarding the right of a fighting disbelieving prisoner then how is the case for killing a Muslim with fire, no doubt the impermissibility is far greater, the prevention is more emphasized, the prohibition is more harsh, the sin is greater and the scholars have mentioned an ijmaa (consensus) on this issue.”
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie