Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.
Arifa Bibi's uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It's unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Women's rights activists have launched an international campaign for a ban on stoning, which is mostly inflicted on women accused of adultery. They are using Twitter and other social media to put pressure on the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to denounce the practice.
"Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment. It is a form of torturing someone to death," said Naureen Shameem of the international rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws. "It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms."
She said activists will also push the UN to adopt a resolution on stoning similar to the one passed last year on eradicating female genital mutilation – another form of violence against women often justified on religious and cultural grounds.
Stoning is not legal in most Muslim countries and there is no mention of it in the Koran. But supporters argue that it is legitimised by the Hadith – the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohamed. Stoning is set out as a specific punishment for adultery under several interpretations of sharia or Islamic law. In some instances, even a woman saying she has been raped can be considered an admission to the crime of zina (sex outside marriage).
In one case cited by Shameem, a 13-year-old Somali girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men in front of 1,000 people at a stadium in Kismayu in 2008. Her father told Amnesty International she had been raped by three men but was accused of adultery when she tried to report the rape to the al-Shabaab militia in control of the city.
Iran has the world's highest rate of execution by stoning. No one knows how many people have been stoned but at least 11 people are in prison under sentence of stoning, according to an Iranian human rights lawyer, Shadi Sadr.
Sadr, who has represented five people sentenced to stoning, said Iran carried out stonings in secret in prisons, in the desert or very early in the morning in cemeteries. "Pressure from outside Iran always helps. The Islamic Republic pretends that they don't care about their reputation, but they do care a lot," added Sadr, who lives in exile in Britain.
In 2010, the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery, caused international outcry. The authorities have suspended her sentence but she remains in prison. Officials withdrew stoning from a new draft penal code last year, but have since reinserted it.
Stoning is also a legal punishment for adultery in Mauritania, a third of Nigeria's 36 states, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
In some countries, such as Mauritania and Qatar, stoning has never been used although it remains legal. However, in other countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, stoning is not legal but tribal leaders, militants and others carry it out extrajudicially. "In Afghanistan, warlords are manipulating religion to terrorise the population for their own political ends. Stoning is one way of doing that," said Shameem, a human rights lawyer who is co-ordinating the Stop Stoning Women campaign.
Stoning has been used as a form of community justice throughout history in various religious and cultural traditions, many pre-dating Islam. Unlike beheading, which is performed by a single executioner, stoning is carried out by a group.
The practice has been documented among the Ancient Greeks to punish people judged to be prostitutes, adulterers or murderers. It is also mentioned in the Jewish Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and the Talmud. Today, it is predominantly associated with Muslim culture. However, clerics are deeply divided. Supporters of stoning say the Hadith depicts the Prophet as occasionally ordering stoning in cases of extramarital sex.
But some scholars say these acts and sayings – recorded several hundred years after the Prophet's death – have been misinterpreted. Others argue that the Prophet was simply following prevailing customs and Jewish law. Modern laws sanctioning stoning as a punishment for adultery emerged with the revival of political Islam in the late 20th and early 21st century.
Campaigners say women are more likely to be convicted of adultery than men because discriminatory laws and customs penalise women more for extramarital sex.
If a man is unhappy with his wife he can – depending on the country – divorce, take other wives or marry another woman temporarily. A woman has few options. She can divorce only in certain circumstances and risks losing custody of her children. Men accused of adultery are also more likely to have the means to hire lawyers, and their greater physical freedom makes it easier for them to flee in situations where they risk extrajudicial stoning.
Activists say trials are often unfair. Convictions are frequently based on confessions made under duress. As adultery is difficult to prove, judges in Iran can also convict on the basis of gut feeling rather than evidence.
Even the manner of stoning is loaded against women. People sentenced to stoning in Iran are partially buried. If they can escape they are spared. But women are customarily buried up to their chests while men are only buried up to their waists.
Stoning contravenes a host of UN treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that no one should be subjected to torture, or cruel or inhuman punishment. The treaty, which Iran and Pakistan have signed, allows countries to execute people only for "the most serious crimes".
Many prominent Muslim clerics have spoken in support of a ban on stoning, deeming it un-Islamic and antithetical to the Koran's emphasis on repentance and compassion. Shameem said stoning mostly happened in conflict or post-conflict areas where politicians, warlords and militants exploit people's religious beliefs as they jockey for power. Mali saw its first case last year after Islamist militants took control of the north of the country. It is not clear why, in Bibi's case, the tribal court should have justified stoning as a punishment for owning a mobile phone. Shameem said stoning and the threat of stoning was being used "to control women, constrain their freedoms, and police their sexuality".
The threat of stoning has even happened in Tunisia, a relatively liberal country with no history of stoning. This year, the head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Tunisia called for a teenage activist to be stoned to death for posting nude protest images of herself online.
Campaigners plan to present an online petition to Mr Ban and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)Reuse content
For rock throwing in general, see Criminal rock throwing. For the method of metalworking, see Stoning (metalworking). For other uses, see Stoning (disambiguation).
"Lapidation" redirects here. For the album by Anthony Coleman, see Lapidation (album).
Stoning, or lapidation, is a method of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until they die. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject. This is in contrast to the case of a judicial executioner. Often slower than other forms of execution, stoning within the context of contemporary Western culture is considered a form of execution by torture.
Stoning is called rajm (Arabic: رجم) in Islamic literature, and is a practice found in the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, northern Nigeria, Aceh Province of Indonesia, Afghanistan, and tribal parts of Pakistan, including northwest Kurram Valley and the northwest Khwezai-Baezai region. In some countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, stoning has been declared illegal by the state, but is practiced extrajudicially. In several others, people have been sentenced to death by stoning, but the sentence has not been carried out. In modern times, allegations of stoning are politically sensitive; the government of Iran, for example, describes allegations of stoning as political propaganda.
Main articles: Religion and capital punishment § Judaism, and Judaism and violence
The Jewish Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) serves as a common religious reference for Judaism. Stoning is the method of execution mentioned most frequently in the Torah. (Murder is not mentioned as an offense punishable by stoning, but it seems that a member of the victim's family was allowed to kill the murderer; see avenger of blood.) The crimes punishable by stoning were the following:
- Touching Mount Sinai while God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments, Exodus 19:13
- An ox that gores someone to death should be stoned, Exodus 21:28
- Breaking Sabbath, Numbers 15:32–36
- Male homosexual practices, Leviticus 20:13; both parties should be stoned
- Having a "familiar spirit" (or being a necromancer) or being a "wizard", Leviticus 20:27
- Enticing others to polytheism, Deuteronomy 13:7–11
- Cursing God, Leviticus 24:10–16
- Engaging in idolatry, Deuteronomy 17:2–7; or seducing others to do so, Deuteronomy 13:7–12
- "Rebellion" against parents, after repeated warnings, Deuteronomy 21:18–21
- Getting married as though a virgin, when not a virgin, Deuteronomy 22:13–21
- Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman engaged to another man in a town, together, since she did not cry out (extramarital sex), Deuteronomy 22:23–24; both parties should be stoned to death
- Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman engaged to another man in a field, forced, where no one could hear her cries and save her (rape), Deuteronomy 22:25–27; the man should be stoned
Describing the stoning of those who entice others to apostates from Judaism, the Torah states:
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
— Deuteronomy 13:6–10
A conspicuous concrete case noted in the Bible was that of Achan, stoned to death together with his sheep, other livestock and his children for having pillaged valuables from Jericho during Joshua's Conquest of Canaan.
The Talmud describes four methods of execution: stoning, pouring molten lead down the throat of the condemned person, beheading, and strangulation (see Capital and corporal punishment in Judaism). The Mishna gives the following list of persons who should be stoned.
"To the following sinners stoning applies – אלו הן הנסקלין
- one who has had relations with his mother – הבא על האם
- with his father's wife – ועל אשת האב
- with his daughter-in-law – ועל הכלה
- a human male with a human male – ועל הזכור
- or with cattle – ועל הבהמה
- and the same is the case with a woman who uncovers herself before cattle – והאשה המביאה את הבהמה
- with a blasphemer – והמגדף
- an idolater – והעובד עבודת כוכבים
- he who sacrifices one of his children to Molech – והנותן מזרעו למולך
- one that occupies himself with familiar spirits – ובעל אוב
- a wizard – וידעוני
- one who violates Sabbath – והמחלל את השבת
- one who curses his father or mother – והמקלל אביו ואמו
- one who has assaulted a betrothed damsel – והבא על נערה המאורסה
- a seducer who has seduced men to worship idols – והמסית
- and the one who misleads a whole town – והמדיח
- a witch (male or female) – והמכשף
- a stubborn and rebellious son – ובן סורר ומורה"
As God alone was deemed to be the only arbiter in the use of capital punishment, not fallible people, the Sanhedrin made stoning a hypothetical upper limit on the severity of punishment.
Prior to early Christianity, particularly in the Mishnah, doubts were growing in Jewish society about the effectiveness of capital punishment in general (and stoning in particular) in acting as a useful deterrent. Subsequently, its use was dissuaded by the central legislators. The Mishnah states:
A Sanhedrin that puts a man to death once in seven years is called destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says that this extends to a Sanhedrin that puts a man to death even once in seventy years. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon say: Had we been in the Sanhedrin none would ever have been put to death. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: they would have multiplied shedders of blood in Israel.
In the following centuries the leading Jewish sages imposed so many restrictions on the implementation of capital punishment as to make it de facto illegal. The restrictions were to prevent execution of the innocent, and included many conditions for a testimony to be admissible that were difficult to fulfill.
Philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death." He was concerned that the law guard its public perception, to preserve its majesty and retain the people's respect. He saw errors of commission as much more threatening to the integrity of law than errors of omission.
Mode of Judgment
In rabbinic law, capital punishment may only be inflicted by the verdict of a regularly constituted court of twenty-three qualified members. There must be the most trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two qualified eyewitnesses to the crime, who must also depose that the culprit had been forewarned of the criminality and the consequences of his project. The culprit must be a person of legal age and of sound mind, and the crime must be proved to have been committed of the culprit's free will and without the aid of others.
On the day the verdict is pronounced, the convict is led forth to execution. The Torah law (Leviticus 19:18) prescribes, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; and the Rabbis maintain that this love must be extended beyond the limits of social intercourse in life, and applied even to the convicted criminal who, "though a sinner, is still thy brother" (Mak. 3:15; Sanh. 44a): "The spirit of love must be manifested by according him a decent death" (Sanh. 45a, 52a). Torah law provides (Deut. 24:16), "The parents shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the parents; every man shall be put to death for his own sins", and rabbinic jurisprudence follows this principle both to the letter and in spirit. A sentence is not attended by confiscation of the convict's goods; the person's possessions descend to their legal heirs.
The Talmud limits the use of the death penalty to Jewish criminals who:
- (A) while about to do the crime were warned not to commit the crime while in the presence of two witnesses (and only individuals who meet a strict list of standards are considered acceptable witnesses); and
- (B) having been warned, committed the crime in front of the same two witnesses.
In theory, the Talmudic method of how stoning is to be carried out differs from mob stoning. According to the Jewish oral law, after the Jewish criminal has been determined as guilty before the Great Sanhedrin, the two valid witnesses and the sentenced criminal go to the edge of a two-story building. From there the two witnesses are to push the criminal off the roof of a two-story building. The two-story height is chosen as this height is estimated by the Talmud to effect a quick and painless demise but is not so high that the body will become dismembered.  After the criminal has fallen, the two witnesses are to drop a large boulder onto the criminal – requiring both of the witnesses to lift the boulder together. If the criminal did not die from the fall or from the crushing of the large boulder, then any people in the surrounding area are to quickly cause him to die by stoning with whatever rocks they can find.
Main articles: Rajm and Zina
Islamic sharia law is based on the Quran and the hadith as primary sources. Stoning in the Sunnah mainly follows on the Jewish stoning rules of the Torah. A few hadiths refer to Muhammad ordering the stoning of a married[not in citation given] Jewish man and a married[not in citation given] woman committing an illegal sexual act after consulting the Torah. In a few others, a Bedouin man is lashed, while a Jewish woman is stoned to death, for having sex outside marriage.
The Qur'an permits a man to have sexual relations only with his wife and/or slave-girl(s). The Qur'an forbids all other sexual intercourse as sinful, but makes no distinction between illegal sex outside marriage and illegal sex between an unmarried man and a woman. Verse 24:2 of the Quran declares that the punishment for consensual but illegal sex is flogging with 100 strokes, but it makes no mention of stoning. The vast majority of Muslims and most Islamic scholars consider hadiths, which describe the words, conduct and example set by Muhammad during his life, as a source of law and religious authority second only to the Quran. They consider sahih hadiths to be a valid source of Sharia, justifying their belief on Quranic verses. Some modern Quranists suggest that stoning to death should not be part of Sharia, as they believe only the Qur'an should be the basis of sharia. In the Qur'an, four witnesses are required to prove the offense. Illegal sexual intercourse (zina) thus belong to the class of hadd (pl. hudud) crimes which have Quranically specified punishments. Traditional jurisprudence adds a number of further conditions, which made zina virtually impossible to prove in practice. Aside from "a few rare and isolated" instances from the pre-modern era and several recent cases, there is no historical record of stoning for zina being legally carried out.
Stoning is described as punishment in multiple hadiths.Shia and Sunni hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters and the Imamah. Shi'a sayings related to stoning can be found in Kitab al-Kafi, and Sunni sayings related to stoning can be found in the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Based on these hadiths, in some Muslim countries, married adulterers are sentenced to death, while consensual sex between unmarried people results in 100 lashes.
Crimes in the Qur'an are divided into three categories based on the prescribed punishment for the offence. The first category is Hudud, which is considered a religious crime against God. Zina is one of the Hudud crimes, stated to deserve the stoning punishment. Zina includes extramarital sex, rape, premarital sex and homosexuality.
Hadiths describe stoning as punishment under sharia. In others stoning is prescribed as punishment for illegal sex between man and woman, illegal sex by a slave girl, as well as anyone involved in any homosexual relations. In some sunnah, the method of stoning, by first digging a pit and partly burying the person's lower half in it, is described.
Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani: A bedouin came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge My case according to Allah's Laws." His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, "Yes, judge between us according to Allah's Laws, and allow me to speak." Allah's Apostle said, "Speak." He (i .e. the bedouin or the other man) said, "My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death." Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah's Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death." Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah's Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death.
— Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:50:885 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:49:860, 8:82:842, 9:89:303
Narrated Ash-Shaibani: I asked 'Abdullah bin Abi 'Aufa about the Rajam (stoning somebody to death for committing illegal sexual intercourse). He replied, "The Prophet carried out the penalty of Rajam," I asked, "Was that before or after the revelation of Surat-an-Nur?" He replied, "I do not know."
— Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:82:824 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:82:8099:92:432
Aisha reported: Abd b. Zam'a said Messenger of Allah, he is my brother as he was born on the bed of my father from his slave-girl. Allah's Messenger looked at his resemblance and found a clear resemblance with 'Utba. (But) he said: He is yours 'Abd (b. Zam'a), for the child is to be attributed to one on whose bed it is born, and stoning for a fornicator.
— Sahih Muslim, 8:3435 see also Sahih Muslim, 17:4216, 17:4191, 17:4212
Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)
Stoning (Arabic: رجم Rajm, sometimes spelled as Rajam) has been extensively discussed in the texts of early, medieval and modern era Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).
According to traditional jurisprudence, zina can include adultery (of married parties), fornication (of unmarried parties), prostitution, bestiality, and rape. Classification of homosexual intercourse as zina differs according to legal school. Although stoning for zina is not mentioned in the Quran, all schools of traditional jurisprudence agreed on the basis of hadith that it is to be punished by stoning if the offender is muhsan (adult, free, Muslim, and having been married), with some extending this punishment to certain other cases and milder punishment prescribed in other scenarios. The offenders must have acted of their own free will. According to traditional jurisprudence, zina must be proved by testimony of four eyewitnesses to the actual act of penetration, or a confession repeated four times and not retracted later. The Maliki legal school also allows an unmarried woman's pregnancy to be used as evidence, but the punishment can be averted by a number of legal "semblances" (shubuhat), such as existence of an invalid marriage contract. These requirements made zina virtually impossible to prove in practice. Rape was traditionally prosecuted under different legal categories which used normal evidentiary rules. Making an accusation of zina without presenting the required eyewitnesses is called qadhf (القذف), which is itself a hadd crime liable to a punishment of 80 lashes and to be unacceptable as witnesses unless they repent and reform.
According to the Islamic concept of Li'an, the testimony of a man who accuses his own wife without any other witnesses may be accepted if he swears by God four times that he is telling the truth with a fifth oath to incur God's condemnation if they be lying. In this case, if his wife counter swears, no punishment will be enforced.
One of the widely followed Islamic legal commentaries, Al-Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas, state that contested pregnancy is sufficient proof of adultery and the woman must be stoned to death.
Hanafi jurists have held that the accused must be a muhsan at the time of religiously disallowed sex, to be punished by Rajm (stoning). A Muhsan is an adult, free, Muslim who has previously enjoyed legitimate sexual relations in matrimony, regardless of whether the marriage still exists. In other words, stoning does not apply to someone who was never married in his or her life (only lashing in public is the mandatory punishment in such cases).
For evidence, Hanafi fiqh accepts the following: self-confession, or testimony of four male witnesses (female witness is not acceptable). Hanafi Islamic law literature specifies two types of stoning. One, when the punishment is based on bayyina, or concrete evidence (four male witnesses). In this case the person is bound, a pit dug, the bound person placed and partially buried inside the pit so that he or she may not escape, thereafter the public stoning punishment is executed. A woman sentenced to stoning must be partially buried up to her chest. The first stones are thrown by the witnesses and the accuser, thereafter the Muslim community present, stated Abū Ḥanīfa and other Hanafi scholars. In second type of stoning, when the punishment is based on self-confession, the stoning is to be performed without digging a pit or partially burying the person. In this case, the qadi (judge) should throw the first stone before other Muslims join in. Further, if the person flees, the person is allowed to leave.
Hanafi scholars specify the stone size to be used for Rajm, to be the size of one's hand. It should not be too large to cause death too quickly, nor too small to extend only pain.
Hanafis have traditionally held that the witnesses should throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by witnesses, and the qadi must throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by a confession.
The Shafii school literature has the same Islamic law analysis as the Hanafi. However, it recommends, that the first stone be thrown by the Imam or his deputy in all cases, followed by the Muslim community witnessing the stoning punishment.
Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudamah states, "Muslim jurists are unanimous on the fact that stoning to death is a specified punishment for the married adulterer and adulteress. The punishment is recorded in number of traditions and the practice of Muhammad stands as an authentic source supporting it. This is the view held by all Companions, Successors and other Muslim scholars with the exception of Kharijites."
Hanbali Islamic law sentences all forms of consensual but religiously illegal sex as punishable with Rajm.
Maliki school of jurisprudence (fiqh) holds that stoning is the required punishment for illegal sex by a married or widowed person, as well as for any form of homosexual relations among men.Malik ibn Anas, founded of Maliki fiqh, considered pregnancy in an unmarried woman as a conclusive proof of zina. He also stated that contested pregnancy is also sufficient proof of adultery and any Muslim woman who is pregnant by a man who she is not married to, at the time of getting pregnant, must be stoned to death. Later Maliki Muslim scholars admitted the concept of "sleeping embryo", where a divorced woman could escape the stoning punishment, if she remained unmarried and became pregnant anytime within five years of her divorce, and it was assumed that she was impregnated by her previous husband but the embryo remained dormant for five years.
Stoning appears to have been practiced by the Aztecs.
As of September 2010, stoning is a punishment that is included in the laws in some countries including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and some predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria as punishment for Zina ("adultery by married persons").
See also: Murder of Farkhunda
Stoning is illegal in Afghanistan, but is sometimes carried out by tribal leaders and Taliban insurgents extrajudicially in certain parts of the country. Before the Taliban government, most areas of Afghanistan, aside from the capital, Kabul, were controlled by warlords or tribal leaders. The Afghan legal system depended highly on an individual community's local culture and the political or religious ideology of its leaders. Stoning also occurred in lawless areas, where vigilantes committed the act for political purposes. Once the Taliban took over, it became a form of punishment for certain serious crimes or adultery. After the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration re-enforced the 1976 penal code which made no provision for the use of stoning as a punishment. In 2013, the Ministry of Justice proposed public stoning as punishment for adultery. However, the government had to back down from the proposal after it was leaked and triggered international outcry. While stoning is officially banned in Afghanistan, it has continued to be reported occasionally as a crime.
Further information: Capital punishment in Brunei
In October 2013, SultanHassanal Bolkiah announced that stoning, along with flogging and amputations, would be added to the country's laws in accordance with sharia law.
Further information: Capital punishment in Indonesia
On 14 September 2009, the outgoing Aceh Legislative Council passed a bylaw that called for the stoning of married adulterers. However, then governor Irwandi Yusuf refused to sign the bylaw, thereby keeping it a law without legal force and, in some views, therefore still a law draft, rather than actual law. In March 2013, the Aceh government removed the stoning provision from its own draft of a new criminal code.
Further information: Capital punishment in Iran
The Iranian judiciary officially placed a moratorium on stoning in 2002; however, in 2007, the Iranian judiciary confirmed that a man who had been convicted of adultery 10 years earlier, was stoned to death in Qazvin province. In 2008, the judiciary tried to eliminate the punishment from the books in legislation submitted to parliament for approval. In 2009, two people were stoned to death in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province as punishment for the crime of adultery. In early 2013, a spokesman for judicial committee of Iran's parliament stated that stoning is no longer mentioned in Iran's legislation, but that punishment will remain the same as it is in Islamic law. He questioned Western enmity against Iran, and termed the campaign to remove rajm as noise against the implementation of Islamic law in Iran. Legal scholars concur that while certain stoning-related passages have been removed from Iran's new penal code, other passages in the new code refer to stoning, and stoning remains a possible form of punishment under the new Iranian penal code. The most known case in Iran was the stoning of Soraya Manutchehri in 1986.
In the 2008 version of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran detailed how stoning punishments are to be carried out for adultery, and even hints in some contexts that the punishment may allow for its victims to avoid death:
Article 102 – An adulterous man shall be buried in a ditch up to near his waist and an adulterous woman up to near her chest and then stoned to death.
Article 103 – In case the person sentenced to stoning escapes the ditch in which they are buried, then if the adultery is proven by testimony then they will be returned for the punishment but if it is proven by their own confession then they will not be returned.
Article 104 – The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.
Depending upon the details of the case, the stoning may be initiated by the judge overseeing the matter or by one of the original witnesses to the adultery. Certain religious procedures may also need to be followed both before and after the implementation of a stoning execution, such as wrapping the person being stoned in traditional burial dress before the procedure.
The method of stoning set out in the 2008 code was similar to that in a 1999 version of Iran's penal code. Iran revised its penal code in 2013. The new code does not include the above passages, but does include stoning as a hadd punishment. For example, Book I, Part III, Chapter 5, Article 132 of the new Islamic Penal Code (IPC) of 2013 in the Islamic Republic of Iran states, "If a man and a woman commit zina together more than one time, if the death penalty and flogging or stoning and flogging are imposed, only the death penalty or stoning, whichever is applicable, shall be executed". Book 2, Part II, Chapter 1, Article 225 of the Iran's IPC released in 2013 states, "the hadd punishment for zina of a man and a woman who meet the conditions of ihsan shall be stoning to death".
In 2007, Du'a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi girl, was stoned by her fellow tribesmen in northern Iraq for dating a Muslim boy.
In 2012 at least 14 youths were stoned to death in Baghdad, apparently as part of a Shi'ite militant campaign against Western-style "emo" fashion.
An Iraqi man was stoned to death, in August 2014, in the northern city of Mosul after one Sunni Islamic court sentenced him to die for the crime of adultery.
Since the sharia legal system was introduced in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria in 2000, more than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences ranging from adultery to homosexuality. However, none of these sentences has actually been carried out. They have either been thrown out on appeal or commuted to prison terms as a result of pressure from human rights groups.
Further information: Capital punishment in Pakistan
As part of Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization measures, stoning to death (rajm) at a public place was introduced into law via the 1979 Hudood Ordinances as punishment for adultery (zina) and rape (zina-bil-jabr) when committed by a married person. However, stoning has never been officially utilized since the law came into effect and all judicial executions occur by hanging. The first conviction and sentence of stoning (of Fehmida and Allah-Bakhsh) in September 1981 was overturned under national and international pressure. A conviction for adultery of Safia Bibi, a 13-year-old blind girl who alleged that she was raped by her employer and his son, was reversed and the conviction was set aside on appeal after bitter public criticism. Another conviction for adultery and sentence of stoning (of Shahida Parveen and Muhammad Sarwar) in early 1988 sparked outrage and led to a retrial and acquittal by the Federal Sharia Court. In this case the trial court took the view that notice of divorce by Shahida's former husband, Khushi Muhammad, should have been given to the Chairman of the local council, as stipulated under Section-7(3) of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961. This section states that any man who divorces his wife must register it with the Union Council. Otherwise, the court concluded that the divorce stood invalidated and the couple became liable to conviction under the Adultery ordinance. In 2006, the ordinances providing for stoning in the case of adultery or rape were legislatively demoted from overriding status.
Extrajudicial stonings in Pakistan have been known to happen in recent times. In March 2013, Pakistani soldier Anwar Din, stationed in Parachinar, was publicly stoned to death for allegedly having a love affair with a girl from a village in the country's north western Kurram Agency. On 11 July 2013, Arifa Bibi, a young mother of two, was sentenced by a tribal court in Dera Ghazi Khan District, in Punjab, to be stoned to death for possessing a cell phone. Members of her family were ordered to execute her sentence and her body was buried in the desert far away from her village.
In February 2014, a couple in a remote area of Baluchistan province was stoned to death after being accused of an adulterous relationship. On 27 May 2014, Farzana Parveen, a 25-year-old married woman who was three months pregnant, was killed by being attacked with batons and bricks by nearly 20 members of her family outside the high court of Lahore in front of "a crowd of onlookers" according to a statement by a police investigator. The assailants, who allegedly included her father and brothers, attacked Farzana and her husband Mohammad Iqbal with batons and bricks. Her father Mohammad Azeem, who was arrested for murder, reportedly called the murder an "honor killing" and said "I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent." The man whose second wife Farzana had become, Iqbal, told a news agency that he had strangled his previous wife in order to marry Farzana, and police said that he had been released for killing his first wife because a "compromise" had been reached with his family.
Further information: Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia
Legal stoning sentences have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
In May 2012, a Sudanese court convicted Intisar Sharif Abdallah of adultery and sentenced her to death; the charges were appealed and dropped two months later. In July 2012, a criminal court in Khartoum, Sudan, sentenced 23-year-old Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul to death by stoning for adultery.Amnesty International reported that she was denied legal counsel during the trial and was convicted only on the basis of her confession. The organization designated her a prisoner of conscience, "held in detention solely for consensual sexual relations", and lobbied for her release. In September, Article 126 of the 1991 Sudan Criminal Law, which provided for death by stoning for apostasy, was amended to provide for death by hanging.
In October 2008, a girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was buried up to her neck at a Somalian football stadium, then stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. The stoning occurred after she had allegedly pleaded guilty to adultery in a sharia court in Kismayo, a city that was controlled by Islamist insurgents. According to the insurgents she had stated that she wanted sharia law to apply. However, other sources state that the victim had been crying, had begged for mercy and had to be forced into the hole before being buried up to her neck in the ground.Amnesty International later learned that the girl was in fact 13 years old and had been arrested by al-Shabab militia after she had reported being gang-raped by three men.
In December 2009, another instance of stoning was publicised after Mohamed Abukar Ibrahim was accused of adultery by the Hizbul Islam militant group.
In September 2014, Somali al Shabaab militants stoned a woman to death, after she was declared guilty of adultery by an informal court.
United Arab Emirates
Stoning is a legal form of judicial punishment in UAE. In 2006, an expatriate was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery. Between 2009 and 2013, several people were sentenced to death by stoning. In May 2014, an Asian housemaid was sentenced to death by stoning in Abu Dhabi.
Further information: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Several adultery executions by stoning committed by IS have been reported in the autumn of 2014. The Islamic State's magazine, Dabiq, documented the stoning of a woman in Raqqa as a punishment for adultery.
In October 2014, IS released a video appearing to show a Syrian man stone his daughter to death for alleged adultery.
The late American Calvinist and Christian Reconstructionist cleric Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony, his son Mark and his son-in-law Gary North, supported the reinstatement of the Mosaic law's penal sanctions. Under such a system, the list of civil crimes which carried a death sentence by stoning would include homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one's virginity, bestiality, witchcraft, idolatry or apostasy, public blasphemy, false prophesying, kidnapping, rape, and bearing false witness in a capital case.
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found varying support in the global Muslim population for stoning as a punishment for adultery (sex between people where at least one person is married; when both participants are unmarried they get 100 lashes). Highest support for stoning is found in Muslims of the Middle East-North Africa region and South-Asian countries while generally less support is found in Muslims living in the Mediterranean and Central Asian countries. Support is consistently higher in Muslims who want Sharia to be the law of the land than in Muslims who do not want Sharia. Support for stoning in various countries is as follows:
Pakistan (86% in all Muslims, 89% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Afghanistan (84% in all Muslims, 85% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bangladesh (54% in all Muslims, 55% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)
Middle East-North Africa:
Palestinianterritories (81% in all Muslims, 84% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Egypt (80% in all Muslims, 81% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Jordan (65% in all Muslims, 67% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Iraq (57% in all Muslims, 58% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)
Malaysia (54% in all Muslims, 60% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Indonesia (42% in all Muslims, 48% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Thailand (44% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)
Niger (70% in all Muslims), Djibouti (67%), Mali (58%), Senegal (58%), Guinea Bissau (54%), Tanzania (45%), Ghana (42%), DR Congo (39%), Cameroon (36%), Nigeria (33%)
Kyrgyzstan (26% in all Muslims, 39% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Tajikistan (25% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Azerbaijan (16%), Turkey (9% in all Muslims, 29% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)
Southern and Eastern Europe:
Russia (13% in all Muslims, 26% in Muslims who say sharia should be the law of the land), Kosovo (9% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Albania (6% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bosnia (6% in all Muslims, 21% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)
Places where substantial numbers of Muslims did not answer the survey's question or are undecided about whether they support stoning for adultery include Malaysia (19% of all Muslims), Kosovo (18%), Iraq (14%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%) and Tajikistan (10%).
Stoning has been condemned by several human rights organizations. Some groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, oppose all capital punishment, including stoning. Other groups, such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), or the International Committee against Stoning (ICAS), oppose stoning per se as an especially cruel practice.
Specific sentences of stoning, such as the Amina Lawal case, have often generated international protest. Groups such as Human Rights Watch, while in sympathy with these protests, have raised a concern that the Western focus on stoning as an especially "exotic" or "barbaric" act distracts from what they view as the larger problems of capital punishment. They argue that the "more fundamental human rights issue in Nigeria is the dysfunctional justice system."
In Iran, the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign was formed by various women's rights activists after a man and a woman were stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006. The campaign's main goal is to legally abolish stoning as a form of punishment for adultery in Iran.
Stoning is condemned by human rights groups as a form of cruel and unusual punishment and torture, and a serious violation of human rights.
Stoning has been condemned as a violation of women's rights and a form of discrimination against women. Although stoning is also applied to men, the vast majority of the victims are reported to be women. According to the international group Women Living Under Muslim Laws stoning "is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms".
Amnesty International has argued that the reasons for which women suffer disproportionately from stoning include the fact that women are not treated equally and fairly by the courts; the fact that, being more likely to be illiterate than men, women are more likely to sign confessions to crimes which they did not commit; and the fact that general discrimination against women in other life aspects leaves them at higher risk of convictions for adultery.
Stoning also targets homosexuals and others who have same-sex relations in certain jurisdictions. In Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, the legal punishment for sodomy is death by stoning.
Right to private life
Human rights organizations argue that many acts targeted by stoning should not be illegal in the first place, as outlawing them interferes with people's right to a private life. Amnesty International said that stoning deals with "acts which should never be criminalized in the first place, including consensual sexual relations between adults, and choosing one’s religion".
- Palamedes, stoned to death as a traitor.
- Lucius Appuleius Saturninus, d. 100 BC, grandfather of later triumvirMarcus Aemilius Lepidus
- Pancras of Taormina, about AD 40
- James the Just, in AD 62, after being condemned by the Sanhedrin
- Possibly Saint Timothy (by Hellenistic pagans), after AD 67
- Constantine-Silvanus, founder of the Paulicians, stoned in 684 in Armenia
- Chase (son of Ioube), Muslim Byzantine official of Arab origin, stoned in 915 at Athens
- Saint Eskil, Anglo-Saxon monk stoned to death by Swedish Vikings, about 1080
- Moctezuma II, 1520, last Aztec Emperor (according to Western accounts; whereas, according to Aztec accounts, the Spanish killed him)
- Soraya Manutchehri, 1986, stoned to death in Iran after unconfirmed accusations of adultery
- Mahboubeh M. and Abbas H., at Behest-e Zahra cemetery, southern Teheran, Iran, 2006. The public was not invited to the stoning, and the incident was not reported to the media. However it was spread by word of mouth to a journalist and women's rights activist. The activist gathered information and further exposed the happening to the world. In response to this, several women's rights activists, lawyers and members of the Networks of Volunteers went on to form the Stop Stoning Forever campaign to stop stoning in Iran.