By Dr. Farhat Naz Rahman
There is a heated debate going on
the question of the punishment of RAJM under Hudood Ordinance in
In 1980 the
Quoting President Zia, O'Neill
writes 'if there are four witnesses and the man admits having committed
adultery, being fully aware of the consequences, and then he should be declared
guilty. What the
During his visit, O'Neill also met a number of Islamic scholars and quoting Allama Pervez he wrote 'When they call themselves Muslims it means they accept Islam, and if there is one common authority for Islam then that must be a common authority by which all Muslims decide whether something is Islamic or not, whether it is the law of Rajm, some other laws or rules of the state. What is the authority? The authority is the Qur’an. It is the only authority, immutable. A state can be called Islamic only if it acts according to the Qur’an. If the appeal of the govt. is accepted Rajm will become the law of the land. But it will not be an Islamic law'.
The punishment of stoning to death
(Rajm) is not mentioned in the Qur'an.
"The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication flog each of them".
The case of married persons is different from that of outsiders. If one of them accuses the other of unchastity, the accusation partly reflects on the accuser as well. Moreover, the link, which unites married people, even where differences supervene, is sure to act as a steadying influence against the concoction of false charges of unchastity particularly where divorce is allowed (as in Islam) for reasons other than unchastity. Suppose a husband catches a wife in adultery. In the nature of things four witnesses-or even one outside witness-would be impossible. Yet after such an experience it is against human nature that he can live a normal married life. The matter is then left to the honour of the two spouses. If the husband can solemnly swear four times to the fact, and in addition invoke a curse on himself if he lies, that is prima facie evidence of the wife's guilt. But if the wife swears similarly four times and similarly invokes a curse on herself, she is in law acquitted of the guilt. If she does not take this step, the charge is held proved and the punishment follows. In either case the marriage is dissolved, as it is against human nature that the parties can live together happily after such an incident.
Surah 24 (Al Nur):
6 And 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; 2960
7 And the fifth (oath) (should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie.
8 But 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;
9 And the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth.
So how has this pre-Islamic punishment crept into Islam? Muslim jurists think that the Qur’anic punishment in Verse 24(2), applies only to fornication and that in the case of adultery, the Sunnah of the Prophet prescribes stoning to death.
The most accepted collection of Hadith Sahih al Bukhari has 4 entries under 3829, 8804, 8805 and 8824 which refer to stoning by death. The case under 4829 involved Jews who were stoned to death in accordance with the Law of the Torah. 8805 says: "A married man from the tribe of Bani Aslam who had committed illegal sexual intercourse and bore witnesses four times against himself was ordered by the Prophet (s.a.s.) To be stoned to death". 8804 and 8824 overlap each other. And in both the narrator acknowledges his ignorance of whether the stoning to death was carried out before or after the revelation of Qur’anic Verse 24-2. The Hadith is very clear but is silent on the question whether the Prophet ordered stoning to death before or after the revelation of the Verse 24-2.
Verse 47 and 48 of Surah Al Maida revealed at the time when the case of the Jews from Bani Aslam tribe came before the Prophet (Peace be on him) as narrated in the Sahi Bukhari 4829. These verses clearly explain the philosophy of Sharia as mentioned in the Qur’an that for each follower of the revealed books a different Sharia was prescribed. The reason and logic also explained in the same verse, which is as follows: -
Let the people of the Gospel Judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed they are (no better than) those who rebel.
To thee We sent the Scripture in truth confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires diverging from the truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.
It is well known that the Qur’an was revealed in stages over 23 years. Until revelation on a specific point was received by the Prophet, he followed the law of Moses or the Traditions of Abraham but once a revelation was received, there was no question of his substituting it by his own will or by the law of Moses. In any case, there is no record in Sahih al Bukhari or any other accepted compendium of the Traditions of the Holy Prophet of another Rajm (death by stoning) carried out under the command of the Prophet.
The basic reason behind the mushrooming of sects among Muslims is that they started giving more importance to laws other than Qur’an. The unity of the Muslim Ummah is a must and can only be achieved if the Qur’an is followed strictly. Any deviation would lead to differences and fragmentation. The Prophet (peace be on him) was sent to remove all differences.
A possible course can be for the
eminent jurists from the Muslim world to reconsider the question of
permissibility of 'Rajm' on the sound basis that since a Hadith may be
unauthentic, it cannot overrule a clear mandate of the Qur’an as the Prophet
could not possibly have violated the mandate of the Qur’an after the revelation
of the relevant verse.
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