None of the Muslim leaders and spokesmen quoted in this article address this story from Ibn Ishaq’s eighth-century account of Muhammad’s conquest of Khaybar, even to explain why the conduct of the man whom the Qur’an holds up as the supreme example to be emulated by Muslims (33:21) is not to be emulated in this case: “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).
There is also this hadith, in which Muhammad says: “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)
Yes, there is also a contradictory, as is so often the case, since most or all of the hadith literature was fabricated to support the positions of various factions vying for power in the eighth and ninth centuries: “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)
“Islamic Teachings Explicitly Forbid Death by Burning, But ISIS Did It Anyway,” by Jenna McLaughlin, Mother Jones, February 5, 2015:
On Tuesday, ISIS released the latest in a series of gruesome filmed murders of its foreign captives. This time, it was the execution of 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a celebrated Jordanian pilot whom the group had been attempting to exchange for Sajida al-Rishawi, a female failed suicide bomber from Iraq who was being held in a Jordanian prison. Kasasbeh was the first pilot in the 60-member US-led coalition fighting ISIS to be caught, and relatives in Amman and officials throughout Jordan are outraged at his death. In retaliation, Jordan executed the Iraqi woman and one other Iraqi jihadist by hanging early Wednesday morning.
“Burning someone alive is absolutely barbaric, and it is expressly forbidden in Islam,” said one Middle East expert.
In the execution of Kasasbeh, ISIS departed from its usual approach of beheading a captive: It burned Kasasbeh alive in a metal cage and filmed it. Aside from the unremitting cruelty of this act, for nearly all Muslims, it is also close to sacrilege.
“Burning someone alive is absolutely barbaric, and it is expressly forbidden in Islam,” Emma El-Badawy, a Middle East expert from the University of Exeter, told Sky News, a UK-based news station. The Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference in response to the act, where Nihad Awad, the national director, called it “unspeakable and anti-Islamic.” Hussam Ayloush, the director of CAIR in Los Angeles, noted, as many Islamic clerics have, that ISIS should not even be compared to Islam, as it does not fit the category of an Islamic group, but rather a “murderous terrorist cult.”
Activists in Syria from Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group reporting from the ground in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, were shocked and initially incredulous. Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, the pseudonym of an activist following ISIS’s occupation in the radical group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, told the Daily Beast: “I know that in Islam, there is no excuse to burn someone to death, so I thought they were lying,” referring to a friend recounting tales of ISIS members gloating about the pilot’s death.
Even cremation is not acceptable in the Islamic faith. “To honor the dead is to bury them,” reads a Muslim hadith, or prophetic teaching attributed to the Prophet Muhammed. Sheikh Muhammed Saalih al-Munajjid, a respected Muslim scholar in the Salafi school of thought, posted on a well-known Islamic information website that he manages: “It is not prescribed in Islam to burn or cremate the dead, rather this is an act of disrespect and dishonour. Islam forbids us to step, walk or sit on the grave of the deceased, so how could we burn him?”
ISIS members, anticipating criticism, were quick to launch a PR counteroffensive online. ISIS published a post titled “Moaz Was Burnt Alive, Below Is the Islamic Justification for Such an Act.” It claims that “scholars” (who are never directly quoted or named) say it is acceptable to burn victims in the modern day, and the post gives instructions to jihadists on how to argue with clerics who might complain that burning is un-Islamic. Commenters on the post began to cite other lines from the Koran could justify the decision to burn the pilot. Some commenters claimed it was retaliation for ISIS fighters who died in air strikes, who may have been burned….