May 18, 2004


I posted something a while back on an article on IslamOnline about Islamic rules on warfare, which tells us, among other things,

The corpses of the enemy must not be disgraced or mutilated.

Corpses of the enemy should be returned.

"These are the rights that Islam confers on combatants," the article tells us, rather definitively (I should say "among" the rights, since I truncated the list here). The same site has a discussion of the prohibition on mutilating corpses:

it is permissible to mutilate the dead only in case of retaliation. If anyone cuts the ear of another, his ear is to be cut in return. If he inflicts any physical damage on anyone, he should be retaliated against in the same manner. In case of war, Muslim are allowed to take vengeance for their mutilated dead mujahids (fighters) in the same way it was done to them. Almighty Allah says: "If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient" (An-Nahl: 126).

This verse was revealed when the polytheists mutilated the corpse of Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) swore to mutilate seventy corpses of the polytheists in retaliation for what they had done with Hamzah's body. Hence, this verse was revealed to indicate that punishment should be done in the same manner without any sort of transgression, so that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was permitted to mutilate only one corpse of the polytheists. However, the verse also shows that patience and refraining from retaliation are better in Allah's Sight. Thereupon, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refrained from it and did not mutilate anybody.

The piece goes on to note that it's preferable for Muslims not to mutilate corpses.

Incidentally, I looked up Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib in my New Encyclopedia of Islam, which tells us that he was the uncle of Mohammad, an early convert to Islam, and a fierce fighter who died at the Battle of Uhud in 625. Neither the entry on Hamzah, nor the entry on the Battle of Uhud, mentioned mutilations of Hamzah or polytheists, and my little Penguin translation of the Qur'an suggests that the significance of the battle -- the lesson to be drawn from it -- was the necessity of constancy in faith (some Muslim fighters deserted; others -- a group of archers -- disobeyed their orders and left their station to get an early start at divvying up the spoils, leading to the loss at Uhud). I couldn't find much on mutilation, in other words, though a cursory Google search yielded this piece, which I skimmed, but couldn't find any reference to mutilatiting the bodies of 70 polytheists.

Posted by Ideofact at May 18, 2004 11:42 PM

Hamza (May Allaah be pleased with Him!) was killed by a slave who had been promised his freedom if he were successful in killing Hamza (May Allaah be pleased with Him!).

The wife of one of the leaders of the Quraysh idolators, Hind, participated in the mutilation of Hamza (ra) and even went so far as to chew on his liver.

It is interesting to note that both the slave who earned his freedom by killing Hamza (ra), Wahshi, and Hind, who ate his liver, both became Muslim later on! May Allaah (swt) be pleased with all of them.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at May 19, 2004 01:25 PM

hamza hamza hamza azmah hind hind hind wahshi wahshi wahshi wahshi hamza hamza hamza wahshi hind hind wahshi. [pause]

See Abu Noor, I didn't add (May Allaah be pleased with Him!) or (ra) or (viva) and nothing happened. And I didn't even capitalize. Oh wait, now I'm going to hell (rolls eyes).

BTW, what was your point?

Posted by: Mahsheed at May 21, 2004 01:22 PM

mhshd, i dont think there is any point in his comment. he was trying to relay a bit of info on Hamza's killing on the battlefield and the other characters involved in it.
why are you so irked at the devotion he shows in his comment. not using capital letters is just bad writting. but then so is misspelling names. see you in hell.

Posted by: ali at May 24, 2004 07:59 AM

I don't have much of a problem with writers who consign themselves to hell (according to any number of religious leaders, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Pagan, I'm certainly likely to find myself there), but I don't particularly care for commenters who suggest others will be going there, even if those others have made the suggestion themselves.

Posted by: Bill at May 24, 2004 09:27 PM