The punishment of stoning to death (rajm) is Mosaic.  The Old Testament prescribes it for adultery and fornication (Deuteronomy 22:19-23), and also for those who �serve other gods� (Deuteronomy 13:10).  Muhammad retained it for adultery but prescribed death by other means for crimes like apostasy.

Among the Jews themselves, by the time of Muhammad, stoning had fallen into disuse.  According to one tradition, a Jew and a Jewess who had committed adultery were brought to Muhammad.  He asked the Jews what their Torah prescribed for such offenses.  The Jews replied: �We darken their [the culprits�] faces and make them ride on a donkey with their faces turned to the opposite direction.� Muhammad said: �Bring the Torah.� The prescribed punishment was found to be stoning to death.  So �Allah�s Messenger pronounced judgment about both of them and they were stoned,� says �Abdullah, the son of �Umar.  �I was one of those who stoned them, and I saw him [the Jew] protecting her [the Jewess] with his body,� he adds (4211).

Another hadIs gives more details about the same incident.  The Jews sent the two accused to Muhammad, telling their chiefs: �Go to Muhammad; if he commands you to blacken the face and award flogging as punishment, then accept it; but if he gives verdict for stoning, then avoid it.� Muhammad was grieved at this softening of the Scriptures.  But Allah comforted him: �O Messenger, the behaviour of those who vie with one another in denying the truth should not grieve you� (QurAn 5:41).  Allah also told him that �they who do not judge in accordance with what Allah has revealed-they are indeed wrongdoers, they are the iniquitous� (5:45, 47).  The man and woman were stoned to death at Muhammad�s order, and he was happy and thanked Allah: �O Allah, I am the first to revive thy command when they had made it dead� (4214).

author : ram swarup

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