In the Perfect Name of Allaah…
Imaam Aboo Daawood (may Allaah have Mercy on him) collected three hadeeths in a chapter of his Sunan called “The Detestable Nature of Burning the Opposing Forces (in Military Confrontation) With Fire.”
The first two hadeeths narrated by Aboo Hamzah al-Aslamee (#2673) and Aboo Hurayrah (#2674) – may Allaah be pleased with them – include the following clear prohibition:
لا يعذب بالنار إلا رب النار
“No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire (Allaah).”
The third hadeeth narrated by ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (#2675) – may Allaah be pleased with him – includes the wording:
إنه لا ينبغي أن يعذب بالنار إلا رب النار
“It is not befitting for anyone to punish using fire, other than the Lord of the Fire (Allaah).”
All three hadeeths were classified as “saheeh” (authentic) by Shaykh Al-Albaanee (may Allaah have Mercy on him) in his checking of the Sunan. In Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah (#487), he adds a discussion of the authentic narration of when ‘Alee, the fourth Caliph of the Muslims, ordered some people to face the death penalty by fire. When news of this reached Ibn ‘Abbaas, he disapproved of the decision and relayed a hadeeth of the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) with a similar wording:
لا تعذبوا بعذاب الله
“Do not punish with the punishment of Allaah!”
It was collected by Imaam al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh (#3017).
Imaam at-Tirmithee also collected it in his Jaami’ (#1458), adding that when this comment got back to ‘Alee, he said, “Ibn ‘Abbaas has spoken correctly.”
 The narrations clearly prove the impermissibility of harming or killing people with fire, in both wars and punishments for crimes, as understood and narrated by at least four of the Companions.
 Allaah is the only One who has the right to punish anyone with fire.
 The Hellfire is a created thing, created by Allaah and prepared as a punishment for the disbelievers and the sinful. Since Allaah created the Fire, he is referred to as the “Lord of the Fire.”
 Allaah’s Legislation is all-inclusive and governs all our interactions. While it is permissible to kill harmful insects in general, it is not permissible to burn them, as the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood was narrated when the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) noticed an anthill that had been burned down. He showed concern for it and forbade his Companions from killing ants by fire. He (may Allaah raise his rank and grant hiim peace) was indeed a Mercy to all of the creation.
 Some scholars consider electricity to be a manifestation of fire, or close enough to it to share its ruling. Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) issued a fatwaa (religious verdict) that it is not permissible to kill mosquitos and other insects with modern devices that burn them with electricity, due to these hadeeths. [Arabic source]
 In another hadeeth in the Saheeh hadeeth collections of Imaams al-Bukhaaree (#2240) and Muslim (#651), the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) considered burning down the houses of the (capable, unexcused) men who refrained from attending congregational prayers. Scholars mention that the reasons for not implementing this include the presence of women and children in the homes, as well as the prohibition of punishing with fire. (Review: al-Bahr al-Muheet ath-Thajjaaj (14/218-229) of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alee ibn Aadam al-Ityoobee)
While some scholars consider the mention of burning the homes to be abrogated, this seems incorrect, since it was never actually implemented. The scholars of Usool al-Fiqh have mentioned that an abrogated ruling is one that was acted upon at least for a short time, and Allaah knows best.
 Since it it not permissible to punish with fire, then it is also impermissible to physically threaten someone with actual fire (or electricity), or by pointing a device that produces actual fire (or electricity). Once a matter is prohibited, then actions that typically lead to that matter are also prohibited. The Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) said:
لا يشير أحدكم على أخيه بالسلاح فإنه لا يدري لعل الشيطان ينزغ في يده فيقع في حفرة من النار
(( One of you may not point a weapon at his brother, since he does not know that the Shaytaan might affect his hand (and cause him to actually strike his brother), and then he would land in a pit of Fire. ))
Source: Al-Bukhaaree (#7072) and Muslim (#2617)
 There is also further proof for the lofty character and humbleness of ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him), who accepted Ibn ‘Abbaas’ position as being correct, after making a mistake in the issue.
 The Religion of Allaah is about correct beliefs and actions. Mistakes are to be identified and dealt with based on evidences from the Book and the Sunnah.
 The Companions would correct one another when they erred. They were all great people who accepted corrections, returning their affairs back to the evidences of the Quran and Sunnah, wonderful examples of followers of the truth.
 Mistaken actions done by the Muslim leaders are to be corrected by people of knowledge and concern in a way that does not cause dissention nor create any strife.
 The event also shows the strength of Ibn ‘Abbaas’ religious understanding (may Allaah be pleased with him). He was one of the greatest scholars of fiqh and tafseer, an amazing resource of knowledge.