Opposition to Rajm (Stoning to death): Analysis & Refutation

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

by Gabriel Keresztes and Waqar Akbar

in-sha’Allah the most concise and comprehensive analysis and refutation of those who deny the established punishment of rajm (stoning to death) prescribed for adulterers in the House of Islam.

Contents

1. Introduction.
2. Denying Rajm and Arguments Against it.
  2.1 Rajm cannot be Found in the Quran?.
  2.2. The punishment for illicit relations given in Surah al-Nur is general?.
  2.3 The punishment of adultery is rajm how can it be halved for slaves according to Qur’an 4:25
  2.4 Mutawatir is not a proof for Rajm?.
  2.5 Rajm abrogated by hundred lashes punishment?.
  2.6 Stoning to death was only a ta’zir not a hadd?.
    2.6.1 Evidence that rajm is hadd (prescribed punishment) and not ta’zir (discretionary punishment)
2.7 Was rajm only for professional and group immoral activity amounting to fasad fil ard?. (Refutation of Ghamidi’s view)
3. Summary and Conclusion.

1. Introduction

One of the most interesting phenomena that the Muslim nation is faced with today is that of external pressure to change. Scholars and intellectuals are faced with community issues that threaten the identity of their children, the integrity of their families and most important, the Muslim faith that they hold so dearly to and claim it as the ultimate truth.  Since the dislocation of the Muslim empire, the partitioning of Muslim lands under the rule of non Muslims, and the mass emigration by Muslims to non Muslim lands, the Ummah has been questioned and intellectually attacked with regards to the Quran and even more with regards to the Sunnah and Hadith.  New groups and so called intellectuals rose and began denying certain aspects of our faith due to: external pressure by non Muslim masses and a dire need to fit in societies that have values very different from those of Muslims.  Muslims were faced with the option of enduring accusations of barbarism, inhumane behavior and non tolerance or changing certain articles of their faith that would apparently appease and gain acceptance of non Muslims. One of such examples is the issue of Rajm or stoning to death as a punishment for adultery.  In this article we will discuss the implication of denying this hadd, refutation of various arguments against it and last but not least the growing phenomena of Muslims changing aspects of their faith in the face of external pressure.


2. Denying Rajm and Arguments Against it

The Islamic Research Foundation International, INC. and other foundations that encourage critical thinking, opposing points of view and ijtihad, have been propagating articles under scholars and intellectuals that challenge and deny certain aspects of the Islamic principles laid more than 1400 years ago.  Under the guise of critical thinking and logic such people believe that they can put forth a rational argument against Rajm.  We want to emphasize the word rational as it will be very important in our article in the light of the presented proofs and arguments

2.1 Rajm Cannot be Found in the Quran?

Rajm not being in the Quran is one of the most illogical and unreasonable argument that such people can put forth.  They say that Rajm is not found in the Quran while the punishment of one hundred lashes is found in the Quran.  They also use the following logical (read illogical) statement:

“Once again, it is the Qur'an that provides an outline of the Islamic Law. Other sources of Islam must be examined within the Quranic parameters”

Firstly, it is not really true that Qur’an has nothing about stoning though it is true that Qur’an does not explicitly mention it. A reference to Rajm is however found in Surah al-Ma’idah, verse 43 wherein Allah says;

وَكَيْفَ يُحَكِّمُونَكَ وَعِنْدَهُمُ التَّوْرَاةُ فِيهَا حُكْمُ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّوْنَ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ وَمَا أُولَئِكَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“How do they ask you to judge while the Torah is with them, having the ruling of Allah? Still, they turn away, after all that. They are no believers.” (Qur’an 5:43)

The verse was revealed when a couple from amongst the Jews committed adultery. They came to the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- asking him to judge on the matter. Actually their holy book, Torah, asked for stoning of such offenders, they came to the Blessed Prophet hoping that he would give a lesser punishment.

Consider the following narration:

Abu Hurairah said: A man and a woman of the Jews committed fornication. Some of them said to the others: Let us go to this Prophet, for he has been sent with an easy law. If he gives a judgment lighter than stoning, we shall accept it, and argue about it with Allah, saying: It is a judgment of one of your prophets. So they came to the Prophet (may peace be upon him) who was sitting in the mosque among his companions. They said: Abul Qasim, what do you think about a man and a woman who committed fornication? He did not speak to them a word till he went to their school. He stood at the gate and said: I adjure you by Allah Who revealed the Torah to Moses, what (punishment) do you find in the Torah for a person who commits fornication, if he is married? They said: He shall be blackened with charcoal, taken round a donkey among the people, and flogged. A young man among them kept silent. When the Prophet (may peace be upon him) emphatically adjured him, he said: By Allah, since you have adjured us (we inform you that) we find stoning in the Torah (as the punishment for fornication). The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: So when did you lessen the severity of Allah's command? He said: A relative of one of our kings had committed fornication, but his stoning was suspended. Then a man of a family of common people committed fornication. He was to have been stoned, but his people intervened and said: Our man shall not be stoned until you bring your man and stone him. So they made a compromise on this punishment between them. The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: So I decide in accordance with what the Torah says. He then commanded regarding them and they were stoned to death.[1]

Another narration tells us that at the end of the whole episode with the Jews the Messenger of Allah said:

“The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) then said: O Allah, I am the first to give life to Thy command which they have killed.”And the narration says on the eve verses 41 to 47 of Surah al-Ma’ida were revealed.[2]

It is thus clear that “ruling of Allah” (hukm-ullah) in Surah Al-Ma’idah ayah 43 refers to rajm. For the said reasoning, the well known Tafsir al-Jalalayn, co-authored by Al-Mahalli and Al-Suyuti, puts it as;

“But how is it that they make you their judge when they have the Torah, wherein is God’s judgment”, of stoning: the interrogative here is for [provoking] amazement, in other words, they were not seeking thereby [by making you their judge] to discover the truth but a lighter punishment for them; “and then they turn away,” [and then] they reject your ruling of stoning, which accords with what is in their Scripture, “after that”, request [to you] for arbitration? “Such are not believers.”[3]

It is for this reason that Ibn Abbas- may Allah be pleased with him- said: "He who disbelieves in stoning (the adulterer to death) will have inadvertently disbelieved in the Qur'an, for Allah said, ‘O People of the Scripture! Now has come to you Our Messenger explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture(Qur’an 5:15), and stoning was among the things that they used to hide.''[4]

Therefore it is clear that according to the blessed companions institution of stoning was proven from Qur’an itself. However they did seem to have known that it is not explicit and some people not having proper understanding may actually end up questioning it for this reason.

As to alleged verse of stoning and its abrogation, please see THIS.

2.2. The punishment for illicit relations given in Surah al-Nur is general?

Another argument is about the general import of the hundred lashes punishment given in surah al-Nur verse 2. They say rajm is, therefore, a contradiction to the Qur’anic instruction.

This argument is flawed for a number of reasons;

i) The verse with hundred lashes punishment cannot be general and Qur’an itself testifies to it. In Qur’an 4:25 the punishment of female adulterer is specified to be half of free female fornicator. With this fact known the idea of the totally generic implication of surah al-Nur ayah 2 is laid to proven wrong. Strictly considering the word “zani” used in Surah al-Nur verse 2, it does not differentiate between a slave and a free like it does not distinguish between a married one and otherwise. So to say that it is absolutely universal in application contradicts Qur’an itself.

ii) The context of the hundred lashes verse itself proves it is for fornicators (un-married people) and not adulterers (married people). While the opponents of Rajm are convinced that this verse proves their stance in the light of logic and reason they fail to look at verse number three.  How could it be that if the people refereed to in this verse included both married and unmarried the following verse said that the fornicator male does not marry except a fornicator woman or polytheist and that none marries the fornicator woman except a fornicator or a polytheist?  In the case of a man one could say that he can marry more than once, but in the case of the woman it does not make sense, as she can only marry one husband which shows that verse number two talks about unmarried people.  

2.3 The punishment of adultery is rajm how can it be halved for slaves according to Qur’an 4:25

The next ‘logical’ argument that the opponents of Rajm put forth is the verse of the Quran that states the punishment of a slave being half of that of a free person, and that a slave could not logically be stoned half to death. Again it’s very interesting that reason is claimed but not exercised by such people. Any sensible person who can read and put his whims and desires on hold for a minute while applying principles of understanding and knowledge will realize the answer to this argument. Let us look at the technical details of the verse in question and show once again the lack of knowledge and understanding.

The verse reads;

وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلاً أَن يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ فَمِن مِّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُم مِّن فَتَيَاتِكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَاللّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِكُمْ بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ فَإِذَا أُحْصِنَّ فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْصَنَاتِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ الْعَنَتَ مِنْكُمْ وَأَن تَصْبِرُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“If one cannot afford to marry the believing free women (muhsanat)[a] , then (he may marry) the one you people own (i.e. slave-women) of your Muslim girls. Allah knows best about your faith. You are similar to each other. So, marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dues, as recognized, they being bound in marriage (muhsanat)[b], not going for lust, nor having paramours. So, once they have been bound in marriage (uhsinna)[c], then, if they commit a shameful act, they shall be liable to half of the punishment prescribed for the free women (muhsanat)[d]. That is for those of you who apprehend to indulge in sin. But that you be patient is better for you. Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.”
The issue is about the meaning of "muhsanat" half of whose punishment is prescribed for slave-women committing adultery after they were bond in marriage.
a) Meaning of muhsanat: The word actually meaning "one who is fortified or under protection" or inaccessible. For women it can be used in three senses
1) For the one who is married i.e. under the protection of her husband.
2) For the one who is free and under the protection of her family.
3) For the one who has protected her honor and is neither married nor a slave.
See Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Qur'an of Raghib Asfahani's (d.502 A.H.), root Haa-Saad-Noon (H-S-N)

It will be the context or independently known information that will decide what is meant at a particular instance.

Now for Qur'an 4:25, mark the following

There are four instances where "muhsanat" are referred to.

In the usage [b] and [c] it certainly means "married women" as it refers slave-women who have been married.

The usage [d] where the case of slave-women is shown to be opposite of the "muhsanat" it has the same meaning as in the first usage [a].

In the usage [a] "muhsanat" does not mean married women, it means free-women in the protection of their families as given in the translation above.

Explaining this Imam al-Razi (d. 606 A.H.)writes;

"Al-musanat" they are the free women and the proof for this is in the fact that in case of inability to marry the "muhsanat", Allah allowed marrying the slave-women. Therefore it is a must that "muhsanat" is opposite of "al-ima'" i.e. slave-women."[5]

Means "muhsanat" in usage [a] in the verse refers to free women.

No reasonable person can ask, "Why can the free-women not be the married ones?", because Allah will never ask people to marry women who are already married to someone. They are called "muhsanat" because they are free and under the protection and fortification (hisan) of their families.

Also see the Tafasir of Al-Tabari, AL-Jassas, Ibn Al-Arabi, Al-Qurtubi, Al-Nasafi, Al-Shaukani etc.

Simply put the "muhsanat" half of whose punishment is for the adulterer slave-women are free unmarried women. And their punishment, if it comes to it, is 100 lashes not stoning. And punishment of hundred lashes can easily be halved. Simple common sense issue!

2.4 Mutawatir is not a proof for rajm?

Let us turn our attention now to the issue of mutawatir and how the opponents of rajm deal with it. Mutawatir, from a technical point of view is something being narrated by so many people through so many chains of narrations that it is impossible, or at least above reasonable doubt, for what ever is narrated not to be a fact

The opponents of rajm state that the proponents of rajm hide behind this word:

“The traditionalists like to hide behind the word "Mutawatir" a lot, instead of paying attention to other people's arguments and then present their case in a logical, rational manner”.[6]

The issue in question is that so many people through so many different parallel chains narrated that prophet Muhammad –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- applied rajm and so did the followers after that it is impossible to say that such an issue is made up or false.

At least fifty-two companions of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- have reported the narrations of rajm. They include Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, Ali, Aisha, Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Abu Hurayra etc. may Allah be pleased with them all. For the complete list of names and references for their reports, see Shaykh Taqi Usmani’s Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim vol.2 pp. 362-372

The same mutawatir chains that report rajm have reported the Qur’an. The Quran has reached us through the same companions that have reported stoning. The opponents say that the Qur’an is guarded by Allah and there is no such guarantee for anything else, but we would like to point out a contradiction in their methodology. Their stance is actually not a logical and historical one; rather it is based on faith (to which any non Muslim intellectual would object). Logic and reason is not restricted to Muslims so their argument to present their case in a logical, rational manner falls down as a fly.

2.5 Rajm abrogated by hundred lashes punishment?

There are some from amongst the opponents of rajm who argue that it was abrogated by punishment of hundred lashes mentioned in Surah al-Nur. In other words they try to convey that rajm was an earlier practice of the Blessed Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- and Surah al-Nur was revealed after that, therefore owing to its general import it abrogated rajm.

Although they claim the above but they have absolutely no evidence for it. At the most they can refer to the following hadith narration;

Narrated Ash-Shaibani: I asked 'Abdullah bin Abi 'Aufa about the Rajam (stoning somebody to death for committing illegal sexual intercourse). He replied, "The Prophet carried out the penalty of Rajam," I asked, "Was that before or after the revelation of Surat-an-Nur?" He replied, "I do not know."[7]

But as one can see there is no evidence that Messenger of Allah carried out rajm before Surah al-Nur was revealed. It only shows Abdullah bin Abi Aufa –may Allah be pleased with him- did not know about it.

The fact however remains that most if not all of the incidents of rajm practiced by the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- took place after the revelation of surah al-Nur. Consider the following points;

1- Surah al-Nur was revealed after a false charge was made against Mother of the Believers, Sayyidah Aisha, which happened immediately after Battle (ghazwah) of Bani Mastaliq. [8]

2-Historians differ as to the date of this Battle. According to Ibn Ishaq it was in the year 6 A.H.[9] According to al-Waqidi[10] and Ibn Sa’d[11] it took place in the year 5 A.H. According to one report attributed to Musa bin ‘Uqbah it happened in the year 4 A.H.[12], however, more authentic reports from him also put it in the year 5 A.H.[13] Hafiz Ibn Hajr considering various narrations and facts has said that most preferable opinion is that of 5 A.H.

Therefore we can say, the latest battle took place in the year 6 A.H. though according to the most authentic view it took place in the year 5 A.H. and immediately after it the Surah al-Nur was revealed. Most accounts say it was the month of Sha’ban.

3- There is evidence of rajm carried out by the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- after year 6 A.H.

The incident of stoning to death of the Jewish adulterers is reported by the blessed companion Abdullah bin al-Harith, and he said, “I was among those who stoned the two.”[14]

And Abdullah bin al-Harith along with his father came to the Holy Prophet after the conquest of Makkah.[15] So his presence at the event means it happened in or after 8 A.H. i.e. long after the revelation of Surah al-Nur.

Regarding the same incident in a narration recorded by Al-Tabari, another companion Abu Hurayrah said, “I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah …”[16]

And it is well known fact that Abu Hurayrah accepted Islam in the year 7 A.H[17]. i.e. at least a couple of years after the revelation of Surah al-Nur.

Some people have objected to this saying how could the Jewish adulterers be punished after the conquest of Makkah while their tribes were routed from Madina well before. However this is not really a valid objection because even after the main Jewish tribes were expelled from Madina there remained many Jews in the city.

As recorded in Sahih Bukhari, Abu Hurayrah who- as stated above- embraced Islam in the year 7 A.H. said:

“While we were in the Mosque, the Prophet came out and said, "Let us go to the Jews" We went out till we reached Bait-ul-Midras He said to them, "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, and otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Messenger.”[18]

This proves even after 7 A.H. there were some Jews in Madina. In fact we know there was a Jew in Madina even at the time of the death of the Messenger of Allah- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- (i.e. 11 A.H.) to whom his armor was mortgaged.[19]

4- Other incidents of rajm date later than the episode of the stoning of the Jews as we find Abu Hurayrah saying that first ones to be stoned to death by the Messenger of Allah were a couple from amongst the Jews.[20]

Narrations about rajm of Ghamdia (woman from the tribe of Ghamid) tell us that Khalid bin Walid threw stones at her.[21] And Khalid bin Walid- may Allah be pleased with him- himself said: “We reached the Messenger of Allah at Madina on the first day of Safar in the eighth year [after Hijrah].”[22]

All these days make it absolutely clear that the Noble Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- carried out stoning (rajm) after the revelation of surah al-Nur and there is no question of rajm being abrogated.

2.6 Stoning to death was only a ta’zir not a hadd?

Some people try to catch at yet another straw and say that rajm was practiced only as ta’zir (discretionary punishment) and not as hadd (prescribed punishment).

They do not have any real evidence except that they use the following narration;

Qatada reported from Habib bin Saalim (who) said that a man was brought to Nu’man ibn Bashir for having committed adultery with his wife’s female slave. He said, “I will judge this case with the judgment of Allah’s Messenger. If she (his wife) had made her lawful for him then I will award him a hundred stripes, and if she had not then I will sentence him to be stoned to death.”[23]

They say as the punishment of stoning was dropped it shows it is not a prescribed punishment (hadd) but rather only a discretionary punishment (ta’zir).

Firstly the narration is dubious. Imam al-Tirmidhi after quoting this hadith writes;

“There is confusion in the hadith of Nu’man. Bukhari said that Qatadah and Bishr both had not heard this hadith from Habib ibn Saalim but from Khalid ibn Urfutah.”

Albani, Shu’aib Arnaut and many others have classified it as da’if (weak).

Even if accepted as authentic, it does not support the assertion of opponents of rajm, because hadd requires total and ultimate evidence and absence of any kind of genuine misconception on the part of the culprit.

In such a case when a man had sex with the slave-girl of his wife, there is doubt that he might consider it lawful for him as she belongs to his wife. The principle is to avoid imposing hadd punishment even if there is a slight doubt. That is why Imam al-Tirmidhi mentions the opinion of Ibn Mas’ud –may Allah be pleased with him- under this hadith that he “held that such a person is not subject to hadd, but to ta’zir.”

A narration about Ali –may Allah be pleased with him- helps us understand this better.

Harqus narrated: A woman came to Ali –may Allah be pleased with him- and said, ‘My husband has done adultery with my slave-girl.’ Her husband said: ‘She says the truth, what is hers is lawful for me.’ Ali said: ‘Go and do not repeat,’ as if he exempted him due to his ignorance.”[24]

The doubt on the part of the man who commits adultery with wife’s slave-girl, something very much expected in that newly Islamized society, saved such people from hadd. Hundred lashes mentioned in the report of al-Tarimidhi were only by the way of ta’zir.[25]

2.6.1 Evidence that rajm is hadd (prescribed punishment) and not ta’zir (discretionary punishment)

Contrary to the claim of opponents of rajm we have ample evidence that rajm is indeed a hadd- punishment prescribed by the Almighty Allah. The Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- practiced it in the capacity of the Lawgiver and not just the ruler. Consider the following points;

1- In the verse 43 of surah al-Ma’idah rajm (stoning to death) is referred to “command of Allah” which shows it is a hadd prescribed by Allah.

2- According to the narration of Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib-may Allah be pleased with him- after the stoning of the Jewish couple the Messenger of Allah –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said: “O Allah!, I am the first of those who revive Your command, which they had killed off.”[26]

It is clearly a command of Allah.

3- In the report from ‘Ubadah bin Samit- may Allah be pleased with him- the Messenger of Allah –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- mentioned stoning of the adulterers saying, “Allah has ordained a way for them.”[27]

Again the commandment for the punishment was attributed to Allah- simple straight forward evidence that it is indeed a prescribed punishment (haddI).

4- According to the narration of Khalid al-Juhani- may Allah be pleased with him- when a case of unmarried boy cohabiting with the a married woman was brought to the Messenger of Allah- may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- he said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life. I will decide between you according to the Book of Allah,” and ruled that the woman- if she confesses- must be stoned to death.[28]

Here again the Holy Prophet- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- attributed the command to the Book of Allah.

5- After mentioning the incident of the stoning of the Jewish adulterers, Ibn Abbas –may Allah be pleased with him- said: “That was the punishment ordained for them by Allah because the Prophet had known their adultery.”[29]

6- Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah's Messenger- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Messenger, cannot be shed except in three cases: In retaliation for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."[30]

This narration clearly mentions hudud i.e. prescribed punishments only and not ta’zirat i.e. discretionary punishments.

Answer to another antagonist view discussed as a separate issue below also serves as evidence for rajm being a prescribed punishment and not a discretionary one.

2.7 Was rajm only for professional and group immoral activity amounting to fasad fil ard?

Lately, another antagonist view is being propagated by the likes of Mr. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi. He asserts that rajm is not for every adulterer rather it is for those who make it a profession i.e. do it by the way of prostitution or as a group as such.

A member of his Al-Mawrid Institute explaining and defending his opinion writes;

Mr Ghamidi’s holds that it was an application of the Qur’ānic directive regarding the crime of muḥārabah. The Holy Qur’ān could not have been abrogated by the Prophet (sws). He stoned those people to death who had committed the crime not on any circumstantial provocation rather they were spreading open lewdness in the society or had put the honor of every citizens in danger.[31]

He actually links the whole issue of adultery punishable by rajm to Qur’an 5:33 as clear from his own writings[32]. The verse reads;

“The punishment of those who wage war (yuharibun) against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main (yus’aun) for mischief through the land is: execution (yuqattalu), or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.” (Qur’an 5:33)

But this is absolutely baseless and we have clear examples in which some adulterers that committed the crime in individual capacity and under ‘circumstantial provocation’ were stoned without their being a threat to the collective social order in the sense Mr. Ghamidi takes it.

Following examples will help us see the flimsiness of the idea that is Mr. Ghamidi’s brainchild;

In one narration of Buraida- may Allah be pleased with him- two cases of adulterers who were then stoned to death are mentioned. We put the two separately highlighting the important points.

Ma'iz b. Malik al-Aslami came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah's Messenger, I have wronged myself; I have committed adultery and I earnestly desire that you should purify me. He turned him away. On the following day, he (Ma'iz) again came to him and said: Allah's Messenger, I have committed adultery. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) turned him away for the second time, and sent him to his people saying: Do you know if there is anything wrong with his mind. They denied of any such thing in him and said: We do not know him but as a wise good man among us, so far as we can judge. He (Ma'iz) came for the third time, and he (the Holy Prophet) sent him as he had done before. He asked about him and they informed him that there was nothing wrong with him or with his mind. When it was the fourth time, a ditch was dug for him and he (the Holy Prophet) pronounced judgment about him and he was stoned.[33]

Ma’iz was not a part of any gang violating the honor of the women that the Prophet –peace be upon him- had to take any punitive measures. In fact the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- even wanted to have clarity about his mental status when he confessed. Yet on his repeated confession he was stoned to death. Is there any hint to what Mr. Ghamidi points? Do you find any notion of ‘open lewdness’ or ‘endangering the honor of every citizen’?

Likewise another incident given in the same report goes as;

There came to him (the Holy Prophet) a woman from Ghamid and said: Allah's Messenger, I have committed adultery, so purify me. He (the Holy Prophet) turned her away. On the following day she said: Allah's Messenger, Why do you turn me away? Perhaps, you turn me away as you turned away Ma'iz. By Allah, I have become pregnant. He said: Well, if you insist upon it, then go away until you give birth to (the child). When she was delivered she came with the child (wrapped) in a rag and said: Here is the child whom I have given birth to. He said: Go away and suckle him until you wean him. When she had weaned him, she came to him (the Holy Prophet) with the child who was holding a piece of bread in his hand. She said: Allah's Apostle, here is he as I have weaned him and he eats food. He (the Holy Prophet) entrusted the child to one of the Muslims and then pronounced punishment. And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and he commanded people and they stoned her. Khalid b Walid came forward with a stone which he flung at her head and there spurted blood on the face of Khalid and so he abused her. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) heard his (Khalid's) curse that he had huried upon her. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Khalid, be gentle. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, she has made such a repentance that even if a wrongful tax-collector were to repent, he would have been forgiven. Then giving command regarding her, he prayed over her and she was buried.”

According to the narration of Al-Baihaqi, the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said: “She repented in a way that if her repentance were to be distributed to all the people of Madinah it would suffice them.”[34]

In another narration we find that when someone said some strong words about her the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said: “Have you seen better than the one who sacrificed herself for the sake of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime?”[35]

Again the lady came as a repentant, and was actually stoned some three years after she committed adultery. And she repented sincerely as clear from the words of Blessed Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- after her death.

Further these cases also show why it is not right to link the issue of stoning to Qur’an 5:33. To understand this we must read the verse along with the following verse i.e. no. 34.

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur’an 5:33-34)

Here I want readers to carefully consider verse 34. It evidently means in case one involved in the crimes mentioned in the previous verse repents before being overpowered then his/her repentance will be accepted and he will not be executed as stated.

However in the two cases we considered above i.e. of Ma’iz and Ghamidia, we see the both repented before being overpowered, themselves confessed before the Prophet –may Allah be pleased with him- but still they were both stoned to death.

So either the verse does not relate to stoning thing or the Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- made a mistake?! May Allah forgive us for this assumption even!

If there was any possibility of according leniency and forgiveness, these two would have been spared. But this is something not possible in case of the prescribed punishments (hudud).

3. Summary and Conclusion

It is without a doubt that those who deny rajm have no reasonable, logical or rational explanation or for doing so.  Their logical arguments of the verse not being in the Quran leaves them with the embarrassment of having to deny many of the other injunctions that were revealed as part of non-Quranic revelations. In fact we have seen that stoning is rather proved from Qur’an itself though not in explicit wording. Their ‘logical’ argument that stoning cannot be halved for slaves falls in the light of the context and meaning of the words in the Quran.  The denial of mutawatir ahadith leads them to the denial of path that has brought us the Quran, and last but not least their double standards are exposed in relation to approaching the issue form an academic and logical angle. Such people who deny the rajm do so only as an attempt to be accepted by those around them who hold rajm as a barbaric practice and who will never cease to hold any aspect of Islam as less than such.  Such people will only be pleased with the Muslims when they deny every single aspect of their faith and not sooner.  

And Indeed Allah knows the best!


[1] Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 4435. Translated by Ahmad Hasan Dani.

[2] Ibid. Hadith 4433

[3] Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tans. Feras Hamza ONLINE SOURCE

[4] Mustadrak al-Hakim, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, Beirut 1990 vol.4 p.400 Hadith 8069. Classified as Sahih by al-Hakim. Al-Dhahabi agreed with him

[5] Mafatih al-Ghayb, Dar al-Ehia al-Tourath al-Arabi, Beirut 1420 vol.10 pp.46-47

[6] Ibrahim B. Syed, “Opposing Rajm (Stoning to Death)” Source URL: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_151_200/opposing_rajm.htm Last Accessed on July 1, 2012 6:25 am GMT

[7] Sahih Bukhari, Book 82, Hadith 824

[8] Sahih Bukhari, Book 93, Hadith 635

[9]Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Mustafa al-Babi, Egypt, 1955 vol.2 p.289

[10] Al-Maghazi, Dar al-A’lami, Beirut, 1989 vol.1 p.404

[11] Tabaqat al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1990 vol.2 p.48

[12] Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, Dar al-Qalam, Beirut 1993 vol.2 p.128

[13] Al-Baihaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, 1405 A.H. vol.4 p.45

[14] Al-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Awst, Dar al-Haramain, Cairo, n.d. vol.1 p.49 Hadith 137, Also see, Majma’ Al-Zawaid, Maktaba Al-Qudsi, Cairo, 1994 vol.6 p.271 Hadith 10632

[15] Fath al-Bari, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut, 1379 A.H. vol.12 p.171

[16] Jami’ al-Bayan fi Tawil al-Qur’an, Mo’assas al-Resalah, Beirut 2000, vol.10 pp.305-306 Narration 11923-24

[17] Tabaqat al-Kubra vol.4 p.244

[18] Sahih Bukhari, Book 53, Hadith 392

[19] Sahih Bukhari, Book 59, Hadith 743

[20] Musannaf Abdul Razzaq, Al-Maktab al-Islami, Berut, 1403 A.H. vol.7 p.315 Hadith 13330

[21] Sahih Muslim, Book 17, Hadith 4206

[22] Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol.4 p.190

[23] Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1456,

[24] Musannaf Abdul Razzaq, vol.7 p.405 Hadith 13648

[25] Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi, Sharah Ma’ni al-Athar, Egypt, 1994 vol.3 p.145

[26] Sunan Ibn Majah, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab, Darussalam publishers, 2007 vol.3 p.467 Hadith 2558. Classified as Sahih by Albani

[27] Sahih Muslim, Book 17, Hadith 4191

[28] Sahih Muslim, Book 17, Hadith 4209

[29] Musnad Ahmad, al-Resalah ed. Hadith 2368. Classified as Hasan by Shu’aib Arna’ut.

[30] Sahih Bukhari, Book 83, Hadith 17

[31] Tariq Mahmood Hashmi, Punishment of Rajam and the Qur'an. Source URL: http://www.al-mawrid.org/pages/questions_english_detail.php?qid=55&cid=42 Last accessed on June 30, 2012 9:50 am GMT

[32] Meezan, Al-Mawrid, Lahore, 2009 pp.610- 614

[33] Sahih Muslim, Book 17, Hadith 4206

[34] Sunan al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, Beirut 2003 vol.4 p.28 Hadith 6829

[35] Sunan al-Nasai, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab, Darussalam publishers, 2007 vol.3 p.87 Hadith 1959

5 comments:

  1. He actually links the whole issue of adultery punishable by rajm to Qur’an 5:33 as clear from his own writings[32]. ...

    ...But this is absolutely baseless and we have clear examples in which some adulterers that committed the crime in individual capacity and under ‘circumstantial provocation’ were stoned without their being a threat to the collective social order in the sense Mr. Ghamidi takes it.

    Following examples will help us see the flimsiness of the idea that is Mr. Ghamidi’s brainchild;

    In one narration of Buraida- may Allah be pleased with him- two cases of adulterers who were then stoned to death are mentioned. We put the two separately highlighting the important points.

    ... Is there any hint to what Mr. Ghamidi points? Do you find any notion of ‘open lewdness’ or ‘endangering the honor of every citizen’?




    Mr. Ghamidi links rajm to Surah 5:33 and he seems right. Even Imam Bukhari has classified the issue of Rajm in Kitab al-Muharibeen min ahlil kufr war Riddah (Book 82)

    And he starts this Book by quoting 5:33. Doesn't this imply that Imam Bukhari too linked Rajm with 5:33?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Firstly I feel sad that before coming up with an argument based on some chapter name in a hadith collection you did not answer very important questions raised against this view in the article above. Let me stress the same before answering the Sahih Bukhari chapterization argument.

      1- If stoning is related to what is mentioned in Qur'an 5:33 why is there no evidence for such a nature of the crime of people stoned to death by the Holy Prophet (saaw)? In fact the cases of Ghamidia and Ma'iz do not have even the remotest suggestion for what Ghamidi and you speak for.

      2- Verse 34 says that if anyone of those mentioned in verse 33 is repents before being overpowered then they be forgiven but the two examples discussed show the two individuals came after repenting i.e. they repented before presenting themselves to the Prophet (saaw) and yet they were stoned to death.

      Coming to the Chapterization of Sahih Bukhari, firstly as it seems the chapterization like that is not right and not even universal and agreed upon.

      1- Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani discusses the point of title "KITAB al-Muharibeen" in Fath al-Bari and concludes;

      فالأولى أن يبدل لفظ كتاب بباب وتكون الأبواب كلها داخلة في كتاب الحدود

      "And it is better to change the word "Kitab" (i.e. Book) with "Baab" (i.e. Chapter) and that all these chapters (including Baab al-Muharibeen) are made part of the "Kitab al-Hudud"
      http://www.islamweb.net/newlibrary/display_book.php?idfrom=12464&idto=12465&bk_no=52&ID=3753

      2- With Ibn Battal (d. 449 A.H.) the chapters of rajm are a separate book "Kitab al-Rajm" and not included in Kitab al-Muharibeen. See Sharah Ibn Battal vol.8 p.431
      http://www.waqfeya.com/book.php?bid=548

      In short whatever be the case mere chapter heading of Sahih Bukhari, even if it was absolutely confirm, cannot make a valid argument because of the points raised in the article and repeated again. And we see that chaperization like that is itself subject to disagreement.

      Hope this helps!

      And indeed Allah knows the best!

      Delete
  2. As-salaam alaikum. Thank you for this excellent article.

    I have a question regarding the son of Maiz ibn Malik and the woman of the tribe of Ghamid. Do we have any information about him? What was his name? Was he a close companion of the Prophet (pbuh)? Any help on this would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As per Arabic reading of An noor 2 ayat , Can see that there is neither mentioned unmarried nor married in Arabic. So on what basis Did you translate and made distinguish Between married n unmarried on verse 2 as we read further its says about what type of people should be marriage relation further it gives also information on accusing spouse.


    So if its about context then too verse cover married situation.


    So how you restricted that verse only for unmarried ..

    I m looking answer as per Arabic language.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is tidal wave of evidence shared in this article that after the revelation of the surah the Prophet (saaw) stoned married fornicators. Sunnah makes the thing categorically clear and seals the issue.

      When the sunnah clarifies a matter we do not have to keep running after subtleties of the language.

      Delete

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