“Ayatollah Montazeri condemns stoning”

Radio Farda, an American-based Persian-language radio program, interviewed the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri on his opinions about the practice of stoning, and specifically whether the sentence of stoning can be vacated and replaced by another punishment. He responded as follows:

“In the name of God [greetings] Stoning has been widely mentioned in the Torah, but in Islam it is only applicable to adultery involving a married person with certain conditions. In order to establish guilt, the court needs 1- the testimony of four just persons who have witnessed the act with their own eyes- which is rather unlikely to establish, 2- confession of the accused, four separate times, not under duress or in custody. Executing this sentence under the sole discretion of the local judge is problematic. The (then) recent case of Jafar Kiani stoned to death in Takestan (in July 2007) had been in violation of the standards of law. If the accused recants, even after confession, if the accused recants, this recantation is admissible according to theological practice. Even if he confesses, he is free to escape. And should he escape, tracking him down is not permitted. And if at any time, or in any place, such execution leads to the weakening of faith, it must not be carried out. As you can see from above, in practice, stoning is nothing more than a scarecrow; meant to scare people away from great sins.”

Radio Farda (Translated by Manesh)
Publisher and location: 
Radio Farda