By Izeth Hussain –
An increase in Islamophobia has to be expected after the Paris bombings by the IS, and a further increase in Sri Lanka because of the condemnation to death by stoning of a Sri Lankan female convicted of adultery. In this situation there is a need for the Sri Lankan public, including the Muslims, to get their minds clear on the correct Islamic position on the punishment for adultery.
There is no sanction in the Koran, none whatever, for death by stoning for adultery. Adultery is covered in the Koran in verse 32 of Sura 17 and in verses 2-10 of Sura 24. The punishment prescribed is one hundred lashes each for the man and the woman. There is no mention of stoning to death. An important point is that for conviction for adultery there has to be four witnesses. For anyone bearing false witness the punishment prescribed is eighty lashes. It is interesting that even to sustain charges of murder just two witnesses suffice whereas for adultery it is double that number. I must emphasize the point that providing proof of adultery is made extremely difficult, almost impossible, and that the punishment for making unsubstantiated charges of adultery is almost as severe as for adultery.
How then does the question of stoning to death for adultery arise at all? There are two primary sources of Islamic law, one of which is the Koran and the other is the Hadiths, the Traditions of the Prophet meaning what he said and what he did. It is claimed that Omar the second Caliph of Islam started the practice of stoning to death for adultery because a hadith had enjoined it. However, today no more than just four Islamic countries out of over fifty resort to that form of punishment. The explanation, I believe, is that according to Islam the Koran is the word of God and therefore no hadith can supersede it. A hadith to be acceptable as a basis for Islamic law should be consistent with what the Koran says and consonant with the spirit of what it says. Therefore to impose the inhuman and horrifying form of death by stoning when the Koran says nothing about it is, I hold, unIslamic.
Wahabism is the official form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The historical record shows that it has never had mass appeal and is still regarded as an aberrant form of Islam by orthodox Muslims despite all the petro-dollars spent to propagate it. Therefore the horrors perpetrated in the name of Islam in Saudi Arabia don’t justify any increase in Islamophobia in Sri Lanka. But the Sri Lankan Muslims must declare unequivocally – to whatever extent might be possible – that stoning to death for adultery is an anti-Islamic practice.