Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bringing an End to Stoning

 A woman being buried for stoning Iran. A woman stoned dead in her hole in Afghanistan.

The Arabic word zina' that is often translated by the word 'adultery' really means something more than that - any sexual relations between a woman and a man who are not bound to each other by a legal marriage (from adultery to rape), and as long as slavery existed, intimate relations between a man and a slave who did not belong to him or was married to another. The Qur'an does not prescribe stoning to death for adultery. Nevertheless, in many Islamic countries to this day, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Saudi Arabia women are regularly stoned to death. 

A comparison of the Code of Hammurabi, Deuteronomy and Islamic scripture shows that the plight of women became substantially worse under Deuteronomic law and that this harsh violent law, which was effectively suspended by the Sanhedrin in the time of Jesus, was revived by Muhammad taking Deuteronomy literally, so that it continues to be a cruel and unusual violent homicidal punishment, aimed principally at women, in Islam to this day. By contrast, in Western democracies, adultery is not a crime at all, and is simply, as it should be, a matter for civil mediation. There is an urgent need for all the people of the world to stand up and say stoning for adultery is a diabolical crime which has no place in the world today or in future. Deuteronomy which is the source of the cancer should be abrogated by the Jews and all Muslim authorities should declare the hadith on stoning to be abrogated. The Jews, Christians and Muslims all need to apologize to the women of history and come together to make atonement for this diabolical miscarriage of natural justice.

The Code of Hammurabi sets out drowning for adultery but provides for forgiveness. A virgin ravished in her father's house is blameless but the man is put to death. A women accused of adultery without proof can swear her innocence and if others accuse her without proof she can plunge in the sacred river for her husband's sake. All in all it is a matter of civic remedies with provision for mediation.

129. If a man's wife be caught lying with another, they shall be strangled and cast into the water. If the wife's husband would save his wife, the king can save his servant.
130. If a man has ravished another's betrothed wife, who is a virgin, while still living in her father's house, and has been caught in the act, that man shall be put to death; the woman shall go free.

131. If a man's wife has been accused by her husband, and has not been caught lying with another, she shall swear her innocence, and return to her house.
132. If a man's wife has the finger pointed at her on account of another, but has not been caught lying with him, for her husband's sake she shall plunge into the sacred river.

Deuteronomic law has more patriarchal emphasis with greater blame on the woman and no provisions for forgiveness, because adultery is perceived as an evil act in the sight of God and Moses’ commandments in the manner of the idolatrous nations. If a man marries and hates his wife claiming she was not a virgin, she shall be stoned to death unless the parents can show the tokens of virginity, in which case the husband is merely fined and must keep her. If a man is found lying with a married woman they shall both be put to death. If a man lies with a betrothed woman in the city they shall both be stoned because she did not cry out. Only if she is sexually assaulted in the fields will the man be killed and the woman freed. Bearing in mind the origin of Deuteronomy, found in questionable circumstances during a temple renovation many centuries after Moses, and the fact that the Sanhedrin had effectively quashed the death penalty by the time of Jesus, claiming it could be ordained only by God and not a mere human, these passages should rightly be abrogated.

22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

22:23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

Islamic Sharia presents a confused violent sequel to Deuteronomy, still culminating in cruel and unusual homicides today. The Quran does not prescribe stoning, but states that the punishment for indecency among women is confinement to death, with allowance for repentance, and 100 lashes for fornication. Four witnesses are required to testify and provision is made to punish false witness.

4.15 And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them. And as for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

24.2 (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement. The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believers.

24.4 And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors, Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And (as for) those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, the evidence of one of these (should be taken) four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely of the truthful ones. And the fifth (time) that the curse of Allah be on him if he is one of the liars. And it shall avert the chastisement from her if she testify four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely one of the liars; And the fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be on her if he is one of the truthful.

However in Sharia the situation becomes violently homicidal, with anecdotal hadiths prescribing stoning, as in Deuteronomy, even though it doesn't appear in the Quran. The Hadith say Muhammad ordered stoning and performed it himself, and that it was somehow accidentally left out of the Quran on the day of his demise, when a goat ate it. The hadith claim stoning first occurred when Jews came with a couple caught in adultery and Muhammad insisted on the Deuteronomic punishment even though the Jews insisted they said they only gave lashes, and the death penalty had been quashed for 600 years among the Jews. The hadith have Caliph Umar who passed many misogynistic edicts against women, saying he feared that in times to come men would say that they find no mention of stoning in God's book and go astray in neglecting an ordinance "which God has sent down".

The Hadith say Muhammad ordered stoning and himself performed it and that it was somehow accidentally left out of the Quran, which specifies only flogging, ostensibly because it was written on a note which Aisha had under her pillow along with the provision on breastfeeding adults and a goat ate it when Muhammad died (Ibn Majah 3:9:1944).

Jews came to the Prophet and said, "A man and a woman of our nation have committed adultery." The Prophet asked them, "What does the Torah says about pelting stones?" They replied, "We humiliate them and give publicly to their evil act and punish them by flogging." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie. Bring the Torah which also ordains pelting stones." So they brought the Torah and one of them having covered his hand the verse relating to the pelting of stones read out the verse preceding it and the verse after it. Abdullah bin Salam said, "Take off your hand." And the verse about pelting stones was seen clearly. The Jew said, "Abdullah bin Salam is right. The verse about pelting stones is there." Then the Prophet directed that both the committers of adultery be stoned to death and they met their fate (Bukhari 2:23:413, 4:56:829).

Umar in his reign as Caliph recalled that "God sent Muhammad and sent down the Scripture to him. Part of what he sent down was the passage on stoning, we read it, we were taught it, and we heeded it. The apostle stoned and we stoned them after him. I fear that in time to come men will say that they find no mention of stoning in God's book and thereby go astray in neglecting an ordinance, which God has sent down. Verily stoning in the book of God is a penalty laid on married men and women who commit adultery (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, tr. Guillaume, p. 684)

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