Saint Stephen, first martyr of Christianity, painted in 1506 by Marx Reichlich (1460–1520)
(Pinakothek of Munich)
Virasundra is stoned to death on the order of Rajasinha II of Kandy (Sri Lanka, c. 1672)

Stoning, or lapidation, is a method of capital punishment where a group throws stones at a person until the subject dies from blunt trauma. It has been attested as a form of punishment for grave misdeeds since ancient history.

The Torah and Talmud prescribe stoning as punishment for a number of offenses. Over the centuries, Rabbinic Judaism developed a number of procedural constraints which made these laws practically unenforceable. Although stoning is not mentioned in the Quran, classical Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) imposed stoning as a hadd (sharia-prescribed) punishment for certain forms of zina (illicit sexual intercourse) on the basis of hadith (sayings and actions attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad). It also developed a number of procedural requirements which made zina difficult to prove in practice.

Stoning appears to have been the standard method of capital punishment in ancient Israel. Its use is attested in the early Christian era, but Jewish courts generally avoided stoning sentences in later times. Only a few isolated instances of legal stoning are recorded in pre-modern history of the Islamic world. Criminal laws of most modern Muslim-majority countries have been derived from Western models. In recent decades several states have inserted stoning and other hudud (pl. of hadd) punishments into their penal codes under the influence of Islamist movements. These laws hold particular importance for religious conservatives due to their scriptural origin, though in practice they have played a largely symbolic role and tended to fall into disuse.

In recent times, stoning has been a legal or customary punishment in Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, northern Nigeria, Afghanistan, Brunei, and tribal parts of Pakistan, including northwest Kurram Valley and the northwest Khwezai-Baezai region though it is rarely carried out.[1][2][3][4] In some of these countries, including Afghanistan, it has been carried out extrajudicially by militants, tribal leaders, and others.[2] In some other countries, including Nigeria and Pakistan, although stoning is a legal form of punishment, it has never been legally carried out. Stoning is condemned by human rights organizations.

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, 1860, where Jesus said, "Let those among you who have not sinned, cast the first stone".

Religious scripture and law


The Sabbath-breaker Stoned. Artistic impression of episode narrated in Numbers 15. James Tissot c.1900

Further information: Capital and corporal punishment in Judaism


The Jewish Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) serves as a common religious reference for Judaism. Stoning is the method of execution mentioned most frequently in the Torah. (Murder is not mentioned as an offense punishable by stoning, but it seems that a member of the victim's family was allowed to kill the murderer; see avenger of blood.) The crimes punishable by stoning were the following:

Describing the stoning of those who entice others to apostatize from Judaism, the Torah states:

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

— Deuteronomy 13:6–10[5]

A case noted in the Bible, not falling into any of the above categories, was that of Achan, stoned to death together with his sheep, other livestock and his children for having pillaged valuables from Jericho during Joshua's Conquest of Canaan.


The Talmud describes four methods of execution: stoning, pouring molten lead down the throat of the condemned person, beheading, and strangulation (see Capital and corporal punishment in Judaism). The Mishna gives the following list of persons who should be stoned.[6][7]

"To the following sinners stoning applies – אלו הן הנסקלין

As God alone was deemed to be the only arbiter in the use of capital punishment, not fallible people, the Sanhedrin made stoning a hypothetical upper limit on the severity of punishment.[8]

The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron (1480–1482), by Sandro Botticelli, Sistine Chapel, Rome.

Prior to early Christianity, particularly in the Mishnah, doubts were growing in Jewish society about the effectiveness of capital punishment in general (and stoning in particular) in acting as a useful deterrent. Subsequently, its use was dissuaded by the central legislators. The Mishnah states:

A Sanhedrin that puts a man to death once in seven years is called destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says that this extends to a Sanhedrin that puts a man to death even once in seventy years. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon say: Had we been in the Sanhedrin none would ever have been put to death. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: they would have multiplied shedders of blood in Israel.[9][10][11]

In the following centuries the leading Jewish sages imposed so many restrictions on the implementation of capital punishment as to make it de facto illegal. The restrictions were to prevent execution of the innocent, and included many conditions for a testimony to be admissible that were difficult to fulfill.

Philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."[12] He was concerned that the law guard its public perception, to preserve its majesty and retain the people's respect. He saw errors of commission as much more threatening to the integrity of law than errors of omission.[13]

Mode of judgment

In rabbinic law, capital punishment may be inflicted by only the verdict of a regularly constituted court of twenty-three qualified members. There must be the most trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two qualified eyewitnesses to the crime, who must also depose that the culprit had been forewarned of the criminality and the consequences of such a project.[7] The culprit must be a person of legal age and of sound mind, and the crime must be proved to have been committed of the culprit's free will and without the aid of others.

On the day the verdict is pronounced, the convict is led forth to execution. The Torah law (Leviticus 19:18) prescribes, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; and the Rabbis maintain that this love must be extended beyond the limits of social intercourse in life, and applied even to the convicted criminal who, "though a sinner, is still thy brother" (Mak. 3:15; Sanh. 44a): "The spirit of love must be manifested by according him a decent death" (Sanh. 45a, 52a). Torah law provides (Deut. 24:16), "The parents shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the parents; every man shall be put to death for his own sins", and rabbinic jurisprudence follows this principle both to the letter and in spirit. A sentence is not attended by confiscation of the convict's goods; the person's possessions descend to their legal heirs.

The Talmud limits the use of the death penalty to Jewish criminals who:

In theory, the Talmudic method of how stoning is to be carried out differs from mob stoning. According to the Jewish oral law, after the Jewish criminal has been determined as guilty before the Great Sanhedrin, the two valid witnesses and the sentenced criminal go to the edge of a two-story building. From there the two witnesses are to push the criminal off the roof of a two-story building. The two-story height is chosen as this height is estimated by the Talmud to effect a quick and painless demise but is not so high that the body will become dismembered.[15] After the criminal has fallen, the two witnesses are to drop a large boulder onto the criminal – requiring both of the witnesses to lift the boulder together. If the criminal did not die from the fall or from the crushing of the large boulder, then any people in the surrounding area are to quickly cause him to die by stoning with whatever rocks they can find.


Main article: Stoning in Islam

The Stoning of an Adulteress, illustration to a manuscript of 1001 Nights by Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari or his atelier. Tehran, 1853–1857.
Stoning of the Devil, 2006 Hajj

Islamic sharia law is based on the Quran and the hadith as primary sources.


Stoning is not mentioned as a form of capital punishment in the canonical text of the Quran. However, Islamic scholars have traditionally postulated that there is a Quranic verse ("If a man or a woman commits adultery, stone them...") which was "abrogated" textually while retaining its legal force.[16]

In the extant text of the Quran, the punishment for an unmarried adulterer (Zani) or adultress (Zania) is flogging:

"The woman and the man guilty of fornication/adultery – flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment."

"And those who accuse chaste women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors. Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

— Qur'an 24:4–5 [18]


Stoning in the Sunnah mainly follows on the Jewish stoning rules of the Torah. A few hadiths refer to Muhammad ordering the stoning of a married Jewish man and a married woman committing an illegal sexual act after consulting the Torah.[19]

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: A Jew and Jewess were brought to the Prophet on a charge of committing an illegal sexual intercourse. The Prophet asked the Jews, "What do you (usually) do with them?" They said, "We blacken their faces and disgrace them." He said, "Bring here the Torah and recite it, if you are truthful." They (fetched it and) came and asked a one-eyed man to recite. He went on reciting till he reached a portion on which he put his hand. The Prophet said, "Lift up your hand!" He lifted his hand up and behold, there appeared the verse of Ar-Rajm (stoning of the adulterers to death). Then he said, "O Muhammad! They should be stoned to death but we conceal this Divine Law among ourselves." Then the Prophet ordered that the two sinners be stoned to death and, and they were stoned to death, and I saw the man protecting the woman from the stones.

— Volume 9, Book 93, Number 633: (See Hadith No. 809, Vol. 8)

Narrated by 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?" They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm." They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. ('Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones."

— Volume 4, Book 56, Number 829:

In a few others, a Bedouin man is lashed, while a Jewish woman is stoned to death, for having sex outside marriage.[20]

Stoning is described as punishment in multiple hadiths.[21][22][23] Shia and Sunni hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters and the Imamah. Shi'a sayings related to stoning can be found in Kitab al-Kafi,[24] and Sunni sayings related to stoning can be found in the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.[25] Based on these hadiths, in some Muslim countries, married adulterers are sentenced to death, while consensual sex between unmarried people results in 100 lashes.

Hadiths describe stoning as punishment under sharia.[22][23][26] In others stoning is prescribed as punishment for illegal sex between man and woman,[27] illegal sex by a slave girl, as well as anyone involved in any homosexual relations.[22][28] In some sunnah, the method of stoning, by first digging a pit and partly burying the person's lower half in it, is described.[29][30]

Narrated by Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani: A bedouin came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge My case according to Allah's Laws." His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, "Yes, judge between us according to Allah's Laws, and allow me to speak." Allah's Apostle said, "Speak." He (i .e. the bedouin or the other man) said, "My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death." Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah's Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death." Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah's Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death.

Narrated by Ash-Shaibani: I asked 'Abdullah bin Abi 'Aufa about the Rajam (stoning somebody to death for committing illegal sexual intercourse). He replied, "The Prophet carried out the penalty of Rajam," I asked, "Was that before or after the revelation of Surat-an-Nur?" He replied, "I do not know."

Aisha reported: Abd b. Zam'a said Messenger of Allah, he is my brother as he was born on the bed of my father from his slave-girl. Allah's Messenger looked at his resemblance and found a clear resemblance with 'Utba. (But) he said: He is yours 'Abd (b. Zam'a), for the child is to be attributed to one on whose bed it is born, and stoning for a fornicator.

Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)

Stoning (Arabic: رجم Rajm, sometimes spelled as Rajam) has been extensively discussed in the texts of early, medieval and modern era Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).[31]

According to traditional jurisprudence, zina can include adultery (of married parties), fornication (of unmarried parties), prostitution, bestiality, and rape.[32] Classification of homosexual intercourse as zina differs according to legal school.[33] Although stoning for zina is not mentioned in the Quran, all schools of traditional jurisprudence agreed on the basis of hadith that it is to be punished by stoning if the offender is muhsan (adult, free, Muslim, and having been married), with some extending this punishment to certain other cases and milder punishment prescribed in other scenarios.[33][32] The offenders must have acted of their own free will.[33] According to traditional jurisprudence, zina must be proved by testimony of four eyewitnesses to the actual act of penetration, or a confession repeated four times and not retracted later.[33][32] The Maliki legal school also allows an unmarried woman's pregnancy to be used as evidence, but the punishment can be averted by a number of legal "semblances" (shubuhat), such as existence of an invalid marriage contract.[33] These requirements made zina virtually impossible to prove in practice.[32] Rape was traditionally prosecuted under different legal categories which used normal evidentiary rules.[34] Making an accusation of zina without presenting the required eyewitnesses is called qadhf (القذف), which is itself a hadd crime[35][36][37] liable to a punishment of 80 lashes and to be unacceptable as witnesses unless they repent and reform.

According to the Islamic concept of Li'an, the testimony of a man who accuses his own wife without any other witnesses may be accepted if he swears by God four times that he is telling the truth with a fifth oath to incur God's condemnation if he lies. In this case, if his wife counter swears, no punishment will be enforced.[38][39]

One of the widely followed Islamic legal commentaries, Al-Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas, state that contested pregnancy is sufficient proof of adultery and the woman must be stoned to death.[40][41]


Hanafi jurists have held that the accused must be a muhsan at the time of religiously disallowed sex, to be punished by Rajm (stoning).[42] A Muhsan is an adult, free, Muslim who has previously enjoyed legitimate sexual relations in matrimony, regardless of whether the marriage still exists.[40] In other words, stoning does not apply to someone who was never married (only lashing in public is the mandatory punishment in such cases).[42]

For evidence, Hanafi fiqh accepts the following: self-confession, or testimony of four male witnesses (female witness is not acceptable).[42] Hanafi Islamic law literature specifies two types of stoning.[42] One, when the punishment is based on bayyina, or concrete evidence (four male witnesses). In this case the person is bound, a pit dug, the bound person placed and partially buried inside the pit so that he or she may not escape, thereafter the public stoning punishment is executed.[42] A woman sentenced to stoning must be partially buried up to her chest.[43] The first stones are thrown by the witnesses and the accuser, thereafter the Muslim community present, stated Abū Ḥanīfa and other Hanafi scholars.[42] In second type of stoning, when the punishment is based on self-confession, the stoning is to be performed without digging a pit or partially burying the person. In this case, the qadi (judge) should throw the first stone before other Muslims join in. Further, if the person flees, the person is allowed to leave.[42]

Hanafi scholars specify the stone size to be used for Rajm, to be the size of one's hand. It should not be too large to cause death too quickly, nor too small to extend only pain.[42]

Hanafis have traditionally held that the witnesses should throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by witnesses, and the qadi must throw the first stones in case the conviction was brought about by a confession.[44]


The Shafii school literature has the same Islamic law analysis as the Hanafi. However, it recommends, that the first stone be thrown by the Imam or his deputy in all cases, followed by the Muslim community witnessing the stoning punishment.[43]


Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudamah states, "Muslim jurists are unanimous on the fact that stoning to death is a specified punishment for the married adulterer and adulteress. The punishment is recorded in number of traditions and the practice of Muhammad stands as an authentic source supporting it. This is the view held by all Companions, Successors and other Muslim scholars with the exception of Kharijites."[45]

Hanbali Islamic law sentences all forms of consensual but religiously illegal sex as punishable with Rajm.[46]


Maliki school of jurisprudence (fiqh) holds that stoning is the required punishment for illegal sex by a married or widowed person, as well as for any form of homosexual relations among men.[22] Malik ibn Anas, founder of the Maliki fiqh, considered pregnancy in an unmarried woman as a conclusive proof of zina. He also stated that contested pregnancy is also sufficient proof of adultery and any Muslim woman who is pregnant by a man who she is not married to, at the time of getting pregnant, must be stoned to death.[40][41] Later Maliki Muslim scholars admitted the concept of "sleeping embryo", where a divorced woman could escape the stoning punishment, if she remained unmarried and became pregnant anytime within five years of her divorce, and it was assumed that she was impregnated by her previous husband but the embryo remained dormant for five years.[47]


Stoning is attested in the Near East since ancient times as a form of capital punishment for grave sins.[48] However stoning as a practice was not geographically limited to only the Near East, and there is significant historical record of stoning being employed in the west as well. The ancient geographer Pausanias describes both the elder and younger Aristocrates of Orchomenus being stoned to death in ancient Greece around the 7th century BCE.

Stoning was "presumably" the standard form of capital punishment in ancient Israel.[49] It is attested in the Old Testament as a punishment for blasphemy, idolatry and other crimes, in which the entire community pelted the offender with stones outside a city.[50] The death of Stephen, as reported in the New Testament (Acts 7:58) was also organized in this way. Paul was stoned and left for dead in Lystra (Acts 14:19). Josephus and Eusebius report that Pharisees stoned James, brother of Jesus, after hurling him from the pinnacle of the Temple shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Historians disagree as to whether Roman authorities allowed Jewish communities to apply capital punishment to those who broke religious laws, or whether these episodes represented a form of lynching.[50] During the Late Antiquity, the tendency of not applying the death penalty at all became predominant in Jewish courts.[51] Where medieval Jewish courts had the power to pass and execute death sentences, they continued to do so for particularly grave offenses, although not necessarily the ones defined by the law, and they generally refrained from use of stoning.[49]

Aside from "a few rare and isolated" instances from the pre-modern era and several recent cases, there is no historical record of stoning for zina being legally carried out in the Islamic world.[32] In the modern era, sharia-based criminal laws have been widely replaced by statutes inspired by European models.[52][53] However, the Islamic revival of the late 20th century brought along the emergence of Islamist movements calling for full implementation of sharia, including reinstatement of stoning and other hudud punishments.[52][54] A number of factors have contributed to the rise of these movements, including the failure of authoritarian secular regimes to meet the expectations of their citizens, and a desire of Muslim populations to return to more culturally authentic forms of socio-political organization in the face of a perceived cultural invasion from the West.[55][56] Supporters of sharia-based legal reforms felt that "Western law" had its chance to bring development and justice, and hoped that a return to Islamic law would produce better results. They also hoped that introduction of harsh penalties would put an end to crime and social problems.[57]

In practice, Islamization campaigns have focused on a few highly visible issues associated with the conservative Muslim identity, particularly women's hijab and the hudud criminal punishments (whipping, stoning and amputation) prescribed for certain crimes.[55] For many Islamists, hudud punishments are at the core of the divine sharia because they are specified by the letter of scripture rather than by human interpreters. Modern Islamists have often rejected, at least in theory, the stringent procedural constraints developed by classical jurists to restrict their application.[52] Several countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and some Nigerian states have incorporated hudud rules into their criminal justice systems, which, however, retained fundamental influences of earlier Westernizing reforms.[52][54] In practice, these changes were largely symbolic, and aside from some cases brought to trial to demonstrate that the new rules were being enforced, hudud punishments tended to fall into disuse, sometimes to be revived depending on the local political climate.[52][53] The supreme courts of Sudan and Iran have rarely approved verdicts of stoning or amputation, and the supreme courts of Pakistan and Nigeria have never done so.[53]

Unlike other countries, where stoning was introduced into state law as part of recent reforms, Saudi Arabia has never adopted a criminal code and Saudi judges still follow traditional Hanbali jurisprudence.[58] Death sentences in Saudi Arabia are pronounced almost exclusively based on the system of judicial sentencing discretion (tazir) rather than sharia-prescribed (hudud) punishments, following the classical principle that hudud penalties should be avoided if possible.[59]

In China, stoning was one of the many methods of killing carried out during the Cultural Revolution, including the Guangxi Massacre.[60]

Contemporary legal status and use

As of September 2010, stoning is a punishment that is included in the laws in some countries including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and some predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria as punishment for Zina ("adultery by married persons").[61][62][63]

A map showing countries where public stoning is a judicial or extrajudicial form of punishment, as of 2020.[1]


See also: Murder of Farkhunda Malikzada

Before the Taliban government, most areas of Afghanistan, aside from the capital, Kabul, were controlled by warlords or tribal leaders. The Afghan legal system depended highly on an individual community's local culture and the political or religious ideology of its leaders. Stoning also occurred in lawless areas, where vigilantes committed the act for political purposes. Once the Taliban took over in 1996, it became a form of punishment for certain serious crimes or adultery.[64][65][66][67] After the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration re-enforced the 1976 penal code which made no provision for the use of stoning as a punishment. In 2013, the Ministry of Justice proposed public stoning as punishment for adultery.[68] However, the government had to back down from the proposal after it was leaked and triggered international outcry.[65]

After the Taliban took back power in 2021, stoning became legal again.[69][70][71][72]


Further information: Capital punishment in Brunei

Per a penal code announced by the government of Brunei on 3 April 2019, any Muslim individuals found guilty of gay sex and adultery are stoned to death, and the punishment must be "witnessed by a group of Muslims."[73] In the adoption of this law, Brunei became the first Southeast Asian country to officially allow public stoning as a judicial form of punishment.

On 5 May 2019, the Sultan of Brunei confirmed that the de facto moratorium (a delay or suspension of an activity or a law) on the death penalty applied to the Sharia Penal Code, and committed Brunei to ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).


Further information: Capital punishment in Iran

The Iranian judiciary officially placed a moratorium on stoning in 2002; however, in 2007, the Iranian judiciary confirmed that a man who had been convicted of adultery 10 years earlier, was stoned to death in Qazvin province.[74] In 2008, the judiciary tried to eliminate the punishment from the books in legislation submitted to parliament for approval.[75] In 2009, two people were stoned to death in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province as punishment for the crime of adultery.[76] The amended penal code, adopted in 2013, no longer contains explicit language prescribing stoning as punishment for adultery. According to legal experts, while an explicit prescription of stoning as punishment for adultery has been removed from Iran's new penal code, stoning remains a possible form of punishment, since the penal code still lists it, without specifying when it should be used, and allows punishment to be based on fiqh (traditional Islamic jurisprudence), which includes provisions for stoning.[77][78] In 2013 the spokesman for the Iranian Parliament's Justice Commission confirmed that while the Penal Code no longer prescribes stoning, it remains a valid punishment under sharia, which is enforceable under the Penal Code.[77][79] The most known case in Iran was the stoning of Soraya Manutchehri in 1986.


In the 2008 version of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran detailed how stoning punishments are to be carried out for adultery, and even hints in some contexts that the punishment may allow for its victims to avoid death:[80]

Article 102 – An adulterous man shall be buried in a ditch up to near his waist and an adulterous woman up to near her chest and then stoned to death.

Article 103 – In case the person sentenced to stoning escapes the ditch in which they are buried, then if the adultery is proven by testimony then they will be returned for the punishment but if it is proven by their own confession then they will not be returned.[80]

Article 104 – The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.[80]

Depending upon the details of the case, the stoning may be initiated by the judge overseeing the matter or by one of the original witnesses to the adultery.[80] Certain religious procedures may also need to be followed both before and after the implementation of a stoning execution, such as wrapping the person being stoned in traditional burial dress before the procedure.[81]

The method of stoning set out in the 2008 code was similar to that in a 1999 version of Iran's penal code.[82] Iran revised its penal code in 2013. The new code does not include the above passages, but does include stoning as a hadd punishment.[78] For example, Book I, Part III, Chapter 5, Article 132 of the new Islamic Penal Code (IPC) of 2013 in the Islamic Republic of Iran states, "If a man and a woman commit zina together more than one time, if the death penalty and flogging or stoning and flogging are imposed, only the death penalty or stoning, whichever is applicable, shall be executed".[83] Book 2, Part II, Chapter 1, Article 225 of the Iran's IPC released in 2013 states, "the hadd punishment for zina of a man and a woman who meet the conditions of ihsan shall be stoning to death".[83][84]


Further information: Capital punishment in Indonesia

On 14 September 2009, the outgoing Aceh Legislative Council passed a bylaw that called for the stoning of married adulterers.[85] However, then governor Irwandi Yusuf refused to sign the bylaw, thereby keeping it a law without legal force and, in some views, therefore still a law draft, rather than actual law.[86] In March 2013, the Aceh government removed the stoning provision from its own draft of a new criminal code.[87]


In 2007, Du'a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi girl, was stoned by her fellow tribesmen in northern Iraq for dating a Muslim boy.[88]

In 2012 at least 14 youths were stoned to death in Baghdad, apparently as part of a Shi'ite militant campaign against Western-style "emo" fashion. It was followed by condemnation by Shiite scholars.[89]

An Iraqi man was stoned to death by IS, in August 2014, in the northern city of Mosul after one Sunni Islamic court sentenced him to die for the crime of adultery.[90]


Since the sharia legal system was introduced in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria in 2000, more than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences ranging from adultery to homosexuality. However, none of these sentences have actually been carried out. They have either been thrown out on appeal, commuted to prison terms or left unenforced, in part as a result of pressure from human rights groups.[91][92][93][94]


Further information: Capital punishment in Pakistan

As part of Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization measures, stoning to death (rajm) at a public place was introduced into law via the 1979 Hudood Ordinances as punishment for adultery (zina) and rape (zina-bil-jabr) when committed by a married person.[95] However, stoning has never been officially utilized since the law came into effect and all judicial executions occur by hanging.[96] The first conviction and sentence of stoning (of Fehmida and Allah-Bakhsh) in September 1981 was overturned under national and international pressure. Another conviction for adultery and sentence of stoning (of Shahida Parveen and Muhammad Sarwar) in early 1988 sparked outrage and led to a retrial and acquittal by the Federal Sharia Court. In this case the trial court took the view that notice of divorce by Shahida's former husband, Khushi Muhammad, should have been given to the Chairman of the local council, as stipulated under Section-7(3) of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961. This section states that any man who divorces his wife must register it with the Union Council. Otherwise, the court concluded that the divorce stood invalidated and the couple became liable to conviction under the Adultery ordinance. In 2006, the ordinances providing for stoning in the case of adultery or rape were legislatively demoted from overriding status.[97]

Extrajudicial stonings in Pakistan have been known to happen in recent times. In March 2013, Pakistani soldier Anwar Din, stationed in Parachinar, was publicly stoned to death for allegedly having a love affair with a girl from a village in the country's north western Kurram Agency.[98] On 11 July 2013, Arifa Bibi, a young mother of two, was sentenced by a tribal court in Dera Ghazi Khan District, in Punjab, to be stoned to death for possessing a cell phone. Members of her family were ordered to execute her sentence and her body was buried in the desert far away from her village.[2][99]

In February 2014, a couple in a remote area of Baluchistan province was stoned to death after being accused of an adulterous relationship.[100] On 27 May 2014, Farzana Parveen, a 25-year-old married woman who was three months pregnant, was killed by being attacked with batons and bricks by nearly 20 members of her family outside the high court of Lahore in front of "a crowd of onlookers" according to a statement by a police investigator. The assailants, who allegedly included her father and brothers, attacked Farzana and her husband Mohammad Iqbal with batons and bricks. Her father Mohammad Azeem, who was arrested for murder, reportedly called the murder an "honor killing" and said "I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent."[101] The man whose second wife Farzana had become, Iqbal, told a news agency that he had strangled his previous wife in order to marry Farzana, and police said that he had been released for killing his first wife because a "compromise" had been reached with his family.[102]

Saudi Arabia

Further information: Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia

Legal stoning sentences have been reported in Saudi Arabia.[103][104] There were four cases of execution by stoning reported between 1981 and 1992, but nothing since.[105]


In May 2012, a Sudanese court convicted Intisar Sharif Abdallah of adultery and sentenced her to death; the charges were appealed and dropped two months later.[106] In July 2012, a criminal court in Khartoum, Sudan, sentenced 23-year-old Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul to death by stoning for adultery.[107] Amnesty International reported that she was denied legal counsel during the trial and was convicted only on the basis of her confession. The organization designated her a prisoner of conscience, "held in detention solely for consensual sexual relations", and lobbied for her release.[106] In September, Article 126 of the 1991 Sudan Criminal Law, which provided for death by stoning for apostasy, was amended to provide for death by hanging.[citation needed]

In June 2022, Sudan sentenced a woman named Maryam Alsyed Tiyrab, to death by stoning, although the previous year it had ratified the UN Convention Against Torture which forbids the practice.[108]


In October 2008, a 13-year-old girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, reported being gang-raped by three armed men to the local al-Shabaab militia-dominated police force in Kismayo, a city that was controlled Islamist insurgents.[109] The insurgents claimed that Aisha had committed adultery by seducing the men, and went on to allege that she was 23 years of age (a claim disproven by both Aisha's father and aunt) and that she had expressly stated she wanted sharia law to be applied in her sentencing, thus theoretically justifying the capital punishment of stoning.[110] However, numerous witnesses have reported that in actuality Aisha had been visibly confused, crying, begging for mercy, and was physically forced into the hole in which she was buried up to her neck and stoned.[111]

In September 2014, al-Shabaab militants stoned a woman to death, after she was declared guilty of adultery by an informal court.[112]

United Arab Emirates

Further information: Capital punishment in the United Arab Emirates

Since 2020, stoning is no longer a legal form of punishment following an amendment to the Federal Penal Code.[113] Before 2020, stoning was the default method of execution for adultery,[114] and several people were sentenced to death by stoning.[115][116][117][118]

Islamic State

Further information: Islamic State

Several adultery executions by stoning committed by IS were reported in the autumn of 2014.[119][120][121] The Islamic State's magazine, Dabiq, documented the stoning of a woman in Raqqa as a punishment for adultery.[citation needed]

In October 2014, IS released a video appearing to show a Syrian man stone his daughter to death for alleged adultery.[121][122]

Other countries

Isolated incidents of illegal stoning also occur in countries where the practice is not generally a customary punishment. Stonings have been reported in Mexico in 2009,[123][124] 2010[125] and 2011.ref>Althaus, Dudley (Aug 21, 2011). "Teen's stoning death in Mexico stirs controversy". Chron. Archived from the original on Sep 4, 2023.</ref> In 1934, two Mexican women were stoned to death by a mob on the ground that they visited Puebla to make Socialist speeches.[126] In Guatemala, mob lynching has become a common form of vigilante justice, and is considered a legacy of the civil war.[127][128][129] In 2000, in the Guatemalan town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán, a bus driver and a Japanese tourist were stoned to death by a mob due to rumors that foreign tourists intend to kidnap Guatemalan children.[128] In 2021, a mob of more than 600 villagers in Honduras accused an Italian tourist of murdering a homeless man and stoned him to death.[130]



Among Christians

The late American Calvinist and Christian Reconstructionist cleric Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony, his son Mark and his son-in-law Gary North, supported the reinstatement of the Mosaic law's penal sanctions. Under such a system, the list of civil crimes which carried a death sentence by stoning would include homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one's virginity, bestiality, witchcraft, idolatry or apostasy, public blasphemy, false prophesying, kidnapping, rape, and bearing false witness in a capital case.[131][132][133][134]

Among Muslims

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found varying support in the global Muslim population for stoning as a punishment for adultery (sex between people where at least one person is married; when both participants are unmarried they get 100 lashes). Highest support for stoning is found in Muslims of the Middle East-North Africa region and South-Asian countries while generally less support is found in Muslims living in the Mediterranean and Central Asian countries. Support is consistently higher in Muslims who want Sharia to be the law of the land than in Muslims who do not want Sharia.[135] Support for stoning in various countries is as follows:

South Asia:

Pakistan (86% in all Muslims, 89% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Afghanistan (84% in all Muslims, 85% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bangladesh (54% in all Muslims, 55% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[135][136]

Middle East-North Africa:

Palestinian territories (81% in all Muslims, 84% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Egypt (80% in all Muslims, 81% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Jordan (65% in all Muslims, 67% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Iraq (57% in all Muslims, 58% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[135][136]

Southeast Asia:

Malaysia (54% in all Muslims, 60% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Indonesia (42% in all Muslims, 48% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Thailand (44% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[135][136]

Sub-Saharan Africa:

Niger (70% in all Muslims), Djibouti (67%), Mali (58%), Senegal (58%), Guinea Bissau (54%), Tanzania (45%), Ghana (42%), DR Congo (39%), Cameroon (36%), Nigeria (33%)[135][136]

Central Asia:

Kyrgyzstan (26% in all Muslims, 39% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Tajikistan (25% in all Muslims, 51% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Azerbaijan (16%), Turkey (9% in all Muslims, 29% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[135][136]

Southern and Eastern Europe:

Russia (13% in all Muslims, 26% in Muslims who say sharia should be the law of the land), Kosovo (9% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Albania (6% in all Muslims, 25% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land), Bosnia (6% in all Muslims, 21% in Muslims who say Sharia should be the law of the land)[135][136]

Places where substantial numbers of Muslims did not answer the survey's question or are undecided about whether they support stoning for adultery include Malaysia (19% of all Muslims), Kosovo (18%), Iraq (14%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%) and Tajikistan (10%).[136]


Stoning has been condemned by several human rights organizations. Some groups, such as Amnesty International[137] and Human Rights Watch, oppose all capital punishment, including stoning. Other groups, such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), or the International Committee against Stoning (ICAS), oppose stoning per se as an especially cruel practice.

Specific sentences of stoning, such as the Amina Lawal case, have often generated international protest. Groups such as Human Rights Watch,[138] while in sympathy with these protests, have raised a concern that the Western focus on stoning as an especially "exotic" or "barbaric" act distracts from what they view as the larger problems of capital punishment. They argue that the "more fundamental human rights issue in Nigeria is the dysfunctional justice system."

In Iran, the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign was formed by various women's rights activists after a man and a woman were stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006. The campaign's main goal is to legally abolish stoning as a form of punishment for adultery in Iran.[139]

Human rights

Stoning is condemned by human rights groups as a form of cruel and unusual punishment and torture, and a serious violation of human rights.[140][141]

Women's rights

Stoning has been condemned as a violation of women's rights and a form of discrimination against women. Although stoning is also applied to men, the vast majority of the victims are reported to be women.[142][143][144] According to the international group Women Living Under Muslim Laws stoning "is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms".[145]

Amnesty International has argued that the reasons for which women suffer disproportionately from stoning include the fact that women are not treated equally and fairly by the courts; the fact that, being more likely to be illiterate than men, women are more likely to sign confessions to crimes which they did not commit; and the fact that general discrimination against women in other life aspects leaves them at higher risk of convictions for adultery.[146]

LGBT rights

Stoning also targets homosexuals and others who have same-sex relations in certain jurisdictions. In Mauritania,[1] Northern Nigeria,[147] Somalia,[1] Saudi Arabia,[148] Brunei,[73] and Yemen,[1] the legal punishment for sodomy is death by stoning.

Right to private life

Human rights organizations argue that many acts targeted by stoning should not be illegal in the first place, as outlawing them interferes with people's right to a private life. Amnesty International said that stoning deals with "acts which should never be criminalized in the first place, including consensual sexual relations between adults, and choosing one's religion".[140]


The stoning of Saint Stephen (1863) by Gabriel-Jules Thomas






In the Tanakh (Old Testament):

In the New Testament:

In the Talmud


In the Tanakh and Old Testament:

In the New Testament:

In literature

In film and television

See also

Related methods of execution



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