The clerics do not mention this story from Muhammad’s conquest of Khaybar: “Kinana b. al-Rabi`, who had the custody of the treasure of B. al-Nadir, was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (T. was brought) to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, ‘Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?’ he said Yes. The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam, ‘Torture him until you extract what he has,’ so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.” (Ibn Ishaq 515).
“Clerics denounce burning alive of pilot as un-Islamic,” by Sami Aboudi and Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters, February 4, 2015:
DUBAI/AMMAN: Muslim clerics widely condemned the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State, saying such a form of killing was considered despicable by Islam, no matter the context.
Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday appearing to show captured pilot Mouath Al-Kasaesbeh being burnt alive in a cage. Jordan, which has participated in a US-led military campaign to bomb Islamic State positions, responded overnight by executing two Al-Qaeda convicts on death row.
Egypt’s top Muslim authority, the 1,000 year old Al-Azhar university revered by Sunni Muslims around the world, issued a statement expressing “deep anger over the lowly terrorist act” by what it called a “Satanic, terrorist” group.
The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said the killers themselves deserved to be “killed, crucified or to have their limbs amputated.”
These are Qur’anic punishments: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (Qur’an 5:33)
Saudi cleric Salman Al-Odah wrote on his Twitter account: “Burning is an abominable crime rejected by Islamic law regardless of its causes.”
“It is rejected whether it falls on an individual or a group or a people. Only God tortures by fire,” he added.
There is a hadith to this effect: “Narrated ‘Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, ‘If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, “Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).” I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”‘” (Bukhari 9.84.57)
But as is so often the case with hadith, there is also a contradictory one — supporting the view that these sayings were fabricated by competing factions among Muslims, and have no historical value. Muhammad is depicted as saying that those who don’t answer the call to prayer should be set on fire, along with their houses: “Certainly I decided to order the Mu’adh-dhin (call-maker) to pronounce Iqama and order a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses.” (Bukhari 1.11.626)
The Islamic State posted a religious edict on Twitter, which ruled that it is permissible in Islam to burn an infidel to death.
But even clerics sympathetic to the jihadist cause said the act of burning a man alive and filming the killing would damage Islamic State, an Al-Qaeda offshoot which controls wide territory in Syria and Iraq, and is also known as ISIL or ISIS.
“This weakens the popularity of Islamic State because we look at Islam as a religion of mercy and tolerance. Even in the heat of battle, a prisoner of war is given good treatment,” said Abu Sayaf, a Jordanian Salafist cleric also known as Mohamed Al-Shalabi who spent almost ten years in Jordanian prisons for militant activity including a plot to attack US troops.
“Even if the Islamic State says Muath had bombed, and burnt and killed us and we punished him in the way he did to us, we say, OK but why film the video in this shocking way?” he told Reuters. “This method has turned society against them.”
Notice that al-Shalabi is saying the burning is “OK” — and yet he is probably familiar with the hadith that seems to forbid it. But al-Shalabi is saying it is acceptable to punish someone “in the way he did to us,” which is based on the Qur’an: “So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you.” (Qur’an 2:194)
So if the Jordanian pilot was considered to have dropped incendiary material on the Islamic State, then they could consider burning him justifiable on Islamic grounds.
SITE, a US-based monitoring service, quoted Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Muhaysini, whom it described as a Saudi jihadi, as saying on Twitter it would have been better if Kasaesbeh’s captors had swapped him for “Muslim captives.” His killing would make ordinary people sympathetic to Kasaesbeh, he said.
The idea of swapping him comes from this passage: “So when you meet those who disbelieve, strike necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either favor afterwards or ransom until the war lays down its burdens.” (Qur’an 47:4)
Still, some admirers of Islamic State cheered the killing. In a Twitter message, a user called Suhaib said: “To any pilot participating in the crusader coalition against the holy warriors — know that your plane might fall in the next mission. Sleep well!“
The killing was denounced in the Arab press. The pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper published the report on its front page under the headline “Barbarity.”
Saudi Arabia’s Arabic daily Al-Riyadh newspaper wrote that the Islamic state had “deepened its savagery and its bloody approach” by burning Kasaesbeh.