The medical practice or technique of cauterization (cautery) is the burning of part of a body to remove or close off a part of it, which destroys some tissue in an attempt to mitigate bleeding & damage, remove an undesired growth, or minimize other potential medical harm, such as infections when antibiotics are unavailable. The practice was once widespread for treatment of wounds. Its utility before the advent of antibiotics was said to be effective at more than one level: To stop severe blood-loss & to prevent exsanguinations & to close amputations.
Cautery was historically believed to prevent infection, but current research shows that cautery actually increases the risk for infection by causing more tissue damage & providing a more hospitable environment for bacterial growth. Actual cautery refers to the metal device, generally heated to a dull red glow that a physician applies to produce blisters, to stop bleeding of a blood vessel & for other similar purposes. The main forms of cauterization used today in the world are electrocautery & chemical cautery - both are, for example, prevalent in the removal of unsightly warts. Cautery can also mean the branding of a human, either recreational or forced.
1. Narrated by Jabir رضي الله عنه that Nabi ﷺ said: "If there is any healing in your medicines then it is wet cupping (hijamah), or branding (cauterization), but I do not like to be (cauterized) branded."
[Bukhari: 5704; Book. 76; English vol. 7; Book. 71; Hadees. 605]
2. Narrated by Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنهما that Nabi ﷺ said: Healing is in three things: A gulp of honey, cupping & branding with fire (cauterizing). But I forbid my followers to use (cauterization) branding with fire.
[Bukhari: 5680; Book. 76; English vol. 7; Book. 71; Hadees. 584]
3. Hazrat Jabir رضي الله عنه says that “Ubayy Bin Kaab fell sick & Nabi ﷺ sent a doctor to him who cauterized him on his medical arm vein.”
[Ibn Majah: 3622; Book. 31; English vol. 4; Book. 31, Hadees. 3493]
4. Narrated by Jabir Bin Abdullah رضي الله عنه that Nabi cauterized Saad Bin Mu’adh رضي الله عنه on his medial arm vein, twice.
[Ibn Majah: 3623; Book. 31; English vol. 4; Book. 31, Hadees. 3494]
5. Jabir رضي الله عنه said that Nabi ﷺ cauterized Saad Bin Mu’adh رضي الله عنه from the wound of an arrow.
[Abu Dawud: 3866; Book. 29; English Book. 28; Hadees. 3857]
6. Hazrat Anas Bin Malik رضي الله عنه says that he was once cauterized because he was complaining from pleurisy while Nabi ﷺ was still alive. Abu Talha, Anas Bin An-Nadr & Zaid Bin Thabit witnessed that & it was Abu Talha who branded (cauterized) me.
[Bukhari: 5719, 5720, 5721; Book. 76; English vol. 7; Book. 71; Hadees. 617]
7. Hazrat Anas رضي الله عنه says that "Our beloved Nabi ﷺ cauterized Asad Bin Zurarah رضي الله عنه when he suffered from a septic finger.
[Tirmizi: 2188; Book. 28; English vol. 4; Book 2, Hadees. 2050]
8. Narrated by Imran Bin Husain رضي الله عنه that Nabi ﷺ has disallowed cauterizing, but we were tested (i.e. with various ailments) & we did had cauterization, so we neither were successful nor did we acquire an advantage.
[Tirmizi: 2186; Book. 28; English vol. 4; Book 2, Hadees. 2049]
9. There is a Hadees narrated in Sahihain about the seventy thousand Muslims who will enter Paradise without (hisaab kitaab) reckoning, describing them as: "There are those who will not seek formulas (Ruqyah); nor cauterization, neither are they superstitious & they depend on their Lord for each & everything". [Bukhari: 5752; Book. 76; English vol. 7; Book. 71; Hadees. 648]
Cauterization should be only done in worst & very much needed cases, such as when a hand or leg is amputated. As for prohibiting cauterizing, it might be specifically directed at whoever was seeking a cure with it (not to close an open wound). In early times, people used to superstitiously believe that whoever did not have cauterization would certainly die & that is why our beloved Nabi ﷺ disallowed.
Ibn Qutaybah says that cauterizing is of two types. The first type entails a healthy person using cauterization to fend off illness & it is this type that is referred to by the statement. Whoever reverts to cauterizing would not have practiced Tawakkul (depending on Allah); as such people seek to fend off whatever is destiny for them in the future. The second type entails cauterizing infected wounds & amputated limbs & cauterization is effective in such a condition. As for the type of cauterization that might or might not work, it is apparently disliked.
In short, the subject of cauterization fall under four categories, practicing it, disliking it, praising those who do not revert to it & disallowing it. There is no contradiction between these categories. When Nabi ﷺ had himself cauterized someone, it indicates that practicing it is allowed. Furthermore, our beloved Nabi ﷺ disliking cauterization for his Ummah does not indicate that it is prohibited. Nabi ﷺ praising those who avoid cauterization, tells that avoiding it is better. Finally, disallowing cauterization can be explained in general as "either cauterization is disliked, or that it is directed at those who revert to fend off a dangerous illness (as the last option left)". Allah knows the best.