Rajm / Stoning as punishment in Sharia, the Bible, and the teaching of Jesus

In Islam there is no disagreement about stoning (rajm) as the punishment for adultery. The Prophet upon whom be peace, pronounced and carried out rajm upon three married Muslims – one man and two women – and two Jews, a man and a woman (source).

Muslim scholar Mobeen Vaid explains:

‘Firstly, and most simply, is that rajm for zinā has been part of the juristic consensus since the inception of Islam (the Muhammadan variety). There is little debate that it was carried out by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the Companions, and Forebears thereafter. It continued to be enforced for centuries after the early generations, with no scholar seriously arguing it as having been misapplied prior to the 20th century. One would, in effect, have to accept that thousands of scholars spanning centuries simply got it wrong on the topic of rajm for zinā, or somehow acted in bad faith.’

‘Secondly, the prophetic traditions concerning rajm are not negligible. The principle reports cited in the Study Quran span dozens of traditions in Bukhārī and Muslim alone, with narrations pronounced by way of thirteen independent Companions of the Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) across the two canonical texts. ‘Alī, ‘Umar, Abū Hurayrah, Jābir, Zayd ibn Khālid, Ibn ‘Abbās, Ibn Mas‘ūd, Ibn Abī ‘Awfa, ‘Ubāda, Buraydah, Jābir ibn Samura, ‘Imrān ibn Ḥusayn, and Abū Sa‘īd al-Khuḍrī all provide rajm accounts, may God be pleased with them.’

‘In other words, the single most authoritative works in the field of prophetic narrations contain a multitude of independent reports about the Prophet (pbuh) having carried out rajm and the Companions fervently defending its place within Islamic jurisprudence.’

‘Ibn Qudāma (Mughnī), al-Bayhaqī (al-Kubrā), Ibn Ḥazm (Marātib al-Ijmā‘), Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (Istidhkār), Ibn al-Mundhir (al-Awsaṭ) and Māwardī (al-Ḥāwī) cite a consensus on the issue of rajm, with the lone exception of Ibn Qudāma who states that he “is unaware of any discordant [views on rajm] other than the Khārijites” (see Mughnī 3/209).’

This is taken from Mobeen Vaid’s excellent article: The Study Quran: A ReviewI had the pleasure of meeting with Mobeen for coffee and stimulating conversation in downtown Chicago a few years ago.

The punishment has been rarely applied in the history of Islam owing to the very strict evidential requirements stipulated by Islamic law, see: E. Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen (2014), Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, pp. 222-223.


What does the Jewish Bible and Jesus say about rajm

Stoning is the method of execution mentioned most frequently in the Bible. The crimes punishable by stoning include the following:

Breaking the Sabbath, Numbers 15:32–36
Giving one’s offspring to Molech, Leviticus 20:2-5
Cursing God, Leviticus 24:10–16
Engaging in idolatry, Deuteronomy 17:2–7;
Rebellion against parents, Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
Getting married as though a virgin, when not a virgin, Deuteronomy 22:13–21.
Describing the stoning of those who entice others to apostatise from Judaism, the Bible states:

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people.  Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

~ Deuteronomy 13:6–10.

The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery in the Gospel of John 7:53–8:11 often cited as proof that Jesus abrogated rajm is missing from the earliest manuscripts of the gospel. It is not considered by textual critics to have been part of the original gospel of John.

However, in the gospel of Matthew Jesus is portrayed as an upholder of the Jewish Law – not excluding stoning for the Scriptural crimes listed above.

Matthew chapter 23:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.


23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The implication is that Jesus upheld stoning as the method of execution mentioned most frequently in the Bible.

The Sharia of Islam and the Halakha of Jesus are evidently very similar.





Categories: Bible, Hadith, Jesus, Rajm

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11 replies

  1. Adultery is very evil and the punishment is way, way, way, way, way, way, way worse than stoning since it leads one to the fire of hell.

    But on earth, the punishment of stoning should not be assumed to be truly Islamic.

    I will not say it is not true but it arguably does not go above the threshold of evidence needed for a capital punishment, and especially one that is so painful as stoning to death.

    This tremendously scholarly book which I purchased and read puts doubt to virtually every hadith about stoning and shows how so many of them are contrived.

    The matn analysis shows them to be so flimsy and to use such anachronistic language that it is as if Allah is making it easy for us to see how they are fraud.

    These hadith contradict the speech of God which says that zina and zina does not mean only fornication but it generally means fornication or adultery is punished by 100 whips.

    This is the book that refutes this…


  2. Something that I discovered while reflecting on the incident of the false allegation on Aisha and Surah Noor where the punishment came brings to attention the preposterous notion of thinking that the people of Madina would have thought that the verses are restricted for non-married people.

    The false allegation on Aisha (wife of the Prophet) when she was left behind by the army and then a good person then brought her back to the city spread though Madina.

    The verses of Surah Noor dealing with the punishment were not revealed too far from that incident. Indeed, just verse 11 onwards talk of the incident itself.

    It is preposterous for anyone to think that the people would have thought the verses deal with someone unmarried since Aisha was of course married.

    It would be as if there is allegation of Meghan Markle committing adultery and then would the allegation go away if there is revelation that clears her and also says that the punishment for ***white*** people is flogging.

    Of course, the verse would be assumed to be for both married and unmarried people since Meghan Markle is not white.

    Get real by brothers and sisters in Islam!

    It’s time to stop downplaying the words of God–the Qur’an–by the oral narrations transmitted over decades or centuries by men and not always in honest ways.

  3. To clarify I am not against hadith corpus and I believe that hadith are an important source of knowledge…but not an infallible source such as Qur’an and not a source that the Qur’an tells us to use in interpreting the Qur’an….in contrast Allah tells us a trillion times in the Qur’an to use critical reasoning but pro-[hadith is same as Qur’an] fanatics attack critical reasoning.

  4. @ Ihsan

    Or…one could just keep their privates in their pants….

    I mean using this (Erasmus) reasoning its not right to maim a person for thievery either. Oh but mums the word on that right?

    • Also note I find it funny that the only people who have issues with certain laws is because they do it themselves (case in point thieves)

    • I don’t know what you mean stewjo004.

      And I don’t have time for your vulgarity kiddo.

      • @ Ihsan

        Haven’t been vulgar my entire time I just let you know you were not speaking from your mouth.

        Anyways, I simply pointed out the hypocrisy of your statement. You are basically questioning Allah’s punishment by claiming inhumanity. Then be consistent and condemn:

        the thief’s hand from being cut off
        cutting off the hand and leg on opposite sides

        I just find it weird your “Reasoning” doesn’t allow you to have the same vigor for these punishments as they are hardly fit for “civil society”.

  5. For those wanting to learn more just a small aspect of abrogation on the issue of the completeness of Muhaf and extensively analyzed in this very scholarly book,

    here is the link


    and here is a summary of a prestigious lecture …the Abdullah Yusuf Ali Memorial lecture

    Is the Mushaf a complete record of the Qur’an? The controversy of abrogation
    Law, Qur’an
    Jan 26

    This is a summary of the third Abdullah Yusuf Ali Memorial Lecture which I will deliver. For more information about the lecture, visit my blog or the lecture page on the organizer’s website.

    The term “Qur’an” stands for verses that God revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 22 years. These revelations were compiled and written down in what is known as the “mushaf.” So the mushaf is the written record of the Qur’an. Most people, including many Muslims, use the terms “Qur’an” and “mushaf” interchangeably.

    However, there are a number of narratives in the books of Hadith that specify or refer to verses and even complete chapters (surahs) of the Qur’an that are said to have been “withdrawn” by God during the life of the Prophet. The total number of these alleged verses is in the hundreds! As a result, these Qur’anic verses and chapters were not included in the mushaf. Such narratives are found in all major compilations of Hadith, including Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and others.

    These hadiths suggest that the withdrawn verses fall in two categories. First, verses that the Prophet and the Muslims were made to forget by God. Second, verses that were still being remembered. Accepting such narratives as authentic, scholars have considered the process of withdrawing verses a form of a broader divine phenomenon that they called “naskh” or “abrogation”. Abrogation is mainly a legal principle, but it has been applied to the withdrawal of the texts of Qur’anic verses.

    Abrogation refers to the mechanism used by God to withdraw the ruling of a verse, its text, or both its ruling and text. In the last two modes of abrogation, the verse does not exist in the mushaf. Most of the alleged verses that are not found in the mushaf are said to have been abrogated with their rulings, but there are a few that are said to have had their texts abrogated even though their rulings are still operative. An example of these is the so-called “stoning verse.”

    Scholars have needed to resort to what they consider a divine mechanism to explain how the texts of some Qur’anic verses were withdrawn. Otherwise, it would have looked as if some verses of the Qur’an were wrongly not recorded in the mushaf. This would have questioned the process of compiling the mushaf and, ultimately, the integrity of the latter. This is why they resorted to abrogation, and which is why this doctrine is at the heart of the ongoing debate between Muslims and non-Muslims about the integrity of the process of compiling and writing down the revelation of the Qur’an. But is abrogation the real answer to this extremely important question? If no, what could be the real answer?

    I will present the kind of Hadith narratives that suggest that he mushaf does not contain all of the Qur’anic verses and discuss serious issues concerning their credibility. I will also introduce abrogation, trace its historical development, discuss its various modes, and give examples of its role in forming Islamic law and its explanatory function with respects to the withdrawal of the supposed verses.

    I will also introduce the controversies surrounding this doctrine and explain how different assumptions, interpretations, and approaches lead to completely different views of abrogation. While most scholars have given abrogation a major role in both the formation of Islamic law and the compilation of the mushaf, a growing minority has rejected the historicity of abrogation, considering it a confused doctrine under which different concepts and phenomena have been lumped together. Indeed, even scholars who accept abrogation have expressed very different understandings of what this doctrine is supposed to be!

    Exposing the inauthenticity of those hadiths and the non-historicity of abrogation while quoting the Qur’an itself, I will show that the mushaf has preserved every verse and word of the Qur’an that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

    Copyright © 2013 Louay Fatoohi
    Blog: http://www.louayfatoohi.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/louay.fatoohi
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/louayfatoohi
    All Rights Reserved

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    Tagged with: Abrogation, Hadith, Mushaf, Naskh
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    7 Comments on “Is the Mushaf a complete record of the Qur’an? The controversy of abrogation”

    Join the discussion
    most voted
    I am glad you are going to Malaysian to launch a Malaysian edition of your book on abrogation.

    I assume Malaysian edition means it will be translated in Malay?

    I hope this edition finds its way into Indonesia… I assume that the language is the same between the two countries but I don’t know if there is different dialects between the two countries and if so, how different they are.

    0 Reply6 years ago
    Is there a youtube available of your presentation in Malaysia?

    0 Reply6 years ago
    Louay Fatoohi
    Louay Fatoohi
    Sorry for the late reply. The edition that was recently published in Malaysia is the same English edition that was published in 2012 the USA/UK. There is a special edition for the Malaysian market because of distribution rights details. This is the book page on the publisher’s website http://www.ibtbooks.com/product.php?cat=Q&pid=9789670526027.

    0 Reply6 years ago
    Louay Fatoohi
    Louay Fatoohi
    There is no video recording of the lecture available yet, but there should be one shortly.

    0 Reply6 years ago
    abdul jalil
    abdul jalil
    كيف حالك استاذي لؤي، عساكم و العائلة بخير، كنت اريد أن أسألكم عن رأيكم في آية السيف التي قيل أنها نسخت العشرات من الآيات (طبعا و هذا من غير دليل في رأيي) هل بحثتم عن هذا الموضوع؟ طبعا انا لم أقرا كتابكم و لم أحصل عليه بعد، الامر الاخر هو : إلى أي مدى هو تأثير نظرية النسخ في تكامل النص القرآني الآن، حيث يتخذ البعض روايات النسخ كأيات الرجم و الرضاع بأن النص القرآني ليس كاملا… شكرا و تحياتي

    0 Reply6 years ago
    Louay Fatoohi
    Louay Fatoohi
    اخي العزيز عبد الجليل، شكرا على رسالتك. أنني وعائلتي بخير وارجو ان تكون انت وعائلتك الكريمة بخير. وضعت في كتابي عن النسخ فصلا خاصا عن آية السيف. وصل عدد الآيات التي أُدعيَ نسخها بهذه الآية الى 140 وربما اكثر. إن تفنيد إدعاء أن تلك الآية الكريمة، التي دُعِيَت بلا وجه حق بآية السيف، نسخت آيات اخرى تأمر بالمغفرة والتسامح والتعايش…الخ ليس بالصعب، لأن الحجج التي استخدمها اصحاب هذا الإدعاء واهية جدا. من الملاحظات المهمة هي ان عدد الآيات المزعوم نسخها بتلك الآية الكريمة بقي يتصاعد مع مرور الزمن، فكل حين وآخر اضاف بعض العلماء آيات جديدة الى تلك المزعوم نسخها!… Read more »
    0 Reply6 years ago
    I have to agree with the logic of our Brother Louay, with regards to the Abrogation myth.
    I believe the Mushaf and the Qur’an contain the same quantity of verses and words. The only differences are insignificantly minor such as chronological order and accent marks.
    The Qur’an is intact as revealed to Muhammad, otherwise to doubt is to question which can only lead to corruption of your faith which will bring you closer to disbelief.
    Allah reveals in the Qur’an, He is the Revealer of the Qur’an and He is its Guardian.

  6. @ Ihsan

    I think stewjo004 made a good point. What is your response?

    ‘Anyways, I simply pointed out the hypocrisy of your statement. You are basically questioning Allah’s punishment by claiming inhumanity. Then be consistent and condemn:

    the thief’s hand from being cut off
    cutting off the hand and leg on opposite sides

    I just find it weird your “Reasoning” doesn’t allow you’

  7. My parents went berserk years ago when they asked if I agree with stoning for adultery. I’m not Shia so I couldn’t very well practice taqiyah and deny the shariah. But what’s the big deal? If you’re under that system and you take that risk, blame yourself. Sovereignty belongs to God, not man!

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