Was there a verse of stoning in the Quran? Whom did the Prophet Muhammad have stoned?
- Is there a statement meaning “None of you should say that he holds the entire Quran in his hands.”?
1561 - Ibn Abbas (radiyallahu anhuma) narrates:
“I listened to Umar (radiyallahu anh) while he was delivering a sermon. He said: “Allah Almighty sent Muhammad (pbuh) with the truth (true religion) and He sent down the Book to him. Among the verses that were sent down was the verse of stoning! We read and memorized that verse. In addition, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) applied the penalty of stoning to the fornicators, and we applied it after him. I have the following concern: After a certain time, some people might emerge and say: ‘We do not see the penalty of stoning in the Book of Allah.’ Thus, they might go astray by abandoning a fard that Allah revealed in His book. Know it that stoning is a right existing in the Book of Allah that must be applied to muhsan women and men who fornicate if their fornication is confirmed - by evidence, pregnancy or confession. I swear by Allah that if people did not say: ‘Umar made an addition to the book of Allah’, I would write the verse of stoning (in the Book of Allah).” [Bukhari, Hudud 31, 30, Mazalim 19, Manaqibul-Ansar 46, Maghazi 21, I’tisam 16; Muslim, Hudud 15, (1691); Muwatta, Hudud 8, 10, (823, 824); Tirmidhi, Hudud 7, (1431); Abu Dawud, Hudud 23, (4418).]
How should we respond to those people who cannot reconcile imposing the penalty of fornication on those who commit fornication with Islam’s being a religion of mercy and the Prophet’s (pbuh) being a prophet of mercy and compassion?
Submitted by on Tue, 27/09/2022 - 15:56
Dear Brother / Sister,
There is a consensus among Islamic scholars that the Quran has reached us without any change in its words or letters.
Moreover, it has been determined by divine revelation that the number and order of the chapters and verses of the Quran is exactly like in the Mushafs (copies of the Quran) we have. Most of the scholars have adopted this view by taking into account the different hadith narrations; and recent studies have supported it. It is also said that there is no difference of opinion among the scholars that the order of the verses in the current order in the Quran has been determined by divine revelation. (see Suyuti, Itqan, I/76-83)
It can be said that there is unanimous agreement of the whole ummah that the existing order/arrangement of the verses of the Quran in the Mushafs we have has been determined by divine revelation.
As it is known, in every Ramadan, the Prophet (pbuh) recited the verses of the Quran that had been revealed until that day to Jibril (Gabriel) and Jibril recited them to him. That mutual recitation took place twice in the last Ramadan. Some scholars such as Baqillani and Ibn Anbari say that that recitation of the Prophet (pbuh) was according to the current order that we have today and it formed the basis for it. (See Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, IX/42.)
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (al-Hijr, 15/9)
As it is stated in the verse above, the protection of the Quran is directly ensured by Allah’s guardianship and grace.
Despite this fact, some strange narrations are mentioned in the old sources, implying that some verses were not included in the Quran. One of them is the one about the so-called verse of stoning (rajm). There are two forms of narration regarding the issue:
“None of you should say that he holds the entire Quran in his hands. Does he who says so know how much was the whole of the Quran and how was it? It is certain that most of the Quran has disappeared (actually, a lot of it has disappeared).”
It is possible to state the following about the statement above:
- According to a narration, Aisha (r.a.) narrates:
“A verse was sent down about rajm (stoning) and adults’ sucking milk ten times. That verse was written on a sheet under my bedstead. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) died, we were busy with him; meanwhile, an animal (a goat) came and ate it.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 36)
Let us deal with that narration:
Firstly, we do not know for sure whether Aisha (r.a.) and Ibn Umar (r.a.) said it.
Secondly, that issue is in question related to the issue of naskh (abrogation). Therefore, if Aisha and (r.a.) and Ibn Umar (r.a.) said it, they wanted to point out that some verses of the Quran were abrogated. Otherwise, they did not even imagine saying that they were not included when the Quran was brought together because everyone was asked to bring the verses they knew, memorized and wrote on their pages. According to Islamic belief, fulfilling that duty was a necessity of responsibility toward Allah, His Messenger and the caliph. In that case it is unthinkable that Aisha (r.a.) and Ibn Umar (r.a.) or any of the Companions would not have opposed if they had known about such an event and they had had some verses in their memory.
Moreover, those who compiled the Quran were hafizes. In particular, Zayd (r.a.), the head of the committee was a revelation scribe of the Prophet (pbuh), hafiz of the Quran, and a great person who was trusted by Abu Bakr (r.a.) and Umar (r.a.). If such an event had occurred, it would have been inevitable for at least a few more people to know about it to and report it to the committee. Zayd b. Thabit would have known it before anyone else. It is definitely not reasonable to think that the Mushaf, which was accepted unanimously by all the Companions, including all hafizes and owners of written mushafs, is incomplete or includes additional verses.
“Indeed, we have sent down the Quran and we are its guardians.” (al-Hijr, 15/9)
Anyone who believes in the verse above cannot think otherwise. It is also significant that the narration is not included in Kutub as-Sittah except for Ibn Majah - which is the weakest one and the one with the most mistakes among Kutub as-Sittah.
It is indisputable that all the verses that were revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) were recorded in writing by the revelation scribes. Despite this, is it possible to talk about the existence of a verse that no one but Aisha (r.a.) knows? Besides, Aisha (r.a.) was not among the revelation scribes.
Aisha (r.a.) stated the following to express that the Quran was protected in the way as it was sent down to the Prophet (pbuh):
“If the Prophet (pbuh) had hidden something from the Quran, he would have hidden the following verse: Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favor: ‘Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah.’ But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest... (al-Ahzab, 33/37).” (see Ahmad b. Hanbal, VI/266)
Since Aisha clearly expressed her opinion regarding the issue, it is unthinkable that she used an expression that would show the opposite.
During the compilation of the Quran in three periods, Aisha (r.a.) did not say anything about those issues. Although everybody brought the verses of the Quran that they knew and delivered them to the committee, is it conceivable that a reckless person like Aisha (r.a.), who was respected by everyone and who was honored by the Quran, did not give any information about the verses that are said to have disappeared? There is no historical document showing that she said anything regarding the issue.
As Abdurrahman al-Jazari states, the verses of the Quran that have reached us in the most reliable way with the unanimity of the whole ummah, cannot be proved by such non-mutawatir narrations, and such narrations cannot be accepted as part of the Quran (see Jazari, al-Fiqhu alal-Madhahibil-Arba’a, IV/257).
It is impossible for anyone in the committee that was established to collect the Quran, which included both the revelation scribes and hafizes, not to notice such a deficiency. Such a thing is something unbelievable.
Second Example: According to the narration of Muslim from Ibn Abbas (r.a.), Umar (r.a.) said:
“Verily Allah sent Muhammad (pbuh) with the truth and He sent down the Book upon him; and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) applied the penalty of stoning to death and, after him, we also applied it. I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people may forget it and may say: We do not find the penalty of stoning in the Book of Allah, and hence may go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah's Book for married men and women who commit fornication when proof is established by pregnancy, or a confession.” (Muslim, Hudud, 4).
Firstly, there is no expression in the hadith above indicating that something was lost from the Quran. On the contrary, what is emphasized is that there was a verse that was read before about stoning, but that its words were abrogated later and that its decree remained. The concern of Umar (r.a.) was that people might not apply stoning in the future by saying that the decree of the verse above, whose words were abrogated, was abolished or that such a verse did not exist.
The text of the verse of stoning in the narrations differs, which weakens the possibility of the text being a verse.
A person who knows Arabic will see that those texts do not resemble the verses of the Quran at all, apart from the phrases such as “Allah is Alim (Knower), Hakim (Wise)”, which are included in the Quran itself. For the text of the hadith narration (see Ahmad b. Hanbal, V/132,183; Ibn Majah, Hudud, 9; Hakim, al-Mustadrak, IV/359).
The words “sheikh / sheikha” included in the text of the narration mean old man and old woman. According to the meaning of those words, those who are over the age of forty, that is, who are old, whether they are married or not, are punished by being stoned if they commit fornication. Those who are under the age of forty - as they are not considered old - will be punished with only one hundred lashes, whether they are married or not.
It is completely contrary to many sound hadiths and the views accepted by the majority of scholars stating that the penalty of stoning is valid for anyone, whether old or young, who is married (see Jazari, ibid, IV/258-259).
As a matter of fact, according to a narration, while Amr b. As and Zayd b. Thabit were writing the Quran in the form of a Mushaf, the following conversation took place between them:
“I heard such a verse from the Prophet.”
Amr b. As replied:
“Is it possible? Do you not see / is it not what we always know and learn that a fornicator deserves the penalty of lashes if s/he is single - even if s/he is old and s/he deserves the penalty of stoning if s/he is married - even if s/he is young?” (see Ahmad b. Hanbal, V/183; Hakim, IV/360).
Due to such reasons and similar ones, some scholars such as al-Jazari, the famous fiqh scholar clearly expressed their views by stating that “they never doubt that such narrations are not true”. (see Jazari, ibid).
In conclusion, we can say that it is not appropriate to conclude from the narrations reported from Aisha (r.a.) and Umar (r.a.) that some verses from the Quran are missing, and it is not possible to reconcile it with good intentions.
At the most, it can be said that those narrations indicate that there are some verses whose words were abrogated.
We should also state that there are many sound hadiths stating that if married people were proven guilty of adultery, their penalty is stoning. The opinion of the majority of scholars is like that. All madhhabs, including Shia, who judge on the basis of those hadiths, are in unanimous agreement on the issue.
NOTE: We advise you to read the following explanations too:
Ibn Abbas (radiyallahu anhuma) narrates:
“I listened to Umar (radiyallahu anh) while he was delivering a sermon. He said:
“Allah Almighty sent Muhammad (pbuh) with the truth (true religion) and He sent down the Book to him. Among the verses that were sent down was the verse of stoning! We read and memorized that verse. In addition, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) applied the penalty of stoning to the fornicators, and we applied it after him. I have the following concern: After a certain time, some people might emerge and say: ‘We do not see the penalty of stoning in the Book of Allah.’ Thus, they might go astray by abandoning a fard that Allah revealed in His book.
Know it that stoning is a right existing in the Book of Allah that must be applied to muhsan women and men who fornicate if their fornication is confirmed - by evidence, pregnancy or confession. I swear by Allah that if people did not say: ‘Umar made an addition to the book of Allah’, I would write the verse of stoning (in the Book of Allah).” [Bukhari, Hudud 31, 30, Mazalim 19, Manaqibul-Ansar 46, Maghazi 21, I’tisam 16; Muslim, Hudud 15, (1691); Muwatta, Hudud 8, 10, (823, 824); Tirmidhi, Hudud 7, (1431); Abu Dawud, Hudud 23, (4418).]
1. The hadith above was narrated in different aspects in hadith sources. A narration in Muwatta is clearer:
“When Umar (radiyallahu anh) completed hajj, he came to Madinah. He addressed the people there as follows:
“O people! Some sunnahs and fards have been introduced for you. A very clear religion has been left for you. Do not put yourselves in danger regarding the verse of rajm. One of you might say, “We cannot find two hadd penalties in Allah’s book (What is meant by two hadd penalties are jalda and rajm. Jalda is mentioned in the Quran but rajm is not mentioned. Jalda is the penalty of beating applied to unmarried fornicators.) Both the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and we definitely applied rajm. I swear by Allah, who holds my soul in His hand of power, that if people did not say: ‘Umar made an addition to the book of Allah’, I would write this verse (at the end of the Quran) with my own hands: اَلشّيخُ وَالشِيْخَةُ إِذَا زَنَيَا فَارْجُمُو هُمَا اَلْبَتَةَ “If an old man and an old woman commit fornication, make sure to stone them.”
Imam Malik explains the terms old man and old woman used here as “widower” and “widow”. The additions in parentheses were been taken from other narrations and included.
In the narration recorded from Ubayy Ibn Ka’b in Nasai, it is stated that the verse of stoning was in the chapter of al-Ahzab.
2. One of the issues related to abrogation is the existence of verses whose recitation was abrogated and whose decree remains. The verse of stoning is one of them.
3. Ibn Hajar states the following: “What Umar (r.a.) feared happened because the majority of the Kharijites and some Mutazila denied stoning.”
4. The penalty of stoning was applied by the Prophet (pbuh) to Maiz Ibn Malik al-Aslami (radiyallahu anh), who was a man. Maiz himself came to the Prophet (pbuh) and confessed that he had committed fornication. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) rejected him three times. When Maiz applied for the fourth time and declared that he had committed fornication, the Prophet (pbuh) asked his relatives: “Was there anything wrong with his mind?” When he received the answer, “No”, he ordered Maiz to be stoned, and he was stoned.
As a woman, Ghamidiyya (radiyallahu anha) was stoned. She came to the Prophet and confessed by saying, “O Messenger of Allah! Purify me.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent her away by saying to her: “Go!” However, she came back the next day and stated that she was pregnant. The Messenger of Allah told her to give birth to her child. When she came after giving birth, he gave her a respite until she stopped breastfeeding”. When she came back after she stopped breastfeeding, he ordered her to be stoned.
In the narration about Ghamidiyya, it is stated that when blood splashed on the face of Khalid Ibn Walid (radiyallahu anh) from the wound inflicted on the woman by the stone that he threw, Khalid cursed the woman. However, The Prophet intervened and said,
“Do not curse! I swear by Allah Almighty, who holds my soul in His hand, that she repented so much that if fraudulent merchants did so, they would be forgiven.”
He led the woman’s janazah prayer and she was buried.
Similarly, upon the application of the Jews, the Prophet (pbuh) also applied stoning to a Jewish couple who committed fornication.
5. Those who explain hadiths interpret Umar’s (radiyallahu anh) statement, “If people did not say: ‘Umar made an addition to the book of Allah’, I would write the verse of stoning at the end of the Quran” as an exaggeration and encouragement to apply stoning. They say, ‘Even if the words of the verse were abrogated, its meaning is everlasting. It is unthinkable for a person like Umar, whose fiqh and knowledge are supreme, to attempt to write a verse whose words were abrogated in the Quran.”
The Quran was brought together in the presence of the Companions with its present form without any dispute. There is consensus that the words of the verse of rajm will not be included in the Quran. It is an issue known by the Companions that some of the divine revelation that came to the Messenger of Allah was abrogated in terms of words, some in terms of decree, and some of them in terms of both words and decree. There are narrations explaining it and scholars have evaluated them. In the previous chapters, we stated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) recited the verses that had been sent down until that time first to Jibril and then to the people;
by reciting them to Jibril, he corrected his mistakes if any and by reciting them to the people, he corrected their mistakes and that the verses whose words were abrogated were removed from the Quran during those recitations. In the last Ramadan of his life, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made that recitation twice. This is called arda al-akhira.
6. If the woman and man who fornicated are muhsan, they are stoned. Fornication is confirmed by confession or evidence.
Confession: A person comes to the judge and declares that s/he has committed fornication.
Evidence: It is the witnessing of fornication by four men or eight women whose witnessing is acceptable. If the number of witnesses is below this figure, the crime of fornication will not be confirmed. Scholars agree on those issues. However, there are some disagreements such as the number of confessions and the qualifications of the witnesses. For example, Hanafis and Hanbalis lay it as a condition that confession should take place in four separate places or times. According to Imam Malik and Shafii, it is enough for a person to confess only once that he has committed fornication; the crime is proven in that case.
7. Is pregnancy regarded as evidence for fornication? This issue is controversial. According to Umar (radiyallahu anh), pregnancy is regarded as evidence for fornication and brings about stoning. Imam Malik and his companions are of the same opinion: “If a woman whose husband or master is unknown becomes pregnant and it is not known that she has been compelled to commit fornication, stoning becomes necessary for her. They say, “However, if she is a stranger and says that the child is from her husband or master, her statement is accepted.”
According to Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafii and the majority of scholars, pregnancy is not regarded as absolute evidence for fornication. In this regard, the decree is the same whether the woman has a husband/master or not, she is an inhabitant of that place or a stranger, she has said that she has been compelled to commit fornication or not. She cannot be stoned unless there is definite evidence or she confesses because religious penalties are removed if there is doubt and become invalid.
Traits such as compassion and mercy must not deviate from the way of the compassion and mercy of Allah and His Messenger to be good. Otherwise, those beautiful qualities will assume a bad form.
Showing more mercy than Allah’s mercy means falling into the trap of a corrupt mercy that has lost its original character. For example, it is obvious how inappropriate the attitude of an animal lover is when he is offended by the killing of a wolf that killed a hundred sheep. It is clear that the attitude of a humanist who does not approve of the death penalty / retaliation deserved by a monster in the form of a human who killed dozens of people is too cruel in terms of humanity.
Can we say that a person who makes an effort to mitigate the punishment of the thieves who ran away with all the wealth of a person by forcibly robbing a jeweler’s shop, which he earned by working hard for years, shows the right compassion? We can give dozens of other examples…
All this shows that the quality of compassion, like every criterion, that deviates from the line shown by Almighty Allah, who is the owner of infinite knowledge, wisdom, justice, compassion and mercy, and the Prophet, who was sent as a mercy to the worlds, will emerge as a blind bigotry that has gone astray.
A person denies the eternal manifestations of Allah’s names, regards more than a hundred divine books and pages as fabricated, accuses 124,000 prophets of lying, ignores all the signs of the universe that prove the existence and unity of Allah and the existence of the hereafter with thousands of signs and violates millions of rights and laws by being a cruel denier. Can we say that the emotional approach of somebody who cannot accept that person’s entering into hell in the name of compassion is appropriate?
Allah knows that people can misuse their compassion; therefore, He attracts attention to that issue in particular in the Quran:
“Strike each of the adulterous men and women with a hundred lashes. If you believe in Allah and the Hereafter, do not let the feeling of pity affect you and prevent you from applying Allah’s decree. (an-Nur, 24/2)
Our duty is to read the verse above again and again and to surrender to the justice, wisdom, mercy and compassion of Allah and His Messenger.
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