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The Politics of ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb and Zinā-Stoning

In: Arab Law Quarterly
Author:
Syed Atif Rizwan Catholic Theological Union 2466 5416 S. Cornell Avenue, Chicago, IL 60615 USA

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Abstract

This article examines several versions of a report in which ʿUmar b. al-Ḫaṭṭāb makes a public statement asserting the lawfulness of stoning as punishment for a category of offenders convicted of unlawful intercourse. The article also analyzes certain versions of a report in which ʿUmar makes a public declaration that the acclamation of Abū Bakr as caliph was legitimate despite the process being unexpected and in haste. The author argues that the motif of ʿUmar as having made a public statement about the validity of stoning drew upon a motif about his public declaration regarding Abū Bakr’s caliphate. The association between these two motifs may have been part of a strategy to link, under the purview of ʿUmar’s authority and reputation for insulating the community against internal crisis, the settling of one contentious matter (the legitimacy of stoning) with another (the legitimacy of Abū Bakr’s caliphate).

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