Stoning, the context and the law

Within Islam there is a law, by decree of Allah.
If somebody has had sexual intercourse outside marriage, it requires four witnesses to be produced to prove this took place.

When having discussions with Muslims or Islam apologists about this subject, it is said that it cannot be proven with four witnesses, therefore the prescribed punishment does not happen.

What those people fail to say, is this has happened in the past, and is within Islamic law.
The punishment for this, which is a crime within Islam, is to be stoned to death; stoning (rajm) of adulterers is within the hadith and is the Sunnah of Muhammad.
Muhammad abrogated the law of stoning to be reinstated, after the Jews abolished it.
For this reason, it is within Islamic law.

So, it makes little sense for somebody to say “it’s impossible to prove” when it’s in Islamic law, because it would not be in Islamic law if it was not relevant to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Muhammad.

It is actually a Hudhud punishment, which means the limits set by Allah and from that is a fixed punishment prescribed by Allah, even if through his messenger Muhammad.

“Its not in the Qur’an, so its not Islam”

Muhammad was the seal of prophets within Islam (33/40), the Qur’an was sent as social reform for all of mankind and its revelation is a finality (5/3).
Muhammad also talked about the finality in his final sermon at Mount Arafat at which is a very respected sermon believed to be true it within Islam.
Muhammad was chosen to teach the message of the Qur’an and be the example for all Muslims to live their life by (68/4, 33/21).

If the reports from the ahadith of stoning had no relevance in this matter, the ahadith would be classed as fabricated, however these hadith are not classed as fabricated and many are Sahih.

Sahih means genuine or authentic, they have been proven by Islamic scholars to have been attributed to the ways and traditions of Muhammad, his Sunnah.
Although some Muslims will say they are not reliable, those people do not have higher authority than those scholars and to doubt a Sahih hadith is viewed as doubting Allah, as Allah chose Muhammad who left his Sunnah which is the perfect example, which again was said in the final sermon.


When the texts are examined to see exactly where the four witnesses came from, it becomes apparent there can be no doubt that this is an Islamic practice because it relates back to a story about Aishah.

Aishah is believed to be the “mother of the believers” (33/6), within the ahadith, Aishah is a very reliable narrator.

The story about Aishah and the accusation of adultery is the Qur’an, her name is not mentioned in the Qur’an, but it islamic belief that the story relates to Aishah being accused of adultery.

The story is within hadith of Sahih Bukhari, the reports are here within the chapters:


Muhammad and companions – along with Aishah – were coming back from Jihad, they were travelling across the desert and they needed to stop to have a rest. Aishah was travelling within a caravan, on a camel.

Placed on the camel was a how’dah, this is a box or basket which is covered has a canopy.

Aishah’s how’dah was covered with a veil so nobody could see her. This is how many Muslim women travelled in those times.


A caravan with the unveiled how’dah

It says in the hadith, Aishah needed to answer a call of nature, so she alighted from the how’dah with no one’s knowledge, when she came back after the call to nature, the caravan had departed without her.

Due to Aishah being so light in weight and small (she was approximately 14 years old), nobody noticed that she was no longer inside the how’dah when they lifted it to place back on the camel; as pointed out earlier, it is covered so females cannot be seen.

It so happened there was a man there who had also been left behind. The man, recognising Aishah as Muhammad’s wife decided to escort Aisha to safety to the town where Muslims resided.
The man walked alongside the camel whilst Aishah was escorted on the camel.

When they both arrived in the town, some Muslim men saw Aishah and the man together.
They were outraged that she was alone with the man. There was a big scandal within the Ummah, an accusation of adultery was made by three men.
It is reported Muhammad sent Aishah to her parents, it is also reported that Aishah was very unwell during this period.

Muhammad waited for an answer from Allah, to see if Aishah had committed adultery as was believed within the Ummah.

Due to the accusation of slander, there was a lot of tension within the Ummah at this time and nearly resulted in a fight.

Muhammad is reported to have gone into a state which used to overtake him, where he was all of a sweat, Muhammad is reported in other ahadith to have had convulsions, so one could assume this happened here.


Muhammad eventually declared:

Aisha! Thank Allah, for Allah has declared your innocence.”
(Sahih Bukhari, 2661)


Shortly after Muhammad said Allah revealed there needed to be four reliable witnesses for accusations of adultery (24/13, 24/4).

  • Reliable, means a man, who has to be Muslim.
  • Women can testify, but their word is worth half that of a man (2/282).

A decree for slander was also given in (24/11-20).

Lashing for adultery was decreed in the Qur’an and Muhammad later on abrogated it to stoning.


Here is one hadith of stoning, however there are many :

The Jews brought a man and a woman of them who had committed fornication. He said: Bring me two learned men or yours. So they brought the two sons of Suriya. He adjured them and said: How do you think about the matter if these two persons bear witness to the effect that they have seen his sexual organ in her female organ (penetrated) like a collyrium stick when enclosed in its case, they will be stoned to death. He asked: What is there which prevents you from stoning them: They replied : Our rule has gone, so we disapproved of killing. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then called four witnesses. They brought four witnesses. Who testified that they had seen his sexual organ (penetrated) in her female organ like a collyrium stick when enclosed in its case. The Prophet (ﷺ) then gave orders for stoning them.
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Sahih, 4452)


There is also a hadith narrated by Aishah saying the verse of stoning from the Qur’an was eaten by a domestic animal, further this there are hadith from Umar (the second Caliph of Islam and a companion of Muhammad) talking about his worries the verse of stoning will be forgotten as if it was never there.

Within the hadith Aishah narrated it is explained within commentary it was abrogated by recitation, but not ruling, meaning, it is not recited from the Qur’an, but the law still stands for stoning.


The issue with these revelations – which then became a law – is the same rule is applied for rape.
So if a woman says that she has been raped, she needs to come up with four reliable witnesses.
It should be noted, there is no such thing in Islam, as rape.
There is nothing in the Qur’an, ahadith or Islamic law that has the word rape, the only word used is zina, which means fornication, which is:

  • sex whilst married
  • sex before marriage
  • homosexual sex.

So if a woman claims she has been raped and would like to take that person to an Islamic court, she has to prove four reliable witnesses who saw the act of penetration. (Umdat as Salik/Islamic classical law, o13.0)

If she cannot do this, she is believed to have consented to sex, and also of being a liar.
She will be prescribed hudhud punishment which is lashes, or depending on if she is married, or in conservative Muslim country, can be stoned to death.

Another concerning thing the law, is that, if a man says he didn’t know it was illegal, then he is forgiven. (Umdat as Salik/Islamic classical law, o12.4)
That defence is now being used in Europe for men who have been put on trial in our courts for rape of children and women.

One example is the refugee who raped a ten year old child in the changing rooms of a swimming baths in Austria. The accused originally said it was a sexual emergency and he hadn’t had sex for four months, but knew it was wrong.
An appeal was made and the case went back to court where the defence was used, that it was not ascertained if the boy had said no, therefore the accused did not know the rape was wrong.
The case was overturned.


“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Take from me. For Allah has a way made for them : For the married person who commits adultery with a married person is one hundred lashes, then stoning. And for the virgin who commits adultery with a virgin is one hundred lashes and banishment for a year.”
(Jami at tirmidhi, Sahih, 1434)


© Islamic Blueprint-JA Statham 2018

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


One Comment Add yours

  1. JP Sundharam says:

    Well explained! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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