Please provide your esteemed opinion of the Amina Lawal case (the Nigerian divorced woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery). Was Shariah law correctly applied in the case?
According to the Islamic law, Hadd is defined as a specific punishment for committing a specific crime which is the right of God and human beings. (Hidaaya vol.2 pg.506; Ilmiyyah)
Islam propagates respecting life, wealth and honour. The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings be upon him) declared in his farewell pilgrimage, ?Behold, Verily your blood, your wealth and your honour is sanctified like the sanctity of this day (the tenth of Dhul-Hijjah ? last month of the lunar calendar when Muslims perform Hajj and sacrifice animals), this month (Dhul-Hijjah) and this city (Makkah).? (Bukhari vol.1 pg.234; Qadeemi) All three are sanctified by a believer.
The purpose of punishments is to deter criminals from committing crimes that will effect the safety of one’s life, wealth and honour. The punishment of cutting the hands for theft is a means of protecting one’s wealth. The punishment of lashing a person for false accusations is a means of protecting one’s integrity. Similarly, the punishment of stoning a married person to death for committing adultery is a means of protection from all the evils that emanate from the evil of adultery which leads to breaking of families, abortion, illegitimate children, etc. Each one of these evils have become an unbearable burden even to the first world countries.
THE PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY IN ISLAM
The punishment for adultery, for both males and females, has two categories: Adultery committed by an unmarried person or a married person. This distinction becomes necessary because the punishment varies for both. Punishment of adultery for an unmarried person is 100 strokes of lashes. (Qur’aan – Chapter 24 verse 2) Punishment of adultery for a married person is stoning to death, if he/she is; a) A free person (not a slave), b) Sane, c) Physically mature, d) Muslim, e) Married, f) Had intimacy with his spouse. (Hidaaya vol.2 pg.507; Ilmiyyah) This punishment was unanimously upheld by all the Islamic Jurists based on the order and practice by Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). (Sahih Bukhari vol.2 pg.1002; Qadeemi)
The crime must be proven beyond the shadow of doubt as the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is understood to have stated, ?Hudood will fall off due to doubts.? (Tirmidhi vol.1 pg.268; HM Saeed)
The laws of evidence in Islamic law are strict. If the witnesses are not honourable as stipulated in Islamic law or there is any inconsistency in any one of the witnesses statements, the accused will not be convicted. In fact, the witnesses will be punished for making a false allegation. (Shaami vol.4 pg.8; HM Saeed). If the Qaadhi (presiding Muslim judge) is satisfied that the allegation is true and proven beyond the shadow of doubt will he issue the decree of punishment for adultery.
We are unable to comment on Amina Lawal’s case as we are unaware of the facts surrounding her case. We cannot rely on the facts presented by the print and electronic media due to the inconsistencies contained in them.
and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ebrahim Desai