Is it permissible to kill children at war according to the hadith, "the Prophet said, ‘there was no drawback to killing women and children at war’”?
Submitted by on Fri, 13/01/2017 - 09:24
Dear Brother / Sister,
The following is stated in summary in the hadith mentioned in the question: “Women and children die during the raids at night against the polytheists. What is the decree about it?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “They are from the polytheists too.” (see Bukhari, Jihad, 146; Muslim, Jihad, 26/h. no: 1745)
According to Imam Nawawi and Ibn Hajar, “women and children being killed deliberately” is not mentioned in this hadith; “the arrows, spears, etc. thrown at the men of the polytheists hitting women and children by mistake” or “the cases when it is impossible to reach the men without touching them” is mentioned in the hadith. (see Nawawi, Ibn Hajar, the explanation of the relevant hadith)
However, the Prophet (pbuh) absolutely prohibited killing women and children afterwards. (Ibn Hajar, ibid; Bukhari, Jihad, 147,148; Muslim, Jihad, 24,25/h. No: 1744; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 121; Tirmidhi, Sayr,9; Ibn Majah, Jihad, 30; Darimi, Sayr,25; Ahmed b. Hanbal, 2/122,123 ) It is not permissible to kill the women and children who do not take part in the war based on these hadith with the unanimous agreement of four madhhabs. (see W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 6/421-423)
According to Imam Malik and Awzai, women and children cannot be killed even if they are used as shields by the enemy. (Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 6/147)
Samura Ibn Jundab narrates: ''The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, 'Kill the old polytheists but do not kill the children.''' (Abu Dawud, Jihad 121, (2670); Tirmidhi, Siyar 28, (1583)
The word “shuyukh (old)” used in hadiths like this is used in the sense of strong and resolute men rather than old men. (see Awnul-Mabud, Tuhfatul-Ahwazi, the explanation of the relevant hadith)
As a matter of fact, it is forbidden to kill very old men. According to what Hz. Anas narrates, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) addressed the soldiers who were going to war as follows:
“Go in Allah's name, trusting in Allah, and adhering to the religion of the Messenger of Allah. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a young infant, or a child, or a woman; do not be dishonest about booty, but collect your spoils, do right and act well, for Allah loves those who do well.”(Abu Dawud, Jihad, 90; Naylu’l-Awtar,7/246)
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