And, anonymous, yes, the death penalty for adultry [sic] is hideous, but as a rule not practiced, especially in Arab countries.
To which "anonymous" wrote:
OK. So Arab countries are not, as a rule, following islam. [sic] Good! But would it really be a better world if we sacrelized [sic] murder on grounds of adultery, as is the case with sharia?
My response to "anonymous":
The problem with a lot of people (and not just Westerners) is that they look at another culture through their own cultural perspective without much thought as to the reasoning why something is in another culture. You think that, from Rob's statement, that Arab countries aren't following Islam (correctly). That isn't the case. The shari'ah system is set up to make these types of punishments difficult to implement. On the one hand, the punishment is very severe because it's trying to deter the crime from being done in the first place. Muslims know that if you're not punished in this life, you may be punished, insha'allah, in the next, and that punishment may be much more severe than the punishment today, insha'allah. Better to avoid any punishment whatsoever by not committing the crime in the first place. On the other hand, to convict for adultery requires four witnesses. Unless you're an idiot like Paris Hilton or Rob Lowe, where your sex tape gets distributed publicly, the odds are very low that people may witness your affair. (Still, Allah (swt) knows, and you'll answer to Him.)
Which comes to your supposedly rhetorical question, which you obviously know my answer: yes. Religion is not just about the betterment of the individual, but of society as well. Groups of people ("nations," as they're called in the Qur'an) can and will be collectively punished by Allah (swt), insha'allah, for their transgressions. Both the Bible and the Qur'an make that abundantly clear. (Sodom and Gomorrah? There are other examples in the Qur'an.) Adultery is not just a problem for the individuals concerned or their families. It affects society as well. The transmission of STDs, the breakups of families, the custodial issues about children? These all hurt society and, yet, you'd rather society to continue on its merry way instead of trying to curb the problem? At least Islam makes a serious attempt.