5. Stoning under the Bible
It is interesting to note that while the punishment for stoning is not found in the Quran, it is, however found in the Bible.
The Bible states the following explicitly:
(a) “But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you”. [Deut 22:20 - 21].
(b) "If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel” [Deut 22:22]
(c) "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city,and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. [Deut 22:23 - 24]
(d) "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. [Lev 20:10]
Quite apart from the punishment of stoning for adultery, the Bible also prescribes the rajm punishment for those guilty of preaching a different religion such as the following:
"If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, `Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the
, out of the house of bondage. And all land of Egypt shall hear, and fear, and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. (Bible, King James version: Deuteronomy 13:6-11) Israel
In the Bible, the rajm punishment is prescribed for a variety of ‘biblical offences’ such as the offences of practicing a different religion, for blasphemy, for cursing God and the King, for being a medium or a wizard, for breaking the Sabbath, for being a stubborn and rebellious son, and for stealing, to name a few. Evidence from the Bible therefore clearly demonstrates that the Bible explicitly enjoins rajm as a mode of punishment.
Ironically, it appears that the Shariah penalty of stoning for adultery has support from the Bible and not the Quran. I humbly submit that this point is critical for consideration by current day Islamic thinkers for the following reasons:
a) This is because the Quran unambiguously states the following:
“The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment”. [an-Nur 24:2]
Indeed the Quran prescribes a punishment for adultery. But the punishment meted out is a scourge of 100 lashes. The Quran remains silent on the mode and intensity and leaves it to the good judgement of the future generations of mankind.
b) There does not appear to be any evidence that the fukaha has considered the possibility that the narrators or the jurists or the ahlul fikh have not been influenced by the preIslamic mode of thinking, namely biblical influences. This is equally important when one considers that the stoning penalty is derived from hadiths reports and alleged sunnah of the Prophet, both of which is a product of scholarly verification and collection. The question would then arise: In a matter of such doubt where one is faced with the clear verses of the Quran and the scholarly claim that such and such a hadith or sunnah existed, which one should the Muslim “hear and obey” (samikna wa-atakna)? This is a critical question for a Muslim who truly fears and believes in the hereafter as opposed to what I humbly term a ‘habitual religionist’.
(c) It may be worthy to examine the message contained in verses such as the following in the Quran when one considers the likeness of the sunnah put forward by jurists as authentic supporting the rajm punishment with the numerous and unambiguous verses in the Bible on the same subject:
“Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of God,-that is the (only) Guidance." Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against God”.
Based on the foregoing research and analysis, it is impossible to support the stoning as a mode of punishment prescribed by Allah swt if we refer primarily to the Quran. However, it is clear that the Bible strongly enjoins such a mode and it appears that jurists are of the view that there are reported hadiths which enjoins the same. Despite this apparent ‘unanimous’ agreement between the jurists that the Shariah prescribes the stoning penalty, they differ as to its application and as to whether the offender is a male or female. The principles they employ are also not consistent.
For example, in the execution of the death penalty (which rajm is) for apostasy, Imam Malik, Imam Shafii and Imam Ahmad hold the view that death punishment for apostasy is common for both males and females. Imam Hanifah, a woman apostate shall not be punished but imprisoned till she repents or dies and he apparently based his view on a hadith where the Prophet (pbuh) reportedly prohibited the killing on no-Muslim women in battlefield. If the rationale of the hadith is the prohibition of the death sentence for women, then it is illogical that the Prophet would have enjoined the rajm punishment for women. The argument could be extended further to state that it is equally unjust to have different sentences for the same offence by different sexes. Therefore, this is the kind of problems the ahlul-fikh run into when a fikhi conclusion is arrived at which is in clear conflict with the Quran. I humbly submit that when the Quran is clear, there should be no room for exegetical exercises, however clever it may sound.
I submit that the other important fact that lends to the continued belief in an alleged “Islamic principle” when it is unsupported by the Quran or authentic sunnah is the mindset of Muslims over the years – the views of the schools of thought cannot be challenged legitimately and any criticism of the jurists analysis of reported hadiths is misconstrued as a criticism against the Prophet (pbuh). Otherwise, how can one explain the following?
(a) despite the scholarly controversy surrounding the rajm (and the unambiguous verse Q24:2, countries like
Nigeria and still incorporate the rajm punishment into law? Iran
(b) Even the offences for which rajm is made into Law in these countries differ. For example, in
Nigeria, the punishment for sodomy is rajm but in , though the punishment is killing the offender, the mode is determined by the Judge. For lesbianism, it is 50 lashes in Iran Nigeria and 100 lashes in . Both are called “Shariah Law”. Iran
(c) The insistence that rajm is ordained by Allah when it is not found in the Quran may connote a careless God, which I as a Muslim am unprepared to accept. Allah swt the All-Knowing has ordained ‘without doubt” all matters pertaining to life especially when He has decreed that “no life shall be taken without just cause”.
It is respectfully and humbly submitted that where there is a conflict between the clear injunctions of the Quran and scholarly views, it is “safer” to choose the Quran in line with the following warning from Allah:
“What is the matter with you? How judge ye? (Quran 68:36)
Or have ye a book through which ye learn (Quran 68:37)
That ye shall have, through it whatever ye choose? (Quran 68:38)
Or have ye Covenants with Us to oath, reaching to the Day of Judgment,
(providing) that ye shall have whatever ye shall demand? (Quran 68:39)
Ask thou of them, which of them will stand surety for that! (Quran 68:40)”
The believer has to firstly, judge by the Al Furqan that Allah swt has given us. Which one of the learned human beings can stand surety for what they say other than Allah swt alone and His Prophet? In the event that my understanding is wrong, may Allah swt forgive me and guide me with His mercy knowing that it is only my passion for Him that motivates me to wake up every morning into this illusory world.
Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that
of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I
should indeed be lost!" (Quran: 11.47)
(a) Abdul Kadir Qudah Shaheed, Criminal Law of Islam, vol. I, II & III, 1st Edition,
, International Islamic Publishers (Pvt) Limited, 1987. Karachi
Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Shariah: The Islamic Law, , Ta-ha Publishers Ltd., 1984. London
(c) Prof Dr Anwarullah, The Criminal Law of Islam,
, A.S. Noordeen, 1997 Kuala Lumpur
(d) Shariah Penal Code Law,
Zamfara State of Nigeria
(e) Nyazee, Imran Ahsan Khan, General Principals of Criminal Law (Islamic and Western), Advanced Legal Studies Institute, 2000.
(f) Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, 2nd revised Edition,
: Ilmiah Publishres, 2000 Kuala Lumpur
(g) Terjemahan Hadis: Shahih Bukhari Jilid I, II, III & IV, Singapore, Darel Fajr Publishing House, 2002.
(h) John Burton, The Sources of Islamic Law: Islamic Theories of Abrogation,
Edinburgh: Press, 1990 Edinburgh University
(i) Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, Translation and
: Amana Corporation, 1991 Commentary, Maryland, USA
(j) Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran, Translation and Explanation,
Gibraltar, Dar Al-Andalus, 1980
(k) Ahmed Ali, Al-Quran: A Contemporary Translation,
Princeton, New Jersey, Press, 1988. Princeton University
(l) Hanna E. Kassis, A Concordance of the Quran,
Los Angeles, Press, 1983 University of California
(m) Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad, Tafsir Al-Quran (Tafsir Al-Quran Di Radio) Juz 1, Kuala Lumpur, Pustaka Al-Mizan, 1991
(n) Bible, King James version.
 Holy Bible, King James Version Deuteronomy 17:1-7, Leviticus 24:10-16, 1 Kings 21:1-16, Leviticus 20:27, Numbers 15:32-36, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Joshua 7:20-26.
 Q24:51 “The answer of the Believers, when summoned to God and His Apostle, in
order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and
we obey": it is such as these that will attain felicity”.
 Q2.170 “When it is said to them: "Follow what God hath revealed:" They say: "Nay!
we shall follow the ways of our fathers." What! even though their fathers Were void
of wisdom and guidance?”