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old woman commit adultery stone them." The Apostle did stone and we followed his example.'

Certainly the words, 'the Apostle did stone and we followed his example' are evidence that stoning was a sunnat order, or a sentence passed by sacred law on adulterers and adulteresses.

2. In his commentary on Suratu'n-Nur (xxiv), ar-Razi quotes a tradition from 'Ibado to the effect that Muhammad gave a tradition which (1) confirmed the sunnat law of stoning. For he said: 'Take it from me. God has opened a way for them. If a virgin commits adultery she is to be punished (and so her accomplice too) by a hundred lashes and one year's banishment. In the case of the married it is to be a hundred lashes and stoning.'

3. A man once accused his wife to Muhammad, saying that she was an adulteress. The Prophet, turning to one of his men around said 'Go to this woman, and if she confesses, stone her.'

4. All commentators are agreed (and their agreement—ijma'—is a sunnat) that the sanity and maturity of the criminal are necessary conditions for prosecuting him. Thus neither a minor nor a maniac can be prosecuted for adultery.

5. Ash-Shafi'i and Abu Yusuf claim that Islam 1 is not a necessary condition for stoning. The former quotes a tradition from ibn 'Umar that the Prophet stoned a Jew and a Jewess who committed adultery.

1 i.e. that the offender need not necessarily be a Muslim.

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.

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