Wednesday, July 28, 2010


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 land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. (Bible, King James version: Deuteronomy 13:6-11)

                  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[1].  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[2])? 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[3]’.

      (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[4].

6.                  Conclusion

            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 Iran still incorporate the rajm punishment into law?

(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 Iran, though the punishment is killing the offender, the mode is determined by the Judge. For lesbianism, it is 50 lashes in Nigeria and 100 lashes in Iran. Both are called “Shariah Law”.

(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, Karachi, International Islamic Publishers (Pvt) Limited, 1987.

(b)              Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Shariah: The Islamic Law, London, Ta-ha Publishers Ltd., 1984.

(c)              Prof Dr Anwarullah, The Criminal Law of Islam, Kuala Lumpur, A.S. Noordeen, 1997

(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, Kuala Lumpur: Ilmiah Publishres, 2000

(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: Edinburgh University Press, 1990

(i)                Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, Translation and Commentary, Maryland, USA: Amana Corporation, 1991

(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, Princeton University Press, 1988.

(l)                Hanna E. Kassis, A Concordance of the Quran, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1983

(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.

[1] 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.
[2] 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”.
[3] 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?”

[4] Q2:120


Dr. Azly said...

That's why people differentiate between the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism), which has a tendency for harshness, and the the more peaceful, non-violent Dharmic religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism).

Read up about all these religions and compare.

Truthseeker said...

a bit offtopic,

ive been thinking about the role of Ulama's. I have a question, if an Ulama does what he does (teaches islamic knowledge, issue fatwas, become a political figure) for a living, as in, he/she receives wage that he uses to take care of his everyday expenses, his family etc. then, is he prone to being bias?

lets say that this one Ulama is a sunni (not that im saying that being a sunni is wrong, i have yet to make up my mind on this particular matter), and he is appointed by our govt based on this belief, meaning that he is given a salary with the understanding that he only follows this one school of thought. so being what he is (and also making money out of it), he is somehow forced to uphold this type of thinking throughout his career. any deviation from this line of thinking will cause him his job and eventually affect his everyday life.

So my question is, should we trust ulama/imam/ustaz that are being paid to teach? if yes, how are we suppose to know that he is sincere and honestly telling us what he thinks is right?

if the answer is no, then should we just discard all the ulama's in the govt, not just that, but also ulama's we see as using Islam (such as some politicians that are being elected because he is considered pious and knowledgeable in Islam) so that he can support his or his family's living?

its like talking to a salesman, where you're always in doubt on what they have to say because they're always going for the commission.

what are your thoughts on this mr jahamy?

Ipoh said...

These are the ones guided by GOD; you shall be guided in their footsteps. Say, "I do not ask you for any WAGE. This is but a message for all the people."

"If you turn away, then I have not asked you for any WAGE. My WAGE comes from GOD. I have been commanded to be a submitter."

"O my people, I do not ask you for any money; my WAGE comes only from GOD. I am not dismissing those who believed; they will meet their Lord (and He alone will judge them). I see that you are ignorant people.

O my people, I do not ask you for any WAGE. My WAGE comes only from the One who initiated me. Do you not understand?

Are you asking them for a WAGE? Your Lord's WAGE is far better. He is the best Provider.

"I do not ask you for any WAGE. My WAGE comes from the Lord of the universe.

"I do not ask you for any WAGE; my WAGE comes only from the Lord of the universe.

Say, "I do not ask you for any WAGE; you can keep it. My WAGE comes only from GOD. He witnesses all things."

"Follow those who do not ask you for any WAGE, and are guided.

Say, "I do not ask you for any WAGE, and I am not an imposter.

This is the good news from GOD to His servants who believe and lead a righteous life. Say, "I do not ask you for any WAGE. I do ask each of you to take care of your own relatives." Anyone who does a righteous work, we multiply his reward for it. GOD is Forgiver, Appreciative.

Are you asking them for any WAGE, and they are burdened thereby?

[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.

....Beware of Professional Religionists.....

[9:34] O you who believe, many religious leaders and preachers take the people's money illicitly, and repel from the path of GOD. Those who hoard the gold and silver, and do not spend them in the cause of GOD, promise them a painful retribution.
[9:35] The day will come when their gold and silver will be heated in the fire of Hell, then used to burn their foreheads, their sides, and their backs: "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you have hoarded."