Stoning's Roots As the Capital Punishment for Adultery

Beyond the Veil| Sunday’s NYTimes clarifies the history and circumstances of death by stoning in history. In new details of the case of Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, originally sentenced to death by stoning on adultery charges, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered her asylum. This gesture may perhaps have persuaded the Iranian government to prescribe a more ‘normal’ capital punishment death. Ms. Ashanti will not be executed during Ramadan.

Stoning is not only a form of Muslim capital punishment and didn’t begin with Islam. The Old Testament includes an episode in which Moses arranges for a man who violated the Sabbath to be stoned, and stoning probably took place among Jewish communities in the ancient Near East.

Stoning is not prescribed by the Koran. The punishment is rooted in Islamic legal traditions, known as hadiths, as the designated punishment for adultery.

Adultery “was considered to offend some of the fundamental purposes of Islamic law: to protect lineage, family, honor and property,” said Kristen Stilt, an associate professor at Northwestern University who has written about Islamic law. “It was a tribal society, and knowing who children belonged to was very important.” via NYTimes