If one were to examine Shia and Sunni narrations with regards to burning as a form of punishment by other than Allah, one would come to the conclusion that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) had the strongest opinion of all Sahabah with regards to this form of punishment, to the point that he advised and encouraged others to burn transgressors, including sodomites (so called gays).
This is a fact not only proven through famous Sunni narrations (like in Bukhari where ‘Ali is reported to burnt Sabaites i.e. a group of people who ascribed divinity and lordship to him), but through sahih Shia narrations as well, as we have proven in numerous articles on this blog before.
However, despite all these evidences, we still see many Shias living in a complete denial with some either:
- completely denying any Shia narration that speaks of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) burning heretics and other criminals, with some of them going as far as to claim that it’s nothing but a Sunni fabrication against ‘Ali!
- others are well aware of Shia narrations with regards to ‘Ali burnign extremists, however, they try to desperately weaken them, despite the narrations being accepted throughout Shia history and its jurisprudency.
- Others in their damage control missions end up making ‘their’ Imam look worse than Isis …
What we would like to provide you with in this article is a admission by one of the most renowned Shia Arabic websites in the world called Aqaed.com.
Aqaed.com centre is supervised by none other than ‘Ayatullah’ Al-Sistani, and the irony is that the website does not just uphold the belief and defend that ‘Ali did burn some Ghulat (extremists), it also tries to refute a Sunni hadith by the Prophet which states that nobody punishes by fire except the Lord of fire (i.e. Allah):
It was narrated from ‘Ikrimah that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) burnt some people. News of that reached Ibn ‘Abbas and he said: If it were me, I would not have burned them, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.” And I would have executed them as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever changes his religion, then execute him.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, 3017]
Now here a scan (and link>>>) from the Aqaed.com website.
Did Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) burn ibn Saba’, may Allah curse him, with fire, as it is mentioned in our books and that the Prophet said, ‘No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire (Allah)’ which made ibn Saba’ claim divinity for ‘Ali …?
It is not proven that Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) burnt Ibn Saba’, he rather expelled him to Al-Mada’in. Yes, there is a narration stating that ‘Ali (peace be upon him) burnt a group of people from amongst the Ghulat for their claim that ‘Ali was divine based on the hadith of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire (Allah)’. Based on that (i.e. hadith) they used to say that if ‘Ali wasn’t their Lord (Rabb) why is he punishing them with fire!
The hadith (‘No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire’) is found in the books of the Ahl Al-Sunnah and not in the books of the Imamite Shia and it is not correct to use as a proof what is in the books of the Sunnah against the Shias when it is not established in the Shia books to begin with. This is especially considering that the ruling of burning a person found guilty of a certain crime is established for the Imamites and there is no difference among them on this issue, just as it is established for the punishment of a homosexual found guilty of the act (see Jami’ ahadith Al-Shia, vol. 3, p. 460).
In fact, it is the Ahl Al-Sunnah who have a different of opinion on this issue, Al-Shafi’i was in support of it whereas others opposed him (see Al-Fath, vol. 6, p. 103) when he (Imam Al-‘Asqalani in his Al-Fath) said: ‘The Salaf have differed on the issue of burning as a form of punishment. ‘Omar and Ibn ‘Abbas disliked it … others permitted it like ‘Ali, Khalid ibn Al-Walid and others.
Let’s summarise these delicate admissions:
- ‘Ali did not burn Ibn Saba’ himself, however, he did burn an entire group of Ibn Saba’s people who had exaggerated with him (they took up no arms i.e. were non-combatants yet he burnt them). This belief is not problematic since narrations in Sunni books too differ on the fact if Ibn Saba’ himself was actually burnt or a group of his people.
- Shias don’t even possess the hadith ‘No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire’ which the majority of Sunni scholars use against those who see the punishment with fire as lawful!
- Shias (unlike Sunnis) are in agreement that punishing with fire is not just permissible in the case of the Sabaites exaggerating with ‘Ali, but also a valid form of punishment against sodomites (so called gays)!
We ask the dear readers to pay close attention to what is written now, because the irony in here is amusing but couldn’t be more true.
It is affirmed by Shia authorities themselves that ‘Ali did burn a group of extremists with fire, what they did not mention is that ‘Ali used to burn a good number of different types of people (for various crimes) such as:
- Proto-Rafidis aka Sabaites (non-combatants)
- Gays (non-combatants)
- More Gays (non-combatants)
- Lesbians (non-combatants)
- Apostate (from Islam) Idolators (non-combatants)
So this is an established fact in the most authentic Shia books and Sunni books, yet ironically, whatever Shias quote against the Sahabah are from weak Sunni sources, not even secondary sources! Shias quote from the following books to prove that Khalid ibn Al-Walid and Abu Bakr burnt apostates and others:
- Tabaqat Al-Kubra
- Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihaya by Ibn Kathir
- Al-Riyad Al-Nadhira
None of the above sources nor any other source Shias might add are from primary Sunni sources that are free of defect and unanimously agreed upon (unlike the narration of ‘Ali in the most authentic Shia and Sunni books!), hence even the likes of Aqaed.com centre had to admit that Sunnis differ on the permissibility of punishing with fire. What they did not tell of course is that actually the majority and strongest opinion within the Ahl Al-Sunnah is that punishing with fire is strictly forbidden except as a form of retaliation:
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to the hadith concerning this topic, what appears to be the case is that the prohibition in it indicates that this act is haram.
End quote from Fath al-Baari (6/150).
This prohibition on punishing anyone by burning with fire is general in application, but the majority of scholars made an exception in the case of burning with fire by way of retaliatory punishment (qisas) and making the punishment fit the crime.
In Shiism on the other hand there is no prohibition at all, as the Shia reject the narration of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in Sunni books that prohibits the punishing with fire. It is of course understandable why the Shias in their frustration reject the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), they would likely even do so (in one way or the other) if it was found in their own books, as it destroys the concept of infallibility completely.
For the Ahl Al-Sunnah there is no contradiction of course, nor is ‘Ali portrayed in a bad light, this is because the likes of Abu Bakr and ‘Ali had never been infallible to begin with i.e. they were bound to make mistakes, hence we see in Sunni text a respected member of the Bani Hashim (Ibn ‘Abbas) strongly disagreeing with another respected member of the Bani Hashim (‘Ali), this is of course because nobody in the Muslim community ever heard of (let alone believed in myths such as) Imamah and infallibility of certain individuals after the demise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
The ultimate irony however is, that even if Sunnis would submit (for the sake of argument) to all the secondary Sunni sources Shias quote (in their desperate attempt to make it look as if Abu Bakr, Khalid and other Sahabah went around burning people for no good reason), it would still not prove their evil agenda i.e. that the Sahabah were evil savages who unjustly punished people with fire (unlike the holy Imam ‘Ali who burnt gays, lesbians, idolaters with love and justice …) as this Shiachatter here claims:
… this is because if anything, it was ‘Ali who advised and encouraged the likes of Abu Bakr and Khalid to burn transgressors in the first place! Yes, if it wasn’t for ‘Ali they probably wouldn’t have burnt anybody to begin with, this is because Shia sahih hadith prove that burning anybody did not even cross the minds of Abu Bakr and Khalid until ‘Ali advised them to do so. So either ‘Ali is complicit Abu Bakr and Khalid’s mission (killing ‘innocent’ as the Shia claim), or none of them committing a specific crime by burning apostates as this was their Ijtihad:
Al-Sahih min Sirah Al-Imam Ali (‘Authentic reports from the life of Imam Ali’) by Ja’far Murtada Al-‘Amili, vol. 11, p. 336
من يعمل عمل قوم لوط، يحرق
The burning of the one who indulges in “homosexuality” (lit.: practice of the people of Lut i.e. sodomites).
وروي عن عبد الله ميمون، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: كتب خالد إلى أبي بكر
سلام عليك. أما بعد، فإني أتيت برجل قامت عليه البينة أنه يؤتي في دبره كما تؤ المرأة. فاستشار فيه أبو بكر، فقالوا: اقتلوه. فاستشار فيه أمير المؤمنين علي بن أبي طالب (عليه السلام)، فقال: أحرقه بالنار، فإن العرب لا ترى القتل شيئاً. قال لعثمان: ما تقول؟! قال: أقول ما قال علي، تحرقه بالنار. فكتب إلى خالد: أن أحرقه بالنار
1- المحاسن ص112 ووسائل الشيعة (ط مؤسسة آل البيت) ج28 ص160 و (ط دار الإسلامية) ج18 ص421 ومستدرك الوسائل ج18 ص79 وبحار الأنوار ج76 ص69 وجامع أحاديث الشيعة ج25 ص434 ونصب الراية ج4 ص142 وكشف اللثام (ط.ج) ج10 ص495 ورياض المسائل ج13 ص502 وجواهر الكلام ج41 ص381.
On the authority of ‘Abdullah Ibn Maymun who reported from Ja’far Al-Sadiq: “Khalid (Ibn Al-Walid) wrote to Abu Bakr: “Peace be upon you. I’ve been informed with clear evidence of a man that has been indulged in sodomy. Abu Bakr consulted the Sahabah who said: “Kill him (i.e. the sodomite).”
He (i.e. Abu Bakr) then consulted the Chiefof The Believers ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib who said: “Burn him (i.e. the sodomite) with fire, for killing alone means nothing to the Arabs (it’s not severe enough).”
‘Othman said: “What do you say [O Abu Bakr]?”
He (i.e. Abu Bakr) said: “I will go with what Ali has said, burn him (i.e. the “homosexual) with fire.” So he (i.e. Abu Bakr) wrote back to Khalid ordering him to burn the ‘homosexual’ with fire.” [Al-Sahih min Sirah Al-Imam Ali (‘Authentic reports from the life of Imam Ali’) by Ja’far Murtada Al-‘Amili, vol. 11, p. 336. Also in Al-Mahasin, p. 112, Wasa’il Al-Shia, vol. 28, p. 160 and vol. 18, p. 421. In Mustadrak Al-Wasa’il, vol. 18, p. 79. In Bihar Al-Anwar vol. 76, p. 69 and other many other Shia sources]
A similar hadith can be found in Sunni sources, however, unlike the Shias who have not just authenticated it but included it in Sahih (!) Sirahs of ‘Ali, the Sunni position is that the narration is in fact not authentic, this has been even said by Salafi scholars as can be seen on the famous Islamqa.info website:
Burning was mentioned, quoting those who said that it was proven in reports from the Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them), such as Ibn al-Qayyim, who stated definitively that this incident was proven, as was quoted from him in the fatwa.
But there are those who disagreed with Ibn al-Qayyim and regarded the report of this story as da‘eef (weak), such as al-Bayhaqi (may Allah have mercy on him), who said in as-Sunan al-Kubra (17/219): This is mursal. End quote.
It is well known that mursal is one of the types of da‘eef hadiths.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to burning, Ibn Abi’d-Dunya narrated via al-Bayhaqi and via Ibn al-Munkadir that Khaalid ibn al-Waleed wrote to Abu Bakr, telling him that he had found a man among one of the Arab tribes with whom men would have intercourse as with a woman. Abu Bakr called the Sahaabah together and asked them about that, and the one who had the strictest view was ‘Ali, who said: We think that we should burn him with fire, and the Sahaabah agreed on that.
I say: This is da‘eef jiddan (very weak). If it were saheeh, it would constitute definitive proof.
End quote from ad-Diraayah fi Takhreej Ahaadeeth al-Hidaayah (2/103)
Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd commented on this report as follows:
The verdict of the leading scholars is that it is a mursal hadith, as was stated clearly by al-Bayhaqi and ash-Shawkaani.
End quote from al-Hudood wa’t-Ta‘zeeraat ‘inda Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 175)
To sum up, this incident is not soundly or definitively proven.
- ‘Ali burning extremists is proven from Sunni and Shia authentic sources and narrations
- Shias agree on punishing certain transgressors with fire, including sodomites (‘gays’), this is an agreed upon matter amongst the Imamites!
- Sunnis on the other hand do not agree on the permissibility of punishing with fire, the majority prohibit it and only allowed as a form of retaliation i.e. not a for extremists and ‘gays’ by default as it is the case in Shiism.
- Abu Bakr and Khalid ibn Al-Walid burning transgressors such as apostates can not be found in primary Sunni sources such as Bukhari or the Sunan. The only narrations Shias can bring forward are from secondary sources, like books of history that are filled with weak narrations. Yes, these books do contain authentic narrations as well, but especially narrations with regards to Abu Bakr burning apostates (or Khalid cooking the head of an apostate!) have numerous defects in the chain and are not unanimously agreed upon.
- Even if the narrations of Abu Bakr and Khalid are turned out to be authentic in their chains, then this will constitute no problem for the Ahl Al-Sunnah, as they believe that the Sahabah were Mujtahids who could err, and in the case of burning as a form of punishment, it was none other than ‘Ali who advised and encouraged Abu Bakr and Khalid to do so (according to a sahih shia report and a disputed Sunni report).