But it requires four adult witnesses

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, arguing that Islam supports of the corporal punishment of a Saudi rape victim, quotes the Koran:

The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with 100 stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. (Koran 24:2)

Jill at Feministe disputes Ali use of the verse to attack Islamic ‘moderates’, pointing out that most Muslims do not take this verse literally:

Selecting one section from a centuries-old religious text and then drawing the conclusion that most followers of that religion follow that text to the word is ridiculous.

But she is summarily contradicted by commenter Nora:

Most Muslims agree that the punishment for pre-marital sex is flogging; the punishment for marital infidelity is death by stoning. Pretty atrocious when you hear it put that way, right?

Yes. You’re a psychic.

But I do look forward to your rationalisation of this barbaric practice:

How different would you feel if I bring in the part a lot of fundamentalists love to ignore: in order for any individual to be flogged/killed, FOUR adults must have witnessed the actual act of sexual intercourse.

Not very. You’ll make everyone feel better though, if you stop defending corporal punishment for pre-marital sex and capital punishment for infidelity. It doesn’t matter how many witnesses the Koran requires or whether you put the number in CAPS.

But ultimately, such reasoning exposes again, the futility of arguing from your opponent’s religious principles. It doesn’t matter whether the Koran punishes pre-marital sex with floggings or not. It doesn’t matter whether the passage is read literally or contextually.

We can safely skip the theological argument just as we do in cases of genital mutilation and blasphemy. Whether your religion supports it or not, corporal punishment or the death penalty for consensual sex is always wrong.


tina said...

FOUR adults must have witnessed the actual act of sexual intercourse.

Ummm...wouldn't that make them guilty too? Voyeur?

Anonymous said...

i read jill's blog entry on feministe and was part of the discussion thread. i also read nora's comment.

did you read her response to her first comment about needing 4 adult witnesses?

i would also assume you're against corporal punishment as a whole? because in American, corporal punishment is very much alive and kicking, and they don't even need a religious text to back up what they are doing.

Anonymous said...


plonkee said...

I guess it's a bit like trying to give them enough rope to hang themselves with, metaphorically speaking of course.

But yes, some things are just completely unacceptable, and religious beliefs supporting them irrelevant.

Australian Atheist said...

anonymous - I did read Nora's reply to my comment on the Feministe post.

It didn't fill me with great confidence. She seemed to be saying that the punishment only applied to Muslims and that she wouldn't vote for a government to inforce it anyway.

I am willing to take her argument in good faith, although I have a feeling that she backtracked to save face.

Even if it is only applied to Muslims it is still barbaric. And as Jill pointed many Muslims wouldn't be happy either to have such stupid rules apply to them.

But regardless she still quoted the Koran's passage postively. Nora still seemed to think that because the Koran calls for corporal punishment for pre-marital sex it is a wise and moral response.

Australian Atheist said...

plonkee - It is amusing at times to watch religious folk justify barbaric practices just because their book tells them to. It's just unfortunate that some religious people are powerful enough to enforce the crap rules their book lays out.

Australian Atheist said...

tina - Ummm...wouldn't that make them guilty too? Voyeur?

True. You could never accuse religion of being logically consistent.