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By Dr. Farhat Naz Rahman



There is a heated debate going on the question of the punishment of RAJM under Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan. In 1979 the Govt. of Pakistan enforced the Hudood Laws as per Hanafi Fiqah regarding theft, adultery, defamation and wine. The punishment for adultery is very clear in the Qur’an 'Flog each of them with a hundred stripes' (24:3). At another place the Qur’an clearly points out that: 'The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice; none can change His words' (6:115). The Qur’an does not differentiate between married and unmarried and there is absolutely no mention of Rajm. As such any changes or addition to clear Qur’anic injunctions is 'Shirk' (transgression). 'He does not share His command with any person whatsoever' (18:26). The companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) also followed these injunctions, which would be our guide for all times to come. These injunctions need no confusing or contradictory interpretations and additions. Everything is clearly defined in them. 'We have sent down to them a Book explaining all things, a mercy and glad tidings to Muslims (17:89) 'And We have explained to man in the Qur’an every kind of similitude (17:89). There are no contradictions in the Qur’an and the Qur’anic injunctions 'Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah they would surely have found therein much discrepancy' (4:82). These verses affirm all injunctions, laws, principles and punishments given in Qur’an 'None can change His words (18:27) 'The word of thy Lord find its fulfillment in truth and in justice and none can change His words (6:116). 'Is it not enough for them that we have sent down to them the Book which is rehearsed to them?'(29:51).

In 1980 the Shariat Court declared Rajm to be un-Islamic. The Govt. appealed against this decision and it is still pending. The Editor-in-Chief of the Hong Kong based 'Asia Week' Michael O'Neill interviewed President Ziaul Haq. The interview was published in the Asia Week's issue of 4th Dec 1981.

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 Shariat Court decided with one dissenting vote was that this law of Rajm is not Qur’anic Law. This is what the govt. is appealing against, because we consider the Shariat Court members have not done their homework and have been taken away by emotions. We said it is a Qur’anic Law. We will present our case and they'll present their case, and we hope the Supreme Court will come out with that. We introduced the laws in 1979 and so far no one has been stoned to death, or lashed for drinking, because we can't find the proof which Qur’an demands. Therefore the maximum punishments have not been enforced. A man accused of Zina has been given 14 years imprisonment, which is not a joke'.

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 Qur’an is the ultimate source of the Shariah because Allah has guaranteed its integrity. The Qur’an prescribes flogging. It does not even mention the word 'stoning' or 'death by stoning' (Rajm). Verse 24-2 says:

"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.
The real challenge to Islam in the 21st Century is to rewrite or modify the fiqh but for this it has to throw up a genius who can combine the knowledge and wisdom of the five acknowledged Imams (Abu Hanifa, Shafii, Malik, Hanbal and Jafar Sadiq), to consider the new questions that have arisen, since the gates of Ijtihad were closed in the 10th Century, and formulate answers in the light of the Qur’an and the authoritative Traditions of the Prophet which are the only two pillars on which the Shariah rests.






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