Although that is what this article is about — “There was no option. This is what Islam commands us.” — the WaPo headlines this one “A Killing Commanded by Tradition.” (Thanks to EPG for the link.)
Within an hour, the entire village would learn that the 25-year-old married woman had been discovered in a darkened nearby hut with her lover.
Within two days, Amina was dead — killed by her fellow villagers April 20 after the men of the community ruled that she had violated Islamic law by having an affair with a neighbor.…
Soon Amina’s father, the elders and a crowd of villagers had gathered outside. Mohammad unlocked the chain and flung open his front door. At the back of the room sat his son, Karim, on a floor cushion.
Next to him sat Amina. Her expression was once again blank, Aslam said.
It threw Aslam into a rage.
“I shouted, ‘What is she doing here? Give her to me! I will kill her!’ ” he recounted last week. “I was so shocked, and my Islamic dignity was so offended.”
But the other villagers restrained him, Aslam and other witnesses said.
“We told him, ‘No, no! This should be handled by sharia now,’ ” his brother Hashem recalled, referring to the Islamic legal code.
“Fine, I will give her over to sharia then,” Aslam said he responded. “Whatever sharia says, I will do it.”…
Under sharia, the punishment for adultery is death by stoning. But the code requires that there be undeniable proof of the crime — for instance, multiple witnesses to the sex act, a confession, or other signs such as an inexplicable pregnancy.…
But no one involved disputes that the villagers were unanimous in their view that according to the dictates of Islam, the proper resolution of the case would be for Karim, as an unmarried man, to be lashed and Amina, as a married woman, to be stoned to death.
Early that afternoon, one of the mullahs went to fetch a stick with which to whip Karim as Yousaf took his leave of the villagers.
Then they watched Yousaf’s turban slowly vanish over a mountain path and, along with it, Amina’s last hope.
There are two, conflicting accounts of Amina’s death.
According to her great-uncle Assan, after the shura reached its verdict, a group of villagers came to the dark storage room and took her away to be stoned.
“She knew what was going to happen to her,” Assan said softly. “She was screaming and sobbing.”
Amina’s paternal uncle, Mohammad Azim, said he watched as the villagers forced Amina down a muddy path toward a patch of soft earth along a riverbank surrounded by stones, a few yards from the edge of the village.
It was a beautiful spot, shaded by an enormous tree and offering a charming view of the village clinging to the mountainside.
It was also an ideal place for a stoning.
“They dug a hole in the ground right here,” Azim said, pointing to a spot in the clearing six days later. “Then they buried Amina up to her waist, with her arms pinned by her side.”
Azim said Amina’s hair was covered in a head scarf, and that she was crying in terror as nearly a hundred men gathered in a circle around her and began throwing small rocks at her head.
“I couldn’t watch for more than a few minutes,” Azim said. Instead, he said, he walked up to Amina’s parents’ house and waited with them in silence during the two hours it took to kill her.
Several villagers and Amina’s mother said that they, too, believe she was stoned. And a few said they had seen the bloody hole after she was removed from it.
But no one else would admit to witnessing the actual stoning, much less participating in it. And the ground where Amina was allegedly buried to her waist showed little sign of disturbance six days after her death — possibly because, as Azim and other villagers contend, they had refilled the hole and then the river had flooded over it, or possibly because the stoning never happened.
Several other villagers, including Amina’s uncle, Hashem, tell a very different story.
Hashem said the villagers handed Amina over to her uncles, including himself and Azim. Their original intention was to hang her, Hashem said. But as they were leading her away, they became increasingly angry and started to beat her with their fists.
“It was dark,” he said. “All of us were striking her, and then she fainted and we saw that she was on the ground and not breathing. Maybe she had a heart attack.”
Whatever the means of her death, Amina’s parents said her bruised corpse was returned to them sometime between afternoon and evening prayers that day.
Amina’s mother, Nessa, said she did not grieve.
“My daughter was a criminal and a sinner who brought dishonor on my name,” Nessa said hotly several days later. “And I should be blamed for her death, not anyone else, because I told my tribe they could kill her. I forgave them for spilling her blood.”…
If Amina had been allowed to live, Nessa added, the shame of it would have forced Nessa to leave the only home she had ever known and a valley in which her family had lived for generations.
“But now I can walk everywhere in the village with my head high. . . . I’m happy. Extremely, extremely happy,” she shouted. The tone in her voice betrayed no joy.
Then Nessa covered her face with her hands….
Amina’s father Aslam, however, was released from police custody in Faizabad after a night of questioning, on grounds that he was not directly responsible.
Just before embarking on the long walk back to Gazon, he sat on a metal chair in a room in the police station, reflecting on all that had happened in the last several days.
Unlike the feelings of his wife Nessa, Aslam’s anger at Amina had by now given way to sorrow.
“I feel so sad for her. She was so young,” he said, as his eyes grew glassy with tears. “I really miss her now. . . . I will miss her voice, and our conversations in the evenings.”
There was much he wished he could go back and change. “If only she had told me that she did not want to go back to her husband,” he said. “I would have done something about it. I would have counseled her.”
But he said he harbored no doubt that she deserved to die after she admitted to committing adultery.
“There was no option. This is what Islam commands us.”