Thursday, February 05, 2015

Islamic State Breaks Islamic Law? - Is Burning Alive Forbidden?

Lieutenant Muath Al-Kaseasbeh
Jordanian Pilot

I wonder if this manner of execution used by the Islamic State even finds justification in Islamic law, for I have read this hadith:
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr states in al-Tamhid (5:316) that, "When Ibn 'Abbas learned that 'Ali had burned the apostates - that is, the unbelievers - he said, 'If I had been in his place, I would have killed them in keeping with the words of the Prophet, "If anyone changes his religion, put him to death." I would not have burned them with fire, since the Messenger of God said that no one is permitted to inflict on another the chastisement which God alone will inflict [in the afterlife].'"
My source is from page 81 of Apostasy in Islam: A Historical and Scriptural Analysis (2011), by Taha Jabir Alalwani.

This hadith concerns the punishment for apostasy - which is death - but burning as a method of punishment would seem to be forbidden because it is reserved to Allah as his manner of punishment in Hell. One might object that that this hadith concerns apostasy only and therefore has nothing to do with the execution of an enemy captured in battle.

But if fire as punishment is reserved to Allah alone, then it should not be used by any human authority, not even by a caliph, despite 'Ali's action as one of the four 'rightly guided' caliphs.

Has the Islamic State thus broken Islamic law?

UPDATE: But consider this nine-minute video on the issue.

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At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Yassin ibn Mika'il, student of Islamic studies said...

Yes, without any doubt, you are correct, and it is well known to all Muslims, which is why they put under the video "Islamic" justifications for this, from "scholars of Islam" who are unnamed.
To kill male prisoners of war is allowed if the Imam feels it is in the best interest of the Ummah, or they may be taken as slaves, or ransomed for Muslim captives, but not killed in this barbaric manner, rather if they are to be killed it should be honorable and swift. And Allah knows best.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thank you. That is helpful information.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is God alone who punishes with fire." (Bukhari 3016)
"None can chastise with fire except the Lord of the fire." (Abu Dawud 2675)
“Do not punish with the punishment of God (fire).” (Bukhari 3017, Tirmidhi 1458)

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the references.

Jeffery Hodges

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