Question: How is it valid to say that the verse of stoning is in the Book of Allah when it is not in the Qur’an?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
Stoning an adulterer who commits adultery while married or after having been married is agreed upon by all schools of Sunni Islam.
By being agreed upon, it is thus in the ‘book/law’ of Allah.
The Spirit of Stoning to Death
Like all corporal punishment in the Sharia, stoning is only done to protect society and as a mercy and expiation for the wrong that the adultery had done against him- or herself.
In the sporadic cases when the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) enforced this punishment, he was always kind and compassionate. He viewed the penitent adulterer with the utmost respect.
In one case, when a woman was stoned for adultery after voluntarily confessing, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed for her. It then said, ‘Were her repentance to be divided up between seventy of the people of Medina, it would be enough for them all! Can you think of any greater repentance than the sacrifice that she made of her own life for Allah Most High’s sake?’ (Muslim)
From this example, and many others besides, it is clear that the spirit of capital punishment is not one of anger, fury, and revenge. Rather, it is about expunging and preventing social diseases and that the perpetrator who is punished is more of a moral martyr than some wretch expelled by society.
Legal application of stoning
When stoning can legally be enforced in sporadic cases, it is only done when four witnesses clearly witness the crime in action or when the perpetrator legally confesses before the court.
Because of the strict rules of applying the punishment, it is more of a deterrent than something that should actually happen in Islamic history.
The idea that Islamic countries regularly enjoy an afternoon stoning is not true at all.
It has to be said that many zealous applications of the stoning law that reach the media do not meet the legal strictures prescribed by the Four Schools of Islamic jurisprudence and are often not even legal in the countries where they are applied.
What the media presents of some Muslim zealots do cannot be a measure of traditional Islam is.
As we all know, stoning, like any other corporal punishment, may only be exactly by a Muslim ruling after a fair and thorough court ruling and is neither subject to individual scholarly opinion (fatwa) nor reckless tribal impulse. (Ibn Abi Shayba)
Stoning in the ‘Book of Allah’
Stoning is established in many sound hadiths. (Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah) It was also the practice of the Four Rightly Guided caliphs. (Malik; al Muhalla, Ibn Hazm)
There was originally a verse of the Qur’an that was later abrogated in which it is mentioned explicitly. (Malik and others)
Stoning an adulterer is, therefore, “in the Book of Allah” in that it was part of the Qur’an. It is also “in the Book of Allah” in that book (kitab) in Arabic also means law. (Mufradat Alfadh al Qur’an, Raghib al-Isfahani)
In a hadith, a case of adultery is brought the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the claimant says, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I beseech you by Allah to judge for me by the law/book of Allah (kitab Allah). (Malik, Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
It is clear from the foregoing that stoning an adulterer is clearly the law of Allah, and it was in the book of Allah.
Because stoning was in the Qur’an and is agreed upon by all Muslim jurists, it is in the ‘book/law’ of Allah.
It does, however, have strict rules and is also clothed in a merciful yet determined spirit.
As portrayed in the media, cases of stoning often lack both the mercy intended by the law and the legal rigor that protects the innocent.
I pray this helps.
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.