Opposition to Rajm (Stoning): Analysis and Refutation

Opposition to Rajm (Stoning): Analysis and Refutation

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Muslims are often faced with the difficulty of people in the “modern” world pressuring them to change their viewpoints to conform better with what is socially accepted by society. Many of these people (not just non-Muslims, but Muslims as well) see the prescribed punishments of Allah as barbaric practices that should be done away with. They even say that society has advanced so we have moved away from needing such punishments.

They seek to deny the very punishments that Allah has instated as most assuredly the best forms of punishment! One such punishment that is disparaged by these critics is the punishment of stoning the adulterers. In an effort to nullify the punishment, they bring up arguments about the hadiths that mention stoning or how it is not mentioned in the Qur’an.

However, they fail to note that the hadiths that mention stoning were reported by the very same people who transmitted the Qur’an to us; you cannot deny one without denying the other! This article will dissect these many flawed arguments, and prove without a doubt that the punishment of rajm (stoning) is supported by the Qur’an and has not been abrogated.

1. Introduction

One of the most interesting phenomena that the Muslim nation is faced with today is the 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 importantly, the Islam that they hold so dearly to and believe is 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 Qur’an 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 intolerance or changing certain articles of their faith that would apparently appease and gain acceptance from the non-Muslims.

One such example 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 (prescribed punishments), refutation of various arguments against it and 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 Qur’an

Rajm not being in the Qur’an is one of the most illogical and unreasonable arguments that such people can put forth. They say that rajm is not found in the Qur’an while the punishment of one hundred lashes is found in the Qur’an. 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 Qur’anic parameters.”[1]

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:

 “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 not believers.”[2]

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

Consider the following narration:

Abu Hurayrah 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.[3]

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

“The Messenger 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’idah were revealed.[4]

It is thus clear that the “ruling of Allah (hukm-ullah)” in Surah al-Ma’idah, verse 43 refers to rajm. For the said reasoning, the well-known Tafsir al-Jalalayn, co-authored by al-Mahalli and as-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.”[5]

It is for this reason that Ibn ‘Abbas 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.”[6]

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.

2.2. The punishment for illicit relations given in Surah an-Noor is general

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

This argument is flawed for a number of reasons:

a)      The verse with hundred lashes punishment cannot be general and Qur’an itself testifies to it. In Qur’an 4: 25 the punishment of a female adulterer is specified to be half that of a free female fornicator. With this fact known, the idea of the totally generic implication of Surah an-Noor, verse 2 is proven wrong.

Strictly considering the word “zani” used in Surah an-Noor, 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.

b)      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.

c)      How could it be that if the people referred to in this verse included both the married and unmarried, then 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 2 talks about unmarried people.

2.3 The punishment of adultery is rajm, so why is it 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 Qur’an that state 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 their 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:

 “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.”[7]

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 means “one who is fortified or under protection” or inaccessible. For women it can be used in three senses:

i) For the one who is married (i.e. under the protection of her husband).
ii) For the one who is free and under the protection of her family.
iii) For the one who has protected her honor and is neither married nor a slave.[8]

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, note 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 ar-Razi (d. 606 A.H.) writes:

Al-musanat 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 the opposite of “al-ima (slave-women).”[9]

This means that “muhsanat” in usage [a] 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 at-Tabari, al-Jassas, Ibn al-‘Arabi, al-Qurtubi, an-Nasafi, ash-Shawkani and others.

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 and not stoning. The punishment of one hundred lashes can easily be halved.

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 the narrators to have colluded to create a lie, so the narration is certainly true.

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.”[10]

The issue in question is that so many people through so many different parallel chains narrated that the Prophet carried out 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 blessed Prophet have reported the narrations of rajm. They include Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, ‘Aishah, ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood and Abu Hurayrah.[11]

The same mutawatir chains that report rajm have reported the Qur’an. The Qur’an 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 is unsuccessful.

2.5 Rajm abrogated by the punishment of one hundred lashes

There are some from amongst the opponents of rajm who argue that it was abrogated by the punishment of one hundred lashes mentioned in Surah an-Noor. In other words they try to convey that rajm was an earlier practice of the blessed Prophet and Surah an-Noor was revealed after that, so it abrogates rajm.

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

Narrated ash-Shaybani: “‘I asked ‘Abdullah bin Abi Aufa: ‘Did Allah’s Messenger carry out the rajm penalty (i.e. stoning to death)? He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Before the revelation of Surah an-Nur or after it?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know.’”[12]

But as one can see there is no evidence that Messenger of Allah carried out rajm before Surah an-Noor was revealed. It only shows ‘Abdullah bin Abi Aufa did not know about it.

The fact however remains that most if not all of the incidents of rajm practiced by the Prophet took place after the revelation of Surah an-Noor. Consider the following points:

1- Surah an-Noor was revealed after a false charge was made against Mother of the Believers, ‘Aishah, which happened immediately after the Battle of Bani Mastaliq.[13]

2- Historians differ as to the date of this Battle. According to Ibn Ishaq it was in the year 6 A.H.[14] According to al-Waqidi[15] and Ibn Sa‘d[16] it took place in the year 5 A.H. According to one report attributed to Moosa bin ‘Uqbah, it happened in the year 4 A.H.,[17] but more authentic reports from him also put it in the year 5 A.H.[18] Ibn Hajar considered various narrations and facts, coming to the conclusion that the 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 an-Noor was revealed. Most accounts say it was the month of Sha’ban.

3- There is evidence of rajm carried out by the blessed Prophet after the 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.”[19]

And ‘Abdullah bin al-Harith along with his father came to the blessed Prophet after the conquest of Makkah.[20] So his presence at the event means it happened in or after 8 A.H. (long after the revelation of Surah an-Noor).

Regarding the same incident in a narration recorded by at-Tabari, another Companion Abu Hurayrah said, “I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah…”[21]

And it is well-known fact that Abu Hurayrah accepted Islam in the year 7 A. H. (at least a couple of years after the revelation of Surah an-Noor).[22]

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 Madinah well before. However this is not really a valid objection because even after the main Jewish tribes were expelled from Madinah, there remained many Jews in the city.

As recorded in Sahih Bukhari, Abu Hurayrah – who 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 Messenger, 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.’”[23]

This proves even after 7 A.H. there were some Jews in Madinah. In fact we know there was a Jew in Madinah even at the time of the death of the Messenger of Allah (11 A.H.) to whom his armor was mortgaged.[24]

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.[25]

Narrations about rajm of Ghamdiah (a woman from the tribe of Ghamid) tell us that Khalid bin Waleed threw stones at her.[26] And Khalid bin Waleed himself reported, “We reached the Messenger of Allah at Madinah on the first day of Safar in the eighth year [after Hijrah].”[27]

All these days make it absolutely clear that the noble Prophet carried out stoning (rajm) after the revelation of Surah an-Noor 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 a ta’zir (discretionary punishment) and not as a hadd (prescribed punishment).

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

Qatadah reported from Habib bin Saalim (who) said that a man was brought to an-Nu’man ibn Basheer 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.’”[28]

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. At-Tirmidhi after quoting this hadith writes:

“There is confusion in the hadith of an-Nu’man. Bukhari said that Qatadah and Bishr both had not heard this hadith from Habib ibn Saalim but from Khalid ibn Urfutah.”[29]

Al-Albani[30], Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot[31] and others have classified it as da’if (weak).

Even if it is accepted as authentic, it does not support the assertion of the opponents of rajm because hadd requires total and ultimate evidence and the 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 at-Tirmidhi mentions the opinion of Ibn Mas‘ood under this hadith that he “held that such a person is not subject to hadd, but to ta’zir.”[32]

A narration about ‘Ali helps us understand this better.

Harqus narrated: “A woman came to ‘Ali 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.’”[33]

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. One hundred lashes mentioned in the report of at-Tirmidhi were only by the way of ta’zir.[34]

2.6.1 Evidence that rajm is a 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 by the Almighty Allah. The blessed Prophet practiced it in the capacity of the Lawgiver and not just the ruler. Consider the following points:

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

2- According to the narration of al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib after the stoning of the Jewish couple the Messenger of Allah said, “O Allah! I am the first of those who revive Your command, which they had killed off.”[35]

It is clearly a command of Allah.

3- In the report from ‘Ubadah bin Samit the Messenger of Allah mentioned stoning of the adulterers saying, “Allah has ordained a way for them.”[36]

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

4- According to the narration of Zaid bin Khalid al-Juhani when a case of unmarried boy cohabiting with a married woman was brought to the Messenger of Allah, he said, “By the One in Whose Hand is my life, I will judge between you according to the Book of Allah,” and ruled that the woman – if she confessed – must be stoned to death.[37]

Here again the blessed Prophet attributed the command to the Book of Allah.

5- After mentioning the incident of the stoning of the Jewish adulterers, Ibn ‘Abbas said, “That was the punishment ordained for them by Allah because the Prophet had known their adultery.”[38]

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 (apostasy) and leaves the Muslims.’”[39]

This narration clearly mentions prescribed punishments only and not discretionary punishments.

The 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?

Recently, 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 (do it by the way of prostitution or as a group).

A member of his al-Mawrid Institute, explaining and defending his opinion, writes:

Mr Ghamidi holds that it was an application of the Qur’anic directive regarding the crime of muharabah. The Noble Qur’an could not have been abrogated by the Prophet. 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.[40]

He actually links the whole issue of adultery punishable by rajm to Qur’an 5: 33 as clear from his own writings.[41] 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.”[42]

However, 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.

The following examples will help us understand why Mr. Ghamidi’s idea is a misconception:

In one narration of Buraydah two cases of adulterers who were then stoned to death are mentioned. We put the two separately highlighting the important points:

“Ma’iz bin Malik al-Aslami came to Allah’s Messenger – may peace be upon him – and said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, I have wronged myself and I have committed zina (adultery) and want you to purify me.’ But he turned him away. On the following day, he (Ma’iz) again came to him and said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, I have committed zina (adultery).’ Allah’s Messenger turned him away for the second time, and sent word 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 blessed 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 he came for the fourth time, he had a pit dug for him, then he ordered that he be stoned to death.”[43]

Ma’iz was not a part of any gang violating the honor of the women, leading the Prophet to take punitive measures. In fact the Prophet 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 the Ghamidi woman came and said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, I have committed zina (adultery), purify me’ but he turned her away. The next day she said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, why are you turning me away? Perhaps, you turn me away as you turned Ma’iz away. By Allah, I am pregnant.’ He said:

‘Then no (not now), go away until you give birth.’ When she gave birth, she brought the child to him wrapped in a cloth, and said: ‘Here he is, I have given birth.’ He said: ‘Go away and breastfeed him until he is weaned.’ When she had weaned him, she brought the boy to him, with a piece of bread in his hand and said: ‘Here, O Prophet of Allah, I have weaned him, and he is eating food.’

He handed the boy over to one of the Muslim men, then he ordered that a pit be dug for her, up to her chest and he ordered the people to stoned her. Khalid bin al-Walid came forward with a stone which he flung at her head. The blood spurted blood onto Khalid’s face and so he cursed her.

The Prophet of Allah heard him cursing her and he said: ‘Calm down, O Khalid! By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, she has repented in such a manner that if the Maks – (tax) collector repented like that, he would be forgiven.’ Then he ordered that the funeral prayer be offered for her, and she was buried.[44]

According to the narration of al-Bayhaqi, the Prophet  said, “She repented in a way that if her repentance were to be distributed to all the people of Madinah it would suffice them.”[45]

In another narration we find that when someone said some strong words about her the blessed Prophet said, “Have you seen better than the one who sacrificed herself for the sake of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime?”[46]

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 after her death.

Furthermore 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.

“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.”[47]

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 that person’s repentance will be accepted and he or she will not be executed as stated.

However in the two cases we considered above (of Ma’iz and Ghamidiah), we see that both repented before being overpowered; but they themselves chose to confess before the Prophet but still they were both stoned to death.

So either the verse does not relate to stoning or the Prophet made a mistake. May Allah forgive us for even thinking of that possibility!

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.

3. Summary and Conclusion

It is without a doubt that those who deny rajm have no reasonable, logical or rational explanation for doing so. Their logical arguments of the verse not being in the Qur’an leaves them with the embarrassment of having to deny many of the other injunctions that were revealed as part of non-Qur’anic revelations. In fact we have seen that stoning is rather proved from the Qur’an itself though not in explicit wording.

Their ‘logical’ argument that stoning cannot be halved for slaves fails in the light of the context and meaning of the words in the Qur’an. The denial of mutawatir hadiths leads them to the denial of path that has brought us the Qur’an, and last but not least their double standards are exposed in relation to approaching the issue from 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.
References & Notes:

[1] Syed, Ibrahim B., “Opposing Rajm (Stoning to Death)

[2] Qur’an 5:43

[3] Abu Dawood, as-Sunan, Translated by Ahmad Hasan Dani (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Sons, 1984) Hadith 4435.

The narration was classified as da’if by Albani. However, Shu’aib Arnaut and his team in their detailed research graded it as “Sahih li-Ghayrihi” i.e. authentic due to supporting narrations.

[4]Ibid., Hadith 4433

[5] as-Suyuti and al-Mahalli, “Tafsir al-Jalalayn

[6] al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, 1990) Hadith 8069; classified as sahih (sound) by al-Hakim, and adh-Dhahabi agreed with him

[7]Qur’an 4: 25

[8] Al-Isfahani, Ragheb, al-Mufradat fee Ghareeb al-Qur’an, (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1412 A.H.) p.239

[9]ar-Razi, Fakhar ad-Deen, Mafatih al-Ghayb, (Beirut: Dar al-Ihya at-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1420 A.H.) Vol.10, 46-47

[10]Syed, Ibrahim B., “Opposing Rajm (Stoning to Death)

[11] For the complete list of names and references for their reports see;

Usmani, Muhammad Taqi, Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, (Beirut: Dar al-Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2006) Vol.2, 362-372.

[12] al-Bukhari, Muhammad bin Isma’il, as-Sahih, Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Riyadh: Maktabat Dar-us-Salam, 1997) Hadith 6813

[13] Ibid., Hadith 7545

[14] Ibn Hisham, as-Seerat an-Nabawiyyah, (Egypt: Mustafa al-Babi, 1955) Vol.2, 289

[15]  al-Waqidi, Muhammad bin ‘Umar, al-Maghazi (Beirut: Dar al-A’lami, 1989) Vol.1, 404

[16] Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 1990) Vol.2, 48

[17] Ibn Sayyid an-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, (Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, 1993) Vol.2, 128

[18] al-Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr, Dala’il an-Nubuwwah, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 1405 A.H.) Vol.4, 45

[19] at-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Awst, (Cairo: Dar al-Haramain, 1407 AH)  Vol.1, 49, Hadith 137; also see: Majma’ az-Zawa’id, Vol.6, 271, Hadith 10632

[20] al-Asqalani, Ibn Hajar,  Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1379 A.H.) Vol.12, 171

[21] at-Tabari, Jami‘ al-Bayan fee Tawil al-Qur’an, (Beirut: ar-Risalah Publications, 2000) Vol.10, 305-306

[22] Ibn Sa‘d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.4, 244

[23] al-Bukhari, as-Sahih, Hadith 3167

[24] Ibid., Hadith 2916

[25] al-San’ani, ‘Abdur-Razzaq, al-Musannaf, (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1403 A.H.) Vol.7, 315, Hadith 13330

[26] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007) Hadith 4432 (23-1695)

[27] Ibn Sa‘d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.4, 190

[28] at-Tirmidhi, Abu ‘Eesa, as-Sunan, ,(Riyadh: Maktaba al-Ma’arif, n.d.)  Hadith 1451

[29] Ibid., p.344

[30] Al-Albani, Nasir ad-Deen, Da’if Sunan at-Tirmidhi, (Riyadh: Maktaba al-Ma’arif, 2000) p.135 No.1451

[31]Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Musnad, (Beirut: ar-Risalah Publications, 2001) Hadith 18397

[32] al-Tirmidhi, as-Sunan, p.344

[33] ‘Abdur-Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13648

[34] at-Tahawi,  Abu Ja’far, Sharh Ma’ni al-Athar, (Egypt, 1994) Vol.3, 145

[35] Ibn Majah, as-Sunan, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007) Hadith 2558; classified as sahih (sound) by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot

[36] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Hadith 4414 (12-1690)

[37] Ibid., Hadith 4435 (25-1697)

[38] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 2368; classified as Hasan by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot

[39] al-Bukhari, as-Sahih, Hadith 6878

[40] Hashmi, Tariq Mahmood, “Punishment of Rajm and the Qur’an

[41] Ghamidi, Javed Ahmed, Meezan, (Lahore: al-Mawrid, 2012) 610- 614

[42] Qur’an 5: 33

[43] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Hadith 4432 (23-1695)

[44] Ibid.

[45] al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, 2003)  Hadith 6829

[46] an-Nasa’i, Ahmad bin ‘Ali, as-Sunan, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007)  Hadith 1959

[47] Qur’an 5:33-34