Despite the ancient examples of capital punishment in the Bible, in modern times there’s been broad moral concern in Christianity and Judaism on whether it should ever occur.
If legal, then what methods are proper? Under secular law in the United States, hanging, firing squads and electrocution have given way to lethal injection, supposedly more humane though recent foul-ups raise questions about that.
Islam is unambiguous in endorsing executions for “just cause” (Quran surah 17:33). But what about the methods?
The Islamic State claimed religious sanction when it burned alive, proudly and on camera for all to see, Jordanian prisoner of war Muath al-Kasaesbeh, supposedly because this fellow Muslim was an “infidel.”
In a good Reuters follow-up, doubly datelined from Dubai and Amman, Muslim religious figures denounced this form of execution. Sheik Hussein bin Shu’ayb, head of religious affairs in southern Yemen, declared that the Prophet Muhammad “advised against burning people with fire.” And Saudi Arabian cleric Salman al-Odah said “burning is an abominable crime rejected by Islamic law, regardless of its causes.” He added, “Only God tortures by fire.”
The most striking quote came from the grand sheik of Cairo’s venerable Al-Azhar University, Ahmed al-Tayeb, who said the pilot’s executioners deserve to be “killed, crucified or to have their limbs amputated.”