And It Stoned Thee: Background for Tonight’s (8/17/2010) Pending O’Reilly Discussion of the Sharia Basis for Stoning Adulterers

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A promo for tonight’s (Tuesday, August 17, 2010) Bill O’Reilly Show mentioned there would be an “Is It Legal?” discussion of the Taliban’s recent stoning of adulterers, specifically, “Plus, Afghan couple stoned to death by Taliban over alleged affair. Is It Legal? explains Sharia law, which sanctioned the punishment…”

To elucidate what Islamic Law—Sharia—states plainly, I have included both modern (from Islam Online of the esteemed cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, whose regular Al-Jazeera program on Sharia is wildly popular, and in whose name the government of Qatar recently created the Al-Qaradawi Centre for Islamic Moderation) and classical Sharia rulings—the latter from the most important Hanafi Manual used amongst the vast Muslim populations of the Indian subcontinent, The Hidayah.

A third example dated June 22, 2006, comes from the modern Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, whose website mission statement notes the organization was “…founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America. AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities.”


Stoning: Does It Have Any Basis in Shari`ah?

Question: “Dear scholars, as-Salamu `alaykum. I have heard that the punishment specified for the person who commits adultery is 80 lashes. I would like to ask, from where did you get the punishment of stoning to death. Moreover, if you say that it is based on the Sunnah, I can say that how to depend on Sunnah in this regard. Isn’t it a fact that the Qur’an is the source of legislation for all Muslims? Jazakum Allah khayran.”

Answer: “Coming to the issue of stoning to death as a punishment for married adulterer and adulteress, the statement that there is no verse stipulating that punishment is not correct. It is to be made crystal clear that the punishment is explicitly sanctioned by both the Qur’an and the Prophetic Tradition.” “…we would like to note that there are many incidents in the Sunnah and the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which the Prophet stoned the married adulterer and adulteress to death. This happened in the case of Ma`iz and the Ghamidi woman. All this makes it clear that the punishment is proven and authentic and is not debatable.”

2) From the Hedayah, of Sheikh Burhanuddin Ali (1135-1183), a Hanafi jurist, and one of the most important Sunni texts of Islamic Law used throughout the Indian subcontinent (translated by Charles Hamilton), to this day, pp. 178-79:

“A married person convicted of whoredom is to be stoned—When a person is fully convicted of whoredom; if he be married, let him undergo the punishment of Rajim, that is, lapidation, or stoning to death, because the Prophet condemned Maaz to be thus stoned to death, who was married; and he has also declared, It is unlawful to spill the blood of a Muslim, excepting only for three causes, namely apostasy, whoredom after marriage, and murder”—and in this all the companions likewise unite.”

Mode of executing lapidation.—“It is necessary, when a whoremonger is to be stoned to death, that he should be carried to some barren place, void of houses or cultivation; and it is requisite that the stoning be executed—first by witnesses, and after them by the Imam or Qadi, and after those the rest of the by-standers, because it is so recorded from Ali…An unmarried free person is to be scourged with one hundred stripes—If the person convicted of whoredom be free, but unmarried, the punishment with respect to him is one hundred stripes, according to what is said in the Koran [Koran 24:2], “The whore and the whoremonger shall ye scourge with one hundred stripes;”—for although this text is cancelled with respect to all other than those who are married (NOTE: i.e., married persons are stoned to death] the law must be executed in conformity to it.

…The punishment of whoredom is the same with respect to both sexes, as all the texts which occur in the sacred writings upon this subject extend equally to both…”

3) The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America rendered this opinion

Rendered by Dr. Hatem al-Hajj, June 22, 2006

Question: “I am married but recently being away on a business trip, I happed to go to a adult club where I came in close contact with a dancer. We touched each other and kissed but there was no actual intercourse involved. I remain fully clothed and she had her top off. Is this act considered zina punishable by pelting? Please clarify. I shouldn`t have commited this act of sin and am ashamed of it.”

Fatwa (Islamic Legal Ruling): “All praise be to Allah, and may his peace and blessings be on the last and best prophet and messenger, Muhammad.   Since you are ashamed and you have repented sincerely, Allah is all forgiving, so don`t loose hope in his mercy and forgiveness. The act you have committed – as you appear to know – is an offensive sin, and it is a form of fornication, as the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace)  indicated that the eyes comit fornication by looking…etc. Yet, it is not the absolute zina punishable by al-hadd. (the prescribed punishment of zina, which is stoning in the case of a married man). The later must involve intercourse. May Allah protect you, and save your deen and honor.   Allah knows best.”

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