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1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet

Stoned to Death

Sayings and Deeds of the ProphetNarrated Abdullah:

I or somebody, asked Allah's Apostle "Which is the biggest sin in the Sight of Allah?"

He said, "That you set up a rival (in worship) to Allah though He Alone created you."

I asked, "What is next?"

He said, "Then, that you kill your son, being afraid that he may share your meals with you."

I asked, "What is next?"

He said, "That you commit illegal sexual intercourse with the wife of your neighbor."

Then the following Verse was revealed to confirm the statement of Allah's Apostle: "Those who invoke not with Allah, any other god, nor kill life as Allah has forbidden except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse." (25:68)

Bukhari 60.284

Muhammad said that having illegal intercourse is the third worst sin you can commit. From a woman's perspective, it may be the first. As to the first two, both men and women believers can ask and expect forgiveness from Allah as long as they repent before death is imminent; but a woman, unlike a man, cannot expect any mercy from the All Merciful for having illegal sex, no matter what.

Alice: Adultery is not a sin against Allah or His Messenger, so why is an adulteress not deserving of Allah’s Mercy?

Imam: Because there is no way for a woman to make amends for having had sex with someone other than her husband. How would you undo that? How could she undo the dishonour that she has brought on herself, her family and her husband? It is not enough that the adulteress will roast in Hell for eternity, but steps must be taken in the here-and-now to eradicate the reminder of this dishonour and to discourage such destructive behavior.

Alice: Such as stoning the adulteress to death.

From the one act play Alice visits a Mosque to learn about Judgement Day, Boreal Books

It is definitely not a laughing matter!

[The Prophet] said, "O community of Muhammad! By Allah, there is no-one more jealous than Allah of a male or female slave of his who commits adultery. O community of Muhammad! By Allah, if you knew what I knew, you would laugh little and weep much.'"

Malik's Muwatta 12.12.1.1

Muhammad acquired the unlikely moniker Prophet of Mercy after the surrender of Mecca without a fight when he publicly spared the lives of most of his opponents, while quietly having those with no protectors assassinated (see Chapter Apostates). One of the more wretched decisions of the Prophet of Mercy:

Malik related to me from Yaqub ibn Zayd ibn Talha from his father Zayd ibn Talha that Abdullah ibn Abi Mulayka informed him that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and informed him that she had committed adultery and was pregnant.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to her, "Go away until you give birth."

When she had given birth, she came to him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to her, "Go away until you have suckled and weaned the baby."

When she had weaned the baby, she came to him. He said, "Go and entrust the baby to someone."

She entrusted the baby to someone and then came to him. He gave the order and she was stoned.

Al-Muwatta 41.41.1.5

In another hadith about a defenceless woman put to death on orders from the Prophet of Mercy, Muhammad simply sent a trusted assassin to enquire whether the woman had committed adultery and if she answered in the affirmative, to stone her.

Narrated Zaid bin Khalid and Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "O Unais! Go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses (that she has committed illegal sexual intercourse), then stone her to death."

Bukhari 38.508

A more complete account, where a double standard is evident, of why this unfortunate woman had to die.

Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani:

A bedouin came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge my case according to Allah's Laws."

His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, "Yes, judge between us according to Allah's Laws, and allow me to speak."

Allah's Apostle said, "Speak."

He (i.e. the bedouin or the other man) said, "My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death."

Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah's Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death."

Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah's Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death.

Bukhari 50.885

Muhammad was not as quick to order a man who confessed to committing illegal intercourse to be stoned.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

A man from Bani Aslam came to Allah's Apostle while he was in the mosque and called (the Prophet ) saying, "O Allah's Apostle! I have committed illegal sexual intercourse."

On that the Prophet turned his face from him to the other side, whereupon the man moved to the side towards which the Prophet had turned his face, and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have committed illegal sexual intercourse."

The Prophet turned his face (from him) to the other side whereupon the man moved to the side towards which the Prophet had turned his face, and repeated his statement.

The Prophet turned his face (from him) to the other side again. The man moved again (and repeated his statement) for the fourth time.

So when the man had given witness four times against himself, the Prophet called him and said, "Are you insane?"

He replied, "No."

The Prophet then said (to his companions), "Go and stone him to death."

The man was a married one.

Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari said: I was one of those who stoned him. We stoned him at the Musalla (the praying area outside a mosque) in Medina. When the stones hit him with their sharp edges, he fled, but we caught him at Al-Harra and stoned him till he died.

Bukhari 63.196

In another account of the stoning of the man from Aslam, the adulterer confesses five, not four times, and Muhammad conducts a much more extensive, explicit interrogation in which he again tries to save the man from himself. The chagrin that the Prophet of Mercy experiences in having to sentence a man to be stoned to death is very much evident in his demand that those who said he was “stoned like a dog” should eat from the decaying corpse of an ass.

Though the act of stoning does not purify a woman who has committed adultery, it seems to have that effect on a man found guilty of the same offence. She is going to Hell, he is going to Paradise.

Narrated AbuHurayrah:

A man of the tribe of Aslam came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and testified four times against himself that he had had illicit intercourse with a woman, while all the time the Prophet (peace be upon him) was turning away from him. Then when he confessed a fifth time, he turned round and asked: Did you have intercourse with her?

 He replied: Yes.

He asked: Have you done it so that your sexual organ penetrated hers?

He replied: Yes.

He asked: Have you done it like a collyrium stick when enclosed in its case and a rope in a well?

He replied: Yes.

He asked: Do you know what fornication is?

He replied: Yes. I have done with her unlawfully what a man may lawfully do with his wife.

He then asked: What do you want from what you have said?

He said: I want you to purify me. So he gave orders regarding him and he was stoned to death.

Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard one of his companions saying to another: Look at this man whose fault was concealed by Allah but who would not leave the matter alone, so that he was stoned like a dog.

He said nothing to them but walked on for a time till he came to the corpse of an ass with its legs in the air.

He asked: Where are so and so?

They said: Here we are, Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him)!

He said: Go down and eat some of this ass's corpse.

They replied: Apostle of Allah! Who can eat any of this?

He said: The dishonour you have just shown to your brother is more serious than eating some of it. By Him in Whose hand my soul is, he is now among the rivers of Paradise and plunging into them.

Abu Dawud 38.4414

Another man who would not take a hint, and thereby compelled the Prophet of Mercy to order that he be stoned to death:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

When Ma'iz bin Malik came to the Prophet (in order to confess), the Prophet said to him, "Probably you have only kissed (the lady), or winked, or looked at her?"

He said, "No, O Allah's Apostle!"

The Prophet said, using no euphemism, "Did you have sexual intercourse with her?"

The narrator added: At that, (i.e. after his confession) the Prophet ordered that he be stoned (to death).

Bukhari 82.813

An unmarried slave girl who had sex was shown some mercy by the man with the oxymoronic moniker for compassion, but not much.

Narrated Abu Huraira and Said bin Khalid:

The verdict of Allah's Apostle was sought about an unmarried slave girl guilty of illegal intercourse.

He replied, "If she commits illegal sexual intercourse, then flog her (fifty stripes), and if she commits illegal sexual intercourse (after that for the second time), then flog her (fifty stripes), and if she commits illegal sexual intercourse (for the third time), then flog her (fifty stripes) and sell her for even a hair rope."

Ibn Shihab said, "I am not sure whether the Prophet ordered that she be sold after the third or fourth time of committing illegal intercourse."

Bukhari 82.822

Muhammad's fondness for stoning those who committed illegal intercourse, females in particular, was undoubtedly influenced by the punishment specified in the Torah.

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:

The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse.

Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?"

They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them."

Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm."

They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it.

Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand."

When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm."

The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death.

(Abdullah bin Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones."

Bukhari 56.829

Muhammad boasted that through him, Allah would eliminate adultery. This would explain his pitiless rulings, especially where women accused of illegal intercourse were concerned.

Narrated Jubair bin Mutim:

Allah's Apostle said, "I have five names: I am Muhammad and Ahmad; I am Al-Mahi through whom Allah will eliminate infidelity; I am Al-Hashir who will be the first to be resurrected, the people being resurrected there after; and I am also Al-'Aqib (i.e. There will be no prophet after me)."

Bukhari 56.732

If it is almost exclusively women who are stoned to death for illegal intercourse it is not their fault, really, it has to do with Allah's self-respect.

Narrated Aisha:

In the life-time of Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam, then bowed for a long while. He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first.

He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration. He did the same in the second Raka as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared.

He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, "The sun and the moon are two signs against the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa."

The Prophet then said, "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! There is none who has more Ghira (self-respect) than Allah as He has forbidden that His slaves, male or female commit adultery (illegal sexual intercourse). O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! If you knew that which I know you would laugh little and weep much."

Bukhari 17.154

Illegal intercourse is such a horrible crime because it is an affront to Allah’s self-respect.

Narrated Aisha:

In the lifetime of Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam, then bowed for a long while.

He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first.

He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration.

He did the same in the second Raka as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared. He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, "The sun and the moon are two signs against the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa."

 The Prophet then said, "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! There is none who has more Ghira (self-respect) than Allah as He has forbidden that His slaves, male or female commit adultery (illegal sexual intercourse). O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! If you knew that which I know you would laugh little and weep much."

 Bukhari 17.154

Male competition as to who has the greatest self-respect, a self-respect that comes closest to the Ghira of Allah, may also explain honour killings where Muslims are the victims.

Narrated Al-Mughira:

Sa'd bin Ubada said, "If I saw a man with my wife, I would strike him (behead him) with the blade of my sword."

This news reached Allah's Apostle who then said, "You people are astonished at Sa'd's Ghira. By Allah, I have more Ghira than he, and Allah has more Ghira than I, and because of Allah's Ghira, He has made unlawful Shameful deeds and sins (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) done in open and in secret. And there is none who likes that the people should repent to Him and beg His pardon than Allah, and for this reason He sent the warners and the givers of good news. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does, and for this reason, Allah promised to grant Paradise (to the doers of good)."

Abdul Malik said, "No person has more Ghira than Allah."

Bukhari 93.512

One Gutsy Lucky Woman!

If a woman stuck to her story and repeated five times that she had not committed illegal intercourse, and her husband could not produce a witness to contradict her testimony, then, according to the Koran, she was not guilty and therefore could not be stoned to death.

24:6 And those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, the testimony of one of them shall be to swear by Allah four times that he is truthful.

24:7 The fifth time shall be Allah’s Curse on him, if he is a liar.

24:8 And her swearing four times by Allah that he is a liar will ward off punishment from her.

24:9 And the fifth time will be that Allah’s Wrath be upon her, if he (her husband) is truthful.

In the following hadith, the Prophet of Mercy is somewhat disappointed at the outcome, but dares not overrule Allah.

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Hilal bin Umaiya accused his wife of committing illegal sexual intercourse with Sharik bin Sahma' and filed the case before the Prophet.

The Prophet said (to Hilal), "Either you bring forth a proof (four witnesses) or you will receive the legal punishment (lashes) on your back."

Hilal said, "O Allah's Apostle! If anyone of us saw a man over his wife, would he go to seek after witnesses?"

The Prophet kept on saying, "Either you bring forth the witnesses or you will receive the legal punishment (lashes) on your back."

Hilal then said, "By Him Who sent you with the Truth, I am telling the truth and Allah will reveal to you what will save my back from legal punishment."

Then Gabriel came down and revealed to him: 'As for those who accuse their wives...' (24:6-9)

The Prophet recited it till he reached: '... (her accuser) is telling the truth.'

Then the Prophet left and sent for the woman, and Hilal went (and brought) her and then took the oaths (confirming the claim).

The Prophet was saying, "Allah knows that one of you is a liar, so will any of you repent?"

Then the woman got up and took the oaths and when she was going to take the fifth one, the people stopped her and said, "It (the fifth oath) will definitely bring Allah's curse on you (if you are guilty)."

So she hesitated and recoiled (from taking the oath) so much that we thought that she would withdraw her denial. But then she said, "I will not dishonor my family all through these days," and carried on (the process of taking oaths).

The Prophet then said, "Watch her; if she delivers a black-eyed child with big hips and fat shins then it is Sharik bin Sahma's child."

Later she delivered a child of that description. So the Prophet said, "If the case was not settled by Allah's Law, I would punish her severely."

Bukhari 60.271

Stoning In the Modern Era

Narrated Ash-Sha'bi, from Ali when the latter stoned a lady to death on a Friday: Ali said, "I have stoned her according to the tradition of Al-lah's Apostle."

Bukhari 82.803

Syed Shahabuddin writing in the Milli Gazette, Indian Muslim’s leading English newspaper, reminds us that in the Koran, flogging is the punishment for adultery, not stoning, and that Allah is the final authority.

24:2 The adulteress and the adulterer, whip each one of them a hundred lashes; and let no pity move you in Allah’s religion, regarding them; if you believe in Allah and the Hereafter. And let a group of believers witness their punishment.

Even His spokesperson could not substitute his own opinion for that of the god he spoke for. If so, why does Islamic law, in some jurisdictions, give precedence to the example of Muhammad instead of the Koran? According to Shahabuddin, this is because “some [Islamic] scholars support 'Rajm' (stoning) by attributing a statement to the second Caliph Umar (second successor to the Prophet Muhammad) that a revelation on the subject had been received but had been lost.”

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession."

Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way."

Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him."

Bukhari 82.816

So there you have it. When you hear of a woman being stoned or murdered for committing adultery or for having premarital relations in conservative Muslim jurisdictions such as Iran, Nigeria or Saudi Arabia, the justification just might be this lost verse of the Koran. Shahabuddin, always helpful, also explains why it is always women who get stoned even though the punishment is supposed to apply equally to both sexes:

Apart from the brutality of the 'Rajm' (stoning), repugnant to conscience, here is an element of gender injustice in the operation of the traditional law which allows the male partner to get off scot-free, even if he has coerced and raped the female. If the woman lodges a complaint, her complaint is taken as a testimony against herself and, therefore, amounts to admission and requires no further evidence while it is necessary to get 4 witnesses against the man. Also the woman may bear a child, as in Amina's case (Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning by a Nigerian Islamic Sharia Court. Amina had an 8 month old daughter), which is admitted as evidence of zena (guilt) against the woman. Man suffers from no such disability.

The Stoning Ritual

On October 27, 2008, 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, Somalia in front of an estimated 1,000 spectators.

Amina would have been placed in a cloth sack, with her hands tied behind her back, and buried in the ground up to her shoulders. She would not be buried up to her neck, allegedly to allow her to wriggle free and prove her innocence before a missile hits its mark, and not to make the event more sporting for the men hurling stones at her head while chanting "Allah hu Akbar" (God is great).

If only the Prophet of Mercy had shown the same disgust at launching rocks at a woman's head until she died as he did for stones thrown at animals.

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mughaffal Al-Muzani:

The Prophet forbade the throwing of stones (with the thumb and the index or middle finger), and said "It neither hunts a game nor kills (or hurts) an enemy, but it gouges out an eye or breaks a tooth."

Bukhari 73.239