Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharia Law on Stoning VS Halacha

Following up on yesterday's post on Lebanon, today I happened across a description of the Iranian Penal Code regarding the process of stoning. I'm assuming that this is Sharia law - and not an Iranian invention, but if I have that wrong, please feel free to correct me. What struck me was the difference between it and Halacha.

Slate offers this description of stoning in Iran (I couldn't find the original law):

First, you get buried. Iran's Islamic Penal Codestates that men convicted of adultery are to be buried in the ground up to their waists; women, up to their chests. If the conviction is based on the prisoner's confession, the law says, the presiding judge casts the first stone. If the conviction is based on witness testimony, the witnesses throw the first stones, then the judge, then everyone else—generally other court officials and security forces. Stones must be of medium size, according to the penal code: Not so big that one or two could kill the person, but not so small that you would call it a pebble. In other words, about the size of a tangerine. The whole process takes less than an hour.
One possible upside of getting stoned is that people who manage to escape from the hole are allowed to go free. But this applies only to those who have confessed to their crimes. (If you were sentenced to stoning on the basis of witness testimony, then digging out of the hole does you no good.) In any case, it's very difficult for anyone to escape the punishment: Prisoners are wrapped in a white cloth sack with their hands tied.

And this description of stoning in the Rambam (Sanhedrin chapter 16):

How is the mitzvah of stoning carried out? Four cubits from the place of execution, we remove the clothes of the person to be stoned; we do, however, cover his sexual organ in front. A woman is not executed naked. Instead, she is allowed to wear one cloak.
The place of execution was two storeys high. The convicted person ascends there with his hands tied, together with his witnesses. One of the witnesses pushes him at his loins from behind, he falls over, landing on his heart on the ground. If he dies because of this, they have fulfilled their obligation, for Exodus 19:13 states: "Or he will be cast down or stoned," creating an equation between a person who has a stone fall upon him with one who himself falls on the earth.
If he does not die after this fall, the witnesses pick up a stone that is so large it requires two people to carry it. The second witness lets go and the first casts the stone on the convicted person's heart. If he dies because of this, they have fulfilled their obligation. If not, he should be stoned by the entire Jewish people, as Deuteronomy 17:7 states: "The hand of the witnesses shall be raised up against him first to execute him, and the hand of the entire nation afterwards." Judaism we bring them up on a tower, and throw them in the ground, while in Sharia, they are first buried in the ground. In Judaism we use one large rock (assuming he hasn't died while falling two floors down) while in Sharia they are told not to pick rocks that are too big or too small. I'm not claiming either system, would be described as humane, but I'm wondering why the two systems of laws have gone in opposite directions?  

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