Supersession (Naskh) and Stoning Punishment (Rajm)

Naskh, in its literal context, means the act of “bringing two things side by side, and transferring the text in one to the other”. Naskh is also “superseding something, to be substituted by another.” This is the case where a judgment in a verse is alleviated by another verse. This first verse is called the mansukh, and the later is the nasikh [1].

Accordingly, the act of a person transferring a text he/she has written, to another place is naskh. Such person removes part of that text, modifies another, and copies the exact wording of the most of the text. The second version abrogates and supersedes the first one. The last book of Allah is revealed so as to supersede the preceding ones. Allah did not transfer part of the judgments in previous books to His last Book, replaced part thereof with better orders, and literally transferred most of them as they are. Allah (SWT) commands:

شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ.

He has ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We reveal to you (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Keep up the religion, and be not divided therein. ” (Ash-Shura/ Consultation 42:13)

There are new verses in Quran. These alleviated the judgments that existed in the previous scriptures. Allah (SWT) commands:

الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ.
Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and forbids them only from the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear.” (Al-A’raf/The Elevated Place 7:157)

There exists verses which, though were present in the previous books, were hidden from people and disremembered over time. Some of these were quoted in Qur’an, and some were not. This is the reason why some verses are not present in the Old and New Testament, though they exist in Qur’an. Allah (SWT) commands:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرًا مِمَّا كُنْتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُبِينٌ.
O People of the Book[2]! Now has Our messenger come unto you, disclosing unto you much of that which you used to hide from the Book, and forgiving much. Now has come unto you light from Allah and a plain Book.” (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5: 15)

There are additions made by people to the previous scriptures. We understand this from the following verse:

فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ.
Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby! [3] (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:79).

Such additions are not hard to be distinguished, since they distort the integrity. The People of Scripture (Ahl al-Kitab) should obey not to such additions, but to what Allah revealed to them. Allah (SWT) commands:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَا التَّوْرَاةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُوا لِلَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ بِمَا اسْتُحْفِظُوا مِنْ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَكَانُوا عَلَيْهِ شُهَدَاءَ فَلَا تَخْشَوُا النَّاسَ وَاخْشَوْنِ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآَيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ.
We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the Prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the scholars (judged) by such of Allah’s Book as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judged not by that which Allah has revealed: such are concealers.” (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:44).

وَلْيَحْكُمْ أَهْلُ الْإِنْجِيلِ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ.

Let those who know the Gospel judge by that which Allah has revealed therein. Whoso judged not by that which Allah has revealed; such are sinners (fasiqun).” (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:47)

(…)

One should refer to Quran to detect the additions made to previous books.  Because, it is the task of Quran to protect the truths in those books.  Allah (SWT) commands:

وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنْكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَكِنْ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آَتَاكُمْ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ.

“And unto you have We revealed this Book with the truth, confirming whatever Book was revealed before with the evidences in It (Qur’an) [4] , and protecting and guarding over it (the preceding Books). So judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which has come unto you. For each We have appointed a divine law and a clear way. Had Allah created (your belief) (without your efforts) He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He has given you (He has made you as you are). So compete one with another in good works. To Allah you will all return, and He will then inform you of that on which you disagreed. ” (Al Maida/The Feast 5:48).

These verses decree that Quran is the latest and the last of the scriptures sent down by Allah, superseding the previous ones.  Now it is to be obeyed.  Allah (SWT) commands:

الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ مَعَهُ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ.

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and forbid them only from the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Those who believe in him, and support him with respect and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him; it is those who will be successful.” (Al-A’raf/ The Elevated Place 7:157)

Pointless debates have taken place on whether the sunnah, acts and words of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), may supersede the verses.  The sunnah is subordinate to Quran.  The subordinate may not be judged separately from the principle [5]. Allah (SWT) commands:

 

اتَّبِعْ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ.

Follow, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you from your Lord – there is no deity except Him – and turn away from those polytheists (mushrikun). (Al-An’am/ The Cattle 6:106)

 

وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْآَنٍ غَيْرِ هَذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِنْ تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِي إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ.

“And when Our revelations are recited unto them as clear evidences, they who look not for the meeting with Us said: “Bring a Quran other than this, or change it.” Say (O Muhammad): “It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. If I disobey my Lord I fear the chastisement of a tremendous Day.” (Yunus/ Jonah 10:15)

It goes without saying that, when a verse is superseded, the words and practices of our Prophet shall also be superseded.

It is claimed that the meaning of a verse survives, after its wording is superseded.  For a verse could only be superseded by another verse, the later verse supersedes also the meaning of the previous one, in addition to its text.

The verse which describes the process of supersession is the following one:

مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آَيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Whatever verse We supersede or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah is the establisher of the measure of all things?” (Al-Baqara /The Cow  2:106).

Another verse is the following:

وَإِذَا بَدَّلْنَا آَيَةً مَكَانَ آَيَةٍ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُنَزِّلُ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُفْتَرٍ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ.

And when We replace (one) verse with (another)verse, and Allah knows best what He reveals, they say: “You are only a forger. No, most of them do not know.” ” (An-Nahl /The Bee 16:101).

These verses prescribe two conditions for supersession:

1. It should occur between verses of God.

2. The superseding verse should bear an equivalent or a better (easier) judgment than the one contained in the former verse.

Consequentially, while the majority of verses in the Quran involve the equivalent of the judgments in verses of previous scriptures, some have alleviating judgments.  The punishment for adultery is an example of alleviation.

The punishment for adultery in Torah and Gospel is death penalty.  Our Prophet had also judged among the Jews according to this judgment before the relevant verses were sent down in the Qur’an. The Qur’an first transformed this punishment into life imprisonment, and then into 100 flogs.  Now let us see the course of supersession on this issue in the Torah, Gospel and Quran.

A-PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY IN THE TORAH

Following is quoted from the Levites Section 20:

10.And the man that committed adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committed adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

11.And the man that slept with his father’s wife has  uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. .

12. And if a man sleep with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them

13.If a man also sleep with mankind, as he slept with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

17. And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

19.And you shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, nor of your father’s sister: for he uncovered his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.”

20.And if a man shall sleep with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.

21.And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless

Following is quoted from the Deuteronomy Section 22:

22. If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel.

23.If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her;

24.Then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you

25. But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.

26. But to the young woman you shall do nothing; in the young woman there is no offense punishable by death, for this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor.

B- PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY IN THE GOSPEL

Section of the Gospel of John quotes the following event:

3-4- The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery”

5-Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?

6.This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

7. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”

8.And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

9.But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

10.Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11.She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

Jesus (p.b.u.h) did not supersede the punishment of stoning with these words, but only refrained from imposing such a heavy punishment relying only on the testimony of sinful people.  The Gospel of Matthew includes the following verses:

17.Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.

18. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away,not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

19. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does  them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5)

C-STONING PUNISHMENT IN THE PRACTICE OF PROPHET (P.B.U.H)

There happened to pass by Allah’s Prophet (p.b.u.h) a Jew blackened and lashed.  He called them (the Jews) and said: “Is this the punishment that you find in your Book?” They said : “Yes”  He called one of the scholars amongst them and said: “I ask you in the name of Allah Who sent down the Torah on Moses if that is the prescribed punishment for adultery that you find in your Book”. He said :”Had you not asked me in the name of Allah, I would not have given you this information. But this (crime) became quite common amongst our aristocratic class. So when we caught hold of any rich person (indulging in this offence) we spared him, but when we caught hold of a helpless person we imposed the prescribed punishment upon him”. We then said: “Let us agree (on a punishment) which we can inflict both upon the rich and the poor”. So We decided to blacken the face with coal and flog as a substitute punishment for stoning. Thereupon Allah’s Prophet (may peace be upon him) said:

“O Allah, I am the first to revive Your command when they had made it dead.”

He then commanded and he (the offender) was stoned to death. Allah (SWT) sent down (this verse):

 

يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوَاضِعِهِ يَقُولُونَ إِنْ أُوتِيتُمْ هَذَا فَخُذُوهُ وَإِنْ لَمْ تُؤْتَوْهُ فَاحْذَرُوا.

some Jews…alter the words from their established meanings. They say: if this decision is made about you, follow it, and if this is not decided, obey not..(Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:41)

Because it was said (by the Jews): Go to Muhammad; if he commands you to blacken the face and award flogging (as punishment for adultery), then accept it, but it he gives verdict for stoning, then avoid it. Then Allah (SWT) sent these verses for all concealers:

 

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

“… whoso judged not by that which Allah has revealed: such are concealers.”

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“… whoso judged not by that which Allah has revealed: such are wrongdoers.

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ.

“… whoso judged not by that which Allah has revealed: such are sinners (fasiqun). (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:44-47)[6]

A man and a woman of the Jews committed adultery. Some of them said to the others: “Let us go to this Prophet. For he has been sent with an easy law. If he gives a judgment lighter than stoning, we shall accept it, and argue about it with Allah, saying: “It is a judgment of one of your prophets.” So they came to the Prophet (p.b.u.h) who was sitting in the mosque among his companions. They said: “Abul Qasim [7], what do you think about a man and a woman who committed adultery? He did not speak to them a word till he went to their school (Bayt al-midras, the place where they taught Torah) [8]. He stood at the gate and said: “I adjure you by Allah Who revealed the Torah to Moses, what (punishment) do you find in the Torah for a person who commits adultery, if he is married?” They said: He shall be blackened with charcoal, taken round a donkey among the people, and flogged. A young man among them kept silent. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h) emphatically adjured him, he said: . “By Allah, since you have adjured us (we inform you that) we find stoning in the Torah (is the punishment for adultery). The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said:  “So when did you lessen the severity of Allah’s command?” They said: A relative of one of our kings had committed adultery, but his stoning was suspended. . Then a man of a family of common people committed adultery. He was to have been stoned. But his people intervened and said: “Our man shall not be stoned until you bring your man and stone him.”  So they made a compromise on this punishment between them. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said:  “So I decide in accordance with what the Torah says. He then commanded regarding them and they were stoned to death.

Az-zukhri said:  We have been informed that this verse was revealed about them:

 

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَا التَّوْرَاةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ.

“We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the Prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the scholars (judged) by such of Allah’s Book. (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:44) Our Prophet is among them. [9]

One day a Jew man and a Jew woman were brought to the Prophet (p.b.u.h). They committed the crime together.  Thereupon Allah’s Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: What do you find in your book on this issue? “Our scholars established the punishment of blackening with ash and placing backwards on the animal.”

Abdullah Bin Salam said:  “Oh the Messenger of Allah, let them bring the Torah.” Torah was brought.  He  put one of his hand on the verse on stoning.  Then he read the previous and next verses.  Abdullah Bin Salam said : “Lift up your hand!”. The verse on stoning was seen at once under his hand.  The Messenger of Allah ordered, and both were stoned to death [10].

Ruling of the Messenger of Allah for Jews could have only been the ruling of Allah.  Allah (SWT) commands:

 

وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ.

“And unto you have We revealed this Book with the truth, confirming whatever Book was revealed before with the evidences in It (Qur’an) , and protecting and guarding over it (the preceding Books). So judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which has come unto you. (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:48)

It is narrated that the following verse also relates to this adultery case [11]:

وَكَيْفَ يُحَكِّمُونَكَ وَعِنْدَهُمُ التَّوْرَاةُ فِيهَا حُكْمُ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّوْنَ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ وَمَا أُولَئِكَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ.

“How do they appoint you a judge and then they turn away when they have the Torah with them, in which is Allah’s judgement? The fact is, they are not believers.” (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:43)

This verse assured that the judgment in Torah for adultery is the judgment of Allah.  The reason that Jews came to our Prophet (p.b.u.h) was to avoid this punishment.  For that reason, they said to those whom they sent: “…if this decision is made about you, follow it, and if this is not decided, obey not..” (Al-Maida/ The Feast 5:41) [12]

Given that the judgment in Torah is the judgment of Allah, our Prophet could not have prescribed any other penalty.  For a while, he followed Torah for Muslims who committed adultery.  The following hadeeth demonstrates this:

Abu Khurayra and Zaid Bin Khalid said: “We were with the Prophet (p.b.u.h). A man stood up and said:  “I urge you to judge only with the book of Allah among us.” His respondent was more indulgent, he said: “Judge among us with the Book of Allah, and listen to me.” Our Prophet said : ‘Speak’, he followed:

“My son was his worker. He committed adultery with his wife.  I gave as ransom money 100 sheep and a servant captive.  I asked to those who know, they told that my son should get 100 whips and a year in exile, and the woman is to be stoned to death.”

Our Prophet said:  “I swear by who sustains my life, I shall judge with the Book of Allah among you. 100 sheep and the captive are to be returned.  Your son is to be punished by 100 whips and a year of exile.  Unays, go the wife of this man, stone her to death if she admits the crime.”  He went, and stoned her to death as she admitted the crime [13].

It is clear that the “Book of Allah” mentioned here is Torah.  For no verse was revealed then in Quran concerning adultery.  Neither of the verses revealed contained the punishment of stoning.

The punishment of whipping is not present  the Torah copy we have in our hands.  This punishment may be in the copy held by Jews in Madina.

D- SUPERSESSION OF THE PUNISHMENT OF STONING

With the verses in Surat an-Nisa, the punishment of stoning to death, rajm, was converted to house arrest for women, and further it was ruled that the man and the woman are to be oppressed till they correct themselves.  Allah (SWT) commands:

 

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 of your women who commit adultery — call to witness four of you against them; and if they bear witness, then confine them to the houses until death overtakes them or Allah open for them a way.

Punish both of them- man and woman-, among you that commit adultery. If they repent and correct themselves, then let them. Allah accepts the repentance. He is The Merciful.” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:15-16)

The expression “…until Allah open for them a way..” demonstrates that the punishment will be further alleviated.  The alleviation has taken place with the second verse of Surah an-Nur.  Allah (SWT) commands:

 

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.

“Flog each of them, the adulterer and the adulteress, hundred stripes. If you believe in Allah and in the Last Day, don’t be tender to them when you perform the order of Allah. Let a party of the believers testify with their own eyes this punishment.(An-Noor/ The Light 24:2)

This verse judged for 100 whips as the punishment of adultery, without any discrimination between man and woman, or single and married.  This punishment is lighter than being detained in house till death, or oppressed until one improves himself/herself, as mentioned in Surat an-Nisa.

Quran superseded the judgments in the Torah concerning adultery, which our Prophet (p.b.u.h) had applied for a period of time.  Some had the opinion that, considering the previous practices of our Prophet (p.b.u.h), Surah an-Noor regulated the punishment to be imposed to the single and Quran contained no judgment concerning the married, who deserved the punishment of stoning to death.  Yet, it is clear from the three verses that the punishment to be imposed to the married also should be 100 whips.

1. Slander of Adultery to One’s Wife

 

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنْفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ. وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كَانَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ. وَيَدْرَأُ عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ. وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا إِنْ كَانَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ.

“And (as for) those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, their testimony should be taken four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely telling the truth.
The fifth (time) he wishes that the curse of Allah be on him, if he is one of the liars.
And what will avert the chastisement from her is if she testifies four times, bearing Allah to witness that her husband is most surely lying.
The fifth (time), she wishes that the wrath of Allah be on her, if he is telling the truth.”
(An-Noor/The Light 24:6-9)

The expression “the chastisement = al azab” in the 8th verse shows the 100-whip punishment. The `al’ affix is for a specific reference, granting the word to which it is affixed the meaning specified formerly.  The torment specified in Quran concerning adultery is 100 whips.  It is not possible for that word to refer to any other thing within the context of Arabic grammar.  It is certain that the woman mentioned above is married.

2. The Verse on Wives of the Prophet

 

يَا نِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ مَنْ يَأْتِ مِنْكُنَّ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ يُضَاعَفْ لَهَا الْعَذَابُ ضِعْفَيْنِ وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرًا.

O you the wives of the Prophet! Whosoever of you commits manifest lewdness, the punishment for her will be doubled.” (Al-Ahzab/ The Allies 33:30).

It is apparent that the wives of the Prophet are married.  The punishment to be imposed on them should be appropriate for doubling.  Death punishment could not be doubled, but 100 whips can be.

The word “al azab” quoted in these verses signifies only the 100 whips in Surat an-Noor. Because the “al” affix here is for specific reference.

3. Adultery of the Married Maids (Jariyah)

فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْصَنَاتِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ.

“…the believing maids whom your right hands possess… if when they are honourably married they commit lewdness they shall incur the half of the punishment (prescribed) for free women (in that case).” (An-Nisa / The Women 4:25)

If it is the stoning which is to be imposed for married free women, the term “half” makes no sense as regards stoning to death.  Because some die by one stone hit, some by numerous stones.  It is only the 100 whips which could be halved.

In conclusion, the sole punishment for the crime of adultery is 100 whips.  After all such clear evidences, the opposite could not be claimed.  Besides, the Prophet of Allah said:  “Lower the punishments to the extent it is justifiable by doubts.” [14]. Given such apparent evidences, the stoning punishment could not be defended relying on doubtful evidences.

Thus Quran supersedes both the Torah and the Gospel concerning the punishment for adultery.

4. Practices of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) Demonstrating that Stoning Has Been Superseded

Ash-Shaibani said: “I asked to Abdullah Bin Abu Awfa: ‘Had the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h) applied the stoning punishment?’ He said : “Yes” “Was that before or after the (revelation of) Surat an-Noor?”. He said “I do not know”. [15].

However, the following narration indicates that the practice of stoning was before the revelation of Surat an-Noor:

A man had confessed that he committed adultery.  The Messenger of Allah asked for a stick.  A broken stick was brought.  He said: “Bring a better one” A new stick was brought, knurls of which were not sculpt.  He said: “Bring a lighter one” A smooth, soft stick was brought.  The man was beaten with the stick upon the order of the Messenger of Allah.  Then he said:

“O people! Now it is time to avoid the limits put by Allah.  Whoever does anything from such ignominies, let him cover himself with the veil of Allah [16]. For we apply the Book of Allah to those who show us their faces.” [17]

Here, beating the criminal with 100 whips regardless of whether he was single or married, and saying that the Book of Allah was applied, abolish all doubts.  Because there is no other punishment in the Book of Allah then 100 whips.


SOURCE: Bayindir, Abdulaziz. Kur’an Işığında Doğru Bildiğimiz Yanlışlar, Suleymaniye Foundation Publications, 2 ed., Istanbul, 2007, p:  280-294.

[1] al-Ayn, item نسخ

[2] The general name given to communities who have in their hands the scriptures revealed by Allah.

[3]Those who exploit people by way of religion pretend their books to be dictated by Allah in order to attribute them divineness.  Many are deceived by this.

[4] The word “al kitab” used in the verse is repeated twice with the letter “lam”, and thus both meanings were given as Quran.  For Quran confirms the verses which are present both in it and in the previous scriptures, not the ones which are foisted into them.  Alleviation of heavy punishments, such as stoning to death of the adulterer, is also a type of confirmation.  Since Quran is protected by Allah, so are such judgments in the previous books.

[5] Majalla with Explanatory Notes (Majalla al-Ahkam al-Adliyya), Edit. Ali Himmet Berki, İstanbul, 1978, art. 48.

[6] Muslim, Hudud, 28.

[7] Meaning “the father of Qasim”. Arabs call a person with the name of his first son.  Qasim was the first son of our Prophet (p.b.u.h).

[8] Ahmet Önkal, “Beytülmidras”, DİA, v. VI, p. 95.

[9] Abu Dawood, Hudud, 26.

[10] Bukhari, Hudud, 24.

[11] at-Tabari, Tafseer, V. IV s. 583; al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran, V. II, p. 438; al-Qurtubi, al-Jami li Ahkam al-Quran, v. VI, p. 122.

[12] at-Tabari, Tafseer, V. IV, p. 577.

[13] Bukhari, Hudud, 30.

[14] Tirmidhi, Hudud, 2.

[15] Bukhari, Hudud, 21.

[16] Let him repent.

[17] Muwatta, Hudud, 2/12.

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Date: May 17, 2018