6. Imam Abu Hanifa quotes another tradition from Barida el Aslami saying: 'We (the
Companions) said to each other, "Had not Ma'iz confessed four times the Prophet would
not have stoned him".'
7, 8. The Imams Ash-Shafi'i and Malik claim that the Imam is free to attend or not to
attend the stoning of the adulterer. Witnesses are also at liberty to do so.
9. Abu Hanifa says that if adultery is established by evidence, the witnesses must
first commence stoning, to be followed by the Imam, then by the whole spectators. But if
it is established by the confession of the criminal, the Imam must first commence stoning,
then the spectators. Abu Hanifa's reason for this is that the Prophet ordered Ma'iz and
al-Ghamidah to be stoned, but he himself was not present.
The foregoing, however, is only a small portion of the evidence which proves that the
sunnat, the ijma' (agreement of the Companions) and the Imams consider stoning an
indisputable sentence that should be passed on the adulterer and the adulteress. Where,
then, is the verse confirming such a sentence? If Muhammad really wished (as it is said)
to lighten the verse of stoning, it would have been much more to the point surely to
abrogate its effect and preserve its text, for then the coming generations would see how
mercifully God had treated them by abrogating so terrible a sentence.