adultery

In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
DEDICATED TO
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
AND TO
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms
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                                ADULTERY-FLOGGING
“Chastity, as a virtue, is not given the first place in modern civilized society, and hence adultery is not considered a sufficiently serious offence to subject the guilty party to any punishment except the payment of damages to the injured husband. The breach of the greatest trust which can be imposed in a man or a woman, the breach which ruins families, destroys household peace, and deprives innocent children of their loving mothers, is not looked upon even as seriously as the breach of trust of a few pounds. Hence the Islamic law seems to be too severe to a Westerner.”1  

There is no stoning or sentence of death in the Qur’an for the sin of adultery. The Arabic word Zina means sexual intercourse between people who are not married to each other –i.e. adultery and fornication.
The punishment for adultery and fornication is lashes: “The adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them (with) a hundred stripes”–(Qur’an 24:2). That flogging for the sin of adultery is the required punishment is verified in 4:25, where the punishment to married slave-girls guilty of adultery is stated that “…if they are guilty of adultery when they are taken in marriage, they shall suffer half the punishment for free married women”–(Qur’an 4:25). Stoning to death “could not be halved;” but flogging can be “halved.”

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The Qur’an was revealed over a period of twenty-three years; during this long period, unless he received Divine Revelation in the matter, the Prophet followed the teachings of the Bible, which requires death to the adulterer, the unchaste bride, the apostate the blasphemer and the homosexuals; which Biblical laws were annulled by subsequent Qur’anic revelations–(Qur’an 2:106; 16:101. See Muhammad Ali’s comm. His translation of the Qur’an can be viewed online: www.muslim.org). Prophet Mohammad taught according to the Qur’an–(Qur’an 10:15; 21:45; 46:9; 53:3-4).  

Most, if not all, secular laws do nothing to those guilty of adultery (and fornication) which could not only “ruin families, destroys household peace”, and deprives children of their need for parental togetherness, and contribute to the moral decay of society; but which could multiply sexually transmitted diseases, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS –which may even become epidemic and even threaten chaste individuals (we’ve heard of people contracting AIDS through tainted blood and infected needles), diseases which may affect the unborn who doubtlessly has the right to protection from diseases– may create unwed moms and dads; and perhaps abandoned children; traumatized individuals (traumatized by not knowing the identity of their biological parents); and which could perhaps cost millions of dollars to society to stem these diseases and to provide for pre and post-natal care for unwed mothers and children, and to provide for the welfare of these hapless children and even the unwed mothers; and if the fornicating couples have multiple sex-partners they may end up not knowing whose baby they are having, or who is having their baby, and if such babies are given up for adoption or abandoned then, depending on the age of these couples, a mother may end up having sex with her son, and a father with his daughter when these children are grown.

   Thus, adultery and fornication, seemingly a personal affair, can and do have far-reaching effects in society. Should fornication and adultery then not be forcibly deterred? Islam allows that such persons be disgraced and identified.

(Recently, I came upon a television show by chance and learnt one of the fallouts of adultery. A man denied his son for twenty-three years, believing that his wife had cheated on him, resulting in the birth of the son [who was raised by his sister]. It was unsettling to listen to the son’s hurt at the rejection [even though in such a situation the child is blameless]. As it turned out, DNA evidence showed that the man was the boy’s father. I do not recall if it was stated that the mother was alive or not; but imagine her heartaches at her innocence and her son being denied love by his father. This father and son [and sister and mother] might have gone to their graves with bitterness and pain and hurt and anguish if there was no DNA science or if no DNA test was done.

   Islam is very strict where chastity of women is concerned; requiring four witness to the act; and those who bear false witnesses are to be flogged and their testimony not to be accepted again, unless they repent and act uprightly–(Qur’an 24:4-5): this requirement of four witnesses provides “an effectual restraint against slander and gossip, which so often bring disaster upon the heads of innocent women. Unless there is the clearest evidence of adultery against a woman, the slanderer is himself to be punished.”2

These laws of Islam–dismemberment and flogging–are not “torture.” If the taking of painful injections for the containment of rabies, and suffering radiation for the treatment of cancer, and suffering deprivation to free oneself from addiction, are not torture –but rather are the remedies for the diseases afflicting the individual– then flogging the adulterer and fornicator, dismembering the thief, and executing the murderer –which are remedies for the diseases afflicting not only the individual but the society– could not be deemed as “torture.”

   Society is not to be hostaged (with cost and disease) by loose loins (sexuality); and overrun by criminals because man considers himself more humane than God. If individuals are brazen enough to transgress the law, be it religious or secular, they must suffer the consequences.

   In Saudi Arabia, as noted by Ibn Warraq in his Why I am not a Muslim (p. 31), “Lovers’ heads and robbers’ hands are falling.”
   And in the West robbers are sent to prison; and most likely end up robbing again and may even commit acts of murder and rape; and lovers run the risk of contracting herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and AIDS which they may in turn infect others.
It is doubtful that a decent law-abiding citizen would not prefer a society where thieves are permanently removed from thievery, and promiscuity discouraged, but would prefer a society overwrought with the “dead weight” of robbers, rapists, murderers, drunkenness, gambling, drug-dealing, drug addiction, pimping and prostitution, pornography and child pornography, and sexually-diseased children.

(The Toronto Star Tuesday, January 11, 2000, in its article “AIDS crisis called major world threat”, by Kathleen Kenna of the Washington Bureau, reports U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan as saying, “Nowhere else has AIDS yet become a threat to economic, social and political stability on the scale that it now is in southern and eastern Africa;” that “Last year, AIDS killed about 10 times more people in Africa than did armed conflict,” he said. If people were following Divine injunctions to avoid illicit carnal relations, AIDS may not now be a “major world threat.” In fact there may not be AIDS).  

   Flogging is “aimed more at disgracing the culprit than at torturing him. In the time of the Prophet, and even for some time after him, there was no whip, and flogging was carried out by beating with a stick or with the hand or with shoes. The culprit was not stripped naked, but he was required to take off thick clothes.” (M. Ali, Qur’anic comm. # 1736). Stripes are to be given “on different parts of the body so that no harm should result to any one part, but the face and the private parts must be avoided.”(M. Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 731).

   Public floggings serves to identify the guilty individuals so that chaste men/women would avoid them as marriage partners: “The adulterer cannot have sexual relations with any but an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress, none can have sexual relations with her but an adulterer or an idolater; and it is forbidden to believers”–(Qur’an 24:3). (This verse shows that there is no “honor killing” in Islam; then. those guilty of illegal sexual intercourse would not be left to have relations among themselves or with idolaters).

Islam does not support oppression or sin. Allāh enjoins Muslims to fight oppression–(Qur’an 2:191, 193; 8:39; 42:42); and to “help not one another in sin and aggression”–(Qur’an 5:2; 58:9).

   The believer in God who does not apply the law of God, thinking himself to be more humane than God or in trying to avoid the heat of popular opinion, is simply throwing the Book of God behind his back.
                “Hell is hotter.” And inescapable.

Stoning and death is the Jewish and Christian law:

       1. (Apostasy): Those who “secretly” entice another to follow an unknown God are to be stoned to death:

“And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt….If thy brother…entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers…thou shalt surely kill him”–(Deut; 13:5-16).
   “If there be found among you…man or woman…. And hath gone and served other gods, and worshiped them, either the sun or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded…..Then thou shalt bring forth that man or that woman …and shalt stone them with stones, till they die”–(Deut; 17:2-5). 

2. A “stubborn and rebellious son” is to be stoned to death–(Deut. 21:18-21).

3. (Honor killings): Married damsel without the “token of virginity” is to be stoned to death: “But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you”–(Deut. 22:20-21 Notably, the man with whom she played the “whore” is not stoned).

4. A virginal damsel who lies with a man other than her “betrothed,” both are to be stoned to death–(Deut. 22:23-24).

5. A witch is to be put to death–(Exodus 22:18).

6. Who curses his father or mother is to be put to death–(Lev. 20:9).

7. Punishment for adultery is death–(Lev. 20:10-12; Deut. 22:22).

8. Homosexuals are to be put to death–(Lev. 20:13).

9. A man who takes a “wife and her mother,” both shall be burnt with fire–(Lev. 20:14).

10. Who commits bestiality is to be put to death–(Lev. 20:15-16).

11. (Blasphemy): “And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed….And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying…let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.…And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death”–(Lev. 24:11-16, 23).

12. The adulteress is to be stoned–(John 8:3-5).

(The Christian’s claim that Jesus forgave the adulteress is baseless–(John 8:1-11). Strangely, there is no mention of the man with whom the woman is said to have committed adultery. Neither did the woman confess to nor deny the charge, nor was she asked if the charge against her was true. (Some justice!) 
Jesus not only says   that he came to fulfill the law,3 he explicitly instructed his followers to “observe and do” whatever the “scribes and Pharisees” bid hem to do, because they sit in Moses’ seat;4 and two of the Mosaic teachings are to take an eye for an eye, and to stone the adulterer/adulteress. Jesus could not be said to have abrogated these Mosaic laws and yet tell his followers to observe them.
It would be a contradiction –Jesus’ turn the other cheek5 and that the one who is without sin to cast a stone at the adulteress do not abrogate the Mosaic teachings of an eye for an eye6 and to stone those guilty of adultery.7
To give the “other cheek” is not applicable to infractions against cardinal laws. Jesus’ give the “other cheek” and to forgive seventy-times seven were meant to reform his people into being more tolerant of one another (and his mission was 
only for Jews). However, if any aggrieved Jew would have demanded “an eye” in turn from his transgressor Jesus would have had no choice but to apply the law which he came to, and vowed to, uphold.  

If the woman was guilty and Christ did not stone her then Christ had simply failed to enforce the law of God.
Jesus telling the Scribes and Pharisees, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” does not mean Jesus forgave her or that this statement abrogated the law of stoning.
To say that the law of  stoning was abrogated because no man is without sin and therefore no one would be able to “cast a stone,” it would have been pointless for God to have given such a law that man could not have carried out.
Further, there was no case to begin with; the woman’s accusers had all left without “condemning” her. Jesus, rightly, as he had no evidence in the matter, could not condemn her either; him telling the woman to “go, and sin no more,” is not a reflection that a sin (adultery) was committed.  While this may be the best advice that Jesus could have given, it certainly wasn’t “forgiveness.”

Aside from that, not only did the Jews not accept Jesus, Jesus was in no official capacity to execute judgment in the matter, and, therefore the case should have been decided by the very scribes and Pharisees that brought the woman to Jesus. Jesus must have known that they were “tempting him that they might have to accuse him,” as John 8:6 says, and was only being clever with them in saying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
    It would have been interesting to note Jesus’ response if the scribes and Pharisees had said to him that, since he, Jesus, was without sin, for him to first cast a stone at her.

Another observation. Jesus conversing with the Samaritan woman is not a sign of liberation of women. God decreed that woman be dominated by her husband; and this is what Paul taught.
     All Jesus wanted from the woman was a drink of water: “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water (from Jacob’s well): Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink;” but she gave Jesus an argument as to why a Jew was seeking drink from a Samaritan seeing that “Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”–(John 4:5-28).

As prophet of God, Jesus could not turn anyone away; but he could avoid them, and which he did, as is evident from his admonition to his disciples to not preach to non-Jews (and even Samaritans who also were Jews) whom he regarded as “dogs” and “swine” and from his preaching in parables so they would not understand and be saved. Obviously, Jesus had no intention of indulging in argument with the Samaritan woman. But the woman was sharp. And Jesus was cornered into it. This is no liberation. Jesus was on self-defense). 

   The Qur’an abrogates these laws of stoning and death in the Bible. Allāh speaking about abrogating and changing of mess-ages–(Qur’an 2:106; 16:101) does not mean that one verse of the Qur’an abrogates another, as is believed by many. It refers to the replacing of laws/messages of Scriptures previous to the Qur’an. Muhammad Ali has dealt with this topic in his Qur’anic commentary #152–re: Qur’an 2:106. His translation of the Qur’an can be viewed online: www.muslim.org.

   Perhaps it is because of his earlier practice of following the Biblical laws that were later abrogated by Qur’anic revelations–as well as a guard against sayings forged in his name, and which forgeries were done even in his lifetime– that the Prophet is reported to have instructed that whatever saying of his contradicts with the Qur’an, to discard his saying and follow the Qur’an. In Nahjul Balagha, Sermon # 215, the Caliph, Hazrat ‘Ali, is noted as saying:

“During the very lifetime of the Holy prophet (AS) many a false tradition was attributed to him. This continued till the Apostle of God got so vexed that he stood up and declared, ‘Whoever deliberately and purposely tells a lie against me or attributes lies to me shall make a place for himself in the Hell.”

   Hazrat Ali also made a very interesting statement, he said:

“Orders of our Holy prophet (AS) are of two kinds. Some are meant for special persons while others are for all Muslims and for all times.
     There were many persons who could not fully understand the significance of what the prophet had said. They could remember all right, but could not grasp the true relevance of these traditions and began interpreting them as they desired.”    

   And Bokhari records the Prophet as saying: “Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the hell-fire”–(Bokhari, Vol. 1; #106-109; Vol. 4; # 667).

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NOTES

1. Muhammad Ali, Qur’anic comm. 1736 (Qur’an 24:2).

2. Ibid; comm. 1738 (Qur’an 24:4).

3. Matt. 5:17-18

4. Matt. 23:2-3

5. Luke 6:29.

6. Exodus 21:24.

7. Lev. 20:10/John 8:5.