There are many men and women lashed daily in our country, and their cases are unknown to the public so punishment by lashing requires due consideration and deep thought and this should offend our sensibilities.

Certainly, there must be an appropriate penalty for those guilty of violating our laws to prevent others from committing similar offenses; otherwise, anarchy and disorder would prevail in society. In this day and age, however, lashing is too harsh a penalty, especially when used on a woman; it not only destroys humanity and pride but also a person's dignity. This is not the purpose of lawful punishments for violations in any society. Demeaning the character of the offender produces negative effects far greater than any societal benefits.

One who is lashed loses his self-esteem and no longer cares for the consequences of his or her present or future criminal actions, no matter what punishment he or she may face. What other punishment could be harsher than lashing? It fully destroys personal dignity and creates lifelong shame among one's neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances. What other punishment is more repugnant, particularly if the punishment is imposed on a woman who might be a mother, a sister or a daughter of any of us?

We live in a great nation that has a strategic role in the international community due to religious, historic and geographic factors, in addition to its prominent place in the Middle East and its natural resources. Saudi Arabia is not Iran or any repressive regime; instead, it is a civilized country that is a member of the G20, an important member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and more importantly, one of the most stable economic and political countries in this ever-changing and unstable world. This makes Saudi Arabia the focus of the entire world in the age of open satellite channels and globalization.

The issue of the lashing penalty as imposed in the Kingdom is troublesome, considering all of its civil, human and moral dimensions, especially now when we live in a time that emphasizes the importance of human rights issues like never before. We all know that the Kingdom imposes the lashing penalty in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah, but consider the following:

1. If the lashing penalty is imposed on the basis of texts in the Holy Qur'an, we must consider the text in the context when it was written and what the circumstances were at that time. For example, some Qur'anic verses are associated with a certain event that occurred in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). So the text was associated with a certain period, context and event.......