If I did not read, with my own eyes, what Abu-Bakr Al-Hamdaani wrote in his book الاعتبار في الناسخ والمنسوخ من الآثار, pages 163-167, I could have sworn it was a mean attack on Islam by Islamophobes!
If that wasn't enough smearing of Islam and the Prophet (PBUH), Abu-Bakr Al-Hamdaani reports more on pages 163-164 of his book الاعتبار في الناسخ والمنسوخ من الآثار under the title "Killing women and children of polytheists and the differing about that!"
He starts with a hadeeth which he says has been authenticated by both Al-Bukhaari and Muslim, in which the Prophet (PBUH) was asked about women and children staying in their homes and becoming victims of a battle. His reply was "they are of them." This hadeeth was narrated by Aş-Şa`b ibn Juthaama.
Al-Hamdaani reports that a number of scholars whom he did not name have claimed that this hadeeth abrogates the hadeeth we mentioned in the previous post
, narrated by Burayda. Thus, they ruled that killing women and children in war has become allowed after being forbidden!
But those scholars missed the question asked of the Prophet (PBUH)! He was not asked about premeditated or targeted killing; he was asked about accidental killing - what we today call collateral damage. The answer alleged to the Prophet (PBUH) does not mean he okayed murder; it means then as it means now that war will lead to casualties of the warrior's own people.
And we can see this more clearly in two more hadeeths that Al-Hamdaani reports. The first one is reported by Al-Aswad ibn Saree` in which the Prophet (PBUH) was startled by news that children of the enemy were killed in battle. He said, "Hear ye! Do not kill children! Hear ye! Do not kill children!"
The second hadeeth was narrated by Ħanzhala Al-Kaatib in which the Prophet (PBUH) encountered a corpse of a woman in battle. He got upset and asked, "Was she fighting? Was she in front? Go tell Khaalid (head warrior) not to kill children or weaklings!"
So, if common sense and human decency will not succeed in curbing some people's appetite for blood, these hadeeths should!
I'm glad that Al-Hamdaani near the end of that article explained what the issue was with the Prophet's reply in Ibn Juthaama's narration. He quoted Ash-Shaafi`i rejecting the notion that killing of enemy women and children was ever allowed. He explained what the Prophet (PBUH) said as follows. Verse 4:92,
set rules for punitive damages to accidental death victim families. Ash-Shaafi`i argued that the categories mentioned in 4:92 do not include polytheist women and children victims of battle. Thus, Muslims do not have to compensate their families as 4:92 requires. I agree that this is the most likely interpretation of the Prophet's reply, given his repeated emphasis in other hadeeths about sparing women and children.