The verdicts of the Shariat, or Islamic jurisprudence come basically from the Holy Quran or from reliable and authentic narratives from the Prophet of Islam (SA) or his descendants. I have heard and read the views of many knowledgeable interpreters of the Quran (including Ayatollah Mousavi Bojnordi) who infer that there is no reference to stoning or Rajm in the Quran.The references to Rajm in the context which it is employed in the judicial systems of Iran and certain Islamic countries in contemporary times are only found in the Torat. Modern jurists have indicated that such practices stem from Judaic tradition and have no Islamic backing. Also there are indications in the sayings of Imam Ali and other religious leaders that providing evidence for adultery is very difficult and probably impossible.
Nevertheless there are Jurists and scholars who believe that the only forceful response to adultery is stoning. In the Islamic Republic of Iran the verdict of stoning has been given in limited cases,and practiced rarely, while during certain periods internal and external pressures resulted in a moratorium on stoning (in place since 2002). Judicial officials have noted that Imam Khomeini had ordered a halt to this practice in the early years of his leadership.
The recent case of Sakineh Ashtiani, who was indicted on charges of adultery, found an unprecedented level of coverage and condemnation and has apparently resulted in a review of the verdict by the Iranian judiciary. Having said this I would like to make two points.
The first issue is that according to Islamic tradition and according to modern psychology,the family is the unique cornerstone of human development. To safeguard the family is to protect the rights of the future generation and the society. For the past decades promiscuity, obsession for bodies and looks, the comodification of women and sex has held the upper-hand in Western civilization. Teen pregnancies, single mothers and children with no families are the imminent result of this culture. On the other hand modesty, protecting the dignity of human beings and the rights of the future generations and the emotional and moral integrity of the young generation are the concerns that religions follow world wide. These concerns are justified when we see the soaring rates of social and cultural challenges both in industrialized and developing nations prone to western culture and propaganda for the hollow "western lifestyle".
The second point is that the Western media and the neocon propaganda machine is taking advantage of this matter as well as other obvious weaknesses of the Iranian government to turn their public against Iran and prepare them for an imminent attack or aggression. This is an unjustified approach that had prevailed in the early years after the Islamic Revolution and today, unfortunately, an incompetent government in Iran is creating pretexts for this unlawful synchronization of public opinion against Iran.
We have to campaign for a revision of the current marital law in which it has been proposed that stoning be deleted. We also have to campaign to restore the authentic image of Islam,which is in many cases,very different from what has been portrayed in Islamic countries.