NOTE: This article is primarily for the consumption of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Sahab (visit here to get some perspective about him, and here to understand my take on him). The views I’ll be delineating herein, I wished to tender them to him in person, while sitting in his feet, with utmost humility and respect. But unfortunately, he has relocated (or should I say emigrated) to Malaysia, thereby precluding direct audience. But since this is for his consumption, it won’t appear to be detailed or forthcoming enough for the laymen. However, I’ll try and nip-tuck it enough, so that anyone slightly familiar with the issue shall not feel disconcerted. My focus, however, shall be to make my point for ‘his’ eyes only.
Let’s start with the facts: Muslims believe that the punishment for Adultery (i.e. intercourse of a married individual with someone other than his/her spouse) is stoning till death (رجم). Muslims have been practicing it since Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) established the first Islamic state in Medina. The problem, however, is that there is only one punishment of 100 lashes mentioned in the Holy Quran while dispensing with those committing unlawful intercourse (verse 2, chapter 24, سورة النور). Muslim scholars have, hence, derived this punishment from the Sunnah (the tradition of Holy Prophet), thus effectively confining the scope of Quran’s decreed punishment to fornication (intercourse by unmarried individual) only.
These were the facts of the matter, and these are undisputed!
Denial of stoning till death as a punishment for adultery has been going on, here and there, by a minute minority, throughout our history. But this denial couldn’t acquire public support for the obvious reasons that historical facts cannot seize to exist simply because we interpret certain verses differently. Sure, if the historical account is questionable in authenticity, then why not! But, the historical accounts of this practice are pretty air-tight and undeniable. Hence, all such people/groups who denied this punishment, couldn’t rake in any significant support. Islahi and Ghamidi sahab, however, have for the first time in history, taken to a different route. These two Scholarly giants posited, (i’ll be paraphrasing a bit,) that while the occurrence of stoning as a form of punishment in the life of the Holy Prophet is undeniable, the actual charges leveled against convicts who then underwent this punishment are ‘spurious’, or ‘unclear’, to say the least. They concluded through their research that only ‘hardened’ criminals, committing felonies against life, honor and estate, were stoned, thereby effectively compiling the said punishment under Open Acts of War (verse 33, chapter 5 سورة المائدة), in effect, re-assigning the Quranic punishment of 100 lashes to both fornication and adultery.
Much of the earlier denials came about due to a lack of congruence drawn between the Quranic punishment and the one derived from the Sunnah. Our scholars of the past, either due to not considering it a significant threat, or maybe prescient but unable to find any firm arguments, did not give enough explanation as to why and how can the unequivocal injunction of the Holy Quran be overruled, amended or limited. I mean they did provide reasoning here and there, but nothing concrete in terms of tenability in legislative matters and in a manner that does not violate the fundamental principles of derivation of law in Islam. It was Maudoodi sahab, who was the first one to realize the obvious void, in this unique case, that existed in the co-relation between Quran and the Sunnah and therefore embarked on a fact finding mission to try and find out how to show that Quran and the Sunnah were not dissident in this matter. And for quite some while there, he had most of the scholars, and myself, convinced that he had aligned the punishment with the Quranic ‘spirit’, if not ‘letters’. That is to say, till the time, Ghamidi sahab did not come of age.
The actual protagonist here was Islahi sahab, who laid the groundwork and reasoning for this novel interpretation. It was, however, Ghamidi Sahab, his protégé, who braved through all of the bitter refutations and replied to all dissensions on the matter. It is a remarkable journey that he has traveled in seek of deliverance; the landmarks of which are evident in his magnum opuses. Not to say, that he didn’t bring any new arguments to the table. In fact, he brought two damning ones: etymological/semantic analysis of the word Muhsanat (محصنات) / Hisn (حصن), thereby pulverizing Maudoodi sahab’s claim, although, I have a word or two to say in this matter that’ll ensue; and drawing conclusion from the usage of the article ‘The’ (ال) in the word ‘the punishment’ (العذاب) in verse 8, chapter 24, سورة النور; the answer to which still eludes our scholars and myself.
To give a bird’s eye view of the matter to my readers, there have been two avenues, broadly, on which scholars have tried to wrangle with Ghamidi sahab:
- The effort to prove that the Holy Prophet had discretion / authority of limiting, modifying and overruling Quranic injunctions; and hence claiming that it effectively obviates any need to align the punishment in the Sunnah to the punishment in the Quran.
- The effort to show from the text of the Holy Quran that Allah distinguishes between married and unmarried, when it comes to punishment of adultery / fornication.
As you can see, both are indirect; since this much is obvious and undisputed that there is no direct evidence in the Holy Quran for stoning the adulterers to death. But if the scholars are able to prove any of the above points, it will render credence to the orthodox view; and coupled with other proofs, they’ll be able to allay exceeding doubts of sincere dissidents, particularly our western educated younger generation, who are becoming overly suspicious of our juristic legacy, due to such incongruences.
While Maudoodi sahab took the second path, knowing that without a proof from the Holy Quran, the matter, even if proved, shall pervert the linkage of Quran and Sunnah; almost all of our traditionalists embarked on the first one: perhaps because they felt they had the home ground advantage in Sunnah, or perhaps because interpreting the Holy Quran to most of them is a lost art, if not forbidden. Some of them, although, did venture down the second path ambitiously, banking on serendipity alone, but their mausoleums can be seen, from a distance, inside of Ghamidi Sahab’s discourses. I know there’ll be disagreements in this deduction of mine, but again, this blog is to vent my opinions, not theirs. The effort of our traditionalists, who went down the first path, met its demise, or so is my understanding, when Ghamidi Sahab asked them to present proof from the Holy Quran that allots Holy Prophet a station according to their claims, since, he said, nothing less than God’s words shall be acceptable for such a tall claim. And Maudoodi Sahab’s escapade: well let’s just say, Ghamidi Sahab tracked and hunted him down as well: with nothing but a slingshot.
Ok! Enough perspective! From hereon, I shall proffer the arguments in support of stoning to death for adulterers, for Ghamidi Sahab. So let me organize my thoughts and dress to impress. Game faces on! So let’s go…
Dear Ghamidi Sahab,
I know your time is too precious to be wasted on babble, such as these ramblings of mine, hence I won’t hog your time with pleasantries and fave raves, but cut right to the chase. Just one request, though. In an effort to put across my points in the most firm way possible, I’ll resort to dysphemism: so that the strength, if any, of the argument is visible from afar. After all, you can’t drive a nail in the ground with sentiment and compassion. So I hope, you’ll overlook my chutzpah and impudence, if you encounter any. Attribute them to my lack of education and vocabulary.
I’ll present my proof from two angles. Positive and Negative. The positive angle shall contain arguments that support my viewpoint i.e. orthodox belief, and the negative shall divulge weaknesses in your viewpoint. After all, just because we are wrong, doesn’t mean you are right. We can both be wrong as well.
For my main proof, I’ll take the second path. I think Allah ‘has’ drawn a distinction between married and unmarried fornicators. Here are verses 15 and 16 from Chapter 4, سورة النساء:
وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مِنْ نِسَائِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةً مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ شَهِدُوا فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ فِي الْبُيُوتِ حَتَّى يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا () وَاللَّذَانِ يَأْتِيَانِهَا مِنْكُمْ فَآَذُوهُمَا فَإِنْ تَابَا وَأَصْلَحَا فَأَعْرِضُوا عَنْهُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ تَوَّابًا رَحِيمًا
“And those women from among your wives who bring about the vulgarity, call upon four witnesses from among yourselves against them: then if they testify then confine them in their homes till death collects them or Allah provides another way () And those two who bring about the same from among yourselves, then hurt them: then if they repent and correct themselves, leave them! verily Allah is forgiving, merciful”
I’ve translated the verses as such that Ghamidi Sahab must have understood my point without the need for any clarifications. But since, laymen might also be going through our dispatches: I’ll try and elaborate my point a bit for their convenience.
We know that these verses were revealed earlier than the final verse on the matter from Chapter 24, in order to provide some temporary, yet principle, legislation for the time period before Allah’s assigned time for revelation of final verses had arrived. So Allah gave the instruction categorizing subjects broadly under two heads. I’ve translated the verses as such that it is clear that the qualitative difference hinted therein is marriage. But the point to note here is that the words ‘from among your wives’, shown in bold above, are not there in Arabic. The actual words are ‘مِنْ نِسَائِكُمْ’, which mean from among your women. And that is how they have been translated by everyone; at least everyone I have read; and probably that is what has been the problem all along. We all know, that the words my woman, or your woman etc. in any language: Arabic, English or Urdu etc. are pretty much globally understood to be referring to wives. Their popularity in this meaning obviates the need for ‘Context’. Moreover, they are used in this meaning in the Holy Quran as well: a few verses after the above verse (i.e. verse 23), in the words “وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ” which means “mothers of your wives”; similarly (verse 223, Chapter 2, سورة البقرة) in the words “نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَكُمْ” which means “your wives are cultivation unto you”. Even Islahi Sahab, while expounding verses like ‘يذبحون أبناءكم ويستحيون نساءكم’, and they appear at more than one places in the Quran, has probably highlighted this point. The reference to ‘those two’ in the succeeding verse, therefore, automatically refers to unmarried boy and girl. I don’t think this unmarried boy and girl interpretation will be contested by Ghamidi Sahab if he agrees with the previous one, therefore I’ll leave it as is for now, but nevertheless, if he does, I’ll establish it in detail.
Now consider the punishments described in these verses, in principle. Although temporary, but you’ll see in a short while, how Allah hints what is about to be decreed; and how His decrees do not break His principles, even for as little as a temporary period. In the first case, it is hinted that the woman is to be incarcerated for life. It is end of the line for her. Not only is she circumscribed, but also, it is alluded, that death is on the cards for her; although, assertion of an alternative to this endless punishment is also made by the words ‘أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا’ (or Allah makes an alternative way for them), but for any avid reader of the Holy Quran it cannot be hidden that such a way is usually adopted for something that might be harsh for people to uptake and thus, some prep time is required for them. Also observe, that the verse does not end with words that invoke Allah’s compassion and mercy. Now have a look at the second verse. It is clearly hinted that both are to be chastised physically, but left free, once punishment is over and signs of penance are clear. There’s no assertion of death, nor limitations on ‘life as usual’. There isn’t any allusion of a pending alternative way to the punishment, either. Also note, how the verse ends with invocation of Allah’s merciful traits.
Now have a look at the final decree revealed in verse 2, chapter 24, سورة النور:
الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا مِئَةَ جَلْدَةٍ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُمْ بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“The adulteress/fornicatoress and the adulterer/fornicator: flog each one of these two a 100 stripes; and ought not to keep you any kind of compassion from delivering Allah’s sentence if you really believe in Allah and the last day; and the punishment to both of them should be witnessed by a group of believers.”
I have intentionally translated ‘الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي’ to refer to both married and unmarried, as that is what Ghamidi Sahab proclaims. And his claim is based on a very firm argument: that the article ‘The’ (ال) used here, with both male and female, in the absence of any explicit context, precludes the possibility of any scoping of its meaning. Just keep in mind that conversely, the same article is also used to show specificity, if context is available. More on this in the ‘Negative’ section coming later in this article. For now, I have to make my point. Without offering any explanation, many of you must have discovered the striking resemblance between this and the second verse from our discussion above: the one referring to the two bachelors. Notice how the physical punishment mentioned there is translated into 100 stripes here. Also notice how no further limitation or incarceration of any kind, not even death for that matter, is mentioned after the punishment is delivered. This much is pretty obvious. It is 1-1 correspondence so far. Even the dual plural there has been retained here.
Now compare it with the first verse above, dealing with the wives. There is no likeness between the two. Subject is singular and female there, and dual plural and both sexes here. Incarceration and death there have no peers here. There, it was the end of the line; freedom here! I know, for laymen, these peculiarities might be meaningless. But please know, that this semantic and grammatical exegesis is all that is there for jurists to extract legally binding clauses from the verses. All of our jurisprudence is a result of this analysis.
If a single punishment was to be revealed by Allah for both married and unmarried, why would He drive a distinction between the two earlier? Why would He declare one to be corrigible: in the sense that freedom is granted after punishment is meted out; and the other incorrigible: in the sense that life imprisonment ending in death is suggested?
After this short analysis, I hope, you must also have understood my line of reasoning with Ghamidi Sahab. Once this verse of Chapter 24 was revealed, mine and your comprehension can falter, but the Holy Prophet would have unmistakenly understood that the verse only applies to bachelors. But then! you ask; why hasn’t the punishment for the married been revealed in the Holy Quran, explicitly. The answer to this was simpler than expected – perhaps that is why it befuddled our scholars this far. Yeah! The answer was ‘No Change‘. While principle decision in the form of wholesome hints had already been given, the Holy Prophet was trusted to reach to the conclusion himself. That is:
“Follow the guidance given to them (i.e. earlier prophets)” (Verse 90, Chapter 6, سورة الأنعام)
After death had already been decreed in principle, he was but only to follow the way already set forth by Allah in the guidance given to earlier prophets i.e. in the Bible; which was, none other than, stoning till death. It is an established fact that the Holy Prophet followed Mosaic Law until any change was hinted or mentioned by Allah to him. Jews and Christians had no doubt regarding the punishment of the married adulterer/adulteress. Both, though, had revoked it in practice, but that doesn’t change the fact that both believed it to be decreed by Allah; they had just contrived some arguments to avoid it. Whereas, there was no real punishment mentioned for the unmarried fornicators in the Bible. Sure there are some minor pecuniary damages to be paid and some other uncanny divine instructions mentioned in the Bible; but anyone familiar with God, His ways and Semitic scriptures, can easily detect adulteration therein. I think Ghamidi Sahab knows the Bible better than myself, so no need of lengthy discussion here either.
But what benefit did Allah derive from not mentioning it explicitly. The benefit was ‘لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ’ (to know who would follow the Messenger and which of them would turn on their heels) and ‘لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ’ (so that no argument remains with these people against you) and ‘وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ’ (and verily The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord). These verses were revealed in the speech accompanying the instruction to change directions of worship from the temple mound to The Mosque (مسجد الحرام) in Mecca. It is a habit of Allah to contrive ‘tests’ out of issues that could’ve been pretty straightforward. The test being, mostly, the unquestionable and unwavering obedience of the Holy Prophet. And, of course, appeasement of the people of the Book was to be achieved; not only so that they believe in the prophethood of the Holy Prophet, but also so that no argument remains with them against him. Had the Holy Prophet adopted any other punishment for adultery, it would have armed them with a testament to discredit him.
Since I’ve made my main argument clear, following are my supplementary arguments, in order of degree of their strengths:
- Stoning till death is an unbroken, uninterrupted prophetic tradition that has persisted since Moses onwards. Ghamidi Sahab, since already believes that Sunnah does not need to be mentioned in the Holy Quran for ascertaining its credibility; and only corrections, if any, find their mention in the Holy Quran for any particular Sunnah; hence, I’ll avoid further details. The question here being, though: Why would Allah, all of a sudden, change His Sunnah: which we all know, He doesn’t!
- Difference between fornication and adultery is an intellectual and logical necessity. One is graver and more consequential than the other. One doesn’t need to be a scholar to understand that putting the lineage of a person in doubt, exhibiting infidelity towards the one who provides the roof and clothes and bread and satiating one’s desires unlawfully despite availability of lawful means, is a far more graver sin than two bachelors succumbing to unfamiliar carnal desires in the spur of the moment, with no issue of infidelity in sight. For all practical intents and purposes, the first act can be equated with open Polytheism (شرك), stealing the rights of one’s master.
- Man has always distinguished between adultery and fornication: hence, it is a historical fact; proving it to be a part of our ‘Nature’ (فطرة). I am sure Ghamidi Sahab knows what I’m talking about, but for others, please go through Maudoodi Sahab’s commentary of the above mentioned verse 2 from Chapter 24 of the Holy Quran, where in his copious research, he delineates the traditions from various religions and people.
- Verse 3, Chapter 24, سورة النور, occurring immediately after the final verse of punishment, purports that those who have committed this vulgarity should not be wed, but only either by another libertine or polytheist. This, too, applies more properly to fornicators than to adulterers; since ending of marriage due to this sin has neither been mentioned explicitly, nor can be derived implicitly, from the previous verse. I know, Ghamidi Sahab might say that we can derive it from this verse in itself, or another one coming afterwards: but I’d like him to work for it a bit!
- Our entire juristic history, starting from the Holy Prophet to date, is void of any injunctions regarding the treatment of married adulteress: can the spouses stay together in marriage? how will her marriage be broken? her waiting period (عدة)? will she be allowed to interact with her previous children? etc. and a lot many issues in which divine guidance is necessary; this is probably because there is not a single example in our entire history that could serve this purpose. Funny! Isn’t it! Not even a single case in the Holy Prophet’s life nor of that of the four caliphs – What does that tell you?
- The unanimous and unequivocal view of our Sahaba, as far as stoning of married convicts is concerned.
- The unanimous view of our 4 Chief Jurists, who as we all know, almost never agree on a single interpretation.
Now, let’s scoot over to the Negative angle, wherein I shall endeavor to lay bare, weaknesses in Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation, so help me God!
It is not like Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation fits in with the Quranic verses as two peas in a pod. If our scholar’s explanations were troublesome, so are Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretations: they’re no 2+2=4 either. Plus, they are overly ‘argumentative’, and in my experience, that is a sign of ‘Error’ somewhere. We know that the traditions of the Holy Prophet overwhelmingly support the orthodox view. But Ghamidi Sahab’s modus operandi of interpreting those traditions under the Quranic light, which I strongly agree with though, brought him to these new conclusions. But please! leaf through them yourself: you’ll find how ‘Tahir-ul-Qadri-Style’ they are. It seems as if once he discovered that he could, at least semantically, cover the ‘stoning’ in the ‘killing badly’ in the verse cited below, he embarked on a hunting escapade, wherein he started shooting at everything from the Holy Prophet’s traditions, bringing it back to his home and then sculpting them to somehow align them with this verse. The bias and artificiality throughout this escapade is un-missable. If the orthodox opinion doesn’t fit well with the Quranic verses, Ghamidi Sahab’s doesn’t with the traditions, at all. His are also square pegs in round holes.
I only mentioned it to state the obvious. For the purposes of this discourse, I shall limit myself to the Holy Quran only. Because, I think, our main debate lies here. If the Holy Quran sides with me, the traditions already do. And I think, and this is one of the things I love about him, Ghamidi Sahab values the Holy Quran as it is supposed to be valued. So, over to analysis of his arguments….
إِنَّمَا جَزَاءُ الَّذِينَ يُحَارِبُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَسَادًا أَنْ يُقَتَّلُوا أَوْ يُصَلَّبُوا أَوْ تُقَطَّعَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُمْ مِنْ خِلَافٍ أَوْ يُنْفَوْا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ ذَلِكَ لَهُمْ خِزْيٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآَخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ () إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَقْدِرُوا عَلَيْهِمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
The reward of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, i.e. strive for mischief through the land, is no other than: being killed viciously, or crucified insultingly, or their hands and feet maimed irregularly, or driven out from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment awaits them in the Hereafter () Except for those who repent before you overpower them: for know! that Allah is oft-forgiving, ever merciful. (Verse 33, 34 | Chapter 5, سورة المائدة)
This is the famous verse relating to ‘Open Acts of War‘ against the state under which Ghamidi Sahab has compiled the punishment of Stoning till Death. I’ve translated it as per Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation. As many of you would be contemplating, just by the looks of the verse, it seems it has nothing to do with adultery. But that is why, Ghamidi Sahab has interpreted all the instances in Holy Prophet’s traditions to be against ‘hardened criminals‘ (but actually further limited to prostitutes and rapists only, by even his own arguments) and not just against adulterers. Yeah! It’s confusing. Because, he has tried to prove from all the accounts of verdicts by the Holy Prophet in cases surfacing in his time, in which stoning till death was sentenced, that they were in fact against criminals who had become a plague and pest for people’s honor and peace. And his entire foundation is based on one speech Holy Prophet has alleged to have delivered the ‘same day’ a convict was stoned, mentioned in only one book of traditions. Yeah! It is highly unlike of him to base his opinion on such fragile grounds. But I told you: Once he had reached alleged ‘certainty’ from Holy Quran’s verses, all of the rest was pretty much, color by numbers to him. But as I stated earlier, I’m not going to delve into the traditions herein. More so because, our orthodox scholars have been very eager to respond to them, since they already consider Holy Prophet’s traditions to be their forte. I haven’t read much of their works, but am going to assume that they should have at least done justice in this arena. Hence, back to the verse…
I have following contentions to Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation of the cited above verse:
- ‘يُصَلَّبُوا’ here is used after ‘يُقَتَّلُوا’, which is clearly another form of execution. Mentioning a particular form of execution after the generic word, hints, if not certifies, that the generic word describes only the established way of killing; which, of course, was beheading in that era. Otherwise, ‘يُصَلَّبُوا’ makes no sense. It was already covered in ‘يُقَتَّلُوا’. It is obvious from the make-up of the verse that Allah is only mentioning ‘broad’ categories of punishments. I think, ‘يُصَلَّبُوا’ therefore, has been brought here, among other things, to preclude the possibility of deviation in the meaning of ‘يُقَتَّلُوا’. The ‘badly’ in ‘killing’, if you know how punishments in the olden days were meted out, is simply referring to the insulting manner of their transport to their slaughter places, and their collective execution, as it also adds to one’s insult to see all of one’s cronies and helpers being executed alongside.
- I am inclined to believe that the grammatical form of the verbs used here, dictates delivering the punishments both ‘badly’, and as a result ‘collectively’. But then, am interested to know, according to which semantic principle does this usage limit the ‘badly’ only to stoning; because I can think of a hundred ways. Moreover, the verse would have no significant reason not to have been worded as ‘….أن يرجموا أو يصلبوا…’, if that was, in fact, the spirit. I know Ghamidi Sahab does not consider it to be limited, but in fact, considers all forms of indignant executions to be covered by the word, but I’m talking about their practical manifestations. Which is to say that since his alleged ‘rapists’ were only stoned to death, it’s meaning has, in essence, been limited.
- Stoning is a familiar punishment in the Holy Quran. This word frequently turns up in the threats given to previous prophets by their nations. Why would Allah have the need to hint it, knowingly, that He had used it many times in the scripture?
- If stoning is in fact, implied in ‘يُقَتَّلُوا’, proof is required from instances in the life of Holy Prophet or from our caliphs, that it was in fact, meted out to culprits, other than sex offenders. There were instances in their lives where dacoits were charged under this verse. Were they stoned? Surely, the verse doesn’t limit stoning to adulterers only. And if someone says that it was merely a coincidence that this word turns up only in the accounts of criminals charged with adultery of some sort…..well I’m not going to respond to absurdity!
- The command that Ghamidi Sahab has over Quranic Arabic, and I mean it as a compliment, he ought to know that to show that two words, ‘يرجموا’ and ‘يُقَتَّلُوا’ for instance, if are to be used by Allah as synonymous or even implied equals, there is supposed to be at least one other place in the Holy Quran, where, if not clearly, at least vaguely, He uses them in a manner, so as to allude to their synonymity. I couldn’t find any such place. Perhaps he could help. The place to look for would be in the accounts of previous prophets, since those accounts turn up recursively, here and there, clad in different yet similar adornments. ‘متكلم كا عرف’, I think, is necessary to establish here.
- Considering rape as a form of ‘mischief in land’, in legal terms, is yet to be established too. I would like to know, which part of the Holy Quran asserts that. Surely, there must be some hint herein, if Allah wants us to draw that conclusion!
- Which rapists were given any other 3 punishments out of the 4 mentioned. I mean, isn’t it facetious that no convict was ever meted out any punishment from a list of punishments, other than only the one, which is only loosely derived.
- These verses clearly state: ‘إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَقْدِرُوا عَلَيْهِمْ’, that these punishments are only applicable if the culprits have not willingly surrendered to the state. How does Ghamidi Sahab think this fits in with the cases in the traditions? Because, prima facie, they all resulted from confessions, only. I know, Ghamidi Sahab is of the opinion that they were not confessions. Ok! But then, what proof does he have that there was enough evidence available with the Holy Prophet to besiege them, try them, convict them and then punish them. It is invisible in the traditions discussed by him in his discourse, this far. And there is only one catch: he can’t use ‘hearsay’ as a damning form of evidence!
I know, that some points seem to be crossing over into traditions; but sincerely I had no other way. They, in my opinion, actually relate to the interpretation of the verse, but I could find no other way of leveling them without dragging the traditions in.
Now to address the concerns I left unanswered earlier:
- The ‘ال’ used in ‘الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي’ refers to ‘وَاللَّذَانِ يَأْتِيَانِهَا’ in the 16th verse of chapter 4, cited above. Such like references can be drawn if the linkage is clear. I’ve discussed the identicality of both of them in the ‘POSITIVE’ section above.
- The ‘ال’ used in ‘the punishment’ (العذاب) in verse 8, chapter 24, سورة النور, means ‘the punishment prescribed for her’; whatever that punishment may be. It doesn’t necessarily mean the punishment in verse 2. There is even another punishment of 80 stripes mentioned in between these two. More importantly, notice how Allah again only mentions it for the wife here, and not the husband – just, as you recall, He only mentioned women in verse 15, chapter 4, declaring punishment for ‘women from among your wives‘. If this explanation is linguistically impossible, I’m sure, Ghamidi Sahab will correct me.
Now for Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation of ‘وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ’:
- Islahi Sahab is of the opinion this first segment refers to muslim women who had committed vulgarity with non-muslim males, whereas, Ghamidi Sahab is of the opinion that this first segment from the expression refers to ‘sluts’. Islahi Sahab is not under the microscope here, hence I’ll only cater for Ghamidi Sahab’s interpretation: I hate to say it, sir! but there needs to be some proof from Arabic literature, or preferably from the Holy Quran itself, that only such a plain and simple form of verb in ‘مضارع’ is conclusive to be implying habitual offenders only, and even without any explicit context – notwithstanding how many substantive and procedural law problems will arise from this interpretation. For such a tall claim, that will force us to completely realign our basic understanding of law, and redefine the word criminal – it is not much to ask. Because I think, that as far as I understand the religion, such huge watersheds are pretty much converted to landmarks by Allah and whitewashed and flagged by His Messenger, so that no doubt remains in such matters of life and death. Let me explain it from another angle: If I were to translate this sentence Those who shall bring about this vulgarity from among your women into Arabic, wouldn’t it look exactly the same as the above verse? If ‘habitual’ meaning is also plausible, then there is no context here to support or preclude either interpretation. Allah does not exhibit such kind of ambiguity in His speech. He ought to have adopted the same way He adopted in ‘وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ’ by using nouns and adjectives instead of verbs: More precisely, the verses should have been ‘….والمسافحات من نسائكم’ or ‘…والفاحشات من نسائكم’, and ‘…والمتخذان أخدان منكم’, respectively.
- Moreover, in law making, the choice of words by Allah, is ‘legally’ accurate. He uses only those words that are popularly used by people to define certain entities. I would surely be interested to know how these words are legally ‘limiting’!
- This above objection can be avoided by perceiving the words to be only ‘hinting’ to something that has already been established, preferably but not necessarily, by Allah. Not necessarily because, if some moral inequity is popularly referred to by people by using particular words, that shall also establish grounds for ‘hinting’ only. Hence, one of these two, shall at least, linguistically justify the choice of words.
- More importantly, perhaps what Ghamidi Sahab meant by saying ‘قحبہ عورتیں’ was prostitutes. Then, there can be many objections; for example: Prostitution is absolutely against a woman’s nature, and Allah does not discuss punishments for unnatural inclinations; Prostitution has and is almost always done by women under some form of duress – may it be due to being helpless in front of pimps/owners, or may it be due to bread-winning compulsions – perhaps that is why the only place Allah has discussed it in the Holy Quran, He has announced His utmost compassion towards such women; plus, finally, Allah has never discussed it as an issue in His entire scripture, so how can He just go about revealing its punishment?
In the end I would just like to say that if my interpretation is correct, Allah and His Messenger did not leave any voids that could confound the entire ummah for its major part of history: and if Ghamidi Sahab is correct, Allah and His Messenger clearly left a huge void in at least clarifying this convoluted issue to a reasonable extent, and the explanation, even if true, is enormously argumentative, not to mention, at tangent with Allah’s previous Books and Sunnah.
Please find the sequel to this article at: https://myislamicmusings.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/adultery-and-stoning-till-death-replies-to-ghamidi-sahabs-counter-arguments/