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Title: Rajm  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Stoning, Islamic criminal jurisprudence, Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, Islam and violence, LGBT rights in Nigeria
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A map showing countries where public stoning is a judicial or extrajudicial form of punishment, as of 2013.[1]

Rajm is an Islamic law, it is the prescribed punishment in cases of adultery committed by a married man or married woman. The conviction requires a confession from either the adulterer/adulteress, or the testimony of four witnesses (as prescribed by the Quran in Surah an-Nur verse 4). Some Muslim sects such as Khawarij disagree entirely regarding its legality, arguing that it cannot be found in the Qur'an.[2] Surah an-Nur of Quran prescribes lashing for premarital sex (a form of zina) among unmarried men and women, but makes no mention of punishment for adultery. However, multiple sunnah in hadiths mention stoning and therefore most Muslim schools of jurisprudence accept it as a prescribed punishment for adultery.[2]

Hanafites have traditionally held that the witnesses should throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by witnesses, and the qadi must throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by a confession.[3]


In some schools of Islamic law the punishment of stoning has been prescribed as punishment for married men or women who have committed adultery, following a confession or the testimony of four eye-witnesses. It has no basis in the Qur'an however it is found in Hadith (e.g. Sahih Muslim 17:4191 - 4209 and 17:4916 & 17:4194) . Persons who accuse a woman of adultery but are not able to bring four witnesses are liable to a punishment of 80 lashes and to be unacceptable as witnesses unless they repent and reform. The testimony of those who accuse their own spouse without any other witnesses may be accepted if they swear by God four times that they are telling the truth with a fifth oath to incur God's condemnation if they be lying. The accused shall be considered innocent if they swear by God four times that the spouse is a liar, again with the fifth oath inviting God's wrath if the spouse be telling the truth.[4]

Stoning punishments have been considered or handed down recently in Nigeria and Somalia for the crimes of adultery and sodomy.[5][6]


The present-day Qur'an does not explicitly mention the act of stoning. According to one form of wording for a hadith, :[7]

Muslim scholars have rejected this specific wording of the hadith, however. All common routes of transmission for this version either contain narrators charged with dishonesty when disclosing their sources,[8] or (in the case of the vesion in Ibn Hanbal's Musnad) conflict with all versions of the hadith which bear authentic routes - none of which mention the goat eating the piece of paper.[9]

In the Hadith

Among prominent records of the words of the Prophet (ahadith) mentioning stoning is the Hadith of Umar's speech of forbidding Mut'ah, Prophet's last Hajj sermon and the Hadith of the Verse of Stoning.

The hadith Shahih Bukhari, the book most trusted after Quran by most Muslims, has several sunnah regarding stoning. For example,

Sahih Muslim Book 17 has several hadith regarding Stoning specifically (17:4191-4209, and 17:4914). For example,

Other hadiths also mention stoning as the punishment for adultery.


There is disagreement among modern Islamic thinkers as to the applicability of stoning for adultery. While religious texts often give examples both with and without stoning, the Quran does not prescribe stoning as a punishment for any crime, mentioning only lashing as punishment for adultery. However other[2] scholars maintain that there is sufficient evidence from hadiths to derive a ruling.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a proponent of Islamic law in Pakistan, has postulated that the Quran does not support Rajm for adultery; but that Quranic verses prescribe stoning only in extreme cases - for someone who rapes or habitually commits fornication as prostitutes do, which then constitute "mischief in the land" that is punishable by death according to Quranic verses 5:33-34.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Emma Batha, Stoning - where does it happen? Thomson Reuters Foundation, September 29 2013
  2. ^ a b c d E. Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen (2014), Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, ISBN 978-0857934475, pp. 222-223
  3. ^ a b Rudolph Peters, Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521796705, pp. 37
  4. ^ "Sura 24, Light (Al-Noor)". 
  5. ^ Nigerian scholars promoting Sharia law as support for women's rights. September 13, 2005
  6. ^ "5th Delay in Nigerian Gay Trial. Two men facing death by stoning for the alleged crime of sodomy .... September 14, 2005". 
  7. ^ Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. p. 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, p. 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi 'l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) p. 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 2. p. 13
  8. ^ Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Takmilat Fath al-Mulhim, vol. 1, pg. 69. Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi.
  9. ^ Shu'aib al-Arna`ut, Tahqiq Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, vol. 6, pg. 269, hadith #26,359. Beirut: Mu`assasah al-Risalah.
  10. ^ Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Mizan, The Penal Law of Islam, Al-Mawrid; Quran 5:33–34

External links

  • Opposing rajm
  • Stoning to death does not appear
  • Stoning to Death
  • Punishment of Rajam
  • Stoning to Death: A Violation of the Qur'an
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