Tenth Greater Sin: Fornication
The tenth Greater sin is adultery (zina) according to the traditions of Masūmen (a.s.). Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.), Imam ‘Ali Riďa (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have all described it as a Greater Sin.
In the following ayat the Almighty says:
“And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement.” (Surah al-Furqān 25:68-69)
The meaning of Ithm and ghayyi
The book Minhāj us-Sādiqīn states that Ithm (sin) in this ayat denotes a valley of Hell. Fornicators shall be punished in this valley. It is also said that Ghayyi means the secretions of blood and puss from the private parts of the people of Hell. It is a black puss.
Another ayat says:
“But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed the sexual desires, so they will meet perdition.” (Surah Maryam 19:59)
Some traditions record that the Ithm of the previous verse and ghayyi of this verse are two wells in Hell. These two wells are so terrible and deep that if a stone is dropped into one of them, it will take seventy years to reach the bottom.
It is mentioned in Surah al-‘Isrā’:
“And go not nigh to Fornication, surely it is an indecency and an evil way.” (Surah al-‘Isrā’, 17:32)
It is an evil due to which paternity is not established. It leads to corruption and mischief. The child that is born is bereft of inheritance. The child that is born and its father do not have rights upon each other like the legal father and son.
An Evil Way to Fulfill the Sexual Urge
In the book, Balahae al-Ijtemai the above ayat is explained as follows:
“One must not even go near fornication for it is a lowly act. It is a very dirty action and leads one astray.”
The seriousness of this sin as mentioned in the Qur’an is evident from this ayat;
“... It is an indecency and an evil way.” (Surah al-‘Isrā’, 17:32)
These words clarify the Islamic point of view, which opposes all types of indecencies and carnal desires. It shows that adultery is an indecent act and an evil way of satisfying the sexual urge. The Almighty Allah (S.w.T.) has created the sexual urge for continuation of the human race. He has also created a feeling of love and physical attraction between man and woman. If this sexual urge is satisfied in a disciplined manner, the human race is assured of peace and prosperity. It must be remembered that fornication contaminates the progeny.
But when this evil becomes prevalent in a society just to satisfy the basic instincts, it leads to destruction and despair.
Also, as a result of an immoral life countless people and their children suffer from debilating, deforming and incurable diseases. Huge sums of money are drained from the budget to take care of victims and to find a cure for such diseases. Innumerable illegitimate children are born ill and undernourished; destitutes without a home and with no one to care or be concerned for them.1
Page number 131 of the same book describes the evil that has spread due to sexual crimes and illicit relationships. Such destruction and evil does not have an equivalent in the 20th century.
In the highly competitive world of today, man strives to use all his assets to optimal capacity. His efforts are fully concentrated in deriving the maximum efficiency from all his inputs so that he can achieve unprecedented progress in minimum time. So it is pity to see him make a wasteland of his most precious possessions, his natural instincts and desires gifted to him by Allah (S.w.T.) for his happiness and prosperity.
Like all branches of science, nuclear and medical science has also made a progress. Vast sums of money are poured into research for discovering new drugs that may save mankind from the scourge of these diseases. Yet, the number of people suffering from debilitating maladies resulting from immoral conduct are ever on the increase. In every country, countless such people have to be hospitalised over extended period of time. They wreck their own lives and are also a burden to society.
Every country makes ambitious plans to achieve progress and prosperity. But all these development plans come to naught as millions of illicit children are born, posing a challenge to the economy of even the most affluent countries. For the poor undeveloped countries the results are disastrous. Not only are the uncared children a drain on the country’s economy, they even pose a law and order problem as they grow up uneducated in a condition of abject poverty and crime. A shocking survey of statistics reveals the enormity with which sexual crime has gripped the world.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica a majority of Americans contract venereal diseases. America has hundreds of special hospitals for patients with venereal diseases.
The book “Qawānīne Jinsi” says that every year thirty-four thousand new born children die of hereditary diseases. The deaths caused by these diseases are more than the deaths due to any other cause (except tuberculosis).
The ‘Kahyan Daily’ (no.5356) has mentioned,
“Dr. Maulin Norjoe who practices in North London, writes in his article that every year 50000 abortions of illicit children are carried out in London. One child out of every twenty newborns is illegitimate.”
The daily ‘Ittelat’(no.1414) writes that in 1957 America had illegitimate children numbering 201700. There has been a five fold increase in the next twenty years. This year, unmarried pregnant women numbered 24000. It is astonishing and pathetic that a majority of them are less than eighteen years of age. In Paris, of the total of 43515 new born children, 4145 are illegitimate. In the Soviet Union, every year 17000 illegitimate children are born.
The Evil Effects of Adultery in this World and the Hereafter
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
“Fornication has six types of effects. Three are for this world and Three for the Hereafter. The Three evils which become evident in this world are:
The face of the adulterer loses countenance.
He falls into depravity and destitution.
His death draws near.
And the Three punishments for Hereafter are:
(1) He is liable for Divine anger.
(2) His reckoning is severe.
(3) He abides forever in Hell.”
Fornicator in the Barzakh
The fifth Imam (a.s.) has also said,
“Whoever commits Fornication with a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Magian woman, whether she is a slave or a free woman; and dies without repenting of his sin, then the Almighty Allah opens Three hundred doors of punishment in his grave. From each door many snakes, scorpions and pythons emerge from the fire and burn and torment him till the Day of Qiyāma.”
Fornicator on the Day of Judgement
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) describes the fornicator in detail and says that when he would be raised from his grave on the day of judgement he shall be in a horrible state.
The Imam says,
“When a fornicator will rise from his grave the stink of his body shall hurt the people. The people will know what deeds he had committed in the world. Till the Almighty Allah would order him to be thrown into the fire.”
Then Imam Baqir (a.s.) continues,
“Know that Allah has prohibited Himself the Harām things. He has also prescribed the rules and regulations of life. No one is more modest than Allah. It is His modesty that He has prohibited Fornication.”
The stench of the Fornicator will be a nuisance for the people on the Day of Judgement
Hazrat ‘Ali (a.s.) says:
“On the day of Qiyāma a bad smell shall be released by the order of Allah. And all the people will become restless because of it. So much so that it would be difficult to breathe. Then a caller will proclaim loudly, ‘O people of Mahshar! Do you know what this stench is?’
They would reply, “We do not know! However this stink is causing great discomfort”, then Imam (a.s.) continued,
“It is the bad smell from the sexual organs of the fornicators who died without repenting for their sins. O people, Allah curses these people, you too invoke curse upon them.” Then there will be not a single person who would not say, ‘O Allah send your curse (anger) upon these fornicators’2
The Holy Prophet (S) says:
“After me when Fornication will increase, sudden deaths will also increase.”
He also said:
“Fornication causes depravity and destitution, and because of it, populated places become deserted.”
Hazrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Allah has made adultery Harām because it causes many evil things. Murder of innocent, lack of lineage and paternity, lack of training of children and lack of proof of inheritance.”
Fornication With Pure Women
The punishment for illegal sexual act with a woman is hundred lashes. The penalty of illicit sexual intercourse between a married woman and married man is stoning to death.
Hazrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“There are Three types of people with whom Allah will not even speak on the day of Qiyāma. There is a terrible punishment for them. One of these Three group will be of the women who inspite of having husbands commit adultery with others.”
The Holy Prophet (S) says:
“Whoever commits Fornication with a married woman, both of their sexual organs will give out such a stink that it would be felt even at the distance of five hundred years. This stench will hurt the people of Hell. And such fornicators will be subjected to the most severe punishment.”
Islam Views the Problem from Every Angle
The book “Burhan al-Qur’an” examines the punishment for adultery as prescribed in Islam keeping in mind the factors of human desires and sexual feeling, Islam has also enunciated the easiest ways of satisfying sexual desires and fulfilling sensual feelings. It has ordered its followers to marry at the beginning of puberty. It is the most recommended way.
The book also describes the punishment prescribed in Islam for adultery. It also discusses the way of life recommended by Islam which; if followed strictly; would minimise or even eradicate the practice of illicit relationships.
The Holy Prophet (S) says:
“Marriage is my practice. One who forsakes this practice of mine is not from me.”
The rules and regulations of marriage in Islam are simple so that there are no encumbrances in finalising a marriage. An Islamic government is bound to provide financial support to the unmarried people who are unable to marry because of poverty. In this way, youthful passions and desires are contained and illicit relationships are minimised. In order to eradicate this evil, Islam directs us to fulfill a social as well as a spiritual code of conduct. At the social level it is obligatory for those more fortunate amongst us to fulfill the needs of the less privileged.
The wealthy amongst us are duty bound to take care of the financial needs of the poor. It is likewise obligatory to make a sustained and dedicated effort to educate the people for both social welfare and spiritual upliftment. Islam expects every individual to help the members of the community in whichever manner he can. The philosophy of Islam, if adhered to, can ensure the removal of poverty and ignorance which in turn ensures the removal of envies, perversion and illicit and illegal affairs associated with these. With an early marriage, the basic material needs of man are taken care of and an individual is well equipped to resist getting involved in degrading acts like adultery.
Self-control is further strenthened by practicing the laws of Islam which are encoded at the spiritual level. Islam has defined some acts of worship as obligatory. Our Holy Prophet (S) and our Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) have taught us and guided us to innumerable recommended acts of worship like mustahab fasts, Mustahab prayers and Etekaf. Every prayer essentially refines a person’s character and raises him to greater heights of nobility. By earnestly keeping up prayers and fasts, an individual can strengthen his inner resources and develop his spiritualism. Such an individual will have the power to exercise control over his passions and natural instincts and will not stoop to commit adultery which is declared as a Greater sin by his religion.
Islam prescribes very strict and severe laws of punishment for the wrong doers. This is necessary. It is only the severity of a law that compels average individuals to abide by it. But, however severe the punishments prescribed in Islam may be, they are always tempered by Allah (S.w.T.)’s Mercy and Compassion. Hadd (punishment) for adultery can only be executed if there are four just witnesses who have seen the sin being committed with their own eyes. Obviously the worldly punishment can be given only to those who publicly and shamelessly behave like beasts. It is truly amazing that even for such loathsome behaviour, Islam orders leniency in punishment. For example, only a married person who commits adultery is to be stoned to death. The punishment for an unmarried person is a hundred lashes.
The present day youth is caught in the mire of economic and moral decline. They are mentally disturbed and unstable. They believe it is advantageous to avoid the bonds and responsibilities of marriage and satisfy their natural needs with illicit relationships.
Undoubtedly, these problems have arisen because we do not implicitly practice the code of conduct as laid down by Shari’a and we do not fully implement the rules and regulations as defined in Islam. Had there been an Islamic government, it would have endeavored to eradicate this immorality from the society by providing the basic needs to the poor and facilities for an early marriage.
An Islamic government would strictly ban pornography, bars, night clubs etc., all of which arouse sexual desires in people and lure them to indecencies and indiscriminations. Islam prohibits all activities that excite passions and promote shameful and degrading behaviour.
The strict laws of punishment in Islam should not lead us to think that Islam only wishes to punish the wrong doers. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evil. In fact, Islam takes a very compassionate view of sinners. On the one hand, the stern orders of punishment are strictly regulated so no injustice is done in carrying them out. On the other hand, Islam outlines a code of social obligation that creates an atmosphere of joy and dignity for all. No one in an Islamic society would be compelled by helplessness and desperation into bad conduct. It is a pity and our misfortune that we fail to implement fully our social obligations.
Islam has not ignored the punishment for the wrong-doers. Punishment is prescribed for sins in order that law and order are maintained in the society. Hadd (punishment) for adultery is prescribed only when a person performs this act shamelessly and openly, in the presence of four just witnesses. He defiles the chastity of some women and satisfies his beastly desires in the worst manner. Islam orders the punishment only when four just witnesses state that they have witnessed the actual act with their own eyes. Islam punishes the fornicator when he plays with the honour of the society. It is surprising that even in this case, Islam has been lenient with the wrong doers to a great extent. If the adulterer is unmarried a hundred lashes is his punishment. Stoning to death is only for that sinner who has a legal wife and indulges in this serious crime only to give vent to his lewdness.
It is necessary to mention this remarkable fact. In today’s world, the youth is having such a state of mind that due to the economics and morals of the society they try to escape from the bonds of marriage and are attracted towards sexual perversions.
It is true that our youth is involved in economic difficulties and moral problems. But what is the root of this problems? A simple answer to this is that Islamic rules and regulations are not being followed and are not being put into practice. If the Islamic laws are fully implemented we would remain safe from immorality. If there had been an Islamic government it would have endeavoured to eradicate the lewdness and immorality from society. It would have provided the means of an early marriage. It would have also endeavoured to provide the basic necessities to the common people. It would save its youth, who are its future, from falling into the abyss of destruction.
If the Islamic government is in power, such things like shameful films, pornographic magazines, bars and night clubs would not have any existence because these things arouse the sexual desires. The Islamic law prohibits all such activities that promote sins and evils. In Islamic society, the youth is not compelled to remain celibate due to such created problems. Rather, such an atmosphere and society is created wherein all the people spend their life with chastity and dignity. Islam is not only for punishing the people. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evils.
For this very reason, Islamic law first takes into consideration the condition and helplessness of the fornicator, and only then does it prescribe the punishment. The fornicators are divided into seven groups and different penalties are fixed for them.
1) Stoning to death.
2) Stoning and lashes - both.
3) A hundred lashes and exile from the city after shaving the head.
4) Fifty lashes.
5) Seventy five lashes.
6) “Zighas”- it means picking up the lash many times to hit once.
7) The penalty of Fornication and fine - both.
Here, we shall describe the legal rulings, according to jurisprudence and traditions, for the information of our respected readers.
1) In order to establish the crime of adultery, four just male witnesses are required or Three just male and two just female witnesses or two just male and four just female witnesses. If two just male witnesses and four just female witnesses state that they have witnessed the act, and if the sinner or the fornicator does not have a legal wife, or the fornicator woman does not have a legal husband, than they are not stoned to death. They are only given a hundred lashes each.
2) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at one and the same place.
3) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at the same time.
4) All the witnesses must testify in the same sitting.
5) If four just people quote the testimony of four just witnesses it is not sufficient.
6) If four just witnesses testify that a certain woman has committed fornication, their testimony shall not be accepted if they are not familiar with this woman since they do not know her and it could be that she is the legal wife of that man.
7) If Three of the four witnesses testify and the fourth one refrains from testifying, or if his testimony differs from the previous Three witnesses, the Three witnesses who have testified shall be punished for ‘qazaf’ (defaming a chaste man or woman of adultery).
8) If the fornicator confesses his crime thrice, but refrains from the fourth confession, he cannot be punished. For a penalty to be lawful, it is necessary to confess four times.
9) He must make four confessions in four different sittings. He cannot be penalised if he makes four confessions in one sitting.
10) It is not permitted for the Judge to goad the accused to confess. He must also not be prompted to complete sentences (that is, words must not be put into his mouth). The Judge must try to maintain purity, chastity and dignity among the common people and must try his utmost that the crime of adultery is not proved. The Judge must try to give such suggestions to the accused that he may be able to save himself from the penalty by falling into doubts and uncertainties. It is also the duty of the Judge to encourage the accused to plead innocence.
11) When a married man confesses of adultery four times but later pleads innocence, the penalty of stoning will not be imposed upon him. His punishment shall be reduced.
12) A new convert to Islam who is unaware of the punishment shall not be punished.
13) If the adulterer is unmarried and he is suffering from some illness, the jurist is authorised to beat him with a broom of twigs or a branch of the date palm. He should consider these as lashes. He could also beat him with a branch or broom and consider each of its twig equivalent to one lash.
14) The lashing should be so controlled that the flesh of the body is not affected. The accused can only be punished when he has committed the crime willingly. (If someone is forced to commit fornication, penalty cannot be imposed upon them ).
15) If a man mistakes a woman to be his legal wife and has sexual intercourse with her, then he cannot not be punished.
This is thus the detailed analysis of the laws prescribed by the all Beneficent and the all Merciful Allah (S.w.T.), who knows His creatures very well. He has prescribed such regulated punishments for a serious sin like fornication. Now we shall quote a tradition that proves the extent to which the saints of Allah (S.w.T.) strived to protect the dignity of the people. How much precaution they took in passing a decree of fornication.
In the time of the rule of Umar a woman came to him and confessed of adultery. She also said, “Please impose the penalty of fornication upon me.”
When Umar heard this, he ordered that the penalty of fornication be executed upon this woman. ‘Ali (a.s.) happened to be there and was surprised at this. He said, “Umar, inquire from this woman the conditions when she had committed fornication.”
The woman explained, “I was extremely thirsty in the desert. When I went far in search of water, I sighted a black tent which belonged to an Arab. I approached him and asked for water. But he refused to give me any water without my having adultery with him. I did not agree to his devilish desires and ran away into the desert. My eyes became sunken and I felt as if each of my bones were breaking. I returned to this man and in exchange of a drink of water I gave my body to him.”
‘Ali (a.s.) said,
“It is this compulsion which is mentioned in the ayat,
‘...But whoever is compelled by hunger, in inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving Merciful,’ (Surah al-Mā’ida 5:3).
This woman is not at all guilty of the crime.”
Then Imam (a.s.) ordered for her release and she was released.3
Adultery is the root of degradation of society in the world and eternal punishment in the hereafter. Islam has therefore prescribed some obligatory rules for our protection. Allah (S.w.T.), in His unsurpassed wisdom made these rules incumbent upon us. If these rules are obeyed, the Muslims can protect themselves from such a serious sin.
1. The Order for Hijab in the Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an has ordered women to cover themselves in some situations.
“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appear thereof. And let them wear their head coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments...” (Surah an-Nūr 24:31)
It is also mentioned in Surah al-Ahzāb,
“O Prophet! Say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over garments, this will be more proper, that they may be known and thus they will not give trouble. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzāb 49:59)
In the same chapter, Allah (S.w.T.) says:
“O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other of the women, if you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he whose heart has a disease yearn and speak a good word.” (Surah al-Ahzāb 49:32)
Another verse states,
“And when you ask them (the wives of the Prophet) any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain, this is purer for your hearts and (for) their hearts.” (Surah al-Ahzāb 49:53)
In the above verses, the Muslim woman is ordered to veil herself. She must not come before non-mahram without Hijab. She should dress in such a manner that strange men do not get an opportunity to glance at those parts of her body which arouse passion; and thus make her an object of desire. It is the responsibility of a woman to assume such poise and behaviour that she does not excite a man’s passions. Even a glance of lust can infatuate a man and a seemingly harmless encounter eventually lead to mischief and corruption in society, destroying entire families.
In Iran, during the rule of the Shah when the law of Hijab had been revoked, the cases of fornication increased sharply. Every day many cases related to sexual crimes were heard in the courts of law. Every month many married mothers used to forsake their homes to enter into a perverse life of illicit sex. Five thousand such parents established a new township outside the city of Tehran. The condition steadily deteriorated and came to a stage that every day approximately seven infants were found abandoned in the streets of Tehran, as reported by the commissioner.
It is obvious that illicit children born as a result of fornication, whose parentage is not established, cannot create a position for themselves and are a burden to society. Due to the absence of Hijab, adultery and fornication became common and thousands of chaste women become immoral. One of the highly effective ways of protecting the society from the sin of adultery is that women wear hijab and ward off the evil glances of sensuous men.
2. Looking at the Non-mahram
The women are also ordered not to look at non-mahram men, and the men are similarly warned.
It is ordered in Surah an-Nūr,
“Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is aware of what they do.” (Surah an-Nūr 24:30)
The Poisonous Arrow of Satan
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
“An evil glance is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Many of such glances becomes a cause of prolonged jealousy.”4
Fornication of Organs
Both Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) have informed,
“There is no man who is not to some extent guilty of fornication. The fornication of the eyes is the evil glance, the kiss is the fornication of lips and touching a non-mahram woman is the fornication of hands.”5
It is also recorded that,
“Those who look at a non-mahram woman with an evil intention and fill their eyes with this sight (that is they look for a long time) Allah will, on the day of Qiyāma fill (pierce) their eyes with burning rods. They will continue in this way till Allah completes the hearing of the cases of all the people. Only after that will He order them to be thrown into Hell.”6
In the Chains of Fire with Iblīs
That person who embraces a non-mahram woman will be tied with chains, together with Iblīs on the day of Qiyāma. These chains shall be of fire and both of them shall be tossed into Hell together. The following are also the words of the tradition:
“One who glances at a woman, but instantly looks away at the sky or turns his gaze down; before he could remove his gaze fully, Allah marries him to a black-eyed houri and he creates such a freshness of belief in his heart that he is extremely delighted.”7
It is reported from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said;
“The wrath of Allah is very severe upon the married woman who apart from her husband sees another non-mahram man with a prolonged glance. When this woman does this, Allah the mighty invalidates all her good deeds and does not give her any rewards.”8
A few traditions mention that looking at a woman in hijab is also not allowed. Although it is a generally considered a makrūh act. Although there are numerous traditions that denounce glancing at non-mahrams these shall suffice for our purpose.
Alone in the Company of Non-mahram
It is Harām for a stranger or non-mahram man to remain alone in company of a non-mahram woman when there is a risk of committing a sin, even though they may be busy in worship. In the same way women are ordered not to stay in company of non-mahram men when there is a chance of sinful act.
The Holy Prophet ( s.a.w.s.) says:
“One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement does not remain in a place where (even) the sound of breathing of the non-mahram women is perceived.”
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“When the Prophet (a.s.) took allegiance from the women he told them to take an oath that they shall not sit alone in company of non-mahram men.9
A lonely place means the one where there is no chance of anyone else entering or coming. Like a room, the door of which is locked from inside. Or a place not frequented by people.
Islam has prescribed severe penalty for a serious offence like adultery. Some of the aspects are given in the points mentioned below.
1) If a person commits an incestuous fornication he is to be killed according to Islamic laws.
2) If one sees that a stranger is fornicating with his wife, then he can kill both of them if he considers himself safe in doing so. But if he does not feel safe or if he does not wish to kill them, then apparently his wife is not prohibited for him.
3) If a Kafir commits adultery with a Muslim woman, he is to be killed according to Shari’a. Similarly, if a Muslim is punished thrice for fornication and is again proved guilty for the fourth time, he is to be executed.
4) If the person is sane, major, and legally married, and has a wife with whom he could establish sexual relation whenever he wants, and inspite of this he commits fornication with another sane, mature woman, he has to be stoned to death according to the Islamic law. And according to some Mujtahids, he must first be given a hundred lashes.
5) If a man does not fulfill the conditions listed in the above point, and if he commits fornication with a woman then his penalty according to Islamic law is a hundred lashes. Similarly, the married woman who willingly commits fornication should be stoned to death. If she is unmarried, then the penalty for her is a hundred lashes.
“As for the fornicatress and the fornicators, flog each other of them, (giving) a hundred lashes, 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 this chastisement.” (Surah an-Nūr 24:2)
After quoting the above ayat, the Journal of Anjuman al-Tablighat al-Islam writes:
Two points are derived from this. The first is that the punishment of the adulterer is carried out in the presence of other people. This will be a warning and a lesson to them. They will be terrified of committing the same sin after witnessing the horror of the punishment.
Another point, although its truth is not established, is that the punishment acts as a cure for the diseases of the sinner. It could be that due to the hundred lashes, the bodies of the sinners are so much heated that the germs that have entered their bodies are annihilated before they could multiply and spread.
One more point to be noted is that the germs of disease like syphilis etc. are not confined only to those who commit fornication. The spouse of the fornicator may also contract these diseases. Marriage with an adulterer is therefore detestable and is discouraged. If an adulterer man marries an adulteress woman, an innocent person is not victimised, but their deeds will definitely affect their progeny adversely. Their future generations will be contaminated with the evil of their sin and there will be some deformity or the other in their progeny. It is for this very fact that the religion of Islam says;
“The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believer.” (Surah an-Nūr 24:3)
When Adultery is Proved According to Shari’a
It must be clarified that the penalty for adultery could be imposed when the sin is proved from the viewpoint of Shari’a. As it has been stated earlier, adultery is only proved if the conditions necessary for it are fulfilled. One of the conditions is that all the four just witnesses should testify unanimously as to the time and place of the crime. They must also know the woman by sight. Otherwise, there arises the possibility that the person who performed the sexual act with the woman may have been her husband.
Two Important Points
1) If a person commits adultery with an unmarried woman or the woman who is not in the Iddah ar-raj’aia (the waiting period after divorce in which the husband can resume relation with her without another nikah), he can later marry her. But if she is married or in Iddah ar-raj’aia, and he has had a sexual intercourse with her, he can never ever marry her legally. She is Harām for this man forever. Even if the husband dies or divorces, she cannot legally marry the person who has committed adultery with her when she was married with another man.
2) If a man commits fornication with a woman, then her mother and daughter become Harām for this man. That is, he can never ever marry them but they are not counted among his mahram women. Similarly, the father of the man with whom a woman has committed adultery becomes Harām for her. There are minor differences of opinion among the Mujtahids in these problems. Any one who wishes to study further should refer to the knowledgeable jurists.
The opponents of Islam take objection to the law of Islam and support the sexual ethics of the West. They praise the sexual freedom of these countries and say that the Europeans and Americans are not hypocrites and express whatever feelings they have, freely and openly. They say that sexual desire is the legitimate desire of all human beings. If this desire is suppressed, it shall have a damaging effect upon man. These desires should therefore be satisfied so that man can rid himself of various limitations and inhibitions. He can then perform his day to day activities efficiently to achieve progress and development.
These words express the misguided thoughts of the enemies of Islam. They have forgotten the Second World War when France had surrendered to Germany in the very first attack. The German forces freely indulged in the satisfaction of their carnal passions. Even the French people began to pray for peace.
Freedom must also have a limit and must be disciplined. If the sexual drive is uncontrolled, man behaves worse than an animal. The defeat of France was also to an extent due to the promiscuous way of life prevalent in France. It is written in the book “Khun France Shikast Khund” (When France was defeated):
“When the German planes started to bomb the French cities, the Prime Minister ‘Patrino’ tried to contact the Central Headquarter of the air force so that additional bombers could be summoned for defence. He continously tried to phone the Central Headquarters, and each time he dialed the number of the Major on duty, each time the phone was attended by the beloved of the Major, Madam Dolly. Madam Dolly answered the phone and spoke foolishly to the Prime Minister in a demure way whereas there was bloodshed all around, and France was being converted into a sort of Hell”
As far as America is concerned, 38 % of the middle school female students become pregnant. As these girls reach high school, colleges and universities, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies reduce. These girls use their past experiences to avoid getting pregnant. American society is plagued with this evil, but its laws are unable to cope with the situation.
There is no doubt that the sexual urge is a natural instinct, but it must be controlled and disciplined.
Islam does not expect the sexual urge to be suppressed, nor does it order anyone to forsake productive activities. On the contrary, Islam is against celibacy. However, Islam, as any other decent society, cannot allow for absolute freedom as seen in the animal kingdom. What Islam does is to lay down the golden rules for the satisfaction and fulfillment of natural desires and instincts such that neither the personal freedom of man is endangered nor is the peace of society disrupted.
There is no doubt that the West is far ahead in the field of science and technology and has progressed and prospered as a result of it. But their success is hollow. The excessive affluence has eroded human values and deluded them to search for happiness in immorality and perversity. Their culture deprives them of true happiness and comfort that comes with peace and stability of mind.
The women of these countries have also taken great strides. They work shoulder to shoulder with men in practically all walks of life. But many of them fail in what is their primary duty, as loyal wives and caring mothers. It is quite common to come across women having extra marital relations and neglecting their home and children. These children deprived of parental love and care in turn search for happiness by following the degraded examples set by their misguided parents and the vicious circle continues. The result is that couples just live together without being married and go their own way when they choose to. If there are marriages, they often end in divorce.
The divorce rate in America today is 40 % and is on the increase. Women have come to occupy high positions in governmental and commercial organizations, but this does not solve the human problems facing these societies. It is a pity that these societies have no guidelines that will help them to realize that their well being lies in maintaining well-knit families where husband and wife care for each other, are loyal to each other and the children are secure and happy.
This is what Islam aims to achieve for its followers. By upholding the laws of Islam our lives are automatically canalized into maintaining a healthy family life which provides for physical satisfaction, mental peace and spiritual upliftment, where the family members are a source of strength, solace and comfort to each other.10