In this interview with Nobel Prize Winner, Shirin Ebadi discusses stoning from both a human rights and religious point of view. With regards to human rights, she points out the hypocrisy in Iranian law in that the crime of homicide is legally less severe than the crime of adultery. She also explains that most religious leaders believe there are two kinds of Islamic Laws: constitutional laws and laws that are endorsed. Stoning is one of the endorsement laws, meaning that fourteen century ago stoning was a common punishment for adultery and Islam also endorsed it.
Behareh Davalloo was the lawyer of Hajieh Esmalivand, a woman who was sentenced to stoning in 2006. Davalloo was also the director of the Independent Society of Attorneys, and member of the Network of Volunteer Lawyers, the Women’s Centre for Legal Counseling, and the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign. Davalloo represented Hajieh since August 19, 2006, and was able to schedule a retrial on November 7, 2006. She had been in prison for seven years awaiting a stoning sentence for adultery.
This article states that the prominent cleric Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa stating that stoning was not the only punishment for adultery, opening the path for parliamentary efforts to ban the practice.
Important in this document is Part C on “Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.” Paragraph 32 notes 4 cases in the previous 18 months from the time of writing (1997). Paragraph 33 concerns the rarity of stoning: “It may be replied that stoning happens very rarely in the Islamic Republic of Iran and certainly not in the major cities. The Special Representative believes that for it to happen at all is unsustainable both legally and morally.
Ayatollah Musavi Bojnourdi, a high ranking Muslim jurisprudent and former member of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iran (1980-1987), argues here that stoning is an invalid, non-Quranic tradition. He claims that in 1981, Ayatollah Khomeini had issued an official circular by which he prohibited judges from issuing stoning sentences.
Paragraph 10, part 8 states that while the European Parliament welcomed the announcement by the Head of the Judiciary in 2008 of the suspension of stoning as a means of execution, it is still concerned that stoning remains under the Penal Code and calls on the Members of the Majlis (parliament) to commit themselves to the complete abolition of stoning.
Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Marashi Shushtari, a prominent Shia criminal jurisprudent and the former deputy of judicial affairs of the Head of the Judiciary in Iran, supports the traditional doctrine of ‘Non-Applicability of Hodud’, including stoning and other corporal punishment, in our time. [Persian]
Aslan argues that while stoning is undoubtedly a grave human rights issue, the only means of affecting permanent change in Islamic adultery laws is through a vigorous Islamic dialogue over the proper interpretation and application of these laws in the shariah. A close analysis of the complexities and contradictions of these laws, combined with a proper reform methodology of the shariah, necessarily demands an end to the stoning practice. Aslan argues that there is no consensus over a precise definition of zina.