The Sharing Group Discussion on Lapidation & the Hadd in Islam

 بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is a post by Brother Justin Taylor on the 02nd May, 2014, on The Sharing Group.  He said, “I have been thinking about the stoning punishment, and death penalty.  I understand the idea of being punished now instead of the Hereafter, but I simply cannot accept the suffering and pain.  How can I love my fellows as I do myself in this situation, and therefore love Allah (s.w.t.)?  I know I would not like it, I would not enjoy that experience.  How is it, I am respecting Allah’s (s.w.t.) Creation by this act ?  How is it, I can judge, being a sinner, myself?  My heart would not be able to take it.  I think Allah (s.w.t.) knows this and has organised my birth here where this does not happen.  He Knows my soul.”

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I believe lapidation is outdated.

Sister Sherin Mohamed: How do we understand the following verse:

We Ordained therein for them, “Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.”  But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself.  And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath Revealed, they are (no better than) wrong-doers. (Surah al-Ma’idah:45)

Brother Justin Taylor: Monty Python rule, or at least they should: Life of Brian - The Stoning Scene.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Sister Sherin Mohamed, an eye for an eye only.

Brother Justin Taylor: Legal retribution, yes.  But it says nothing about cruel painful, death.

Brother Hadi Gelan: In Islam, adultery has no justification because you can divorce and keep your own properties for yourself; why anyone would cheat their own spouse?  Also, we should realise that this form of punishment needs four witnesses who saw everything and this condition is next to impossible.  In the entire time of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and in thirty years after, in the history of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, there is mention of only a few, probably less than 10 cases were the punishment was imposed.

Brother Justin Taylor: Gandhi said an eye for an eye makes the world blind.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: When we say an eye of an eye only, the verses before this state the hadd, the limits.  In essence, one may claim for an injury, but he may not claim excessively.  This was necessary in tribal cultures.  If someone committed murder, the killer’s life was forfeit.  But there was no allowance to kill others in his stead or extend it beyond the killer.  This prevented escalating the violence.  However, there was great emphasis and Reward in forgiveness.

Brother Justin Taylor: Seriously, if there are people who need to see this sort of thing to be warned not to honour their commitment and to honour their holy vow, because they have not looked in the eyes of their loved one hard enough and simply followed their animal instincts, and not thought about their actions deeply and just acted from their nafs, then maybe, this type of action is warranted, like caged animals being whipped to be trained.  But it is not for me.  If people want this sort of system of law because they cannot trust themselves to behave correctly, then perhaps they should not have marriage in the first place. and just live near the brothel.  Old tribal England had the same system, and another based on fiscal retribution. with set rates for each body part,

Brother Hadi Gelan: Brother Justin, this form of rare punishment is not just to protect the family but also society.  Some people are kind and honest by their nature and such punishment not for them but how about people who cheat , kill and steal?  I think tough laws should apply on tough people to forbid them from hurting other people.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In any case, once we look at the context, there are other methods of disciplining miscreants and maintaining society.  I do not believe there is any place for lapidation.  We can consign these barbaric practices to history and, indeed, most societies have.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: If lapidation is outdated, when did it become outdated?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: When Islam was no longer confined to Bedouins in the desert.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: So is it okay for Bedouins to stone people?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I fail to understand your line of questioning.  This was practiced by the Bedouins, and still is in some places.  Perhaps you should ask them why it is acceptable, brother.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: I just think the concept of ‘outdated’ seems problematic.  If something is in the Qur’an and done by the Prophet (s.a.w.), I think it is problematic to go too hard on disapproving it.  In terms of the different concepts which we can bring to bear in mitigating, softening, modifying the rulings of the shari’ah, I think one can invoke things like ‘urf or dharurah, but I do not think the rulings just have an expiration date.  I think the Jewish approach makes a certain amount of sense, where the conditions of applying certain punishments are insisted upon so that applying them is rare.  But to say that the Qur’an is barbaric, I think, is a problem for a Muslim.  The Islamic punishments would not be binding if certain preconditions are not met.  For example, the is no government collecting and distributing zakat, there is no bayt al-mal, so the state should not be cutting the hands of thieves.

Brother Justin Taylor: I understand that rules are there to maintain society, but another aspect is I could not stone anyone to death especially to validate my claim they have done something wrong, so how could I justify some other person with a less squeamish disposition doing that for me on my behalf.  I cannot.  And which wisdom do I validate? The wisdom written on my heart and soul from before I was born, or the one I learnt from books and other people?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: No one has issues with the Qur’an here.  Lapidation is not found in the Qur’an.  It can be argued that rajm was abrogated when the verses prescribing lashing for zina were Revealed.  One of the reasons for the penalty was the maintenance of society.  We have other tools now, such as DNA profiling.  The morality aspect is another matter that requires a holistic approach based on the zaman.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: That sounds a bit more reasonable than just saying it is outdated or barbaric.  I think the argument is a complex one. What exactly are the objectives of different punishments?  I sometimes wonder if part of the point of stoning was that it was done by the community, and not just a single executioner.  That was just a simple way to accomplish that.

Brother Justin Taylor: Another consideration is the fact violence begets violence; when children see violence they become desensitised to it. and the whole process continues.  I remember a story, about Captain Cook’s voyage.  He was at one of the islands and his soldiers did something wrong and when the natives reported it, he decided to make an example of the soldier so he had the offender were flogged.  He did it in front of the locals so, in his mind, they would understand he was respectful of the local traditions.  The locals were mortified and shocked.  Some grabbed sea shells and cut their bodies.  They wailed and cried and could not understand what was happening.  And these people were cannibals.  So who was the savage?

Brother Colin Turner: Lapidation became outdated when the Qur'anic verse on adultery and its punishment, lashes, was Revealed.  As for witnesses to corporal and capital punishments, the Qur’an says, if I recall correctly, that the implementation of hadd penalties should be witnessed by believers.  While it does not stipulate the number of witnesses, it certainly does not suggest that executions and the like be turned in a fun day out for mum, dad, granny and the kids.

Sister Nimali Rodrigo: It seems to me that the hadd was directed at brazen insecurity in the public space.  Adultery where the actual intercourse may be witnessed by four or more people is nothing less than an open orgy to disgrace one’s loved ones.  We are not talking here about a punishment for things done secretly behind bedroom doors, or for people just kissing in public.  The scholars are very clear about the very specific conditions for such a hadd to be implemented.  Some bypassed these conditions by making public confessions, which the Prophet (s.a.w.) tried to dodge but the confessants were insistent.  Other severe hadd crimes are for terrorism and for armed robbery on public streets and for public accusations that dishonour women.  The punishment for first-degree murder has an inbuilt means of substitution through forgiveness and compensation.  I suppose there is a provision for a no-forgiveness option because the intention to murder may be very sinister in some people while in others it may not be so.  Nonetheless, I do understand the problems inherent in a death penalty, especially when the people implementing a justice system are so easily corruptible.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: This assertion that stoning was abrogated by lashing is not correct and is not how any of the Sunni schools of jurisprudence understood the texts relating to these punishments.

Brother Colin Turner: There is no consensus on this; the very fact that the Qur’an does not stipulate stoning, but does advocate lashing, would seem to corroborate this.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Consensus is based on what the jurists of a generation agreed to, it is supplementary to what is in the Qur’an as a principle of jurisprudence.  It is disingenuous to say if it is not in the Qur’an there cannot be consensus on it, as consensus is only referred to in the absence of a clear mutawatir text of the Qur’an or sunnah.

Brother Colin Turner: There is also no consensus as to what consensus is - the differences of opinion on what constitutes this supplementary source of law are legion.  The fact that something is not in the Qur’an but in the sunnah does not mean that, by default, there will not be consensus on it, but its absence from the Qur’an makes it more likely.  In any case, jurisprudential opinion today is divided on the issue of lapidation.  The fact that it is divided is telling, no?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Getting back to the actual question, the extreme punishments for fornication and adultery exist in a larger political- social- religious order, which we should not forget.  If we focus on the penal aspects of any society we would find they are all quite harsh.  Prison is often very brutal, violent and dehumanising.  Moreover, within the shari’ah, punishment for fornication and adultery should be extremely rare due to the evidentiary requirements of four adult male Muslims who are religiously upright who are eye witnesses to the penis entering the vagina.

It is not as complicated as you suggest, Brother Colin, though yes, there are differences of opinion about certain types of ijma’, everyone is agreed that if all the jurists of a generation agreed on a matter- it constitutes consensus.  The issue of stoning for adultery is an ijma’ of the swahabah, as it was accepted by Khulafah ar-Rashidin.  In respects to ijma’, there can be no disagreement in later generations as the ijma’ is binding.  The fact that there is disagreement today is because of the rise of modernist movements under the pressure of the weak political economic state of the Muslim world.

Brother: The very fact that not all adulterers were stoned during the time of the Khulafah ar-Rashidin demonstrates that lapidation was a contested area.  And however much ijma’ there is between the scholars, a tradition cannot abrogate the Qur’an.  The Qur’an is clear on adultery and its punishments, and stoning is not among them.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: You said, “Not all adulterers were stoned to death,” - for example?  And just because every alleged adulterer was not stoned to death does not mean that was not the prescribed punishment, it may be because the witnesses could not prove the crime.  In the absence of examples of such cases and the consensus of the jurists I would suggest that was the case.  Whether a hadits can abrogate the Qur’an is disputed among the jurists; the madzhab of Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) and the madzhab of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) contends it can.  But even for those jurists who maintain it cannot, they argue that rulings of ahadits can supplement those in the Qur’an, and the Qur’anic ayah themselves contain textual indications that they can be supplemented by further Revelation, and the sunnah is by consensus Revelation.  Further, those jurists relied on the fact that there was consensus on the matter among the swahabah, as I already mentioned, which is also a form of mutawatir sunnah.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: The English word, ‘consensus’ is not exactly the same as the concept of ijma’ as applied by the classical schools of law.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: In any case, stoning to death for adultery was agreed by the a’immah of the madzahib and I would contend they knew their uswul better than revisionists who are arguing using their uswul do today.

How so, Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez?

Brother Colin Turner: You would contend that, would you, without actually examining the arguments of the ‘revisionists’?  Why do you assume that contemporary scholarship is by default less authentic and authoritative than the classical?

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: That was in response to Brother Colin's statement, “There is also no consensus as to what consensus is.”

Brother Colin Turner: The issue here is that traditions, regardless of their supplementary legal status, cannot abrogate the Qur’an; the vast majority of scholars attest to this.  In this case, supporters of rajm have a gargantuan task on their hands, namely how to justify advocacy of the sunnah-based punishment of rajm when the Qur’an advocates lashing and, furthermore, militates clearly, if tacitly, against stoning in its verses.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Who says I have not examined it?  I did not say contemporary scholarship is by default less authentic, but alarm bells start ringing when contemporary scholars start to question things that were agreed among the jurists for 1,400 years, when I recall the words of the Beloved (s.a.w.), “In the last days, people will come relating to you things that neither you nor your fathers had heard of; keep them away from you.”  This is recorded in Swahih Muslim.

Brother Colin Turner: Brother, “things that were agreed with among the jurists for 1,400 years” cuts no ice.  If we take that to its logical conclusion, we should be advocating female circumcision and slavery - the former is recommended, according to some, and the latter was never abolished, and is thus among the mubahat.  We have moved on, brother, just as mujtahidun moved on from earlier rulings by elaborating upon them, critiquing them and, in some cases, laying them aside.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: So you are going to argue that the jumhur uswuli view, which is false since, as already mentioned the Shafi’is and Hanbalis accept abrogation by the sunnah, against the established ijma’?  It is not a gargantuan task when we understand that ijma’ of the swahabah constitutes a mutawatir qathi evidence, or the fact that the ayah on lashing themselves contain textual indications towards further modification.  I will take the understanding of Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) and Imam Malik (r.a.) over the modern revisionists trying to play with their uswul any day of the week.

It depends what you mean by female circumcision, what is advocated in the sunnah is not the removal of the clitoris but something similar to what many women every year in the US and Europe have done as plastic surgery.  In fact, it is one of the most commonly requested procedures.  As for slavery, it was abolished by the Ottomans who were the political authorities, due to the fact that the Europeans had abolished it, which is based on a principle in Islamic law of reciprocity in international relations.  However stoning is a matter of hadd which cannot be revoked.  No mujtahid can lay aside consensus, and if he does his view will be shadd and rejected.

Brother Colin Turner: There is no consensus over whether the Qur’an can be abrogated by the sunnah.  That much is clear.  In the absence of consensus, one adopts the position which accords most with reason and justice.  That position, for me at least, and for numerous scholars, holds that stoning is a barbaric punishment which has no place in Islam.  And no principle of reciprocity can abrogate the text of the Qur’an.  The permissibility of slavery still stands today, on paper.  As for female circumcision, where is your evidence that ‘many women every year in the US and Europe’ are opting for a modified form of this procedure?

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: How is the modern prison system morally different from slavery?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: No, one then turns to the other aspects of uswul, such as textual indicators, ijma’ of the swahabah and so forth.  That “stoning is a barbaric punishment” is a subjective viewpoint based on a view of the world moulded by modern society and its ideologies, similarly cutting the hand for robbery could also be viewed in such a light, and as such holds no weight in jurisprudential discussions, which are about seeking the truth from the sources not seeking to manipulate the sources according to our own likes and dislikes.  I did not say the principle of reciprocity can abrogate the text of the Qur'an, slavery will always remain in principle permissible, but it is an area of Islamic law which is subject to the authority of the sultan, unlike the hadd which he cannot change.

There are two forms of female circumcision- one where the clitoris is removed, this is not the form advocated by the sunnah.  The form that is advocated by the sunnah is to remove some of the outer skin to facilitate sexual intercourse and increase stimulation.  I recall Germaine Greer talking about how it is one of the most commonly requested plastic surgery operations among woman in the US and Europe in a debate about female circumcision.  I will try and find it for you.  Whilst I do, can you please present the cases where adulterers were not stoned to death during Khulafah ar-Rashidin.

Brother Colin Turner: That ‘stoning is barbaric’ is not subjective.  Hadd punishments are barbaric by default; were they not, then they would not act as deterrents.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: And what these revisionist arguments prove is their proponents have a very superficial understanding of the uswul they cite in their arguments.  Barbaric suggests uncivilised; Islamic law is the peak of civilisation.  In any case, your admission that the hadd are ‘barbaric’ as deterrent , according to you, disproves your earlier contention that they have no place in Islam.

Brother Colin Turner: The point was not that they do not have a place in Islam, but that once they did; now they do not.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: And in your opinion, that change occurred within the lifetime of the Prophet (s.a.w.) ?

Sister Nimali Rodrigo: I would not say the sunnah advocated female genital surgery but, rather, permitted it, provided it was not extreme.  Defining the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) intent is quite significant in this issue.

Brother Colin Turner: To say, “Islamic law is the peak of civilisation,” firstly suggests, in this particular context, that stoning is Islamic, which it is not.  It also suggests that Islamic law, once formulated, is set in stone, which it is not.  The existence of ijtihad suggests that laws can pass their sell-by date, and be laid aside; the Qur’an itself is cognisant of the contextual nature of some regulations, as well as their ephemerality.  The bottom line here is that while those who repudiate stoning ignore at their peril the rulings of a whole sub-set of Muslim legal thinkers, the absence of any ruling on stoning in the Qur’an, and the presence of verses which can be read as militating against lapidation as punishment, poses an almost insuperable problem for those who advocate it.

Brother Mansoor Rizvi: Brother Justin Taylor, let me try to respond if I may.  First and foremost, a lot of the punishments for things such as adultery are not meant to be enforced, but rather serve as a deterrent.  For example, in the case of adultery, in order for any sort of punishment, four witnesses must view the act of intercourse in order for this to count, which is very difficult to do.  Only a very brazen couple would do something like this, something which does not even happen in the West.

There are two stories from the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that I would like to share.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) was not trigger happy when it came to carry out these punishments.  In the case of stoning, there is an instance where it is narrated that a woman came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and confessed to this.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) just walked away.  The woman walked up a second time, and the Prophet (s.a.w.) did this a second time.  The woman did a third time and his reaction was the same.  Finally, she went up to him a fourth time, and because this was considered four times as testifying against herself, that this was carried out.  So this was only carried out after she testified against herself, and wanted to get this punishment on her.  In no way shape or form are we encouraged to go around looking for people to punish for these types of things, but rather these laws are a deterrent designed to indicate the seriousness of the crime.

There is another story where a couple were having sex outside, and one of the companions went up to the prophet (s.a.w.) and informed him and wanted to punish them.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) told him to stay put, and instead, he sent ‘Ali (k.w.) to assess the situation.  As ‘Ali (k.w.) was going to that area, he intentionally made loud footsteps as he was walking towards that area where the couple was seen and he walked slowly, each time making loud footsteps.  This was enough to get them to move away.  When he got there, they were gone.  He went back to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and said nobody was there.

Concerning the hadits, Brother Terence was correct and said each hadits has to be evaluated in terms of context, background; we cannot just pull hadits out of thin air and assume to know what the whole story is without studying its context.  With respect to Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), all the four Sunni schools see most, if not all, the traditions being authentic.  Among the Shi’ah, we do not believe that to be the case and only believe the Qur’an is 100% authentic.  Even our own ahadits sources, like Kitab al-Kafi are not regarded as all authentic.  We scrutinise each hadits, particularly those related to fiqh, and take each hadits as it comes, and then determine the authenticity there.  and it is mostly our ahadits in fiqh which our scholars have mostly ruled as authentic after having done their due diligence and research on it.  I hope this helps, insha’Allah.

Brother James Harris: It is quite simple.  You do not create your own version of Islamic law from reading a hadits report, and at face value at that.  The entire science of fiqh was developed as a way to understand the practical dimension of Islam.  This considered all the sources of Islam carefully through specific methods.  Understanding classical positions on different practical matters in Islamic law does not involve simply going to Swahih al-Bukhari to come up with a ruling.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: I agree you should not simplistically apply a single hadits and run with it.  By all means, follow the schools of fiqh.  But I think one can still say, that if we know Muhammad (s.a.w.) did something, then why can we not say that at the very least, in that particular situation faced by the Prophet (s.a.w.), the action in question is permissible?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: That would be so only if we can prove that the conditions are similar, brother.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Brother Colin set the bar low.  He only said, “in some contexts.”  I agree that we cannot necessarily generalise to our times, but what Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) did in his time was certainly permissible in his context.

Brother Colin Turner: There was no bar setting here.  Someone else mentioned “some contexts.”

Brother James Harris: Regardless of stoning being practiced during the time of the early generations of Muslims, does this mean that judicial systems and procedures in every society should be done away with where Muslims are involved?  Is every single formal detail provided in the early fiqh Divinely Ordained regardless of time and place?  I fail to see how a developed judicial system that serves to keep law and order in society should be replaced for the apparent purpose of replicating the precise formal details by which crime was punished in Arabian society 1,000 years ago.  It raises the question as to whether the formal replication of the judicial process at that time is an obligation upon Muslims, or whether it was a means to an end.  I am not here presenting a ‘revisionist’ view of early Islamic history, but questioning how this would work in societies with codes of justice developed organically over centuries.  The argument for replacing judicial systems and implementing stoning and amputation seems to me to be formalistic and would create more problems than it would solve.

One of the arguments that I have seen crop up in a number of posts is that it is “not meant to be enforced,” which seems to be to be like the “hitting our wives with a miswak” argument.  I do not understand the argument that we have certain punishments that are “not meant to be enforced.”  How can they be a deterrent if they are not meant to be enforced?

Sister Nimali Rodrigo: I view the specified penalties as articulating the boundaries of permissibility.  Imagine that law enforcement is a sphere within which a society could organically develop discretionary penalties for actions considered unethical or offensive.  The Qur’an and sunnah stipulations serve only as boundary markers along the circumference of the sphere, within which discretion is permitted.  Discretion must always take into account the context of the society at a particular point in time and space as well as the context of the individuals directly involved in the violation.  The right of discretionary penalties, ta’zir, and even the discretion of when to apply a hadd, is one of the ways shari’ah is tremendously flexible.

Brother Justin Taylor: The thing I am most concerned about happens to be the thing no one has brought up.  It comes down to whether we would prefer to go by the words written in books as attributed to a human by Divinity, no argument here, or should we rely on our given law as felt and just simply, known without knowing, especially when such perception is advocated and reinforced in the Said Messages of Divinity.  More so, if the perception is aligned with given themes, from the lawful codes of these tomes, of mercy, intelligence, teaching, love?

In reference to my original question, how do we personally deal with our loved ones in love, what is our particular way of expressing this and is this the same way we are treating our fellows when we inflict death by stoning?  How is it we personally express our respect to Allah’s (s.w.t.) Creation, is this the same way we are expressing our respect to another aspect of nature in that human being, which is each of us personally?  How strongly do we personally strive for Forgiveness, and how strong is our expectation to receive Forgiveness?  Is it as strong our own forgiveness?  Do we believe when we read about God being the Judge, when we read stories reinforcing this point?  Do we believe when we read about how flawed human judgement is, how human perception is rarely deep?  Or do we decide we are very smart and we spend a lot of time learning justifications to allow us to ignore our hearts, and carry out these actions?

If something is broken we would fix it, if there is a problem fix it.  Treat these social issues like every problem with thought and education.  Having said all the above, I am always open to learning; there may be some justification with love or underlying thing I miss.  Do we own ourselves?  Do we own another that we can treat it as property?  Do we own anything?  Again, do we believe what Revelation has told us really considering God Owns everything?  Are our actions of a being that trusts and believes?  I have a suspicion we are a being which acts from ego and personal decision.

Blind observance of rules from another human is shirking personal responsibility to adhere to the themes of love and mercy with every action for these are the themes of Divinity.  Imagine a close friend, imagine a friend who has children that they love with a particular zeal and energy.  Now imagine telling your best friend you had personally killed their child.  Not only killed but painfully, drawn out death, killed that child.  Now times that by infinity and think about explaining to God why you thought that was a great idea.

Sister Nimali Rodrigo: Personally, even if I were a judge, I could not inflict the death penalty on another.  It would weigh heavily on my heart.  However, I would also consider the consequences: if the criminal was a terrible danger to others, would it be possible to isolate and sedate him?  Would that be considered a form of torture?  Is torture worse than death in some cases?  If I were in a society without any prisons or any means of confining the criminal such that he could not harm anyone else, what alternative would there be?  If I exiled him, would the community live forever in insecurity and terror that he could return to kill them all?  What would be the most compassionate option?  I think a lot depends on the context and what means are available to the people to deal with a critical issue.  When it comes to death for public adultery, yes, I too cannot find it in my heart to ever sentence it.  But then, I tend to be someone who also cannot fathom a Hell that is permanent for anyone, even the worst criminal.  On these issues, I have some queries and doubts, but I opt to leave what I am in doubt of for what I am sure of.

Brother Hudson Decoraters: I guess another thing we are missing here is that stoning is basically the death penalty.  Back in those days, stoning to death was the accepted method of carrying it out.  But tribal society has a much more visceral connectivity to life and death, slaughtering their own food is just daily life; war involved chopping people up.  There is a desensitised side.  Today, they still electrocute in some states in the US.  I guess that adjacent states in the US have different views on capital punishment says a lot about the reality of cultural norms affecting things like this.  Are we saying that its more barbaric to electrocute?  What about lethal injection?  Is it the mere method that we rail against as Westerners brought upon a diet of cellophane packaged food, or the idea of capital punishment ?  Is it our desensitised idea that capital punishment is too heavy a punishment for adultery?  Obviously this argument with non-Muslims goes the same direction as the alcohol one; how many people do you know who have been affected in a lifelong destructive way by adultery or alcohol?  Everyone knows someone or has been themselves.

Brother Colin Turner: General perceptions of what is just also change over time.  Times and contexts change also.  What seemed suitable as a deterrent and punishment then does not seem particularly suitable now.

Brother Dan Oo: Put your trust in God.  His understanding are not like ours.  His Mercy and Love are absolute forms of those terms but so are His Justice and Wrath.  We should not compare them to our experience.


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