Imam Abū Yaʿqūb al-Buwayṭī (d. 231/846), who was a prominent student of Imam al-Shafi (d. 204H), writes in his “Mukhtasar al-Buwayti”:
Whenever there is a sunna covering a whole class from which some-thing has been excluded, the exclusion is not extended, every new case being treated according to the general rule and not the exception. An example is the Hadith of al-Ṣaʿb b. Jaththāma on a night raid, in which women and children may be killed, and the Hadith of Ibn Abī al-Ḥuqayq reporting that the Prophet proscribed the killing of women and children. Thus the killing of women and children separately outside of a night raid is forbidden, and in a night raid one may not intentionally kill them if one can distinguish them. But if one raids at night and happens to kill them there is no sin involved, God willing.
The words of Imam al-Buwayti are important to note in today’s time where we have Qaedists and their various offshoots massacring civilians under the guise of Islam. If one is familiar with the arguments of these zealots justifying the killing of civilians, one can notice that the narration that apparently allowed women and children being killed at one instance of a night raid is the central proof they use. But the difference between an authentic Sunni scholar and a charlatan pseudo scholar becomes apparent in the way how the interpretations differ. Imam al-Buwayti not only restricts the narration to a case of night raids while rejecting any further extension of this exclusion or making use of this as an analogy to include other cases, he also furthermore restricts the case of night raids to a situation of unintentional killing because of inability to distinguish a civilian while rejecting intentional killing when a distinction is possible. The zealots on the other hand do the exact opposite using the case of night raid as proof where they abrogate the prohibition of killing civilians, allow intentional killing, reject burden of responsibility of making distinction, extending the night case to include every other case thereby promoting killing civilians at any place and time, and even going to the extent of redefining civilians to an extent that the idea of civilians don’t exist anymore.
Thus, this acts as a clear and important example of why it is important that one takes religion from scholars who have gone through rigorous study through traditional authorities of Sunni Islam that teach the classical books of Sunni Islam and have been granted permission by such scholars after having been trained through rigorous process. This is an example of the danger of taking religion from half baked scholars who either are complete layman (maybe doctors or engineers) who have turned scholars in a day by posting a youtube video with a black banner hanging behind, or others who have obtained Islamic degree at a secular university in Europe or even an online course, or spent barely 2 years at some modern name sake “Islamic” university that don’t go through or complete rigorous standards of traditional scholarship. Its an example of the danger of interpreting Quran and Sunnah without knowing the rules and principles of interpretation of Quran and Sunnah in the first place, nor knowing how the scholars of Islam for 1400 years of Islamic history have interpreted the Quran and Sunnah.