Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stoning in Islam (and Judaism and Christianity), Part 1

From The Stoning of Soraya M

Many people feel that the quintessential horrific punishment of Islamic law is death by stoning. Generally, it is reserved for sexual offenses--fornication, adultery and homosexual acts. Apologists for Islam would say it is a sort of exception or aberration, not sanctioned by the Koran, or else it is a holdover from Mosaic law that Jews and Christians are at least partly responsible for, if not merely a few hundred years away from.

I want to investigate this.

First, I want to make the discussion more real by citing an actual case. It occurred in Somalia in 2008. The text is taken from an article in The Independent:
'Don't kill me,' she screamed. Then they stoned her to death 
Outrage at execution of 13-year-old Somali rape victim for 'adultery' 
This was a death foretold. A Toyota pickup with a loudspeaker began an early-morning tour of the ruined neighbourhoods of Kismayo, a port in southern Somalia, announcing that there would be a killing. By 4pm a crowd of 1,000 people had gathered at the football stadium. A hole had been dug in the ground, and half an hour later a truck loaded with rocks arrived. 
A group of fighters from the Al-Shabab militia who control the city appeared, firing warning shots into the air to disperse a crush of people trying to reach the stones. 
A young girl was dragged into the stadium. She knew what was going to happen next, and witnesses saw her struggling and screaming. 
"What do you want from me?" she asked. Then she shouted "I'm not going, I'm not going. Don't kill me." 
But four men forced her into the hole and buried her up to her neck. Fifty men then set about stoning her to death. After 10 minutes she was dug up and two nurses checked to see if she was alive. She was. So they put her back in the ground and the stoning recommenced. 
Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow's crime was to be raped and then report it. After being attacked by three men her family went to the Al-Shabab Islamist militia to report the crime. She was detained and accused of adultery. No effort was made to identify or arrest the rapists.
Despite reports that she was 23 years old, Aisha was actually 13. "She hadn't even reached the age to be married," her distraught father said. 
People in Kismayo say they live in constant fear of the Al-Shabab, but not everyone was content to watch a "clearly distressed" girl being stoned to death. Some people tried to intervene. The gunmen fired shots; one man was wounded and an eight-year-old boy was shot dead. The militia later apologised for his killing. 
After the execution a man called Sheik Hayakalah told a radio station: "The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt," he said. "She told us that she was happy with the punishment under Islamic law." Aisha's father said his daughter had begged for her life. It is illegal under Sharia to convict a 13-year-old of adultery. 
There are so many things to note about this account: The crowd that was so eager to pick up stones they had to be dispersed by gunfire. The terrified, screaming young woman, pleading for her life. The presence and actions of those "nurses". The fact that the "adultery" was almost certainly a gang-rape. The resistance and heroism of some (that 8 year old boy?) The technical question of the age requirement-when would stoning be permitted--14? 16? 18?

In the next post I want to answer a number of questions:

  1. To what extent is the punishment of stoning present in the law codes of contemporary Muslim countries?
  2. To what extent is it practiced by extra-legal means in Muslim countries?
  3. Is it sanctioned by the Koran?
  4. If not, is it sanctioned by other original Islamic sources?
  5. Was stoning decreed and/or practiced under ancient Jewish or Christian law?
  6. If so, when and why did it disappear?

These questions are not difficult to answer and in fact have relatively non-controversial answers. Or at least they do for all those that desire to approach the question without bias or prejudice.

In the meantime, I know that all readers would regard the above case and similar cases as acts of grave evil.

Please pray for Aisha Duhulow and all the other victims.

No comments:

Post a Comment