When I Keep Silent…

Have you ever imagined how horrifying it is to kill someone to death by stoning? ‘Sangsaar’ is the term for stoning someone to death after its been proved she/he is ‘guilty’ of adultery. Here I brought ‘she’ intentionally before ‘he’, because women are the easier victim of this barbaric act of Stone Age. Despite living in this region, where everyday someone is being stoned to death, I have not seen such a terrible punishment live. Once watching the Persepolis movie—which is about the story of a woman in Iran who is stoned to death through a Mullah in a plot by her husband who wants to get rid of his wife for marrying another young girl—it made me cry despite feeling very little of the real pain that one goes through. And I bet that scene will bring tears of any heart with a little feeling. Death with a shot or in a bomb blast is, as we say in local slang, ‘easy death’, because one does not go through all the horrific pain for longer time in a ‘painless death’. But being stoned to death till your last breath is as horrible that even one cannot think of.  It starts with people around a helpless woman take stones and throw by all out force towards the ‘guilty’ and it hits anywhere on her body, from head, forehead, eyes, cheeks, shoulder, breast to toe. First the hands of the ‘guilty’ is tied back and the person put in a small hole. Guilty is not a suitable word, there should be some of the most horrific-sounding words for this. People gather with stones in their hands. Then the Mullah calls “Allah o Akbar” (God Is Great) and people start throwing stones. It’s the most horrible, sick and barbaric punishment for an innocent guilt. But it’s very common in countries like Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, it was one of the most common punishments to women in Afghanistan.

Yesterday the terrifying news of a couple being stoned to death by Taliban in Kunduz hit the headlines. According to the half-reported story, the man was married to someone and the woman was engaged. They had an affair. Its not known, how Taliban knew it and arrested the couple? According to the reports, a local Taliban commander brought the couple in the evening in front of a gathering of around 100 people mostly Taliban. He read aloud that the couple has confessed their ‘guilt’. He added, they had eloped and now will be punished. The people started throwing stones and the couple died. I hope the terrifying cries the couple may have screamed out become the punishment for all those to never have sleep in their eyes. But unfortunately, it’s only my hope and wish. The truth is otherwise. Those present at the scene might have felt being ‘blessed’ to have taken part in such a ‘blissful’ event. They think they have earned Sawab (credit or reward) for even witnessing it, and later conveying the ‘lesson’ to others.

A question comes in my mind, why did an engaged woman eloped with a married man? If it was for sex, she was already engaged, or the man was already married to enjoy the natural pleasure. Why did she, despite knowing about a horrible future if caught, preferred to elope? In most such cases, it’s because the girl has been forced to marry someone her parents want, or better to say her father and the male guardian of the family want, because mothers have generally less say in decisions of their daughters. Even in many cases, males too are not independent for their choice of a fiancée, mostly in rural parts of the abovementioned countries. Taliban members can never ever imagine to allow their daughters have a say in their marriage decisions. Though if looking at the religious texts, a girl has the complete right to chose her husband, but only those religious implementations that suit the Taliban are acted upon. When they are not allowed to marry a person they like or are forced to marry an old man against their will, stories such as the couple stoned to death yesterday would be common. Secondly, it’s one of the very few cases of stoning that I have heard the man was also punished. Otherwise generally it’s different. Mostly man manages it to escape the punishment and the doomed woman is punished.

Just last week, there was another such horrible story. Taliban flogged a pregnant woman to death. Bibi Sanauber, whose husband had died years back, was accused of having affair. Some locals had reported about her to the Taliban saying she was without a husband at home for last couple of years, how she could become pregnant. It proves her adultery. She was flogged and then shot dead. For a married one to have extramarital affairs, the punishment is less than that of Sangsaar for adultery. A married gets 100 lashes as per the religious rules. But Taliban, reportedly, gave 200 lashes and then shot dead the woman. And as common, the man was not punished. Maybe because he might have been a close friend of any Talib or might be that he was son of any influential local warlord or could manage to escape.

Just in the past week, there have been several cases of adultery punishment in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. A couple was again blamed of adultery in Pakhtunkhwa (former NWFP) province of Pakistan and the girl was killed, while the man managed to escape. Recently the cover of Time magazine of this month had a photo of an Afghan girl. It started a debate about Afghanistan in media. The story was that the girl was married to an old man as a result of a deal ending the Badi (family animosity) between two families. Girls have always to sacrifice, or must keep silent in such cases. They are never asked for their will. The girl had tried to ‘escape’, but her husband, the Taliban fighter, caught her and brought back. Then cut off her nose and ears. That girl is lucky enough to have gotten the attention of ‘news-hungry’ media and went to the United States for treatment, but there are hundreds of such cases.

And for those of you who are unaware, it might be surprising that  it’s all according to the Sharia codes that Taliban are implementing. According to a narration of a Hadith, “A married man and woman, if they commit adultery, stone them to death. This is a punishment from Allah.” And when it comes to such sensitive topics, it has already been declared not-debatable by the Fatwa-issuing ‘authorities’ of religion. And it’s when I keep silent, burning from inside. I know I can’t challenge it, nor can I oppose and prove it. Thinking so, reminds me the fate of Parvez Kambakhsh or Abdul Rehman, who were announced punishment to death by the legal court of the state! By the way, if adultery is proved, a civic court will also announce the same punishment, that Taliban does. I can only observe silence, perhaps waiting for the time people realize it themselves.

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9 Comments

Filed under Afghan Women, Religion

9 responses to “When I Keep Silent…

  1. dennis

    Thank you for your thoughts, well done. If i read this right the government would do the same thing? it’s just the taliban take it up a notch.

  2. if you are so much in favor of freedom to fornicate, go move some place else where it is allowed.

    Islamic societies prohibit fornications. Afghanistan 99% Muslim. So for the few non-Muslims who object Islam, it is better to leave.

    • Incredulous

      The article was not in favor of fornication. The article was a discussion of the practice of stoning not a discussion of the practice of fornication. The article raises some serious issues about stoning and the way it is carried out: (1) primarily against women, (2) why arent the men punished all the times that the women are punished, (3) why are men allowed to flee, escape, or are just not prosecuted, (4) why are powerful men allowed to commit fornication and get away with it? These are serious issues to be addressed. The answer to these questions is not: ‘non-muslims should just leave the country.’ What about Muslims who have problems with these discrepancies where the law is “the MAN and the woman are to be stoned” and yet the men who are committing these sins and these crimes (just as the woman) consistently gets away with it and is not punished at all. How is that acceptable? (Side notes: how and why is it acceptable to pick up a stone and bash someone’s head in? How and why is it acceptable to take a young girl and cut her nose and ears off? How and why is it acceptable to throw acid into a woman’s face and body?)

  3. humanity

    I also do not agree with this stonning BUT BUT when it comes to cheating husband – or husband cheating on wife THEN YES I WOULD GO with this too…

  4. humanity

    I also do not understand why the author of this article is in favor of the couple, what if any of your family member does such thing??? your answer would still be the same???????

    • Incredulous

      The point is that stoning is never acceptable unless you live in the times that the Quran was written. Stoning is barbaric, period. It is never acceptable. Doesnt matter if it’s the woman or the man doing the “sin” or the “crime.” Doesnt matter if it’s me, my family, or the family of someone I even were to hate (who sinned against me or my family/relative). Stoning, whipping, flogging, cutting hands and feet off…they are all barbaric. They belong in history far, far back, not in any present day system. …ridiculous! [If Taliban relatives or friends, or other powerful people, (or anyone) can get away with the same sins and crimes – it shows how bogus the punishment is.]

  5. Vania

    When I was reading your article and then saw there were some comments on it, I thought I was going to find all sort of supporting messages. I was, by the contrary, profoundly shocked by those comments above.
    I live in latin America, Mexico to be more accurate, and I also see with tears in my eyes how the corruption, non-stop violence and drug dealer’s war are ruining my country. I also see poverty and a lot of ignorance in rural areas. Lack of human rights and discrimination but I guess nothing can be compared with the situation occurring in many other parts of the world. It is not about supporting infidelity or not, not about condoning a person’s mistakes or not, but IT IS about stopping cruelty and believing any one has the right to judge.

    I am very happy to read your blog,even more when I think about all the afghan people like you who is brave enough to express their ideas and points of view to the world.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. human

    Muslims debating Islam, hopefully Muslims who know Islam personally and r not simply followers, a NECESSARY discussion.

    Considering the number of Muslims, the diversity of practices around the world, and Islamic history, to say that the Islam of centuries ago should be the Islam of the future is to NOT understand Islam.

    Also, lets remember that many of these horrible practices are NOT Islamic, they are PRE-Islamic, and they exist among NON-Muslims.

    It is important to highlight that there are many different kinds of Islam practiced throughout the world. Islam has been as susceptible to change and manipulation as every other major religion.

    But the one thing about Islam that has always painted it more true and beautiful than any other, to me personally, is that my faith is mine, it is between me and Allah. Every Muslim should know this and Islam for her/himself.

  7. Pingback: The War on Extremism | Kabul Perspective

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