Hadeeth Study: Only Allaah Punishes With Fire

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.”


[1] 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.

[2] Allaah is the only One who has the right to punish anyone with fire.

[3] 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.”

[4] 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.

[5] 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]

[6] 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.

[7] 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)

[8] 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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] 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.

11 thoughts on “Hadeeth Study: Only Allaah Punishes With Fire

    • Nuclear weapons that destroy a large area of land and the entire population on it indiscriminately (humans, animals, plants, etc.) are absolutely inconsiderable for the Muslim military forces in established Muslim countries. Allaah has forbidden us from transgressing in all occasions, even when Muslim armies engage the opposing forces in deadly combat, and transgression against the opposing forces’ women, children, elderly, civilians, farmers, farms, farm animals, trees, etc. is all impermissible. Once, during an intense battle, some of the Companions had killed some children, and when the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam) was told of it, he admonished them sharply, saying (what means): “What is with some people that the combat today had caused them to go so far as to kill children?!” Someone replied, “O Messenger of Allaah! They are just children of the polytheists!” So he said: “Nay, verily the best of you are children of polytheists!” Then he said, “Nay, do not kill children!” This authentic hadeeth was collected by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad, see: Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah (#402) And Allaah knows best.

      Islam is a complete religion that includes humane guidelines and upright moral codes of conduct even for military combat, as opposed to the lawless bands of rapists and plunderers dispatched by some so-called “civilized” Western nations today.

  1. JazakAllahu khayran for this article. In these times when it’s easy for some (maybe even some Muslims) to consider or allege our religion is one of cruelty and brutality, a piece like this shows the mercy of Islam and its objection to extremism and harshness in all forms.

  2. Assalamou alaykoum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatou

    BarakAllah ou fik for your study akhi.
    What about the opinion of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) about burning the homosexual people ?
    I asked about this issue because some people use this to legiferate the killling of the Jordanian pilot who was burned by Daesh recently.

    Hayek Allah akhi Moosaa.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. It is not for any Muslim to hear the clear verdict on an issue from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) and then look to someone else for an opinion. And may Allaah be pleased with Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq, the best of this Ummah after its Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).

  3. Assalamu alaykum,
    They justified their actions by saying it was retaliation. So the question is two parts:
    1. If it was a legitimate war which is it isn’t, would it be okay to use incendiary weapons as the pilot did?
    2. If someone burns a Muslim through fire then does Qisas say it is to be for him too?

    I don’t support Isis. I just wanted to know. Their “jihad” is illegitimate and kill innocent people and target Muslims etc

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. ISIS and the rest of the Khawaarij have poor understanding of the texts. They misunderstand the Statement of Allaah (فمن اعتدى عليكم فاعتدوا عليه بمثل ما اعتدى عليكم) which means: “Whoever does ‘i’tidaa’ (transgresses, by fighting in the sacred months) against you, then do I’tidaa’ against them similar to how they transgressed against you.” [Al-Baqarah:194] The meaning is a concession for governments to make military responses in a normally sanctioned time: Fight them with animosity (i’tidaa, from ‘adaawah) as they fought you (with ‘adaawah, animosity) in the sacred months.

      It cannot be understood as an unrestricted order to transgress the limits set by Allaah, which is another meaning of the word i’tidaa’ (transgression) in the Arabic language. How could that be the intended meaning? When someone burns you, you burn them [?!], while burning people with fire is an exclusive right of Allaah, as shown clearly in the hadeeth!? They do not truly even read the Verses, look how the Verse ends with two references to taqwaa: (واتقوا الله واعلموا إن الله مع المتقين) “And have taqwaa of Allaah and know that Allaah is with the muttaqeen (pious)”!! What is taqwa (piety)? It is to observe the limits set by Allaah! So how could Allaah order us to disobey Him while reminding us twice to observe His limits? Retribution (qisaas) is in permissible matters. If they kill our children, we do not kill their children. They are innocent. If they kill our elderly, we do not kill their elderly. If they burn us, we do not burn them. We keep our duty to Allaah and observe the limits He set, as we are His worshippers.

      There is NO TIME in Islaam when we throw out the rules of halaal and haraam. May Allaah guide ISIS and their sympathizers. And Allaah knows best.

      • I am in no way a supporter of ISIS, but, brother Moosaa, your speech here … is in contradiction to the speech of Shaikh [name of respected scholar removed]. He permitted the killing of the children and women of the enemies as retribution if they killed our children. Also, Shaikh [name of respected scholar removed] permitted burning with fire as punishment for the one who burned someone with fire. So, you can disagree with these two great shaikhs opinion, but please do so respectfully. Would you say these two shaikhs had ‘poor understanding of the texts’ and ‘throw out the rules of halal and haram’? Jazaak Allah khairan [message truncated by admin]

        • You have chosen two mistakes from two great scholars (may Allaah have Mercy on both of them), and I warn you against the deviant nature of seeking out the mistakes of the scholars, especially in issues like this. Simply put, we know those scholars to be upon goodness and solid firmly-grounded understanding of the texts. Yet, no one is perfect. Our Salafiyyah -the proper understanding of Islaam- is manifested when we love and respect our scholars, without holding them to be infallible, which requires us to acknowledge that there WILL BE mistakes from the best of our scholars. When we see a fatwaa from one of them in contradiction to a clear text, we are able to identify that fatwaa as erroneous. We assume the best about them and their intentions, however it is not permissible for any Muslim to follow the opinion of someone he understands to be in direct contradiction to the verdict from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).

          I warn you -may Allaah give you better- against this methodology in matters of the Deen. We have a deviant group harming the image of Islaam. Our scholars make it a priority to warn against them. You do not try to pick out mistakes of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah here and there which would support their disgraceful actions. Return the matter back to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), and do not ever say, “Fulaan said” after a matter has become clear from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). If you are concerned about manners, then think about the manners of a person who hears the ruling from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), and then says: “But Fulaan said…” May Allaah guide us to what is better.

          Whether you intentionally or unintentionally adopted this methodology – fear Allaah and drop it. We do not ever attach ourselves to mistaken fatwaas from the scholars and then demonize those who return the matter back to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) as people who “disrespect the scholars”. This is a deviant methodology. The Salaf used to be very harsh against anyone who would oppose the Messenger’s clear verdict (sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam), even when they would quote the best of the Ummah like Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar. Ibn ‘Abbaas was approached about a mistaken opinion of theirs about Hajj, and referred the matter back to the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). When they said, “But Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar said…” He became angry and said: “[I fear that] rocks may fall upon you from the sky! I say: The Messenger of Allaah said (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) [something], and you say: Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar said [something else]!”

          Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have Mercy on him) mentioned this report, and then commented:فإذا كان من خالف السنة لقول أبي بكر وعمر تخشى عليه العقوبة فكيف بحال من خالفهما لقول من دونهما، أو لمجرد رأيه واجتهاده!. “So if punishment is feared for someone who opposes the Sunnah for the opinion of Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar, what about those who oppose it for the opinions of those less than them, or even for their own opinion and independent judgment?!” Source: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/8188

          Know that shunning the rare mistakes from our great scholars is not disrespect for them, but rather it is the highest show of respect for them and their beautiful Salafee methodology of following the truth and not attaching ourselves to personalities in a way that keeps us from following the truth when it becomes clear to us.

          And applying the harshness found in our refutations of the Khawaarij to the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah seems like a case of fishing in murky waters, to say the least. Refuting the arguments of the people of innovation with harshness in tone is the way of the Salaf. The goal is to refute them and help the Muslims abandon them, seeking safety for them in their religion. You cannot take an issue where a qualified scholar from Ahlus-Sunnah made a similar (yet isolated) mistake and then claim that whatever harshness used in refuting the people of innovation must also be applied to that scholar. This is a deviant methodology as well. The way of the Salaf is to refute the (rare) mistakes of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah with care and concern for their honor, as the goal is to warn against the mistake and preserve the honor of a scholar who is beneficial for the people. On the other hand, refuting the people of innovation includes harshness in tone and warnings against the individual, since the goal includes helping the Muslims to distance themselves from a person who is harmful to them. Quite simply, ISIS do not have any scholars with them, and their claimed “ijtihaads” are not coming from people of knowledge who do so by right. Thus, we do not refute their errors with the same manners used when warning against a mistake of a qualified scholar who makes ijtihaad by right, yet errs. So it is not a hypocritical double standard, as the people of innovation wish us to believe. Rather, it is the methodology of true concern for the safety of the Ummah, that they remain attached to scholars who benefit them and they distance themselves from those who misguide them. May Allaah aid the Muslims in understanding this delicate point. And Allaah knows best.

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