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In Islam, the penalty for adultery is one hundred stripes if the person is not married and stoning until death if he or she is married. God says in The Holy Quran Each of the women and the man guilty of adultery or fornication must be flogged with a hundred stripes. Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the Last day . And let a party of believers witness their punishment (Al-Noor: 2)

Conditions of Punishment:
Carrying out the punishment of adultery requires the fulfilment of all these conditions together in every individual case:

  1. The adulterer or adulteress must be a sane adult Muslim who has committed the act voluntary

  2. The crime must be proved through the culprit's admission or the testimony of four reliable witnesses who saw the process of sexual intercourse itself, i.e, the male organ in the female organ. The crime may also be proved through unjustified pregnancy. Notice that witnesses here must be four, whereas the normal number of witnesses in other cases is two, a differences justified by the special seriousness of the charge.

  3. The culprit does not deny or change his admission; nor does any witness deny or change his testimony.

Some Remarks:
Concerning the penalty for adultery we have to notice the following:

  1. Islam requires two witnesses for all crimes except the crime of adultery, where four witnesses are required, out of caution and exactness and because in adultery two culprits are always involved in addition to the very serious effect on their families fame and name.

  2. It is required that each of the four witnesses should have seen the actual act of sexual intercourse, i.e, male organ in the vagina.
    This implies that the charge must be absolutely verified without any shade of suspicion

  3. If the culprit denies or change his previous admission, the penalty will not be inflicted.

  4. If one of the four witnesses denies or changes his previous testimony, the other three witnesses will be punished for slander, i.e, false accusation of adultery.

  5. What applies to the male culprit applies exactly to the female culprit

  6. If four witnesses see the very act of sexual intercourse, this means that adultery was committed almost publicly, in a manner that severely threatens public morality.

The penalty for adultery is what it is in Islam for the following reasons:

  1. Adultery leads to the spread of venereal diseases, as one can see in some counries nowadays. One of these most horrible diseases of today is AIDS, the latest plague threatening human life.

  2. Adultery creates the problem of illegitimate offspring, who grow without father and mother, subjected to all types of delinquency. God says in The Holy Quran Nor come close to adultery, for it is a shameful deed and an evil opening the road to other evils (Al-Isra :32)

  3. Adultery usually leads to divorce, which in turn results in the destruction of of marriage and family.

  4. Adultery facilitates sexual satisfaction without bearing any responsibility and thus becomes an easy but dangerous outlet preferred by the youth to marriage, a situation which makes a destructive threat to both the marriage institution and family values.

  5. The negative effect of adultery goes beyond the adulterer and the adulteress to their families, sons, and daughters, who suffer painful disgrace and severe social embarassment

  6. Adultery may lead to other crimes such as murder and slander in defence of honor or revenge

  7. Adultery makes the son unsure of his real father and the father unsure of his real son or daughter, a great social chaos, indeed. If adultery prevails in any community, it will be the greatest danger that blows up all the network of social structure.

  8. The penalty for adultery, according to Islam is inflicted publicly to deter other persons and to intensify the psychological pain of the culprit.

  9. The penalty for adultery carried out by the Islamic court does not cancel the penalty in the other life, which is another reminder and deterrent to the believer.

  10. Islam makes the penalty for the married person severer than that for the unmarried person because the former has no excuse whatsoever to commit adultery since he is married and thus sexually satisfied.

  11. The underlying Islamic principle is that the only permitted sexual man-women relationship is through marriage: No sex at all is allowed before or outside marriage. If adultery spreads in a community, it will be more destructive to that community than nuclear or atomic bombs. That community will be undermined from within, probably slowly, but eventually surely.

  12. Islam rejects the claim that adultery is matter of personal freedom because adultery harms the whole society and is not a matter related to two persons only. In fact, Islam consider fornication or adultery one of the most detestable crimes God says in The Holy Quran Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay a soul made sacred by God except rightfully, nor commit fornication or adultery; and whoever does this, not only meets punishments but also the penalty on the Day of Judgement will be doubled to him and he will dwell therein in ignominy (Al-Furqan: 25)

  13. Some people may consider stoning the married adulterer or adulteress somehow cruel and brutal. Is it not equally cruel to destroy a man's family and disgrace him and his children forever through his wife's adultery? Furthermore, stoning occurs when the cluprit admits the crime as a means to purify himself and escape from the sting of his conscience. Besides, although stoning has been legislated for the last fifteen centuries it has not been inflicted expect in very few cases. The deterrent effect of the penalty remains in the function although the penalty itself is rarely carried out.

  14. The penalty for adultery can be fairly understood in the light of the Islamic look at marriage, family, and women. Islam aims at protecting marriage from dissolution and protecting the women from becoming an article for sale in the circles of business, intelligence, spying, lusts, prostitution, and night clubs, as it is the case now in some countries. Islam looks at the women literally as a holy being with special sacredness and special status. Islam also looks at marriage as a holy institution that must be thoroughly protected against any thread. The only way to safeguard marriage and family is to prohibit adultery and punish transgressors as strictly as possible.

Source: PENAL CODES IN ISLAM - Dr Muhammad Ali Alkhuli
DAR ALFALAH P.O.BOX 818 - Swaileh 11910 - Jordan
Tel & Fax 009626-5411547
ISBN: 9957 - 401 - 17 - 5 (RDMK)

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