Refuting the Hadith Evidence used by Wahhabi-Kharijite Demagogues to target Civilians/Non-Combatants

The Wahhabi demagogue Mr. Anwar al-Awlaki, distortes a hadith to justify the murdering of Civilians/Non-Combatants. In an interview published by their propaganda magazine called “Inspire”, he says:

Al-Malahem: Do you support such operations, though they target what the media calls “innocent civilians” etc.?

Anwar Al-Awlaki: With regard to the issue of “civilians”, this term has become prevalent these days, but we prefer to use the terminology used by our scholars of Fiqh. They use the terms combatants or non-combatants. A combatant is someone who bears arms – even if it be a woman. Non-combatants are people who have no participation in the war.

The American people as a whole are participants in the war because they elected this adminis- tration, and they finance this war. In the recent elections as well as previous ones, the American people had other options and could have elected people who did not want war. Nevertheless, these candidates got nothing but a handful of votes. Also before anything else, we must ex- amine this issue from the perspective of Islamic law, as this is what will settle the issue regarding its permissibility. If the heroic Mujahid brother Umar Farooq could have targeted hundreds of soldiers, that would have been wonderful. But we are talking about the practicalities of war.

If the Messenger () was able to fight in daytime only, he would have done so, but there were times he sent battalions at night, and due to the darkness, women and children were also killed by these battalions sent out at night. The Companions returned and asked the Prophet () about this matter, to which he responded, “They are from amongst them,” meaning that they follow the same ruling as their fathers. The Messenger () permitted this act.

We can also look to the hadeeth mentioned in the books of Seerah when Al-Thaqeef fortified themselves in Taif. The Prophet () used a catapult against them. This catapult did not distin- guish between men, women, or children. This was the reality of the battle.

It is America today who have weapons which can distinguish between targets. Their weapons are precise, if they wished to distinguish between targets, they would have done so. But despite this fact, they target weddings, funerals, and families, killing many women and children.

There are three modes of justification being argued:

1) Broadening the definition of combatants to include people voting in an election and so forth.

2) Using a narration from the Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him).

3) Looking at the actions of America.

The ambiguity and holes in the first argument is obvious as it indirectly turns non-combatants into combatants by broadening the definition of combatant; ultimately making the whole basis for such a distinction in Shariah between combatants and non-combatants, during war, into a meaningless distinction. Furthermore, this narrow classification into mere “combatant” and “non-combatant” itself is questionable and does not take into account the various other possibilities.

The third argument is even more explicit against Shariah as it entails following the path of Jews and Christians.

As for the second argument, he uses a particular hadith, and the answer to this is by providing a proper context and understanding of the hadith, and clearing it from the interpretations of the ignorant. The Shafi scholar, Gibril Haddad, discusses the hadith in question:

Hadiths On Avoiding Civilian Casualties Of War

Q:
[A] question about the language of two narrations: Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: […]

A:
This translation is incorrect. The wording related from al-Sa`b ibn Jaththama is very pointed as the question was a legal issue. The
translation should be:

The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, passed by me in al-Abwa or in Waddan. He was asked about the kinfolk inside a house spending the night among the [combating] pagans, as a result of which some of their women and children will get killed. He replied, “They have the same status /They are the same [lit. They are from them].” I also heard the Prophet saying, “The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Messenger.”

Q:
> My question is about the language used here. Some people portray the
> response “They are for them” as a lack of regard for non-Muslim women and
> children, that is, they portray Islamic military ethics as “playing it
> loose” with regards to women and chidren, even though they admit that
> Islam prohibits the intentional killing of women and children. What they
> take issue with here is the lack of regard supposedly portrayed in the
> quote. What does “They are from them” mean, according to the scholars,
> because some peopel would want it to mean “it’s ok, they’re from the
> pagans”.

It means (i) there is no violation of the house’s sanctity for entering someone’s house in nighttime combat; and (ii) there is no blood-price to be paid for accidental manslaughter of non-combatants the way there would be if a pagan non-combatant had been maliciously victimized.

The hadith shows a juridical concern and scrupulosity for exceptional situations in difficult circumstances (combat in the dark in enemy territory). Otherwise the other hadiths in al-Bukhari and Muslim are explicit that (i) the Prophet never fought at night precisely to avoid unintentional casualties; and (ii) it is forbidden to kill women and children. This has been the default in 1,400 years of Muslim law. Al-Nawawi placed the heading inside Sahih Muslim here: “The possibility of killing women and children at night unintentionally” while Suhnun was asked about the use of catapults and fire projectiles against a fort in a siege he said: “I have never heard of it and I think it is an abomination.” The questioner said: “But did not Malik permit it?” Suhnun said: “Only if there are no dependents, when there are only men fighting inside.”

Furthermore, it is known that the dialogue reported by al-Sa`b ibn Jaththama took place in the Year 7 and most scholars consider its
stipulations abrogated by the absolute prohibition, a position alluded to by Suhnun as that of Imam Malik in the excerpt above; while the great hadiths of the prohibition of killing offspring and women post-date it – such as those narrated:

(1) by al-Aswad ibn Sari`: “Killing got them carried away to the point they started killing children. When the news reached the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, he said: “Are not the best among you children of pagans? There is no child born but with belief and submission to God ingrained in them until they can speak, at which time their parents turn them into Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians.” Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaq, Musnad Ahmad, Sunan al-Darimi, etc. See its full documentation in the margins of Sahih Ibn Hibban (1:341). A variant narration has the strong wording: “Listen! Do not kill the dependents! Listen! Do not kill the dependents!”

(2) from `Abd al-Rahman ibn Ka`b ibn Malik in the Muwatta’: When the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, gave permission for the raid against Ibn Abi al-Haqiq [in Khaybar] he specifically forbade the killing of women and children.

(3) from Ibn `Umar in the Muwatta’ and also with a sound chain through the narrators of al-Bukhari and Muslim, the well-known hadith of the Prophet’s condemnation of the killing of a woman in one of his military expeditions, and he categorically prohibited the killing of women and children.

Imam al-Shafi`i relates from Sufyan ibn `Uyayna that al-Zuhri never narrated the hadith of Sa`b ibn Jaththama except he immediately followed it up with that of Ka`b ibn Malik. Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (1:347) makes a point of showing the same historical sequence and status of abrogation.

Q:
> [Question concerning a] second narration:
>
> This tradition
> has been narrated by the game authority (Yazid b. Hurmus) through a
> different
> chain of transmitters with the following difference in the elucidation of
> one
> of the points raised by Najda in his letter to Ibn Abas: The Messenger of
> Allah (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the
> children, so thou shouldst not kill them UNLESS YOU COULD KNOW WHAT
> KHADIR HAD
> KNOWN ABOUT THE CHILD HE KILLED, OR YOU COULD DISTINGUISH BETWEEN A CHILD
> WHO
> WOULD GROW UP TO BE A BELIEVER (AND A CHILD WHO WOULD GROW UP TO BE A
> NON-BELIEVER),
> SO THAT YOU KILLED THE (PROSPECTIVE) NON-BELIEVER AND LEFT THE
> (PROSPECTIVE)
> BELIEVER ASIDE. (Sahih Muslim,
> Book 019, Number 4457)”
>
> What is the meaning of this narration? The capitalized portion is what
> some people seem to have an issue with.

A:
Ibn `Abbas is scoffing and using irony. He is saying in effect: “Unless you’re a Prophet – and you’re not – and unless you have God-sent
knowledge of someone’s ontological guilt – and you don’t – then you may have at them without discrimination of age or combatant status; otherwise you will be considered an indiscriminate murderer.”

(clipped)

GF Haddad
2009-12-22
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