In FrontPage this morning I discuss the notorious video below, and some stunningly naive reactions to it in the West.
A video of a woman, Najiba, being shot dead in Afghanistan while a cheering crowd yells “Allahu akbar,” “Long live Islam,” and “Long live mujahideen” has provoked international outrage. Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, called the shooting “a barbaric attack on a defenceless woman and another stark reminder of the brutalities that were regularly committed under Taliban rule, and of the task ahead of us in advancing the rights of Afghan women and girls.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Such deplorable actions underline the vital need for better protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.”
And so in the waning days of the West’s fruitless adventure in Afghanistan, at least two of our NATO allies have a new mission: protecting the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. The video itself makes clear that this will be an uphill battle; and in any case the fate of Afghan women and girls was sealed, at least as far as getting any help from the West was concerned, when the Western powers oversaw the adoption of a Constitution in Afghanistan that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land.
But many Muslim spokesmen have denied that the murder of Najiba had anything to do with Islam or Sharia in the first place. Many have decried the fact that Najiba was executed for adultery when there doesn’t seem to have been any evidence presented. Maulavi Sidiqullah Fedayee, an Afghan Islamic scholar, explains: “Islam has very clear rules. These clear rules of Islam cannot be changed. Those who implement Shari’a simply on the basis of accusations do not have an adequate understanding of the rules of Islam….In a case of adultery, there must be four witnesses, and these witnesses must testify that they actually saw the woman and a man together engaged in sexual intercourse.”
Fedayee is correct: absent a confession (which, for all anyone knows, may have been obtained in Najiba’s case), Islamic law requires four male Muslim witnesses who actually saw the act of adultery in order to establish it. This odd stipulation is based on Qur’an 24:4 and 24:13, which in turn are based, according to Islamic tradition, on a notorious incident in Muhammad’s life: his favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of adultery and thus had to be put to death, whereupon Muhammad received a revelation requiring four witnesses. Aisha’s accusers didn’t have them, and so she was exonerated.
Also, according to Islamic law Najiba should have been stoned to death, not shot, if she was indeed guilty of adultery. That law is not in the Qur’an, but in one hadith the caliph Umar, one of Muhammad’s closest companions, maintained that it originally was, and was still Islamic law:‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.” (Bukhari, vol. 8, bk. 82, no. 816)
And so Maulavi Sidiqullah Fedayee is correct: “Islam has very clear rules,” and by them one can evaluate whether or not Najiba was put to death justly from an Islamic standpoint. This belies the smooth deceptions that Islamic supremacists, faced with growing opposition to Sharia in the U.S., peddle about Islamic law. Reza Aslan, for example, has claimed: “There’s really no such thing as just Sharia, it’s not one monolithic Continuum – Sharia is understood in thousands of different ways over the 1,500 years in which multiple and competing schools of law have tried to construct some kind of civic penal and family law code that would abide by Islamic values and principles, it’s understood in many different ways.”