A Blot on Swat
This month the international media received reports of the alleged public flogging of a 17-year-old by extremists in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Swat, a former area of natural beauty and a popular tourist attraction. Sharia (Islamic law) was introduced here in February of this year, to replace secular laws in a truce signed with radicals.
According to local reports, a local militant commander in Matta ordered the flogging after accusing the girl of adultery, although some sources have implied it might also have been as retaliation for her refusal to a marriage proposal. A grainy video soon appeared showing the flogging in the presence of many male spectators. Subsequent to the international outrage and condemnation that the video prompted, doubts were then cast over the whole authenticity of the affair. However the damage was done. Once again Islam was under attack for its ‘repressive’ laws and treatment of women. The fact is that a nuclear state has caved in to the authority of radicals and this ongoing pandering to extremists has opened new avenues of anarchy. It would seem that the Ahle Hadith and Wahhabi mentality can determine how Sharia is to be applied, demonstrating how far the radicals have moved from the core of their teachings.
Whatever the truth of the matter, as to what really happened in Swat, we need to reiterate that Islam advocates family unity and marriage and prescribes various codes to strengthen the lawful relationship between husband and wife. It regards adultery as a serious crime. However, there is no stoning for adultery. In the Holy Qur’an Ch.24:V.3 commands the physical scourging of the adulterer and the adulteress with a hundred stripes. Yet radicals point to dubious traditions that the punishment for a married person as opposed to an unmarried person, is stoning. However, Ch.4: V.26 prescribes the punishment for adultery by a married slave girl to be half the punishment prescribed for a free woman. Since one can-not ‘half stone’ someone to death, it is obvious that those who try to interpret Ch.24:V.3 by trying to distinguish adultery committed by a married person from that by an unmarried person, or in any other manner, are wrong. Stoning was a Judaic punishment and has nothing to do with Islam.
The evidence required for adultery is not heresay or a suspicion of two people having been seen accidently together but four independent eye witnesses and according to the practice of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) evidence of adultery being committed in the public and seeing the physical act was akin to ‘a writing pen in the inkpot’. As for the scourging, there is no Tradition of any male person flogging a woman or the Holy Prophet(saw) or any of his Successors(ra) ever presiding over a woman being flogged amid a company of men.
On the contrary, the Holy Prophet(saw) transformed the Arabs forever from a race who sometimes buried their daughters alive, to a people where the equal rights of women were recognised by Law. A new relationship prescribing kind treatment and never hitting a woman (except in the event of a lewd sexual behaviour) developed. The Holy Prophet(saw) himself never hit any woman.
It is strange that those amongst whom stoning was prescribed should have abandoned it and those for whom it was not prescribed should cling to a so-called marginal note on the Holy Qur’an. It is even stranger that the punishment for fornication as prescribed by a mad bunch of clerics in the name of their faith should become a source of their male entertainment.
Indeed their only attempts at the so-called ‘reformation’ of their society is through the forced observance of the hijab, the confinement of women to the four walls of their homes, and the denial of education for those women. The result is increased media attention and further confirmation that Islam is a backward primitive faith. How tragic when this is the time that Islam, in all its truth and glory, should be in the driving seat of progress and rescuing mankind from the pit of destruction.