« A Mild Dissent - Richard Sale | Main | Minimizing the Damage in the Holy Land »

05 September 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Anonymous Iranian

I suppose it's intended as a deterrent, in order to best protect the integrity of the family.

I don't know- you think it's implementation here could have possibly saved the marriage of Tiger Woods? Jon Gosselin?

I know what you're thinking- I'm pointing out the males involved in these sins. But it takes two to tango, and that seems to be where the aim of the deterrence falls, in this order of things.

Now I'm not speaking on behalf of advocacy, or defending the practice of stoning. Just providing food for thought, here. I'm not even bringing up the welfare of the children, in this means of immoral deterrence.

R Whitman

Interesting that we have stories about Mullahs and Rabbis wanting to kill people on this blog within three days of eachother.

Nancy K

As a woman and a mother, I cannot tell you how it saddens me to see a woman treated so horribly.
Was there no man involved in this alledged incident?
If a race was treated as horribly as woman are in many parts of the world, there would be a total uproar about it.
I applaud the Catholic church for coming out against this.
Thank you Col. Lang for bringing this to our attention.


This event sounds to me as if it has a local political dimension that I have yet to understand.

From what I have personally seen in Indonesia, and read about Saudi Arabia and Iran. Islamic attitudes to sex run the full spectrum just as Christianity does.

Needless to say, the Hasbara are already working themselves into a lather about this and beating the war drums.


The punishment is not only unjustified, a hadith is used to "justify" it, which in my view is odd since the punishment for adultery is clearly stated in the Quran.

Secondly, unless it is the husband bringing the charge then there have to be 4 witnesses. I always liked this rule because if there are ever four witnesses to such an act, as a prosecutor I would be equally interested in how 4 people managed to witness it


I can't find the link but the story is, IIRC, as follows. The woman, according to the Iranian courts, conspired with her lover to murder her husband. She was thus convicted of both adultery and murder. Her lover would be sentenced to hang, but the victim's family renounced their right to vengeance and thus he will serve 10 years in prison.

As for the practice of stoning someone to death, even for a serious crime such as multiple homicides, what can I say? For adultery? I like tail too much to go for that.

Should we go to war to teach them better? I hope not.

If Iran is bound to its legal system, might I suggest a loophole. Make the burden of proof for adultery so onerous that it's nearly impossible to convict someone of it. My understanding of Islamic law (which is extremely meager) is that three reliable eyewitnesses are required to convict someone of adultery. Make it thirty. Make electronic evidence inadmissible.

Just a thought.

Allen Thomson

The Tanakh has, of course, Leviticus 20:10.


As for the Pericope Adulterae in John 7:53-8:11, it's certainly one of the most admirable stories and lessons in the NT. Unfortunately, it seems likely to have been included at a later date than the original writing of John.



Me, I disapprove of adultery but don't think it should rise above a civil offense.

Jose L Campos

The evil of adultery rests on the possibility that a man may be burdened with the issue of another man begotten upon his own wife. That is why adultery is considered a great evil. A birth disrupts a whole way of life, the birth and disruption by a child that is not yours is a great injustice. Now that copulation is practically insignificant, that is it has no meaning beyond some spasms, adultery seems a slight breach of a contract but in societies with possible fecundation the matter is one of supreme gravity.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

To answer your query: No, such a punishment is not justified under any circumstances. It is based on the Shariah, and differs from the much lighter punishment the Quran prescribes (as I've written in detail previously, the Quran does not intend its detailed provisions to apply beyond its own time and place).

As an interesting sidelight, even for its own time and place, the Quran was only interested in curbing public displays of sexual activity, including adultery; every single reference to this transgression use such a construction (hence also the provision for four eye-witnesses to prove such an offence).


in our law there is an interesting term- "criminal conversation." it means having sex w/ someone else's spouse. it is a cause of action in a civil suit usually accompanied by a companion action for "alienation of affection.

many states have abolished these "heartbalm" suits.


FB Ali,

Can you tell us about any muslim scholar applying Sharia law to the modern world and how this differs from old practices? Can they defend their ideas based on the Hadiths as well as the Qur'an? Is there a serious difference in interpretation between the Shia' Sunni and Sufi sects?

Or if you can provide as with a link to a trusted source on modern Sharia, that would be wonderful.

As a non practicing Muslim I would be very interested and very much in your debt.


Stoning of any one for any reason is an atrocity.

It is easy to take such a heart-wrenching occasion and use it to demonize an entire culture while systemic flaws in our own behavior may be causing much more widespread suffering. Denial of access to contraceptives, for example, and sexual imprudence leading to the spread of HIV.

White Men "Saving" Brown Women From Brown Men

The cite also contains a link to maps showing a lesser occurrence of HIV in Muslim countries.


From afar:
Islam is a religion heavily involved in punishment.
All the punishment results in death.
Aren't there any misdemeanor offenses in Islam?

dan of steele

it is my belief that most of my fellow americans are put off by the means of execution while having no problem whatsoever with the death penalty if it is done in a nice clinical environment with lethal injection and such. I remember hearing the same howlings when that dude in Utah chose the firing squad for his execution.

letting regular folks participate in executions may not be such a bad idea. why does it have to be a hooded hangman or an anonymouse doctor? if a crime is committed against society then it would follow that society should have its revenge.

for the record I am always against capital punishment as it seems to be the greatest of all hypocrisies...if killing is wrong how can the punishment possibly involve killing?

the other important point raised by Lysander is that this woman is an accessory to murder. in our fair country of laws she would be eligible for the death penalty as far as I know.


For some reason, this story came to me when I read this; I had previously read it a few days ago. and could be completely OT too.


Now, it could be propaganda, it could be right partially; I have no idea.

Personally, I'm leaning towards the theory outlined in the article i.e. non interaction with the other sex could lead to some very warped activities.

If that article is true as written, then the gay factor in lots of muslim countries must be higher than normal, right?

I could go on but I'm not a qualified as a shrink(umm...for that matter, of things of any significant import), so I'll leave it here.


There is a lot of propaganda around this story and hardly a fact reported in the western media.

From what I gathered:

1. The woman was sentenced by a low court for aiding and abetting to murder her husband and for adultery and the punishment of stoning to death.

But in July the highest Iranian court judged that this was invalid and that the lower courts opinion was false.

There simply is no case anymore against that woman for adultery and there is no legal sentence of stoning her to death. It simply doesn't exist anymore.

2. There is a sentence against the woman for aiding and abetting to the murder of her husband. That sentence is to 10 years of prison.

So far the facts.

Since 2002 stoning is abolished in Iran. While it is still on the books, it is no longer used.


The Iranian judiciary officially placed a moratorium on stoning in 2002, although the punishment remained on the books, and there were a few cases of Judges handing down stoning sentences in 2006 and 2007 [21] In 2008, Iran's judiciary decided to fully scrap the punishment from the books in a legislation submitted to parliament for approval.[22] As of June 2009, Iran's parliament has been reviewing and revising the Islamic penal code to omit stoning as a form of punishment.[23]
In July 2010, the Iranian judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad was quoted as saying "Stoning has been dropped from the penal code for a long time, and in the Islamic republic, we do not see such punishments being carried out", further adding that if stoning sentences were passed by lower courts, they were over-ruled by higher courts and "no such verdicts have been carried out."[26]

A crazy judgment by a lower court is certainly not something unusual even in the U.S.

So what is all the fuzz about if not for simple Iran bashing to prepare the public for war against Iran?


Anonymous Iranian....what "sin" do you refer to? What do you mean when you employ the word "sin" in this manner?

Just curious...if you feel like answering.


b (Bernhard) - your blogging is sorely missed, and needed now more than ever. Any chance that you would restart Moon of Alabama?


God Bless our Constitution and Bill of Rights...

There is plenty of strange and sometimes what we would consider outrageous laws in other Countries. Indonesia is another that comes to mind. Stoning is an outrageous act. But those laws are from another Countries not ours.

While we are appalled by them. We must remember that even once in the United States we were outrageous with some of our laws. It either takes time and/or diplomacy to make change.

Otherwise change will come as soon as the revolution is over.



Thanks a lot. You reminded me how much I miss MofA.


"....the other important point raised by Lysander is that this woman is an accessory to murder. in our fair country of laws she would be eligible for the death penalty as far as I know."

Just to keep the facts straight;
From what I have read this morning (e.g. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1307908/Iran-death-row-woman-Sakineh-Mohammadi-Ashtiani-hanged-stoned.html), this woman was acquitted of the murder charges.

So, whatever further punishment is inflicted on her, it will be for adultry only.

Adam L Silverman


Similar to Brigadier Ali's point is how Judaism has historically dealt with the death penalty, which a close reading of the Torah exists for a number of crimes and these are also sins - they were indistinguishable then. By the second century before the common era the Sanhedrin had essentially made capital punishment impossible by creating a set of sentencing parameters including the payment of a blood price, exile, and other non corporeal punishments. Today this is referred to as "putting a gate/fence around the Law". Morevoer, by this time it was also forbidden for a person to provide evidence and testify against oneself so there could not be even accidental self incrimination. This latter concept was not repeated in the West until the English Common Law acknowledged a right to silence, which was subsequently incorporated into the Bill of Rights - almost a thousand years later.

Additionally, it was this practice, putting a fence around the Law, that was a major cause of contention between the Medinan Jewish community and Prophet Muhammed. He kept accusing them off covering up the law for sexual misconduct, specifically the penalty, and ultimately expelling them as he felt this was undermining the application of the application of the Islamic Law on the same subject. In historical hindsight it is easy to conclude that this is what happens when a community that is highly literate and has been dealing and adapting a living religion for over a thousand years runs smack into one of it's successors; especially one that was proto to semi-literate at it's earliest stages.

As for the comments about Rabbis sanctioning extrajudicial murders, essentially assassinations, this is both well outside the scope of Judaism, let alone their roles and responsibilities in this day and age. I'll try to do a post about how this works and the source material they draw from, as I've tracked it for years - and often the violence has been directed at other ultra-devout Jews they disagree with.

Finally, and in response to Graywolf's remarks, this alleged incident of stoning is just another example of the actual similarities in understanding how the world should work, if not the specific traditions to be followed, of ultra-devout fundamentalists. All the attitudinal data shows is that in the US the more one identifies not only as a fundamentalist Christian (regardless of denomination, though we usually use the term for Protestants) but also one who has high observance (regular church attendance, daily devotional and bible readings, etc), the less discriminating they are, or if resampled they become over time, in regards to different types of crime and what the punishments should be. As such ultra-devout American Christians tend to support exceedingly harsh punishments for even the mildest of offenses. And we shouldn't forget we have a host of very public clergy and other leaders who have repeatedly and publicly made remarks about why doctors or support staff who provide abortions should be killed or deserved to be killed (one of these, the Reverend Paul Hill eventually took his own message to heart and killed a doctor in FL who provided abortion services), how certain cities and their residents deserved to be wiped out by hurricanes because of the behavior of the citizenry (Reverend Robertson and Reverend Falwell), and how the US deserved to be hit on 9-11 because of the behavior of the citizenry (Reverends Falwell and Robertson again, as well as Reverend Hagee). Unfortunately no religion has a monopoly on either leaders or followers that will say and/or do really outrageously bad things in the name of the Deity.

Patrick Lang


I accept the teaching of my church (RC)with regard to capital punishment. We do not accept the necessity of judicial killing. pl


Now that I am thinking about this situation, I am becoming increasingly curious regarding the mindset of Iranian politico/religious authorities.

I can understand the drive to demonstrate national self-determination, but it seems that, again, Iran has gone over the top.

Here they are with a woman, convicted of adultry in some provincial Kangaroo court, already punished by being lashed by the whip and now facing a state sanctioned brutal primitive death while the whole world watches.

What an opportunity to build some positive political capital! Have the mullahs come out and make a statement against this barbarity and release the woman. Such insignificant cost to demonstrate the decency and modernity of Iran.

But no, instead Iran does everything it can to reinforce the most negative perspectives and, ultimately, fears, concerning its ability to be a peaceful member of the global community.

I just don't get it. Maybe Iran really is a dangerous irrational actor?

Adam L Silverman


I understand and your Church is one of the few/only Christian Churches that is coherent on it's position: it's cradle, or pre-cradle, to grave on this stuff.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad