Major Islamic Scholar’s Book: No Stoning in Islam


One of the major stumbling blocks to the presentation of Islam as a religion promoting compassion, human rights, and justice, has been the notion that the Islamic punishment for adultery in the case of married people is stoning to death. Despite the fact that the Quran never mentions stoning as a punishment at all, let alone mandating it in such a specific application, this idea has been propagated widely and appears to have been considered accepted Islamic practice. The scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi had already expressed the opinion that this practice is not mandated at all in Islam, and now his student, the Egyptian scholar Sheikh Isam Talimah has written a book, just published on March 29, 2021, entitled No Stoning in Islam.

Clearly the Quran frequently warns against issuing punishments or prohibitions that Allah the Exalted did not mandate (which clearly implies “in the Quran,” the hadeeths being supportive of but not entirely originating Islamic law), and this is one of the most egregious examples of a once widely-held but anti-Quranic dogma, and it is a great relief to be shown for the falsehood that it is by a “mainstream” Al-Azhar-educated scholar/ researcher. Notably a number of women in Afghanistan were stoned to death in a public stadium after the Taliban took over the country, a most brutal and immoral act based on ignorance and this sort of interpretation being accepted as dogma. Perhaps men also received this punishment, but I didn’t hear of it. Any use of it is unacceptable now; Biblical mention of this punishment was not continued in the Quran, which both corrected and updated biblical accounts that were either adulterated or no longer acceptable options as humankind has changed, as has the world, over time.

This is indeed a very hopeful sign that increased scholarship in Islam with an emphasis on studying the Quran is bringing about re-examination of old dogmas that were in contradiction with both the Quran and the teachings of Islam as a whole.

The late Quranic scholar and translator Laleh Bakhtiar’s explanation of the infamous “wife-beating” aya as not beating one’s wife, but rather refers to a provisional separation period, is another important example, although Bakhtiar is not as widely-accepted in “Sunni” circles where the practice may have been more entrenched. As an American woman and convert to Islam of Iranian heritage and having written about Sufism all create the unfortunate impression that Bakhtiar is not representing “mainstream” Islam. Hopefully insha’Allah such prejudicial infighting will lose its hold over Quranic and Islamic studies, where an open yet critical mind and faithful study of the text is paramount.

This post may be updated as I look further into the aforementioned book, to brief you in English (the book is in Arabic) as to the author’s reasoning on the subject.

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