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This is a sub-article to Islamic criminal jurisprudence and Stoning
Rajm is an Arabic word that means to stone. It is commonly used to refer to the traditional Islamic Hudud punishment whereby an organized group throws stones at the convicted individual until that person dies. Traditionally, it is called for in cases of adultery where the criteria for conviction are met.

Overview

In Islamic law, the practice of stoning is a punishment that has been prescribed as proper for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or there is pregnancy, or a confession. Adultery is only proved when four eye witnesses testify that they saw the actual act of sexual intercourse; if all four witnesses cannot prove this requirement, they are liable to punishment of Qazaf. The crime is also proved if one bears witness against his or her own self four times, or if there is a pregnancy. .

Practice

Rajm is carried out differently depending upon if the subject is female or male. If the subject is a female, then she is buried up to her chest, and stoned until dead. If the subject is male, then he is buried up to his waist, and stoned until dead. However, if either manages to escape before being killed, the subject is allowed to live. Some critics of stoning claim that it is far more possible for men to escape and live than for women because of the different depth of burial.

Stoning punishments have been considered or handed down recently in Nigeria and Somalia for the crimes of adultery and sodomy.

Scriptural basis

Quran

The Qur'an An-Nur 24:2-9 mentions the verses for punishment for adultery or fornication. Verse 24:4-5 also mentions that conditions for proving the charge. At least four witnesses should be produced and if this is not possible, the accusers to be flogged 80 times for slandering. Interestingly, in case the husband is the only accuser and the wife refuses to accept the accusation; the husband and wife are asked to invoke the curse of God on the one who is lying with no explicit punishment for either.

024.002The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

024.003Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.

024.004And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;-

024.005Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

024.006And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own,- their solitary evidence (can be received) if they bear witness four times (with an oath) by Allah that they are solemnly telling the truth;

024.007And the fifth (oath) (should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie.

024.008But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie;

024.009And the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth.

024.010If it were not for Allah's grace and mercy on you, and that Allah is Oft-Returning, full of Wisdom,- (Ye would be ruined indeed).


Hadith

Among prominent ahadith mentioning stoning is the Hadith of Umar's speech of forbidding Mut'ah and Hadith of the Verse of Rajm. There are also other ahadith regarding stoning.

Views

One Muslim view is that stoning is the appropriate punishment for adultery committed by a married man or woman with someone who is not legal to him/her. Another view is that it is only applicable to rapists and prostitutes. Other Muslims disagree entirely regarding its legality, arguing that it cannot be found in the Qur'an, and the practice goes against some verses, such as those in Sura an-Nur.

There is disagreement among modernist Islamic thinkers as to the applicability of stoning for adultery, as religious texts often give examples with and without stoning, but the Quran does not prescribe stoning as a punishment for any crime, mentioning only lashing as punishment for adultery. However, traditionalists do not see this as a problem, since hadith can also establish laws which the Qur'an does not mention.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a Pakistanimarker Islamic scholar, has examined all hadith related to Rajm in his book Burhan and deals with the issue of Rajm not having been prescribed in the Qur'an, the source which has presidence over the Sunnah for Muslims. Based on principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, particularly that of Shatibi, Sunnah (the recorded ways and the manners of the prophet Muhammad) provides either an explanation of the Qur'an or an addition to the Qur'an.

If it is an explanation, then its status is secondary to the Quran. If it is an addition, than its issue can not have been discussed by the Qur'an. Ghamidi concludes that Quranic punishment for Zina in verse does not leave a room for another interpretation. He also writes that stoning can only be prescribed for someone who rapes or habitually commits fornication as prostitutes, as it constitutes maleficence in the land and punishable according to verses . As it is attributed to Muhammad in following hadith:
Acquire it from me, acquire it from me.
The Almighty has revealed the directive about women who habitually commit fornication about which He had promised to reveal.
If such criminals are unmarried or are the unsophisticated youth, then their punishment is a hundred stripes and exile and if they are widowers or are married, then their punishment is a hundred stripes and death by stoning.
Sahih Muslim 1690


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References

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