What is the punishment for adultery in the Qur’an?

“And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are defiantly disobedient.”  (Qur’an 5:47)

“Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted (to Allah)  judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. “ (Qur’an 5:44)

 

Double Standards? 

“It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that you do not do.” (Qur’an 61:3)

Would Allah (swt) ask the Jews and Christians to judge by what is revealed therein of the Torah and the Injeel and not expect Muslims to do the same, concerning the Qur’an?

 

Why does this even matter?  Saving a life is a huge matter!

“Because of that, We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person, not in retaliation of murder, or spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidence, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits in the land.”  (Qur’an 5:32)

It is not for any human being  that Allah should give him the Book, and the wisdom and the Prophet-hood that he should then say to men: ‘Be devoted to me rather than Allah, but rather (he would say): “Become men of Allah by spreading the knowledge of the divine writ, and by your own deep study of it.”  (Qur’an 3:79)

“Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? – when It is He, Who has sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.” (Qur’an 6:114)

The verses in question (Qur’an 24-1-2)

 

This is a chapter which We have revealed and made obligatory and in which We have revealed clear communications that you may be mindful.”

The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.”

First of all, it let us look at how this very chapter of the Qur’an begins.

So there should be no ambiguity over the above verse.  Allah (swt) said that it contains clear evidence.

The definition of zina

zina= illegal sexual intercourse, rather it is before marriage, or extra-marital.

Example:

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a path.” (Qur’an 17:32)

The Arabic is: Wala taqraboo azzinainnahu kana fahishatan wasaa sabeela

“Those guilty of illegal sexual intercourse shall not marry except one also guilty of illegal sexual intercourse or an idolatress, as for the one guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, none shall marry her but one similar guilty, or an idolater, . All that is forbidden unto believers.” (Qur’an 24:3)

Question?  How are you going to re-marry if you get stoned to death?

This is an obvious question. So we will see how the translators play a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the Qur’an chapter 24:2

All of these translators (translations) are people competent in the Arabic language.  Yet, what we need to find out is rather or not their translations are influenced by their sectarianism?

Sahih International

The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.

The text above is at least making it clear that the term ‘unmarried’ should be bracketed.  As this is not what the Arabic text says.

Muhsin Khan

The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime but if married persons commit it, the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s Law).

I’m not a huge fan of the Muhsin Khan translation. The interesting thing is that the translation is the most honest of those chosen here. However, it quickly makes it a point to insert its own sectarian milieu.

zina being translated here as ‘illegal sexual intercourse‘   and then they say the punishment for married persons is ‘to stone them to death, according to Allah’s Law‘.  According to Allah’s law?   Where is stoning for adultery in the law giving book?

Pickthall

The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.

This is a rather forced translation ‘adulterer and adulteress’ as the translator most likely is against the concept as I am. However, this does not mean we should try and force a translation.

Yusuf Ali

The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

This is also a very good translation, as the Arabic word zina can mean both.

Shakir

(As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement.

This is the opposite of the Pickthall translation above. It is also a rather forced translation.

http://quran.com/24/2  You can click and see for yourself.  The left-hand column will give you the option to see the various translations.

Now look at http://quran.com/24/3

Notice  the Muhsin Khan translation

“The adulterer marries not but an adulteress or a Mushrikah and the adulteress none marries her except an adulterer or a Muskrik [and that means that the man who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan or idolatress) or a prostitute, then surely he is either an adulterer or a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater, etc.) And the woman who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater) or an adulterer, then she is either a prostitute or a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan, or idolatress, etc.)]. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers (of Islamic Monotheism)”

The Arabic text is: Azzanee la yankihuilla zaniyatan aw mushrikatan wazzaniyatula yankihuha illa zanin awmushrikun wahurrima thalika AAalaalmu/mineen

It should be abundantly clear that if a person is “stoned to death” there is no possibility to get re-married!

How many witnesses for “stoning to death”?  Well according to the traditionalist it is four.

How many witnesses needed for flogging? Well according to the Qur’an it is four.

And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses – lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient”  (Qur’an 24:4)

Notice the text doesn’t say:

Those who accuse chaste believers”

Those who accuse chaste men and women”

Those who accuse unchaste women”

So we should ask according to the traditionalist what was the context of these particular verses?  What was the context, historically speaking?

 

 

The asbab an nuzul (the occasion of the revelation).

The accusation of the above verses was in relation to the accusation of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her).

It was an accusation of adultery, not fornication!

Nothing in Surah An-Nur 24:1-26 concerning stoning.

Surah 24:1-26 covers the following:

Punishment for zina (adultery and fornication)

False accusation of zina (adultery and fornication).

False accusation of a wife (adultery)

False accusation of Aisha (for alleged adultery)

 

 This is just a modernist position? No1 Evidence used by the Azariqa/Al Sufriya/Nadiya sect against the Sunni and Shi’a during the early Muslim community.

Contrary to the so view of so-called “traditionalist” who will proclaim that challenging the concept of “stoning for adultery” is a modern phenomenon; the truth of the matter is there was no consensus on the matter in the first three generations of the Muslim community!

The Azariqa (a sect of Muslims from the earliest history of Islam)  do not accept stoning as a punishment for adultery.*

* source:  (Fahmi Huwaydi, Hatta la Takuna Fitna, p. 132)

For those who do not know the Azariqa traditionalist who goes back to the early first three generations of Muslims.  They go way back in history.

The Azariqa did not prefer following oral traditions over the clear laws of Allah (swt).
The Azariqa would immediately shut down their opponents (
the Sunni & the Shi’a) with the following quote from the Qur’an.

If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And Allah has full knowledge about your faith. You are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: when they are taken in wedlock, if they fall into shame, their punishment is half that for free women. This (permission) is for those among you who fear sin, but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint. And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:25)

Now the Qur’an stipulates that the punishment for a slave is half that of a free person.

Notice the text says, “if they fall into shame, their punishment is half that for free women.”

Notice that the person is a married woman in the text.

Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable.”

How would you ‘half’ stoning to death?  Would there be some machine hooked up to the person with a meter that would go off?  ”Beep! Beep! Beep! “O.k stop stoning she’s half-dead!”

Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? – when It is He, Who has sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.” (Qur’an 6:114)

11 Comments

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11 responses to “What is the punishment for adultery in the Qur’an?

  1. Salaamun aleikum, brother. Well said. The situation is, however, worse than this, with the figure of the second caliph, Umar, being unjustly used as a mouthpiece in defending the fallacious “ayat-ur-rajm” (verse of stoning). For a brief critique of the riwayat (report) about this event, I refer interested readers to Authentication of Hadith: Redefining The Criteria by Israr Ahmad Khan (London, IIIT: 2010), pp.100-108. This is an extremely important, albeit short, work and a worthy complement to Fatoohi’s recent text on abrogation (naskh). I was, and remain, particularly impressed by his critique of ‘fatalistic’ interpretations of the concept of qadr as appear in Sahih Bukhari. Fi amaan illah

    • Walakum salaam wr wb,
      “Umar, being unjustly used as a mouthpiece in defending the fallacious “ayat-ur-rajm” (verse of stoning).”

      Very interesting! There is no doubt in my mind when we collate the hadith ‘evidence’ in regards to stoning that redaction and outright forgery was involved.

      “Authentication of Hadith: Redefining The Criteria by Israr Ahmad Khan (London, IIIT: 2010)” I have been desperately wanting to get my hands on this book. If you or the author are able to send to me please do let me know @ my e-mail address primaquran@gmail.com.

      May Allah (swt) continue to bless you and your family in these remaining days of Ramadan.

      Sincerely,

  2. Ammar

    The book “Authentication of Hadith” is available on amazon if you are interested..

    You can also check out this

  3. mmmclmru

    Wow – simply a brilliant article. As a Hanafi, we also reject stoning of adulterers and have a number of proofs. In fact, the opinion is traceable directly to Abu Hanifa himself – but I have never considered the marriage issue – it is a huge logical black hole in the rajm issue: first of all, dead people cannot re-marry and though the proponent of rajm will argue that ‘zani’ means fornicator only, this is a bald lie and the Shakir translation is nonsense (I wish you had been less polite about it given that as this is a ‘life or death’ matter) and that the ‘wedding’ to ‘right hand captives’ is ‘concubinage’ and not a ‘wedding’.

    What makes your research truly awesome is that it still would not work out for stoning this way – because what would be ‘half the normal punishment’ for a concubine? If concubinage is meant here then it makes no sense to stipulate half the normal punishment as the ‘normal’ would be a ‘wife’ and then it would be stoning and your case would stand.

    So there are two choices here: either there is a glaring contradiction in the Quran or it means lashing only. I have, to my knowledge, not come across this brilliant argument before. And that is, like I say, despite us Hanafis blatantly denying stoning and having had a huge war with Bukhari and others over this issue.

    I would appeal to you to expand this into a research paper on the subject including the views of Hanafis as well as those early sources you gave and also tackling the narrations supporting stoning – interestingly there is a narration of Umar suspending even the punishment of lashing after a young man apostated due to it. I will try to find it.

    Please mention the Mu’tazzila also – they pre-date the Four Schools – even us Hanafis who are the earliest of them- and they have always denied stoning (though they say major sins like that take you into a ‘indeterminate position’ a bit similar to kufr).

    Sadly, most of the Hanafis chickened out of Abu Hanifa’s position on rejecting stoning but many authoritative imams held onto it to the present day – Imam Samarkandi, Abu Zahra, Ahmad Mustafa Sarqa, Ahmad Shalut and Sheikh Ul Azhar Khudari Bek amongst many others.

    You join them in upholding the correct position, inshaAllah your reward will be immense to be one of the few who has the courage to say it – I feel it is definitely one of the reasons for Abu Hanifa and others assassinations: also the idea that the ayat of stoning was ‘eaten by a goat’ (hadith attributed to A’isha) is a kufr issue – no-one said it was abrogated but rather there is a narration saying that it is ‘lost’.

    You opened a can of worms here: how come the Quran tell believers who have committed zina to marry polytheists? So Quran is saying that marriage to polytheists is fine?

    Also, you should include something on the concubinage issue – Quran is referring to it as marriage and so where did the idea of concubines come from? Also, Ibn Abbas said ‘what your right hands possess’ still refers to wives and not concubines. So it is a big issue that needs sorting out.

  4. Bismillah,

    If you enjoyed this entry mmmclmru, and you enjoy me refuting the people at ‘let me turn the tables’ than perhaps you would enjoy this.

    https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/refuting-the-argument-of-stoning-to-death-for-adultery-taking-the-holy-quran-as-the-primary-guidance/

    You said:

    “In fact, the opinion is traceable directly to Abu Hanifa himself.” Do you have the source for this?

    You have also stated:

    “I would appeal to you to expand this into a research paper on the subject including the views of Hanafis as well as those early sources you gave and also tackling the narrations supporting stoning – interestingly there is a narration of Umar suspending even the punishment of lashing after a young man apostated due to it. I will try to find it.

    Please mention the Mu’tazzila also – they pre-date the Four Schools – even us Hanafis who are the earliest of them- and they have always denied stoning (though they say major sins like that take you into a ‘indeterminate position’ a bit similar to kufr).”

    I always ask you for the sources for this. If you want to contribute that is great. Yet it is of utmost importance that we provide sources for our information. Other wise it would be like accepting a lone narrator report without a chain, and worse yet because we have no idea who mmmclmr is.

    “You opened a can of worms here: how come the Quran tell believers who have committed zina to marry polytheists? So Quran is saying that marriage to polytheists is fine?”

    I would encourage you to read the text again carefully. The Qur’an is not saying that marriage to polytheist (blanket statement) is fine. People who commit zina and are known for it can only similarly marry people who have committed zina (among believers who committed similar offence) and yes they can marry polytheist who have converted to Islam.

    “And do not marry pagan women until they believe.” (Holy Qur’an 2:221)

    Again another problem with the Sola-Qur’an or Qur’an Only position. Because if you take the above verse than it would only apply to women; however by logic and inference we can see that. I could go into allot of reasons as to why the text would say ‘women’ instead of ‘men’ here.

    Here is a refutation of the Shafi’i madhab on not marrying the ‘Ahl Kitab’

    https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/imam-shafi-versus-gods-words-the-holy-quran/

    • Velocity58

      Brother, just to confirm, does this mean that all the muttawatir hadith narrations about stoning have been abrogated by the verse in surah al-nur? In other words, the stoning practice was before Surah Al-Nur was revealed? Also, is it that you are saying muttawatir hadiths could be false?

      • Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem,

        Surah An Nur is clear that the punishment for adultery is NOT stoning to death. None the less there are reports in the oral tradition that discuss stoning.

        I am of the understanding that this relates to what the Jews believed was revealed to them. Also it would not matter if the stoning practice was revealed before Surah An-Nur or after because with devices such as “abrogation” nask wal mansukh you could completely circumvent divine law.

        Also, as regards as to these hadiths being “muttawatir” and rather or not muttawatir can be false I would encourage you to read the following

        The Authenticity of Prophetic Ḥadîth: A Pseudo-Problem by Wael B. Hallaq

  5. mmmclmru

    No one made a blanket statement, rather you are seem daunted to follow through on the implications of your own discussion. So yes, the Quran is APPEARENTLY saying that marrying polytheists is fine if 1) you committed zina [in fact it is actively recommending it and putting polytheists on par with believers who have committed zina, which is also fascinating] 2) the polytheists in question are Christians 3) or even possibly Sabians if sabians refers to Buddhists or Hindus – there is no agreement on who sabians are. So perhaps it is more blanket than you think, as the Quran does seem to regard Christians as committing Shirk by mentioning ‘three’ as a number as opposed to a ‘triunity’ yet allows marriage with them.

    Also, Sharastani is concerned by much the same as were those scholars who seemed to sanction marriage to Hindus.

    This does raise some deep philosophical questions.

    ”People who commit zina and are known for it can only similarly marry people who have committed zina (among believers who committed similar offence) and yes they can marry polytheist who have converted to Islam.”

    Where does it say that they have to convert to Islam? If they are ‘converted’ since when are Muslims referred to as ‘polytheists’? And why is God degrading polytheists who choose to embrace Islam by offloading all the practitioners of adultery and fornication onto them as husbands and wives?
    I’m sorry, that’s a seeming gaffe on your part [it also does not have to be publicly known – why can’t God be addressing even the secret practitioner of adultery?].

    Muhammad Asad provides a different translation from Khan (who is a relative rank amateur in Arabic as GF Haddad ably illustrated) and an explanation of his own which at least has the merit of making some sense:

    24:3
    [Both are equally guilty:] the adulterer couples with none other than an adulteress – that is, a woman who accords [to her own lust] a place side by side with God;4 and with the adulteress couples none other than an adulterer – that is, a man who accords (to his own lust] a place side
    by side with God: and this is forbidden unto the believers.5 (24:4) And as for those who accuse chaste women [of adultery],6 and then are unable to produce four witnesses [in support of their accusation], flog them with eighty stripes;7 and ever after refuse to accept from them any testimony – since it is they, they that are truly depraved! (24:5) excepting [from this interdict] only those who afterwards repent and made amends:8 for, behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.

    4 The term mushrik (fem. mushrikah), which normally signifies a person who associates in his or her mind all manner of imaginary deities or forces with God, or who believes that any created being has a share in His qualities or powers, is here evidently used in the widest metaphorical sense
    of this term, denoting one who accords to his or her desires a supremacy which is due to God alone, and thus blasphemes against the principles of ethics and morality enjoined by Him. The particle aw (lit., “or”) which connects the word mushrikah with the preceding word zanjyah
    (“adulteress”) has in this context – as well as in the next clause, where both these terms appear in their masculine form – an amplifying, explanatory value equivalent to the expression “in other words” or “that is”, similar to the use of this particle in 23:6.

    5 Some of the commentators understand this passage in the sense of an injunction: “The adulterer shall not marry any but an adulteress or a mushrikah; and as for the adulteress; none shall marry her
    but an adulterer or a mushrik.” This interpretation is objectionable on several counts: firstly, the Qur’an does not ever countenance the marriage of a believer, however great a sin he or she may have committed, with an unbeliever (in the most pejorative sense of this term); secondly, it is a
    fundamental principle of Islamic Law that once a crime has been expiated by the transgressor’s undergoing the ordained legal punishment (in this case, a hundred stripes), it must be regarded, insofar as the society is concerned, as atoned for and done with; and, lastly, the construction of the above passage is clearly that of a statement of fact (Razi), and cannot be interpreted as
    an injunction. On the other hand, since adultery is an illicit sexual union, the verb yankihu, which appears twice in this passage, cannot have the customary, specific meaning of “he marries” but must, rather, be understood in its general sense – applicable to both lawful and unlawful
    sexual intercourse – namely, “he couples with”. It is in this sense that the great commentator Abu- Muslim (as quoted by Razi) explains the above verse, which stresses the fact that both partners are equally
    guilty inasmuch as they commit their sin consciously – implying that neither of them can excuse himself or herself on the ground of having been merely “seduced”.

    You have a bad habit of pedantry and punishing your commentators – US: ‘Republicans believe in free markets’ YOU: ‘give me a reference’. The Mu’tazzila position is well known to basically everyone and they are criticised by Ahlus Sunnah and Muhaditheen for it but you can find it in the ‘Kitaab Al Usool Wal Khamsa [Book of the five principles]’ of Qadi Abd Al Jabbaar (senior Mu’tazzila from Bagdadi school). It is also in basically every single Mu’tazzila book ever, of fiqh and in modern day Mu’tazzlia like Nasrutains’ work. Both available in English.

    I encouraged YOU to do a research paper on this as you seem to be much more capable than me to do it on the evidence of, otherwise I would have done it myself [this was my mistake] and gave you some stuff that I have heard and hoped you can look into it. To be very honest, you are a great writer but along with our exchange on the other issue, I see your reading comprehension is skewed – you don’t seem to read or understand things how most other people would. I said I would try and find you the references [rather than waiting till I had everything before writing a comment on a blog – it isn’t a peer reviewed journal you know – it’s fine just to write something offhand] but you have to go off on the importance of them – which I implicitly realised.

    I told you which Hanafi Imams have this opinion, and also told you that most chickened out. Some of them give the chains back to Abu Hanifa through his senior students (some of whom were Mu’tazzilites themselves) others use their usool. So if you search in Arabic with their names and ‘rajm’, you will see both sides of the debate. I can get some of their books but I do not have them to hand and some are well out of print even in Arabic, as I told you in our personal communication regarding another issue, but rather than give me the time to do what I promised and bring you some sources (since you want page numbers, scans and stuff presumably) you like to shame people in public, like a bad teacher thinking it will spur them on.

    So next time check your logical gaffes and I’ll check my reference gaffes.

    Also, read your own articles: they are peppered with statements like ‘Ahl Al Hadith say….traditionists say…’ and we all know what you say to be true, but we don’t say to well known things ‘Go and show me the ijma of traditionists on this. Which book isa it in? Which Para-Quran guy said this? Show me Barbahari says this…’ etc

    Also, your comment on the Sola Quran position on Quran 2:221 implies they have no ‘usool of tafseer’ encompassing qiyas etc [since they perhaps don’t need to go outside the Quran, they can say ‘women’ here includes ‘men’ by analogy if they accept this principle] – is this true? Please give a reference since ‘if you want to contribute that is great. Yet it is of utmost importance that we provide sources for our information. Other wise it would be like accepting a lone narrator report without a chain, and worse yet because we have no idea who primaquran is”.

    And no, I no longer wish to contribute so don’t rush to get those Quranist refs!

  6. Velocity58

    Brother, jsut to confirm, does this mean that all the stoning commands by the prophet saw was before Surah Al-Noor was revealed? In other words, did surah Al-Noor abrogate the stoning practice? Also, is what you are trying is that muttaatir hadiths can be unauthentice?

    • I do not believe that Surah An Nur abrogated anything per say. Because, this would entail that stoning was actually a practice mandated by the divine to begin with. It can be that this was the law of the land, influenced by the fiqh of prevailing Judaism. Surah An Nur simply lays down the Quran’s position on the matter without necessarily having to abrogate anything. Also, yes ‘muttawatir’ oral tradition can be inauthentic. In the ‘Read This First’ section we discussed that Qur’an over comes mass transmitted oral tradition. Also do realize that Muslim scholars have disputed the number of mass transmitted ahadith, what constitutes their number and so forth.

      You may see: https://islamclass.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/wael-hallaq-on-hadith/

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