Stoning to death —Ishtiaq Ahmed
The well-known English journalist Robert Fisk has presented a detailed investigative report, ‘The crimewave that shames the world’ in The Independent, September 7, 2010, about so-called honour killings. Not surprisingly, the highest incidence of such crimes is in the Muslim world, though even some non-Muslim Middle Eastern minorities and Hindus in India practise it. What I found particularly shocking was that after murdering a daughter or sister, a Muslim culprit can walk away scot-free because the Islamic law of qisas (retaliation) allows heirs to pardon the criminal. Thus, other family members can pardon the offender. All such relics of barbarism have to be done away with. Already in the 19th century, Maulvi Chiragh Ali wrote that the Quran is not a book of law. Justice Munir has also advanced similar arguments. Privately, most of the educated Muslims I talk to agree with me that hudood laws, blasphemy laws and many other such laws are anachronisms that have no place in the 21st century. More such voices need to be heard in the public space.
The task in hand for modern Muslims is to separate the spiritual, moral and ethical message of Islam from penal laws reflecting the sensibilities of tribal society of the seventh century.
Stoning to death is practised as a routine punishment for adultery in Iran and Saudi Arabia. When the Taliban ruled in Afghanistan, they too imposed it with a relish and did it with the same enthusiasm in their enclaves called Islamic emirates when they ruled in some pockets of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Swat valley. There is no doubt that the origin of this barbaric punishment is the Old Testament of the Jews. The Jewish Torah prescribes it for a host of other offences as well. It is not mentioned in the Quran. However, all the five schools of Islamic jurisprudence — Hanafi, Shafai, Maliki and Hanbali of the Sunnis and the Ja’afri of the Shias prescribe it for adultery. On this point of law, there is complete unanimity of opinion. I believe the Khawarji school of thought adheres to it as well. …
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