Stoning As Punishment of Zina: Is It Valid?
Keywords:Quran, Sunnah, stoning, abrogation, tazir, modern opinion
Three issues are explored in this article with regard to death by stoning as a punishment for adultery. First is its total absence in the Quran; the Quran makes no reference to stoning, providing a punishment of one hundred lashes of the whip for all adulterers, without any further qualification. Stoning as a punishment originates in the Sunnah of the Prophet, who applied it in the case of married adulterers, thus seemingly reserving the Quranic punishment for the unmarried adulterer. This perspective has dominated legal practice ever since. The second issue arising is as to how the conflicting rulings in the Quran and Sunnah relate to one another. Is it a case of specification (takhsis) or of abrogation (naskh)? If the latter, is it in order for the Sunnah to abrogate the Quran? The third issue is over the chronological sequence of the two rulings. If it is accepted that the Quranic ruling was revealed in Madinah after the few cases in which the Prophet applied stoning, then the Quran would have effectively overruled/abrogated the Prophetic practice. It is also said that the Prophet applied stoning by reference to the Torah, which was then set aside by the Quran. A minority opinion has also held that the Prophet applied stoning by way of tazir. A number of prominent twentieth-century shariah scholars have advised against the enforcement of stoning altogether.