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For rock throwing in general, see Criminal rock throwing. For the method of metalworking, see Stoning (metalworking). For other uses, see Stoning (disambiguation).
"Lapidation" redirects here. For the album by Anthony Coleman, see Lapidation (album).
Saint Stephen, first martyr of Christianity, painted in 1506 by Marx Reichlich (1460-1520)
(Pinakothek of Munich)

Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until he or she dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject. This is in contrast to the case of a judicial executioner. Slower than other forms of execution, stoning within the context of Modernism or contemporary Western Culture, is considered a form of execution by torture.

Stoning is called Rajm (Arabic: رجم) in Islamic literature, and a practice found in United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Northern Nigeria, Aceh in Indonesia, Brunei, and parts of Pakistan.[1][2][3] In some countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, stoning has been declared illegal by the government, but it is practiced extrajudicially.[2] In several others, people have been sentenced to death by stoning, but the sentence has not been carried out. In modern times, allegations of stoning are politically sensitive, as in case of Iran, which describes such allegations as political propaganda.[4]

Practices and methods[edit]

The methods for carrying out stoning may vary across different histories and cultures.

For example, the 2008 version of Islamic Penal Code of Iran detailed how stoning punishments are to be carried out for adultery, and even hints in some contexts that the punishment may allow for its victims to avoid death:[5]

Article 102 – An adulterous man shall be buried in a ditch up to near his waist and an adulterous woman up to near her chest and then stoned to death.

Article 103 – In case the person sentenced to stoning escapes the ditch in which they are buried, then if the adultery is proven by testimony then they will be returned for the punishment but if it is proven by their own confession then they will not be returned.[5]</

Article 104 – The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.[5]

Depending upon the details of the case, the stoning may be initiated by the judge overseeing the matter or by one of the original witnesses to the adultery.[5] Certain religious procedures may also need to be followed both before and after the implementation of a stoning execution, such as wrapping the person being stoned in traditional burial dress before the procedure.[6]

The above 2008 version method of stoning was similar to 1999 version of recommended practice for stoning in Iran's penal code.[7] Iran revised its penal code. The new code does not include the above passages, but includes stoning as a hadd punishment.[8] For example, Book I, Part III, Chapter 5, Article 132 of the new Islamic Penal Code (IPC) of 2013 in the Islamic Republic of Iran states, "If a man and a woman commit zina together more than one time, if the death penalty and flogging or stoning and flogging are imposed, only the death penalty or stoning, whichever is applicable, shall be executed".[9] Book 2, Part II, Chapter 1, Article 225 of the Iran's IPC released in 2013 states, "the hadd punishment for zina of a man and a woman who meet the conditions of ihsan shall be stoning to death".[9][10]

In history[edit]

An Aztec adulterer being stoned to death; Florentine Codex

Stoning is an ancient form of capital punishment. There are historical reports of stoning from Ancient Greece — Herodotus reports the case of Lycidas in his Histories, Book IX. Stoning is also mentioned in Ancient Greek mythology — Oedipus asks to be stoned to death when he learns that he killed his father.

In Judaism[edit]


The Jewish Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) serves as a common religious reference for Judaism. Stoning is the method of execution mentioned frequently in the Torah. (Murder is not mentioned as an offense punishable by stoning, but it seems that a member of the victim's family was allowed to kill the murderer – see Avenger of blood.) The crimes punishable by stoning were the following:

Describing the stoning of apostates from Judaism, the Torah states:

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

— Deuteronomy 13:6–10[11]

A conspicuous concrete case noted in the Bible was that of Achan, stoned to death together with his sheep, other livestock and his children for having pillaged valuables from Jericho during Joshua's Conquest of Canaan. The inclusion of the children in the punishment was troubling to later Jewish commentators, who wrote much about the case.


The Talmud describes four methods of execution – stoning, pouring molten lead down the throat of the condemned person, beheading, and strangulation (see Capital and corporal punishment in Judaism). The Mishna gives the following list of persons who should be stoned.[12][13]

"To the following sinners stoning applies – אלו הן הנסקלין

  • one who has had relations with his mother – הבא על האם
  • with his father's wife – ועל אשת האב
  • with his daughter-in-law – ועל הכלה
  • a human male with a human male – ועל הזכור
  • or with cattle – ועל הבהמה
  • and the same is the case with a woman who uncovers herself before cattle – והאשה המביאה את הבהמה
  • with a blasphemer – והמגדף
  • an idolater – והעובד עבודת כוכבים
  • he who sacrifices one of his children to Molech – והנותן מזרעו למולך
  • one that occupies himself with familiar spirits – ובעל אוב
  • a wizard – וידעוני
  • one who violates Sabbath – והמחלל את השבת
  • one who curses his father or mother – והמקלל אביו ואמו
  • one who has assaulted a betrothed damsel – והבא על נערה המאורסה
  • a seducer who has seduced men to worship idols – והמסית
  • and the one who misleads a whole town – והמדיח
  • a witch (male or female) – והמכשף
  • a stubborn and rebellious son – ובן סורר ומורה"

As God alone was deemed to be the only arbiter in the use of capital punishment, not fallible people, the Sanhedrin made stoning a hypothetical upper limit on the severity of punishment.[14]

Prior to early Christianity, particularly in the Mishnah, doubts were growing in Jewish society about the effectiveness of capital punishment in general (and stoning in particular) in acting as a useful deterrent. Subsequently its use was dissuaded by the central legislators. The Mishnah states:

A Sanhedrin that puts a man to death once in seven years is called destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says that this extends to a Sanhedrin that puts a man to death even once in seventy years. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon say: Had we been in the Sanhedrin none would ever have been put to death. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: they would have multiplied shedders of blood in Israel.[15]

In the following centuries the leading Jewish sages imposed so many restrictions on the implementation of capital punishment as to make it de facto illegal. The restrictions were to prevent execution of the innocent, and included many conditions for a testimony to be admissible that were difficult to fulfill.

Philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."[16] He was concerned that the law guard its public perception, to preserve its majesty and retain the people's respect. He saw errors of commission as much more threatening to the integrity of law than errors of omission.[17]

Mode of Judgment[edit]

In rabbinic law, capital punishment may only be inflicted by the verdict of a regularly constituted court of twenty-three qualified members. There must be the most trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two qualified eyewitnesses to the crime, who must also depose that the culprit had been forewarned of the criminality and the consequences of his project.[13] The culprit must be a person of legal age and of sound mind, and the crime must be proved to have been committed of the culprit's free will and without the aid of others.

On the day the verdict is pronounced, the convict is led forth to execution. The Torah law (Leviticus 19:18) prescribes, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; and the Rabbis maintain that this love must be extended beyond the limits of social intercourse in life, and applied even to the convicted criminal who, "though a sinner, is still thy brother" (Mak. 3:15; Sanh. 44a): "The spirit of love must be manifested by according him a decent death" (Sanh. 45a, 52a). Torah law provides (Deut. 24:16), "The parents shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the parents; every man shall be put to death for his own sins", and rabbinic jurisprudence follows this principle both to the letter and in spirit. A sentence is not attended by confiscation of the convict's goods; the person's possessions descend to their legal heirs.

The Talmud limits the use of the death penalty to Jewish criminals who:

  • (A) while about to do the crime were warned not to commit the crime while in the presence of two witnesses (and only individuals who meet a strict list of standards are considered acceptable witnesses); and
  • (B) having been warned, committed the crime in front of the same two witnesses.[18]

In theory, the Talmudic method of how stoning is to be carried out differs from mob stoning. According to the Jewish Oral Law, after the Jewish criminal has been determined as guilty before the Great Sanhedrin, the two valid witnesses and the sentenced criminal go to the edge of a two story building. From there the two witnesses are to push the criminal off the roof of a two story building. The two-story height is chosen as this height is estimated by the Talmud to effect a quick and painless demise but is not so high that the body will become dismembered. After the criminal has fallen, the two witnesses are to drop a large boulder onto the criminal – requiring both of the witnesses to lift the boulder together. If the criminal did not die from the fall or from the crushing of the large boulder, then any people in the surrounding area are to quickly cause him to die by stoning with whatever rocks they can find.

In Islam[edit]

Further information: Namus, Rajm, Quran and Hadith

Islamic Sharia Law is based on the Quran and the hadith as primary sources. Stoning in the Sunna mainly follows on the Jewish stoning rules of the Torah. A few refer to Muhammad ordering stoning of a married Jewish man and married woman committing an illegal sexual intercourse after Torah.[19] In few others, a Bedouin man is lashed, while a woman stoned to death, for having sex outside marriage.[20]

The Qur'an forbids all sexual intercourse outside the marital bond between a man and a woman as sinful, but makes no distinction between illegal sex outside marriage and illegal sex between unmarried man and woman. Quran in verse 24:2 declares the punishment for consensual but illegal sex as flogging a 100 times, but makes no mention of stoning.[21] Some modern Muslim scholars suggest that stoning to death should not be part of Sharia, because only Quran should be the basis of sharia, and hadiths should not be considered as source of sharia. The vast majority of Muslims and most Islamic scholars, however, consider hadiths, which describe the words, conduct and example set by Muhammad during his life, as a source of law and religious authority second only to the Quran. They consider sahih hadiths to be a valid source of Sharia, justifying their belief on Quranic verse 33.21,[22] and other verses.[23][24][25]


Stoning is described as punishment in multiple sahih hadiths.[26][27][28] Shia and Sunni hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters and the Imamah. Shi'a sayings related to stoning can be found in Kitab al-Kafi,[29] and Sunni sayings related to stoning can be found in the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.[30] Based on these hadiths, in some Muslim countries, married adulterers are sentenced to death, while consensual sex between unmarried people is sentenced with flogging a 100 times.

Crimes in the Qur'an are divided into three categories based on the prescribed punishment for the offence. The first category is Hudud, which is considered a religious crime against God and the punishment is execution. Zina is one of the Hudud crimes, stated to deserve the stoning punishment.[31][32] Zina includes extramarital sex, premarital sex and homosexuality.[32][33][34]

hadiths describe stoning as punishment under sharia.[27][28][35] In others stoning is prescribed as punishment for illegal sex between man and woman,[36] illegal sex by a slave girl, as well as anyone involved in any homosexual relations.[27][37] In some sunnah, the method of stoning, by first digging a pit and partly burying the person's lower half in it, is described.[38][39]

Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani: A bedouin came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge My case according to Allah's Laws." His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, "Yes, judge between us according to Allah's Laws, and allow me to speak." Allah's Apostle said, "Speak." He (i .e. the bedouin or the other man) said, "My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death." Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah's Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death." Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah's Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death.
Narrated Ash-Shaibani: I asked 'Abdullah bin Abi 'Aufa about the Rajam (stoning somebody to death for committing illegal sexual intercourse). He replied, "The Prophet carried out the penalty of Rajam," I asked, "Was that before or after the revelation of Surat-an-Nur?" He replied, "I do not know."
Aisha reported: Abd b. Zam'a said Messenger of Allah, he is my brother as he was born on the bed of my father from his slave-girl. Allah's Messenger looked at his resemblance and found a clear resemblance with 'Utba. (But) he said: He is yours 'Abd (b. Zam'a), for the child is to be attributed to one on whose bed it is born, and stoning for a fornicator.

Legal commentary in fiqhs[edit]

According to some traditionalist middle-age jurists like the Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudamah, "Muslim jurists are unanimous on the fact that stoning to death is a specified punishment for the married adulterer and adulteress. The punishment is recorded in number of traditions and the practice of Muhammad stands as an authentic source supporting it. This is the view held by all Companions, Successors and other Muslim scholars with the exception of Kharijites."[40]

Maliki school of jurisprudence (fiqh) holds that stoning is the required punishment for illegal sex by a married person, as well as for any form of homosexual relations.[27] In Al-Muwatta, the 8th century Sunni Islamic scholar Malik ibn Anas states that pregnancy in a free Muslim woman is one form of sufficient proof of adultery and she must be stoned to death.[41][42]

All Sunni fiqhs, as well as Volume 7 of the Shi'ite hadith, The Book of Legal Penalties in Kitab al-Kafi, declare stoning as the required punishment for sex that is not allowed under Sharia.[43]

Usage today[edit]

As of September 2010, stoning is a punishment that is included in the laws in some countries including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and some predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria as punishment for Zina ("adultery by married persons").[44][45][46]

A map showing countries where public stoning is a judicial or extrajudicial form of punishment, as of 2013.[1]


Stoning is illegal in Afghanistan but is sometimes carried out by tribal leaders[47][48][2][49] and Taliban insurgents extrajudicially in certain parts of the country.[50][48][49][51] Before the Taliban government, most areas of Afghanistan, aside from the capital, Kabul, were controlled by warlords or tribal leaders. The Afghan legal system depended highly on an individual community's local culture and the political or religious ideology of its leaders. Stoning also occurred in lawless areas, where vigilantes committed the act for political purposes. Once the Taliban took over, it became a form of punishment for certain serious crimes or adultery. After the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration re-enforced the 1976 penal code which made no provision for the use of stoning as a punishment. In 2013, the Ministry of Justice proposed public stoning as punishment for adultery.[52] However, the government had to back down from the proposal after it was leaked and triggered international outcry.[49] While stoning is officially banned in Afghanistan, it has continued to be reported occasionally as a crime.[53][54][55][50]


In October 2013, the Sultan of Brunei announced that stoning, along with flogging and amputations, would be added to the country's laws in accordance with Sharia Law.[56]


On 14 September 2009, the outgoing Aceh Legislative Council passed a bylaw that called for the stoning of married adulterers.[57] However, then governor Irwandi Yusuf refused to sign the bylaw, thereby keeping it a law without legal force and, in some views, therefore still a law draft, rather than actual law.[58] In March 2013, the Aceh government removed the stoning provision from its own draft of a new criminal code.[59]


Further information: Capital punishment in Iran

The Iranian judiciary officially placed a moratorium on stoning in 2002; however, in 2007, the Iranian judiciary confirmed that a man who had been convicted of adultery 10 years earlier, was stoned to death in Qazvin province.[60] In 2008, the judiciary tried to eliminate the punishment from the books in legislation submitted to parliament for approval.[61] In 2009, two people were stoned to death in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province as punishment for the crime of adultery.[62] In early 2013, a spokesman for judicial committee of Iran's parliament stated that stoning is no longer mentioned in Iran's legislation, but that punishment will remain the same as it is Islamic law. He questioned Western enmity against Iran, and termed the campaign to remove Rajm as noise against the implementation of Islamic law in Iran.[63] Legal scholars[8] concur that while certain stoning-related passages have been removed from Iran's new penal code, other passages in the new code refer to stoning, and stoning remains as a possible form of punishment under the new Iranian penal code.

Amnesty International has documented 76 cases of lethal stoning between 1980-1989 in Iran, while the International Committee Against Execution (ICAE) has reported that 74 others were stoned to death in Iran between 1990-2009.[64]


Du'a Khalil Aswad was stoned to death in Iraq

In 2007, Du'a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi girl, was stoned by her fellow tribesmen in northern Iraq for dating a Muslim boy.[65]

In 2012 at least 14 youths were stoned to death in Baghdad, apparently as part of a Shi'ite militant campaign against Western-style "emo" fashion.[66]

An Iraqi man was stoned to death, in August 2014, in the northern city of Mosul after one Sunni Islamic court sentenced him to die for the crime of adultery.[67]


Since the Sharia legal system was introduced in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria in 2000, more than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences ranging from adultery to homosexuality. However, none of these sentences has actually been carried out. They have either been thrown out on appeal or commuted to prison terms as a result of pressure from human rights groups.[68][69][70]


As part of Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization measures, stoning to death (Rajm) at a public place was introduced into law via the 1979 Hudood Ordinances as punishment for adultery (zina) and rape (zina-bil-jabr) when committed by a married person.[71] However, stoning has never been officially utilized since the law came into effect and all judicial executions occur by hanging.[72] The first conviction and sentence of stoning (of Fehmida and Allah-Bakhsh) in September 1981 was overturned under national and international pressure. A conviction for adultery of Safia Bibi, a 13-year-old blind girl, who alleged rape by her employer and his son, was reversed and the conviction was set aside on appeal after bitter public criticism. Another conviction for adultery and sentence of stoning (of Shahida Parveen and Muhammad Sarwar) in early 1988 sparked outrage and led to a retrial and acquittal by the Federal Sharia Court. In this case the trial court took the view that notice of divorce by Shahida's former husband, Khushi Muhammad, should have been given to the Chairman of the local council, as stipulated under Section-7(3) of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961. This section states that any man who divorces his wife must register it with the Union Council. Otherwise, the court concluded that the divorce stood invalidated and the couple became liable to conviction under the Adultery ordinance. In 2006, the ordinances providing for stoning in the case of adultery or rape were legislatively demoted from overriding status.[73]

Extrajudicial stonings in Pakistan have been known to happen in recent times. In March 2013, Pakistani soldier Anwar Din, stationed in Parachinar, was publicly stoned to death for allegedly having a love affair with a girl from a village in the country's north western Kurram Agency.[74] On 11 July 2013, Arifa Bibi, a young mother of two, was sentenced by a tribal court in Dera Ghazi Khan District, in Punjab, to be stoned to death for possessing a cell phone. Members of her family were ordered to execute her sentence and her body was buried in the desert far away from her village.[75][76]

In February 2014, a couple in a remote area of Baluchistan province was stoned to death after being accused of an adulterous relationship.[77] On 27 May 2014, Farzana Parveen, a 25-year-old married woman who was three months pregnant, was killed by being attacked with batons and bricks by nearly 20 members of her family outside the high court of Lahore in front of "a crowd of onlookers" according to a statement by a police investigator. The assailants, who allegedly included her father and brothers, attacked Farzana and her husband Mohammad Iqbal with batons and bricks. Her father Mohammad Azeem, who was arrested for murder, reportedly called the murder an "honor killing" and said "I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent." [78] The man whose second wife Farzana had become, Iqbal, told a news agency that he had strangled his previous wife in order to marry Farzana, and police said that he had been released for killing his first wife because a "compromise" had been reached with his family.[79]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Legal stoning sentences have been reported in Saudi Arabia.[80][81]


In May 2012, a Sudanese court convicted Intisar Sharif Abdallah of adultery and sentenced her to death; the charges were appealed and dropped two months later.[82] In July 2012, a criminal court in Khartoum, Sudan, sentenced 23-year-old Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul to death by stoning for adultery.[83] Amnesty International reported that she was denied legal counsel during the trial and was convicted only on the basis of her confession. The organization designated her a prisoner of conscience, "held in detention solely for consensual sexual relations", and lobbied for her release.[82]


In October 2008, a girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was buried up to her neck at a Somalian football stadium, then stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. The stoning occurred after she had allegedly pleaded guilty to adultery in a sharia court in Kismayo, a city controlled by Islamist insurgents. According to the insurgents she had stated that she wanted sharia law to apply.[84] However, other sources state that the victim had been crying, that she begged for mercy and had to be forced into the hole before being buried up to her neck in the ground.[85] Amnesty International later learned that the girl was in fact 13 years old and had been arrested by al-Shabab militia after she had reported being gang-raped by three men.[86]

In December 2009, another instance of stoning was publicised after Mohamed Abukar Ibrahim was accused of adultery by the Hizbul Islam militant group.[87]

In September 2014, Somali al Shabaab militants stoned a woman to death, after she was declared guilty of adultery by an informal court.[88]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

Stoning is a legal form of judicial punishment in UAE. In 2006, an expatriate was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery.[89] Between 2009 and 2013, several people were sentenced to death by stoning.[90][91][92] In May 2014, an Asian housemaid was sentenced to death by stoning in Abu Dhabi.[93][94][95]


Several adultery executions by stoning committed by IS have been reported in the autumn of 2014.[96][97][98] The Islamic State's magazine, Dabiq, documented the stoning of a woman in Raqqa as a punishment for adultery.[99]

In October 2014, IS released a video appearing to show a Syrian man stone his daughter to death for alleged adultery.[98][100]


Support for stoning[edit]

Among Christians[edit]

The late American Calvinist and Christian Reconstructionist cleric Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, his son Mark and his son-in-law Gary North, supported the reinstatement of the Mosaic law's penal sanctions. Under such a system, the list of civil crimes which carried a death sentence by stoning would include homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one's virginity, bestiality, witchcraft, idolatry or apostasy, public blasphemy, false prophesying, kidnapping, rape, and bearing false witness in a capital case.[101][102][103][104]

Among Muslims[edit]

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found varying support in the global Muslim population for stoning as a punishment for adultery (sex between people where at least one person is married; when both participants are unmarried they get 100 lashes). Highest support for stoning is found in Muslims of the Middle East-North Africa region and South-Asian countries while generally less support is found in Muslims living in the Mediterranean and Central Asian countries. Support is consistently higher in Muslims who want Sharia to be the law of the land than in Muslims who do not want Sharia.[105] Support for stoning in various countries is as follows:

South Asia:

Pakistan (86% in all Muslims, 89% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Afghanistan (84% in all Muslims, 85% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bangladesh (54% in all Muslims, 55% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[105][106]

Middle East-North Africa:

Palestinian territories (81% in all Muslims, 84% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Egypt (80% in all Muslims, 81% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Jordan (65% in all Muslims, 67% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Iraq (57% in all Muslims, 58% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[105][106]

Southeast Asia:

Malaysia (54% in all Muslims, 60% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Indonesia (42% in all Muslims, 48% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Thailand (44% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[105][106]

Sub-Saharan Africa:

Niger (70% in all Muslims), Djibouti (67%), Mali (58%), Senegal (58%), Guinea Bissau (54%), Tanzania (45%), Ghana (42%), DR Congo (39%), Cameroon (36%), Nigeria (33%)[105][106]

Central Asia:

Kyrgyzstan (26% in all Muslims, 39% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Tajikistan (25% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Azerbaijan (16%), Turkey (9% in all Muslims, 29% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[105][106]

Southern and Eastern Europe:

Russia (13% in all Muslims, 26% in Muslims who say sharia should be the law of the land), Kosovo (9% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Albania (6% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bosnia (6% in all Muslims, 21% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[105][106]

Places where substantial numbers of Muslims did not answer the survey's question or are undecided about whether they support stoning for adultery include Malaysia (19% of all Muslims), Kosovo (18%), Iraq (14%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%) and Tajikistan (10%).[106]

Groups against stoning[edit]

Stoning has been condemned by several human rights organizations. Some groups, such as Amnesty International[107] and Human Rights Watch, oppose all capital punishment, including stoning. Other groups, such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), or the International Committee against Stoning (ICAS), oppose stoning per se as an especially cruel practice.

Specific sentences of stoning, such as the Amina Lawal case, have often generated international protest. Groups such as Human Rights Watch,[108] while in sympathy with these protests, have raised a concern that the Western focus on stoning as an especially "exotic" or "barbaric" act distracts from what they view as the larger problems of capital punishment. They argue that the "more fundamental human rights issue in Nigeria is the dysfunctional justice system."

In Iran, the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign was formed by various women's rights activists after a man and a woman were stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006. The campaign's main goal is to legally abolish stoning as a form of punishment for adultery in Iran.[109]

Human rights[edit]

Stoning is condemned by human rights groups as a form of cruel and unusual punishment and torture, and a serious violation of human rights.[110][111]

Women's rights[edit]

Stoning has been condemned as a violation of women's rights and a form of discrimination against women. Although stoning is also applied to men, the vast majority of the victims are reported to be women.[112][113][dead link][114] According to the international group Women Living Under Muslim Laws stoning "is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms."[115]

Amnesty International has argued that the reasons for which women suffer disproportionately from stoning include the fact that women are not treated equally and fairly by the courts; the fact that, being more likely to be illiterate than men, women are more likely to sign confessions to crimes which they did not commit; and the fact that general discrimination against women in other life aspects leaves them at higher risk of convictions for adultery.[116]

LGBT rights[edit]

Stoning also targets homosexuals and others who have same-sex relations in certain jurisdictions. In Mauritania,[117] Northern Nigeria,[118] Somalia[117] and Yemen,[117] the legal punishment for sodomy is death by stoning.

Right to private life[edit]

Human rights organizations argue that many acts targeted by stoning should not be illegal in the first place, as outlawing them interferes with people's right to a private life. Amnesty International said that stoning deals with "acts which should never be criminalized in the first place, including consensual sexual relations between adults, and choosing one’s religion".[110]

Cases of stoning or attempts at stoning[edit]

The stoning of Saint Stephen (1863) by Gabriel-Jules Thomas

People stoned in religious texts[edit]

In the Tanakh (Old Testament):

In the New Testament:

In the Talmud

People who were almost stoned in religious texts[edit]

In the Tanakh and Old Testament:

In the New Testament:

Historical cases not mentioned above[edit]


  • Soraya Manutchehri, 1986, stoned to death in Iran after unconfirmed accusations of adultery
  • Mahboubeh M. and Abbas H., at Behest-e Zahra cemetery, southern Teheran, Iran, 2006. The public was not invited to the stoning, and the incident was not reported to the media. However it was spread by word of mouth to a journalist and women's rights activist. The activist gathered information and further exposed the happening to the world. In response to this, several women's rights activists, lawyers and members of the Networks of Volunteers went on to form the Stop Stoning Forever campaign to stop stoning in Iran.
  • Du’a Khalil Aswad, 2007, a 17-year-old stoned to death in Iraq
  • Jafar Kiani, in Agche – kand, a small village near Takestan, Iran, 2007.
  • Sara Jaffar Nimat, aged 11, in the town of Khanaqin, Iraqi Kurdistan, 2007. She had been hit by bricks and stones, and burnt.
  • Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, aged 13 in Kismayo, Somalia, 2008.
  • Kurdistan Aziz, aged 16, Iraqi Kurdistan, 2008. She had been stoned in an act of "Honour" – killing.
  • Shano and Daulat Khan Malikdeenkhe, in Khwezai – Baezai area, Pakistan, 2008
  • Solange Medina, 2009, a 20-year-old stoned to death in Juárez, Mexico[120]
  • Vali Azad, 30, in Gilan province, Iran, 2009.
  • Gustavo Santoro, 2010, a small town mayor in Mexico believed to have been murdered by stoning[121]
  • Murray Seidman, 2011, a 70-year-old senior in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, stoned to death by 28-year-old John Thomas after allegedly making sexual advances towards the younger man. Thomas' defence is that he did it because the Old Testament says to kill homosexuals in certain situations.[122]

People who were almost stoned[edit]

  • Amina Lawal, sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria in 2002, but freed on appeal
  • Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani sentenced to death by stoning in Iran in 2007, but sentence is under review
  • Safiya Husseini, sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria but freed on appeal.[123]
  • Shaheen Abdel Rahman and unnamed woman, in Fujeirah, United Arab Emirates, 2006
  • Zoleykhah Kadkhoda, in Iran.[124][125]

In literature[edit]

In film and television[edit]

  • Seven Sleepers, 2005 – A series running on Iranian TV, in which medieval (300–400 AD) Jews stone Christians.[127]
  • A Stoning in Fulham County, 1988 – A made-for-TV movie surrounding the vigilante stoning in an American Amish community.[128]
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian presents a Jesus of Nazareth-era stoning in a humorous context, ending with a massive boulder being dropped on the Jewish official, not the victim. The film mentions that women are not allowed at stonings, yet almost all of the stone-throwers turn out to be women disguised as men.
  • Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" was made into a short (20 minute) film by Larry Yust in 1969 as part of an educational release for Encyclopædia Britannica's "Short Story Showcase".[129]
  • The film The Kite Runner depicts the stoning of an adulteress by the Taliban in a public stadium during a football match.
  • The film Mission Istanbul depicts the stoning of an adulteress in Kabul, by the fictional terrorist group Abu Nazir until it is interrupted by the protagonist Vikas Sagar.
  • The Stoning of Soraya M., 2008 film
  • Zorba The Greek, a 1946 Novel by Nikos Kazantzakis and 1964 movie with Anthony Quinn, has a grim stoning scene where the woman is rescued only to be stabbed at the scene.
  • Osama (2003) by director Siddiq Barmak depicts a woman being buried in preparation for stoning.
  • In one CSI: Miami 2011 episode a female college bully is murdered by lapidation.
  • Although Islamic law prescribes stoning for married adulterers, the television series Sleeper Cell, about an underground radical Islamist group, depicts a scene where a member is stoned for treason.
  • In Spartacus: War of the Damned (2010–13), Season 3, Episode 2, a slave is stoned by the Roman public.
  • In Timbuktu (2014), a film about Islamist insurgents in Timbuktu, Mali, a man and woman are depicted buried up to the neck and stoned to death.

See also[edit]



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  20. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:50:885, 3:49:860, 8:82:821
  21. ^ Quran 24:2, Quote - "The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment."
  22. ^ Quran 33:21
  23. ^ Quran 3:32, Quran 3:132, Quran 4:59, Quran 8:20, Quran 33:66
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External links[edit]