Recently, the Islamic State (IS) Jihadi group in Iraq and Syria has burnt alive a few prisoners of war and apostates of Islam by gathering them inside a cage before setting it on fire. Many Muslims have expressed shock at such a barbaric practice. They say this is not Islamic. Let us read the Quran, ahadith and Islamic history to find out whether or not Islam allows burning human beings alive.


On the Day of Judgment Allah will sort out the good and the evil; Allah will command to seize and drive the evil-doers into the midst of blazing fire... 44:40

For the unbelievers, garments of fire will be cut out; and boiling water poured over their heads… 22:19




Muhammad wanted to burn the houses of those who did not present themselves for the prayer; Muhammad also admitted that the only attraction for joining prayer was food, especially meat…Bukhari 1.11.617

Muhammad wanted to burn alive inside their houses all those who had not left their houses to attend prayer after hearing the prayer call…Bukhari 1.11.626

Muhammad intended to burn houses of those who did not attend the prayer after hearing the iqama…Bukhari 3.41.602

Muhammad ordered to kill someone and not to burn him because only Allah punishes with fire…Bukhari 4.52.259

Those Muslim who did not attend the prayer after hearing the prayer call (Azan), Muhammad wanted to burn their homes. Muhammad was angry that the Muslims were only interested in prayer when some enticements were offered, such as a bone covered with meat…Bukhari 9.89.330



Muhammad wanted to burn the houses of those who did not attend prayer in congregation…Muslim 4. 1369, 1370, 1371

Muhammad wanted to burn the house of those who did not attend the Juma (Friday) prayer…Muslim 4.1373

Muhammad has been commanded to burn the Quraysh; fight the unbelievers…Muslim 40.6853


Abu Bakr’s instruction: Khalid is to burn and slaughter the apostates, and to take their women and children as captives (X. 57 or there at.)

The narrative of the account provides, “[When] he [al-Fuja’ah] was brought to Abu Bakr he ordered a fire to be kindled with much firewood in the prayer yard (musalla) of Medinah and

threw him, with arms and legs bound, into it.”

(The History of al-Tabari,. Vol. X, The Conquest of Arabia, Translated By Fred M. Donner, SUNY Press, 1993; pp. 79 -80.)

Another transmitter of the account relates it this way: “When the two of them approached Abu Bakr, he ordered Turayfah b. Hajiz to take him out to this clearing and burn him in it with fire. So Turayfah took him out to the prayer yard and kindled a fire for him and threw him into it.” (Ibid, pp. 80-81.)

Then, there is also the record of one salient example of one of the Abu Bakr dispatched Islamic Commanders following Abu Bakr’s orders on dealing with the apostates to Islam, that being, Commander Al-Qa ‘qa b. Amr, in what followed the defeat of the people of Buzakhah. With respect to that, these actions of the said commander follow, with the narrative of such reading this way:

After the defeat of Buzakhah, Banu ‘Amir came, saying, “Let us enter that which we had left,” so he made an agreement with them on [the same terms] that the people of Buzakhah from Asad and Ghatafan and Tayyi had agreed to before them. They gave him their hands to Islam. The only thing he would accept from anyone of Asad or Ghatafan or Hawazin or Sulaym or Tayyi was that they bring him those who during their apostasy had burned the people of Islam and mutilated them and waged aggression against them; so they brought them to him, whereupon he accepted that from them [as atonement] except for Qurrah b. Hubayrah and some people with him whom he fettered. He mutilated those who had waged aggression against Islam by burning them with fire, smashing them with rocks, throwing them down from mountains, casting them headlong into wells, and piercing them with arrows; and he sent Qurrah and the [other] prisoners and wrote a letter to Abu Bakr, “Banu Amir after awaiting [the outcome of things] . I have accepted nothing from anyone, whether he fought me or made peace with me, until he brought me whoever waged aggression against the Muslims; those I have killed by every means of slaughter. And I have sent you Qurrah and his companions.” (Ibid, pp. 75 -76.)

In the above actions taken by Commander Al-Qa ‘qa b. Amr, he did nothing but follow the orders of Abu Bakr as those orders were articulated in the warning letter to the apostates. Therein, he promised, his commanders “…will not spare any one of them he can get mastery over, [but may] burn them with fire, slaughter them by any means….” (Ibid, p. 57.)

Abu Bakr wrote to Khalid, “….Take seriously the command of God and be not remiss; ….So kill whomever you like of those who show enmity to God or who opposed Him, [if] you think there will be some benefit in doing so.” Hence (Khalid) remained in al-Buzakhah for a month, going ‘round about it and returning to it in pursuit of those [evildoers]; so that some of them were burned and some cut to pieces and some smashed with rocks and some thrown from mountain tops….” (Tabari, Ibid, pp. 76 – 77.)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. From Abu Bakr, caliph of the Apostle of God….So God guided with the truth whoever responded to Him, and the Apostle of God, with His permission, struck whoever turned his back to Him until he came to Islam, willingly or grudgingly….

I have heard that some of you have turned back from your religion after you had acknowledged Islam and labored in it….I have sent to you someone at the head of an army …. I ordered him not to fight anyone or to kill anyone until he has called him to the cause of God;…. But I have ordered him to fight those who deny [Him] for that reason. So he will not spare any one of them he can get mastery over, [but may] burn them with fire, slaughter them by any means, and take women and children captive; nor shall he accept from anyone anything except Islam. So whoever follows him, it is better for him; but whoever leaves him, will not weaken God….

(Al-Tabari, Ibid, pp.55 – 57.)



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 p. 515)

[Note: Since the IS incidence of burning alive a few Muslims who, IS considers as traitors, I have received many emails to clarify the Islamic view points on this. Instead of responding to individual e-mails, I decided to write this short essay.]

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