Stoning is not Shariah, says Qatar scholar

Argument in magazine sparks lively debate over pratice

Habib Toumi, Gulf News

Doha: An argument in a Qatari magazine that the stoning of adulterous married husbands or wives was not supported by Islamic Shariah (law) is set to ignite a heated debate in the country and well beyond.

In an interview published by posh magazine Al Dana on May 1 in the Qatari capital Doha, Shaikh Isam Talimah said that stoning was a Jewish tradition that was initially taken up by Muslims, but insisted that it was later replaced with lashing.

The scholar said that the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, never prescribed stoning as punishment for adultery and that the punishment prescribed by the Shariah is 100 lashes to the adulterer and the adulteress in public.

The stoning issue was a matter of interpretations by Muslims.

“Those who claim that there were verses that initially mentioned stoning, but were later changed are of course totally and completely wrong,” he told the magazine. “The verse on zina (sex outside marriage) in the Quran is very clear and it stipulates lashing the man and the woman equally. The resort by some people to stoning was to reinforce the punishment, especially when there are high immoral risks, such as the proliferation of the cases of rape, pedophile or incest,” he said.

The magazine, chaired by Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Attiya, anticipating a storm of reactions to the interview, said that it welcomed the views of those who opposed Shaikh Isam’s argument and that it would publish them.

Stoning as a form of capital punishment whereby a group of people throw stones at a person until death ensues was known in ancient times and is mentioned in historical reports.

Some Islamic scholars have had similar views to those of Shaikh Isam, arguing that under the rules of Shariah, the punishment for a married slave-girl is half of that given to free women.

“If the case for adultery is to be stoned to death, how can this punishment be halved? However, if it is flogging 100 times, then the punishment is 50 lashes.”