Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Review: ‘The Stoning of Soraya M.’

thestoningofsorayampic.jpgContains some spoilers.
In 1986 Iran, in a remote village where the men manipulate, set, and enforce the laws based on their own version of Islamic teachings, one woman suffers a terrible, terrible consequence when her estranged husband decides to implicate her for adultery.
Based on a true story, “The Stoning of Soraya M.” relates the awful sequence of events that befall Soraya, a wife on the outs with her brutish husband. As the movie begins, Iranian village elder Zahra (“The House of Sand and Fog’s” Shohreh Aghdashloo) waylays a French-Iranian journalist passing through her village (“The Passion of the Christ’s” Jim Caviezel) and tells him the tragic story of her niece Soraya, beautifully played by Mozhan Marno.
As the story unfolds, Soraya is approached by the local cleric with an offer of divorce from her husband, Ali. Though she also wants out (because he abuses her and sleeps around), she knows she cannot care for herself and her children without him. Zahra begs her to leave him. But Soraya, who gets a job tending house for a local widower, won’t do so until she saves up enough money.
Ali, her husband, who is driven by his lust to marry a young girl, decides that if he cannot get a divorce from Soraya, he’ll just have her killed by framing her for adultery. Through a shameful sequence of events, Ali manipulates the mayor and cleric of the village to support his vendetta against Soraya. And as the title of the movie foretells, Soraya, is sentenced under a warped version of an Islamic law that calls for a person who commits adultery to be stoned to death. The final sequence of the film is an utterly painful, drawn-out scene that shows the actual stoning of Soraya M, leaving nothing to the imagination. Ever seen the flogging scene of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ?” This is worse.


I had a horrible time watching that scene, knowing how Soraya was framed by flimsy evidence. She becomes a victim of mob mentality, of a patriarchal society gone horribly wrong, of men harnessing Islamic punishment in the worst of ways. What’s hard to grasp is the Islamic ruling about adultery. Indeed, stoning is the punishment for committing that crime. But proving one has committed adultery is a complicated, exacting task that calls for many witnesses and concrete proof– things brushed over by the men in the film. The filmmakers want to show that stoning under any circumstance is wrong and barbaric. As a human, I understand that.
But as a Muslim, I also understand the reasoning behind the harsh nature of some Islamic laws–harsh punishments are meant to put a dead stop to immoral or criminal acts. But watching the actual stoning of Soraya M., as she is beaten stone by sharp, painful stone, was too awful. I could only take comfort in Soraya’s confession to Zahra, that she was terrified of being unjustly stoned to death, but not afraid of what lay on the other side of death– an eternal life in paradise with a just God.
Related Features:
Watch the trailer for “The Stoning of Soraya M.”
Read the Beliefnet interview with Jim Caviezel.
Shohreh Aghdashloo at</a

  • Tiffany

    This is a riveting film with an important message that is sure to leave a stunned audience. I hope everyone will take the time out of their weekend to see this truly amazing film.

  • Your Name

    I absolutely agree with the article – there is an intricate method for proving that both the MAN and the WOMAN were adulterous and to be stoned. Over and over do I hear and read about the unjust ‘Islamic ruling’ regarding women, however it is relayed incorrectly. There needs to be two witnesses whom have physically seen the act itself as a start. Furthermore both the woman and the man are to be punished, not just the woman. Unfortunately it is true that many villages, families and ‘Islamic’ societies manipulate the ruling and the woman is the one to suffer. It is abominable, however it must be emphasized that it is not islamic. I feel that this movie is yet another way to defame our Muslim society without dispelling the true message of Islam. I could not possibly watch a woman depict the atrocious suffering of another, I equate it to to watching a movie showing a woman being raped and killed to ‘learn a lesson’.

  • donna

    Who produced the movie? In other words, who is the money behind this movie? The topic smacks of someone who is interested in continuing to flame the feeling of fear of muslims. Of course this stoning was not “Islamic.” Niether is all the pornography which saturates American society “Christian.” Nor are the over 3000 annual domestic murders of women in the USA Christian. Someone had an agenda making this movie.

  • FM

    Lets for a moment think … if someone has an agenda behind making this film … isnt this a true story ? Is this not happening in almost all our Muslim countries. So lets get rid of these Un-Islamic traditions and Un-Islamic rituals … then we can point fingers at others. We have to keep evolving … and become better human beings and better Muslims. That is what this life is about. Evolve people … evolve !!!

  • Lukmahn

    Now, that’s a really funny perspective there…evolve!! Well FM, what do you suggest we evolve into? These nasty animals that rule the land by God knows which laws we choose to follow, or which ones we can pay our way through the judicial system to bend in our own favour?? In my rather myopic opinion, on this case, that is the core of the whole problem, and the core evil we need to root out; human greed, vanity, lust, weakness…you name it!!
    If the case against Soraya was genuine and properly carried out e.t.c, it would hardly have caught anyone’s eye…as “many more around the Muslim world” do go unnoticed…so to speak!! But guys, the sorry husband lied, bribed and cheated his way through it, sent an innocent woman to the gallows and for what…just to feed his lust?!! Sorry, but even in the New Anti-Islamic “Furqan” or whatever its called, no one can claim that this is Islamic practice or its purpose. It just happens to be non-sectarian, pathetic human nature!! As some really alert people have enquired here, what’s the motive behind the movie?
    We all agree that rules are made to regulate society, and that in some cases bigotic adherence to them without proper assessment of the mitigating circumstances sort of tends to lessen the whole essence of justice! But this equally applies to today’s laws and rules and our “oh-so-civilised” society. Everywhere on earth an injustice is perpetrated, it directly (and indirectly) affects some innocent person else where, and further fuels impunity, arrogance and injustice…period!! Whether these laws are Islamic, Christian, secular or other.
    It tantamounts to full-blown, hypocritic double standard to claim that other laws when blatantly abused, twisted and outright ignored in favour of the rich, powerful and/or influential, manipulative few to fuel their vain desires and lusts at the expense of the many disadvantaged people is somehow of lesser significance just because we aren’t discussing Islam!! Injustice is injustice, whatever the law, or whoever it applies to; and there is nothing inadequate or inappropriate about the law…least of all Islamic law! The failure is on the part of those that are charged with upholding and executing the said laws…and in this case, ALL OF US!!
    So FM, I’m sorry that my response appears pointed, but if there ever was a case in favour of evolution, I believe it would carry more weight leveled against our changing perceptions as opposed to our beliefs!! Both may be off-shots from the same branch, but it is much easier to influence the one, than the other….Oh, and so much less controversial or provocative!!

  • Your Name

    Lukmahn: Ever heard of Jihad? What’s the most important Jihad? The one that a person does against himself. Anyone can find mistakes and bad habits in others … but to find them within yourself and correct them … thats the biggest and the most importnat Jihad. Isn’t that evolving? I think it is. Keep improving yourself and become human beings and better Muslims.
    If you dont agree … lets just agree to disagree.

  • Your Name

    I dread for this movie.It is an ungodly means for a punishment.

  • Dennis

    To deliberately murder another human being is a far greater crime than any adultry. To murder by stoning to death is a very great perversion of our humanity–and you know it. Don’t evade personal responsibility by quoting scripture. The Nazis tried that: “I was ordered to do it.”

  • Pinky

    This is deplorable. HOWEVER THE FILM CAPTURES THE STUPIDITY AND IGNORANCE AND THE TRUE PICTURE OF THE CONSTANT EScalating violence against women in the world. Let us not speak of female genital mutilation, or the women who gt acid thrown on them or those poor brides who are dowsed with gasoline then set on fire… Do we think that not only will we all have to give account to God for our actions but what about the real law of cause and effect that is part of this life??? Stop the madness…come up to your higher self and think about what we r doing. Women r the first teachers of the nation and this kind of thing destroys that nation and deprives the future generation of so much. The men and everyone who took part in this unjust act against this woman will self destruct.

  • Lukmahn

    Your name,
    I cannot agree with you more…infact that was the entire ghist of my argument!! Instead of blaming religions, systems etc…lets look to ourselves as guardians of the laws and do the best we can to uphold them in the most just of ways.
    But then again I do disagree on the point of evolution. What you have explained above is life in its basic essence, and I believe most eloquently states our purpose on this earth.
    So, let us agree to disagree…By living to the fullest of my potential, fighting my personal ‘Jihad’, changing my perspective to live up to this standard; I’m not evolving at all; In essence, I’m listening to my basic inner instinct and nature…I am living!!

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