[ by Charles Cameron — there’s rather more going on in the burning of the Jordanian pilot than I can handle — here are some of today’s relevant highlights ]
I’ll start and close with JM Berger, who has two of the wisest contextual comments of the day to offer us:
That’s the context as I see it, though you’ll note that Tim Furnish differs, later in this post.
Two tweets give us Qur’anic justification for and against the use of fire in punishment:
The Quranic verse Zaid Benjamin quotes is given in English in his tweet. The first seven verses of Sura 85, quoted by Will McCants, read in the Arberry translation:
By heaven of the constellations, by the promised day, by the witness and the witnessed, slain were the Men of the Pit, the fire abounding in fuel, when they were seated over it and were themselves witnesses of what they did with the believers.
I would really like to see a detailed scholarly post commenting on McCants’ reading of Qur’an 85.1-7, with or without notes on related ahadith and tafsir.
Two tweets offer ahadith related to the case:
Two from Tim Furnish:
Here is Tim Furnish’s commentary, from MahdiWatch:
ISIS gruesomely burned alive Jordanian Air Force officer Mu`adh al-Kasabeh not simply to horrify or intimidate, but rather in order to exact retribution for the “Crusaders” and their Coalition allies dropping bombs and launching missiles that consumed Muslims (especially, allegedly, children) in flames. The Islamic doctrine of shifa’ al-sudur (the name of the video, note) was derived from Sura al-Baqarah [II]:179 and its idea of “legal retribution” which is supposed to lead to reconciliation between Muslims once scores have been settled in like fashion—between, presumably, ISIS and the Muslim nations (Jordan, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Oman) named in the video as helping the “Crusaders.” So, in this mindset, al-Kasabeh had to burn–not simply be decapitated. Lex talionis according to Allah.
ISIS also adduces a saying from the famous Sunni cleric Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) that desecrating bodies is allowable if it horrifies (unbelieving) enemies into ceasing their aggression against Muslims—or, in this case, against the Islamic State proper.
So, just as with beheadings and enslavement of “pagan” women, ISIS is acting in a supremely, albeit brutally, atavistic Islamic fashion (not a nihilistic one, as the President keeps saying). Only when we admit that will we (Westerners and Muslims) be on the path to refuting and eradicating ISIS.
Mark Safranski, my gracious host and the publisher of this blog, refers us to the ICRC:
Mr Orange suggests there have been previous burnings by ISI, the predecessor to IS / Daesh:
It seems to me there’s room for plenty of research as between international lawyers and experts in the history of Islamic exegesis…
Three tweets regarding the Jordanian response:
Common sense: this, from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:
and John Horgan:
in light of which, let me add by way of requiescat:
I’ll close as I began, with JM Berger:
Let’s not feed the flames.