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Monday, May 05, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 24, "The Light," verses 1-20

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

Verses 1-10 involve adultery laws; punishment for violations involve lashes. At least that's what the Koran says:

Lashes for adultery? Then why do some Islamic states sentence adulteresses to be stoned to death? Because of a hadith that says that the Qur'an originally mandated stoning for adulterers, but the passage somehow dropped out. Umar, the second successor of Muhammad as caliph, the leader of the believers, explained: "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, ‘We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,' and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed."

Umar didn't want to see that happening, so he lent his own weight to the legitimacy of stoning for adultery: "Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle [that is, Muhammad] carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him."

If anyone wonders how Muslims can get away with this spin, I have one word: abrogation. In this case, the Koran is abrogated by a hadith.

Verses 11-20 and a related hadith explains the origins of the Sharia law concerning sexual crimes. Conviction requires four male witnesses - or, as Spencer points out, self-incrimination:

[I]f a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself. If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery.

Read the whole thing.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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