السلام عليكم Is it permissible to use missles and rockets to attack a city where there will be women and children, doesn’t missles and rockets also come under the prohibition from the hadith “No one may punish using fire other than the Lord of the Fire (Allaah).” Abu dawud
Yes it is permissible to use missiles and rockets during war. Both for destruction of enemy property and for killing enemy personnel.
ولا بأس برميهم بالنبال ونحوها من وسائل القتال الحديثة
There is no harm in shooting missiles at them and using other modern means of warfare
Missiles and rockets are just a means of delivery. Typically they use explosives i.e. shock waves shrapnel and debris to kill and destroy. This is similar to the use of projectile weapons like arrows and catapults which were used by the Prophet ﷺ and the sahaba. And even if they use incendiaries it is permissible to use them.
Killing by burning with fire can fall into either of the three cases:
When the enemy has already been subdued and made prisoners. The majority considers it forbidden to execute prisoners through immolation based on the hadith:
بعثنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في بعث فقال إن وجدتم فلانا وفلانا فأحرقوهما بالنار ثم قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حين أردنا الخروج إني أمرتكم أن تحرقوا فلانا وفلانا، وإن النار لا يعذب بها إلا الله، فإن وجدتموهما فاقتلوهما
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) sent us in a mission and said, "If you find so-and-so and so-and-so, burn both of them with fire."
When we intended to depart, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "I have ordered you to burn so-and-so and so-and-so, and it is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, kill them"
However some madhabs allow for burning in Qisas (retaliation):
ثم أمر بمسامير فأحميت فكحلهم بها
Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes
والحرمات قصاص فمن اعتدى عليكم فاعتدوا عليه بمثل ما اعتدى عليكم
For [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you.
And some rarer opinions allow for any burning and execution by immolation or burning their bodies posthumously, as فاقتلوا المشركين (9:5) makes permissible all ways of killing by default. It is recorded that some sahaba such as Abu Bakr, Khalid bin Waleed and Ali ibn Abi Talib used fire in killing some people. The above hadith may be interpreted as not being a general prohibition but rather as kindness shown by the Prophet ﷺ in one particular incident.
During the attack when it is feasible to kill or capture the enemy without using fire. The ruling in this situation is disagreed upon. Some madhabs consider it forbidden to use fire in this case, while others allow it.
During the attack when it is not feasible to kill or capture the enemy without using fire. It is agreed upon that it is permissible to use fire in this case. That is because necessity makes it permissible to use. And refraining from using it would lead to harm for the Muslims and to abandonment of the obligation of jihad by making it impossible to carry out.
The following are some ahadith and an athar on the use of fire as a weapon:
فانطلق إليها فكسرها وحرقها
Jarir proceeded towards that house, and dismantled and burnt it.
حرق النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم نخل بني النضير
The Prophet (ﷺ) burnt the date-palms of Bani An-Nadir.
نزل نبي من الأنبياء تحت شجرة فلدغته نملة، فأمر بجهازه فأخرج من تحتها، ثم أمر ببيتها فأحرق بالنار، فأوحى الله إليه فهلا نملة واحدة
Once while a prophet amongst the prophets was taking a rest underneath a tree, an ant bit him. He, therefore, ordered that his luggage be taken away from underneath that tree and then ordered that the dwelling place of the ants should be set on fire. Allah sent him a revelation:-- "Wouldn't it have been sufficient to burn a single ant?"
فحدثني أسامة، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان عهد إليه فقال أغر على أبنى صباحا وحرق
Narrated Usamah: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) enjoined upon him to attack Ubna in the morning and burn the place.
أن جنادة بن أبي أمية الأزدي، وعبد الله بن قيس الفزاري، وغيرهما، من ولاة البحر من بعدهم كانوا يرمون العدو من الروم وغيرهم بالنار
Junadah bin Abi Umayyah al-Azdi and Abdullah bin Qais al-Fazari and other admirals said that they threw fire at their enemies from Romans and others
Some fiqh references on the issue:
ولا بأس بإحراق حصونهم بالنار، وإغراقها بالماء، وتخريبها وهدمها عليهم، ونصب المنجنيق عليها لقوله ﴿يخربون بيوتهم بأيديهم وأيدي المؤمنين﴾ [الحشر: ٢] ولأن كل ذلك من باب القتال
There is no hindrance in burning their fortresses with fire, and drowning them in water, and destroying them and making them collapse on the enemy, and using catapults against them. The evidence for this is the verse:
they destroyed their houses by their [own] hands and the hands of the believers (59:2)
And because all these acts come under the meaning of fighting
ويجوز حصار الكفار في البلاد والحصون والقلاع، وإرسال الماء عليهم، ورميهم بنار ومنجنيق وما في معنى ذلك من هدم بيوتهم، وقطع الماء عنهم، وإلقاء حيات أو عقارب عليهم ولو كان فيهم نساء وصبيان
And it is permissible to besiege the disbelievers in settlements, fortresses and castles. And to let lose flood water on them, and to shoot fire and catapults at them, and whatever else comes under the meaning of that such as demolishing their homes, and cutting off their water, and throwing snakes and scorpions on them even if there are women and children among them
— Mughni al-Muhtaaj (Shafi'i)
يجوز رميهم أي: الكفار بالنار، ... فإذا قدر عليهم، لم يجز تحريقهم
It is permissible to throw fire at the disbelievers ... but after control is gained over them it is not permissible to burn them
As for the casualties of women and children that is covered in the answer to the question: Does islam allow killing or enslaving civilians in war? In short women and children should not be specifically targeted but it is permitted to target a place where they are mixed with those adult males who can be targeted.
The evidence of this is the hadith about the permissibility of raids at night when it is not possible to distinguish between men and women and children:
وسئل عن أهل الدار يبيتون من المشركين، فيصاب من نسائهم وذراريهم قال هم منهم
The Prophet (ﷺ) ... was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger.
The Prophet (ﷺ) replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)."
And the fact that the Prophet ﷺ used a catapult in the siege of Taif. Taif was a settlement like any other where men, women and children lived together and it is obvious that the women and children could have been struck by the catapult.
Similarly the sahaba used catapults such as at the conquest of Alexandria and Caesarea.
And based on reasoning, as it is a necessity and without it Jihad would become unfeasible or even impossible to carry out and the enemy would gain easy ways to shield themselves from the attacks of the Muslims.
And scholars have noted that this is permissible as mentioned in the above references as well.
المحرم إنما هو قصد قتلهن فأما إذا قصدنا قصد الرجال بالإغارة أو نرمي منجنيق أو فتح شق أو إلقاء نار فتلف بذلك نساء أو صبيان لم نأثم بذلك
It is forbidden to intentionally aim for the women and children. However if we aim for the men in a night raid, or when shooting a catapult, or when demolishing a dam, or when throwing fire and that causes casualties of women and children then we do not earn sin because of that.
Missiles and rockets follow the same ruling.
Missiles and rockets can be used if it is sure that it will target the enemies at war and will not target women and children. Some people say if enemy is killing our children, we can kill their children too. This is not correct approach. Muslims are going to war to bring peace and justice and if this war is killing innocents the purpose of war itself is lost.
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allāh, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allāh; indeed, Allāh is [fully] Aware of what you do. Quran 5:8