I’m writing a piece on sexuality in Islam that encompasses historical “unlawful consummation” of love (or lust or what-have-you). The Qur’an does not command stoning for adultery (but 100 lashes to the fornicator or adulterer); however, there are circulated hadith that the Prophet Muhammad commanded a stoning of an adulterous man, which is often cited by Muslims as a defense of the punishment. In researching this hadith I read that the commanded stoning was a result of a constitution signed by the Jewish tribes in Medina during the time that the Prophet was their political leader. The constitution dictated that the Prophet would remain the political leader of Medina as long as the Jewish tribes were free to practice their religion and worship God according to their own scripture rather than that of the Qur’an, and that upon dissentions in the Jewish community, Judaic law is the law that would be enforced rather than Islamic law. Bound by his legal obligations to the Jewish community when confronted with punishing the man, the Prophet consulted Jewish scholars, who informed him that the punishment is stoning. The Prophet commanded this punishment to be enforced.
So here’s the thing: obviously I will be writing it if it is true–I will not be writing it in a way as to perpetuate a false or distorted understanding of Jewish law, or without a remark that states clearly Jews don’t stone people to death for adultery (anymore–I think?) with logical Talmudic support and a brief annotation of Jewish feminist exegesis of correcting (if there is any correction) or clarifying the interpretation. I understand that, like the Qur’an, the Torah has suffered from centuries of patriarchal bias (and by the time the Prophet made that command Judaism was already a very old religion subjecting it to misinterpretation), and while I don’t at all doubt this story is true I would be irritated with anyone who entertained this as a scapegoat to defend Islam. That wouldn’t just be irresponsible; it would actively contribute to the oppressive system of disregarding the work of Jewish feminists engaging in the same reclamation of institutionalized religion. (AND DAMMIT WE WILL GO DOWN TOGETHER! and such)
What is the punishment for adultery according to Judaic law as interpreted by Jewish feminists linguistically derived from the Torah? Has this law too become distorted from misinterpretation, or is the application sound and correct? A very brief exegesis I can cite when recounting & referencing this event (or otherwise directing me to useful sources) would be much appreciated. You can leave it in the comments, or email me (because I might ask for your full name.)
Thanks a million!