Shariah

Does Islam require stoning to death for adultery and gay sex, and amputation for larceny?

Does Islam require stoning to death for adultery and gay sex, and amputation for larceny?

THE QUESTION:

This month, the Muslim nation of Brunei cited religious grounds for prescribing execution by stoning for those guilty of adultery or gay sex, and amputation of hands to punish convicted thieves. Does Islam require these penalties?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

In the Muslim world there’s no consensus that the faith requires these traditional punishments in modern times, but a handful of the 57 member nations in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have such legislation. One is the small East Asian sultanate officially named Brunei Darusslam (“Brunei, Abode of Peace”), which proclaimed these penalties six years ago. Due to the resulting uproar, the law did not go into effect until this month. When it did, the foreign minister responded to another round of international denunciations by stating that “strong religious values” form “the very foundation of the unique Bruneian identity.”

The punishments were commanded by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei’s hereditary monarch, who wields absolute political and religious powers and is devoted to strict interpretation and application of shariah (Muslim law). At the same time, fabled oil revenues provide the sultan  eyebrow-raising personal wealth of some $20 billion, the world’s largest home (1,788 rooms), and largest collection of rare automobiles including a gold-plated Rolls Royce.

Regarding punishment for sexual sins, Muslims point out that long before Islam arose the Bible’s Old Testament law named execution as the penalty for adultery (Leviticus 20:10) and for same-sex relations between men (Leviticus 20:13), as well as other sins. Those passages did not state what method was to be used for execution, but rabbinic law later compiled in the Talmud specified stoning for gay relationships. Stoning was also commonly cited for adulterers.

Jewish scholars say the Bible’s various laws on execution were meant to signify and proclaim the seriousness of the misdeeds but were rarely applied in practice.

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Trump and Muslims: Politico in-depth piece misses key questions about Muslim-led city

Trump and Muslims: Politico in-depth piece misses key questions about Muslim-led city

Politico's indepth story on Hamtramck, Mich., makes much of the fact that it's the only American city with a Muslim-majority government. So how many Muslims does it quote?

Just five. Out of 13 quoted sources.

"What America’s Only Muslim-Governed City Thinks of Donald Trump," the headline teases us. Politico paints Hamtramck as a model of diversity and acceptance, with Poles, Ukrainians, Albanians, black Americans and other folks besides Middle Easterners. Just the kind of place that Trump -- with his anti-Muslim, anti-immigration message -- says would erode American values.

OK, that's a valid starting thesis -- for an editorial or an opinion column, rather than the newsfeature this was supposed to look like. But the Muslim subjects in question aren’t even quoted until more than halfway down this 2,600-word story.

And the argumentative theme starts in the second paragraph:

After a November 2015 election, four of the City Council’s six seats are now held by Muslims—three of them immigrants—making Hamtramck’s council the first in the United States with a Muslim majority. Predictably—if ridiculously—the city has become a lightning rod among conservatives in fear of Islamic law erupting in America. At a recent talk in Boston, a Somali women’s-rights activist named Ayaan Hirsi Ali warned an audience of academics and real estate developers that Hamtramck’s City Council would soon bring Sharia to their American backyard.
But here in Hamtramck, on the eve of a Michigan primary in which Donald Trump is ahead in the polls by double digits, residents aren’t afraid that their city is about to suddenly establish a foothold for the caliphate. They’re more afraid of the Republican Party’s front-runner. "It’s unbelievable Donald Trump has made it this far," says friend and resident Aaron Foley, who is gay, African-American and the editor of a Detroit lifestyle magazine called Blac. "It really feels like a bad dream that we haven’t woke up from yet. This can’t happen. It upsets me that he’s made so many disparaging remarks, not just about Muslims, but about everyone."

That's right. In this story about Muslim-ruled Hamtramck, the first quote is from a non-Muslim who doesn't even work in town. Would have been interesting to get a quote also from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, instead of lobbing a glancing reference. The writer might have learned that she's an atheist, not a card-carrying conservative. Also that she's been under death threats for years for opposing Muslim extremists. So whether Hirsi Ali is accurate about Shariah, she speaks from experience.

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