Monday, July 26, 2010


            3.2 Stoning in the Quran

                  Abdul Kadir Oudah Shaheed rightly observes that ‘no verse exists in the Holy Quran enjoining stoning to death or rajm[1].  However, there are instances recorded in the Quran where some people resorted to stoning other people. The following are some of the instances that can be obtained from the Quran:

                  (a) An instances in the Quran recounted by Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan is that of the opponents of Noah and Abraham’s father; “For instance, the opponents of Noah said to him: ‘If you do not desist you shall certainly be stoned to death’ (26: 117). Abraham's father said to him: ‘Is it that thou art turning away from my gods, Abraham? If thou desist not, I shall surely cause thee to be stoned to death’ (19:47)[2]

                  (b) As the following verses of the Quran will testify, even the Apostles and prophets were not spared the threat of being stoned for none other than reason that these apostles choose to believe in a different faith than their aggressors:

                        “They said: "O Shu'aib! much of what thou sayest we do not understand! In fact among us we see that thou hast no strength! Were it not for thy family, we should certainly have stoned thee! for thou hast among us no great position!" (Quran 11:91)

                  “The (people) said: "for us, we augur an evil omen from you: if ye desist not, we will certainly stone you. And a grievous punishment indeed will be inflicted on you by us." (Quran: 36:18)

                  "For if they should come upon you, they would stone you or force you to
                  return to their cult, and in that case ye would never attain prosperity." (Quran: 18:20)

                  (The father) replied: "Dost thou hate my gods, O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!" (Quran:19.046  )

                  "And our duty is only to proclaim the clear Message." (Quran36:17  )

                  “The (people) said: "for us, we augur an evil omen from you: if ye desist not, we will certainly stone you. And a grievous punishment indeed will be inflicted on you by us." (Quran 36:18)

      The above verses and a complete analysis of the Quran would demonstrate that  in all the instances of stoning done by humans, it is done by pagans, and disbelievers against the Prophets and the believers.  In the entire Quran, there is not a single verse that shows a Mukmin stoning another person.

      The Qur`an divides the cases of accusations of zina` against women into two categories: accusation by the husband and accusation by person(s) other than the husband. In case of the accusation by the husband the Qur`an says: 

      “As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves, they (must) bear witness four times (with an oath) by God that they are surely telling the truth and the fifth (oath) that they solemnly invoke the curse of God on themselves if they tell a lie. But the punishment will be averted from her if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by God that (her husband) is surely telling a lie. And the fifth (oath) that she solemnly invokes the wrath of God on herself if he is telling the truth (24:6-9). 

      It is humbly submitted that looking at the context of the above verses from Q24:1, it would clearly emerge that the punishment referred to in Q24:8 must be the punishment clearly stated in Q24:2 that is, the punishment of 100 lashes. It is to be noted that the woman who may avert the punishment in Q24:8 is a married woman.  This clear statement of the penalty for adultery by Allah swt is consistent with His declaration in Q24:1 and Q24:34 that “we have sent down clear signs”.  Hence, it is difficult to support the view that Allah swt has ordained the rajm penalty as found in the Bible.

      Further, going by the rules of al-usul al-fikh or Islamic jurisprudence,  “as sunnah is second source of the Shariah next to the Quran, the mujtahid is bound to observe an order of priority between the Quran and Sunnah. Hence in his search for a problem, the jurist must resort to the Sunnah only when he fails to find any guidance in the Quran. Should there be a clear text in the Quran, it must be followed and be given priority over the ruling of the Sunnah, which may happen to be in conflict with the Quran…..”[3]

      Another instance of where the Quran is “guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear God[4]” and that the Quran is the ahsanal tafseer [5] is provided by the opportunity of reading together Q4:25 and Q24:2 in this controversy concerning the rajm punishment. In 4:25 the Qur`an prescribes that a slave woman guilty of indecency (fahishah) is to receive half the punishment that the free women should receive for that crime. It must necessarily follow that the punishment prescribed for the free women must be that which can be halved for the slave women, whether married or unmarried as the case may be. Hence, it must be the 100 lashes, whether married or unmarried as it is not possible to half the punishment of stoning to death for the married slave women if indeed the punishment for the married free woman is rajm.

[1] Abdul Qadir Qudah, Criminal Law of Islam Vol. III, International Islamic Publishers (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi, 1990, page 36
[2] Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan,  Punishment of Apostacy in Islam, London: London Mosque,
[3] Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, 2nd Revised Edition, Kuala Lumpur: Ilmiah Publishers, 2000, p. 58 to 59
[4] Q2:1
[5] Q25:33  “And no question do they bring to thee but We reveal to thee the truth and the
best explanation (thereof).” See also Q10:37 and Q65:11

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