Torturing a person to extract information
Fatwa No: 251011

Question

Assalaam alaykum. Is it permissible in Islam to use torture in order to try to extract information from a person?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The basic principle is that it is not permissible to torture or punish someone who has not committed a crime. Abu Bakrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Verily, your blood, your properties, and your honor are sacred to one another like the sanctity of this day of yours in this month of yours. Let those who are present convey it (this information) to those who are absent.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Moreover, Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “If people were to be given according to their claims, then some men would claim the blood and property of others, but the burden of the proof is upon the claimant and the taking of an oath is upon the one who denies (the allegation).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

However, people are not all the same. Some are righteous while others are not. The rulings differ depending on the difference of states. Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him spoke about the categories of people who are accused as he said: “...The Third Category: that the accused is known for his dissoluteness, like a person who is accused of theft if he was known before that to be a thief, and someone accused of highway robbery if he was known to rob people on the roads, and someone accused of murder or if anyone is known to do that..." until he said: "It is permissible to beat that kind of accused people in the same manner that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ordered Az-Zubayr to punish a man who had hidden his money until he confessed that he had hidden it, as related in the story of Ibn Abul-Huqayq.” [End of quote]

Hence, the matter of beating is related to this category of people and not to every accused person.

Finally, since this issue is a door to whims and taking revenge, some scholars are stringent in this matter and say that it is in the hands of the ruler and not the judge, and some of them say that the matter is in the hands of both the ruler and the judge, and some of them say that such a person should be imprisoned and not beaten. Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon, mentioned these opinions in the same context.

Allaah Knows best.

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