Surah An Nur Ayat 2 In Arabic
الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا مِائَةَ جَلْدَةٍ ۖ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُمْ بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿2﴾
Surah An Nur Ayat 2 Transliteration
Azzaaniyatu wazzaanee fajlidoo kulla waahidim minhumaa mi’ata jaldatinw wa laa taakhuzkum bihimaa raafatun fee deenil laahi in kuntum tu’minoona billaahi wal Yawmil Aakhiri wal yashhad ‘azaabahumaa taaa’ifatum minal mu’mineen
Surah An Nur Ayat 2 Translation
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.
Surah An Nur Ayat 2 Explanation
The first verse of this Surah is introductory preface to put extra emphasis to the commands given in it. The very first command after that is regarding punishment for adultery, which has a direct bearing on the intent of the Surah – that is to preserve chastity, even of the eyes. The subjects of control on casting eyes and not to enter houses without permission are to follow soon. Commitment of adultery is the ultimate outcome when one ignores all types of prudence against continence and is an open rebellion against Divine precepts. Therefore, the punishment for adultery in Islam is most severe as compared to all other punishments prescribed by the Qur’an for the crimes committed by human beings. Adultery, being a big crime by itself, also brings along with it many other crimes, the result of which is destruction of the entire social order. If the causes of killings and atrocities are probed deeply, the majority of them will appear to be caused due to illegitimate relationship with women. It is for this reason that in order to eliminate completely this heinous crime, its Islamic punishment has been described in the opening verses.
Adultery is a great crime and is a combination of many crimes. That is why its punishment in Islam is very severe
The Holy Qur’an and mutawatir ahadith on their own have fixed the punishments of four crimes. They are not left at the discretion of the judge or the ruler. These punishments are called Hudud in the terminology of Islamic jurisprudence. Apart from these, the punishment is not fixed for other crimes, and the ruler or the judge can award the punishment in accordance with the type of crime, the circumstances of the criminal and the background in which the crime is committed, in order to control the spread of crime as he feels best. Such punishments are known as penal laws in Islamic jurisprudence. Islamic Hududs are four in number:
(2). Leveling false accusation against chaste women.
(3). Drinking liquor
Each one of these crimes is very evil in its own right, and while disturbing the peace and tranquility of the society contributes toward other ills of the world at large. However, the ill effects and consequences of adultery are so immense in their destruction of the human values that no other crime can perhaps compete with it.
(1) Molestation of someone’s wife, daughter or sister is nothing but his destruction. For a noble man it is not as bad to lose all his material wealth and belongings as to lose the chastity of his women folk. It is for this reason that often we come across such incidents that people whose women folk are molested get after the life of the molester without caring for their own lives. This passion for revenge passes on to the generations and results in the destruction of families after families.
(2) In a community where illicit sexual acts become rampant the family lineage is lost. When the sanctity of relationship with mother, daughter and sister is vanished, with whom the marriage is forbidden, then one can marry them as well, which is even a greater crime than adultery.
(3) If we analyze the causes of disorder and disturbance the world over, we will note that in most cases the root cause is woman and to a lesser degree the wealth. Only those rules can guarantee the worldly peace which safeguard the woman and wealth in a befitting manner and do not allow them to cross the appointed limits. It is not the intention to highlight here the ills and evils of adultery. The points mentioned above are enough for the human society to know the destructive ills of this act. This is why Islam has fixed the punishment of adultery as more severe than the punishments of all other crimes. The punishment has been described in the verse in the following words:
الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِائَةَ جَلْدَةٍ ۖ
The fornicating woman and the fornicating man, flog each one of them with one hundred stripes – 24:2.
First the fornicating woman is mentioned and then the fornicating man. The punishment for both is the same. The common practice about injunctions is that mostly the command is conveyed by addressing the men-folk only and the women are included in that by implication. It is not regarded necessary that they be addressed separately. In the whole of Qur’an masculine gender is used for passing the injunctions through the phrase يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا and women-folk are regarded as included in that. Perhaps the wisdom is that as Allah Ta’ ala has ordained the women-folk to keep themselves covered, in the same way their mention is kept covert in the context of mankind. But here there was a possibility that some might have the confusion that all these injunctions relate to men only and the women are free from them. Therefore, in some specific verses the women-folk are also mentioned alongside separately like in the verse وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ (33:33).
Moreover, where both men and women are to be mentioned then the natural order is that first the men are mentioned and then women. In the case of punishment for stealing, the same order is maintained in the injunction وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا (As for a man or woman who commits theft, cut off the hands of both – 5:38) where the male thief is mentioned first and then the female thief. But in the case of punishment for adultery only an incidental mention of women was not considered enough, instead a specific reference was regarded necessary. Secondly, mention of the women is given priority over men. There are many points of wisdom in this. First, the women are regarded weaker sex and compassion-able for their physique; if they were not mentioned specifically, one could have had the misgiving that perhaps the women are exempt from this punishment.
The mention of woman is preceded because the act of adultery is so impudent that its commitment from her side could be carried out only by extreme fearlessness and carelessness, because the nature has bestowed in her character instinctive shyness and an urge to guard her chastity. The nature has provided many a things for the safety of women. Hence commitment of fornication from her side is more grave than from man. As against this, in the case of theft it is a bigger crime for men who are bestowed with strength by Allah Ta ala, so that they earn their living from the bounty He has provided. The man is required to take advantage of Allah’s bounty by working for the sustenance and not stealing for the living, as this is a great shame and sin for him. Since the women do not have the same circumstances, if they commit theft their crime will be of a lesser degree as compared to that of men.
فَاجْلِدُوا (24:2) Meaning of the word جَلد is to hit with the whip, and it is derived from the word جِلد (leather). As the whip is normally made of leather, some commentators have suggested that by the use of word جَلد۔ it is alluded that the strike of the whip should be so moderate that it should be felt only within the skin and not deeper into the flesh. The Holy Prophet had himself urged that the punishment of whipping be exercised with moderation, so that neither it is so hard that it tears off the flesh nor so mild that it does not hurt at all. On this point some commentators have reproduced ahadith of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) with their chain of narrators.
The punishment of whipping a hundred times is exclusive to unmarried man and woman. For married persons the punishment is stoning to death
This point is worth noting that the injunctions on adultery were revealed gradually and moved on from a lighter punishment to a more severe one, like the gradual prohibition of alcohol which is mentioned in the Qur’an itself, the details of which have been described earlier. The very first injunction on adultery is the one given in verses 15 and 16 of Surah An-Nisa’, which is:
وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن شَهِدُوا فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ فِي الْبُيُوتِ حَتَّىٰ يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا ﴿15﴾
And those of your women who commit the shameful act, then have four witnesses against them from among you. So, if they do testify, then confine those women to their homes until death overcomes them or Allah prescribes a way for them. [ 4:15]
وَاللَّذَانِ يَأْتِيَانِهَا مِنكُمْ فَآذُوهُمَا ۖ فَإِن تَابَا وَأَصْلَحَا فَأَعْرِضُوا عَنْهُمَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا ﴿16﴾
And those two of you who commit it, torture them both. But if they repent and amend, turn away from them. Surely, Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful. (4:16)
Detailed commentary and explanation of the above two verses is given under Surah An-Nisa’. They are repeated here so that preliminary stage of the punishment of fornication is kept in mind. In these verses the proof for establishing adultery is described with a specific condition of having four male witnesses. Secondly, punishment for the woman is prescribed as to confine her within the home and for both of them inflicting of harm. At the same time it is also hinted that this was not the final injunction on adultery and that some more directives will follow. This is the meaning of أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا (or Allah prescribes a way for them – 4:15).
In the above referred punishment confinement of the women within the homes was regarded sufficient at that time, and causing harm to both as enough punishment. But the limit, the magnitude and the form of harm to be inflicted was not defined. Rather the wordings of the Qur’ an suggest that the initial punishment of adultery was only punitive, of which the quantum was not fixed by the Shari’ah a ta’zir (a punishment left to the discretion of a judge), but was left at the discretion of the ruler or the judge. That is why the ambiguous phrase of inflicting harm or torture was adopted. But at the same time it was hinted that probably some other form of punishment for the culprits of the crime will be introduced later by saying أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا (4:15). When the present verse of Surah an-Nur was revealed, Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn ` Abbas (رض) said that what was promised in Surah An-Nisa’ through أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا “or Allah prescribes a way for them”, so now this verse of Surah an-Nur has prescribed the way, that is flogging both man and woman with a hundred stripes. And then Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn ` Abbas (رض) made the punishment of hundred stripes exclusive to fornication, that is when the crime is committed by unmarried man and woman, and said:
الرّجم للثّيب والجلد للبکر
It is prescribed that if the married man and woman commit this crime then they be stoned to death, and the punishment for unmarried culprit is a hundred stripes. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitbut-Tafsir p. 657)
In the verse of Surah an-Nur under reference punishment for adultery is given as a hundred stripes without qualification. So, it is obvious that he must have found from some other authentic Hadith that the punishment for adultery is stoning to death and for fornication a hundred stripes, and that Hadith has been related by Sahih Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Sunnan Nasai, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah on the authority of Sayyidna ` Ubadah Ibn Samit (رض) that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
عَنْ عُبَادَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَلَفْظُهُ: ” خُذُوا عَنِّي، خُذُوا عَنِّي، قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا؛ الْبِكْرُ بِالْبِكْرِ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ وَتَغْرِيبُ عَامٍ، وَالثَّيِّبُ بِالثَّيِّبِ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ وَالرَّجْمُ”. تفسير ابن كثير ت سلامة (2/ 234)
Have knowledge from me, have knowledge from me that Allah Ta’ ala has prescribed now the ‘way for women’ (that He had promised before), which is that for unmarried man and woman is a hundred stripes and exile for one year, and for married man and woman it is a hundred stripes and stoning.
Along with the punishment of a hundred stripes for the unmarried man and woman prescribed in the an-Nur verse there is an additional punishment mentioned in the Hadith to send the adulterer man in exile for one year. On this there is a difference of opinion among jurists, that is whether the punishment of exile to male adulterer is compulsory or it is at the discretion of the judge – that is if he deems it necessary only then send the criminal in exile also for one year. In the opinion of Imam A` zam Abu Hanifah (رح) this last referred position is correct, that is, it remains at the discretion of the ruler or judge. Secondly, according to this Hadith there is the punishment of a hundred stripes also for the married man and woman before the stoning. But in accordance with other ahadith and the actions of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the first four Caliphs, it is established that these two punishments are not to be combined.
Married persons are to be awarded the punishment of stoning only. The main point to be noted in this Hadith is that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has explained here the verse of Surah An-Nisa’ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا (or Allah prescribes a way for them) and while explaining he had added some more points beside flogging a hundred stripes as stated in Surah an-Nur. These points are:
- – punishment of hundred stripes is exclusive to unmarried man and woman.
- – An addition of one year’s exile.
- – Rajm or stoning to death of married man and woman.
It is but obvious that the additions made by the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in the verse of Surah an-Nur was also on the command of Allah Ta’ ala إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ (This is naught but a revelation revealed – 53:4). For the Messenger, and for those who hear from him directly, both the revelations which are recited in the form of Qur’an and those which are not recited have equal sanctity.
The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself had acted upon this rule (punishment of stoning to married adulterer) in the presence of many of his companions. He awarded the punishment of rajm or stoning to Ma’ iz and Ghamidiyyah which is recorded in all the books of traditions with authentic authorities. Additionally, an incident is reported in the authentic traditions books on the authority of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah and Zaid Ibn Khalid Juhani (رض) that an unmarried man committed adultery with a married woman whose servant he was. The father of the adulterer boy brought him before the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) .
The incident was proved by his admission. Then the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said: لا قضينّ بينکما بکتاب اللہ that is I will adjudge your case according to the Book of Allah. He then adjudicated that the unmarried adulterer boy be flogged with a hundred stripes and the married woman is stoned, and directed Sayyidna Unais (رض) to execute the punishment, who took the confessional statement of the woman, and then the punishment was carried out on the orders of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) . (Ibn Kathir)
According to above tradition, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) awarded the punishment of hundred stripes to one criminal and of stoning to the other and described them both as the judgment by the Book of Allah; although in Surah An-Nur only the punishment of hundred stripes is indicated and there is no mention of stoning. The reason is the same that Allah Ta’ ala had revealed to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) the complete explanation and details of the injunction which all fall within the purview of the Book of Allah, although some of it is not included and mentioned in the Surah an-Nur expressly. Bukhari and Muslim have recorded an address of Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas (رض) ، the wordings of which are:
قَالَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ وَهُوَ جَالِسٌ عَلَى مِنْبَرِ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” إِنَّ اللهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ مُحَمَّدًا صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِالْحَقِّ، وَأَنْزَلَ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابَ، فَكَانَ مِمَّا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةُ الرَّجْمِ، قَرَأْنَاهَا وَوَعَيْنَاهَا وَعَقَلْنَاهَا، فَرَجَمَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَرَجَمْنَا بَعْدَهُ، فَأَخْشَى إِنْ طَالَ بِالنَّاسِ زَمَانٌ أَنْ يَقُولَ قَائِلٌ: مَا نَجِدُ الرَّجْمَ فِي كِتَابِ اللهِ. صحيح مسلم (1691)
Sayyidna ` Umar Ibn Khattab (رض) said while he was sitting on the pulpit of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) that Allah sent Muhammad with truth and revealed to him the Book. So, whatever is revealed to him includes the verse of stoning (رجم) as well, which we have read, memorized and understood. Now I fear that with the passage of time one might say that we do not find the injunction of rajm (stoning) in the Book of Allah, and hence go astray by not following a religious obligation, which is revealed by Allah. And be clear in your mind that the injunction of stoning (rajm) is ordained upon the one, whether man or woman, who is married (محصن) and when the evidence of adultery is established or there is a confession or pregnancy.
The same version is narrated in Sahih of al-Bukhari also with greater detail (Bukhari 1009 vol.2) and in Nasai’ it is narrated in the following words:
عَنِ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ: خَطَبَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ فَذَكَرَ الرَّجْمَ فَقَالَ: لَا تُخْدَعُن عَنْهُ؛ فَإِنَّهُ حَدٌّ مِنْ حُدُودِ اللَّهِ أَلَا إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدْ رَجَمَ ورَجمَنا بَعْدَهُ، وَلَوْلَا أَنْ يَقُولَ قَائِلُونَ: زَادَ عُمْرُ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ مَا لَيْسَ فِيهِ، لَكَتَبْتُ فِي نَاحِيَةٍ مِنَ الْمُصْحَفِ: وَشَهِدَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ، وَعَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ عَوْفٍ، وَفُلَانٌ وَفُلَانٌ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدْ رَجَمَ وَرَجَمْنَا بَعْدَهُ. تفسير ابن كثير ت سلامة (6/ 6)
We have no choice to avoid the punishment of stoning (rajm), because it is one of the punishment (حد) from the punishments prescribed by Allah. Be very clear in your mind that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself had awarded stoning and we too have awarded stoning after him. If there was no risk of people saying that ` Umar (رض) has added something on his own in the Book of Allah, I would have written this in a corner of the Qur’an. And ` Umar Ibn Khattab (رض) is witness, ` Abdurrahman is witness and so and so companions are witnesses that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) had awarded stoning. (Ibn Kathir)
This is apparently proved by the address of Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) that there is a specific verse on injunction of stoning which is in addition to the verse under reference of Surah an-Nur. But Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) did not tell the wordings of that verse, nor did he tell that if there is a separate verse beside the verse of Surah an-Nur why it is not included in the Qur’ an, and why it is not recited. He only said that if there was no risk involved that people would put blame on him of making addition in the Book of Allah, he would have written this verse on a corner of the Qur’an. (al-Nasai’ )
What needs careful consideration in this narration is that, if it is a verse of the Qur’an and its recitation is mandatory like other verses, then why Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) left it out just because of the fear of people’s calumny; when he is well known for his vehemence about Allah’s injunctions. The other point to be noted is that he did not say that he would have included this verse in the Qur’an, but all he said was he would have written it on the margin of the Qur’an.
All these things support the inference that the explanation of this verse that Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) heard from the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in which he specified the punishment of hundred stripes for unmarried man and woman and stoning for the married persons. He treated it as a verse of the Book of Allah because of the words of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and his consistent practice. Sayyidna ` Umar (رض) understood fully well that the Holy Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) explanation was in line with the command of Allah’s Book and not actually the verse of the Book, otherwise no power on earth would have stopped him to write down the verse in its place if it was missed out. His comment about writing it on the margin of Qur’an is further proof that the verse was not a part of Qur’an but only the explanation of the verse of Surah an-Nur. Some narrations have carried the actual wordings of the injunction on the subject, but they fall short of proof and authenticity to merit inclusion in the Qur’an. The jurists (فُقَھَاء) who have related this verse as abrogated for recitation but not abrogated as a command have done so by way of an example, and as such it does not in fact prove that it is a part of the Qur’an.
The gist of the matter is that the punishment of hundred stripes described in Surah an-Nur for adulterer man and woman is exclusive to unmarried man and woman as per detailed explanation and elucidation of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) ، and punishment for the married persons is rajm (stoning). Although this elucidation is not given in the wordings of the verse but the exalted person to whom this verse was revealed has himself elaborated the subject without the slightest doubt of any confusion. It is not that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) explained this only through his words, but he also executed this punishment several times in the presence of many companions, and the proof of this has reached us with unbroken authentic chain of narrators.
Therefore, the punishment of stoning for married man and woman is in fact an injunction of the Book of Allah itself, in the sense that it is as certain as any other injunction of the Qur’an. This fact may be mentioned either by saying that rajm is a provision of the Qur’an itself, or by saying that it is established by the unbroken chain of traditions. Sayyidna ` Ali (رض) has also said the same thing that the verdict of stoning is established by the tradition of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) .
An important warning
Wherever words married and unmarried appear in the above explanation, they are used for ease of explanation. The actual words used in the saying are, غير محصن or ثَيب and بِکُر . The real position of in Islamic jurisprudence is of the one who has copulated with the spouse with an authentic Nikah, and is also sane. Whenever we have used the words ‘married’ in this context, it carries the same meaning. It is only for brevity and ease that the word ‘married’ has been used.
Three degrees of gradations in the punishment of adultery
On pondering over the verses of the Qur’an and the ahadith referred to above, it becomes clear that initially the punishment of fornication was light in that the judge or the ruler was to afflict pain to the perpetrator (man and woman) of the crime at his own discretion, and confine the woman in the home. This punishment was enjoined in Surah An-Nisa.
The second period was that when the verse of Surah an-Nur was revealed in which hundred stripes each to both were enjoined. The third period was the one when the Holy Prophet instructed after the revelation of the verse under discussion that the punishment of hundred stripes will be restricted only to those who are not married, but if married man and woman commit this crime then their punishment is stoning (rajm).
In Islamic law if the punishment of a crime is severe, the conditions of proving it are also tough
As described above, the punishment of adultery in Islam is most severe compared to punishments of all other crimes. Alongwith that the conditions to prove this crime are equally tough in Islamic law. If there is the slightest doubt or uncertainty, then the maximum punishment, known as hadd (.~-), is remitted, and only a punishment by way of ta` zir may be awarded which should be commensurate with the extent of crime. In all other cases testimony of two men or one man and two women is required for the proof of a particular event. However, for the maximum punishment of fornication (حَدّ زنا) the evidence, of four male eye-witnesses is necessary who must testify without a slightest doubt or confusion.
Another severe circumstance that aggravates the severity of an evidence of fornication is that if the evidence of a witness in a case of adultery is rejected, then the witness himself may suffer badly, because in that case, he may be charged for false accusation of adultery (قَذَف) and may be awarded the punishment of eighty stripes. Therefore, no one will dare testify the fornication where there’s even slightest degree of doubt. However, if the adultery is not proved clearly by eye witnesses, but there is proven evidence of a man and woman found in a compromising and unlawful position, then the judge can award the punishment by way of ta` zir which stripes as are suitable in that particular case. Details of the punishment for fornication and its conditionalities can be seen in the books of Fiqh.
Injunction against homosexuality and sex with animals
The issue that if a man indulges in sexual act with a man or an animal, whether his act falls within the purview of fornication or not, and whether its punishment is the same as that of fornication has already been dealt with under the commentary of Surah An-Nisa’. Although this act is not called fornication neither lexically nor in the terminology of Shari` ah and hence punishment of fornication is not applied to that, but its punishment is no less in its severity compared to punishment of fornication. The noble Companions (رض) punished such culprits by burning them alive.
لَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّـهِ
No pity for them should withhold you from (complying with) Allah’s religion – 24:2.
Since the punishment for adultery is very severe and there is the possibility that those awarding the punishment may feel pity and be lenient, hence, it is also enjoined that in the fulfillment of this important religious duty any compassion is not permissible. Pity or mercy and forgiveness or pardon are always laudable, but any compassion shown to criminals will result in injustice to the entire humanity; hence it is prohibited and not permissible.
وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
And a group of believers must witness their punishment. – 24:2
At the time of execution of the punishment of fornication a group of Muslims should be present to watch. It is customary in Islam to execute all punishments, specially the hudud, in public, so that those ho see it take a warning. But the directive for the presence of a group of Muslims at the time of execution of punishment for fornication is peculiar to this punishment.
Initially Islam requires not to publicize the crimes, but once they are established through evidence, it is the requirement of wisdom to disgrace the criminals
For the control of vulgarity and shamelessness Islamic laws have imposed far reaching restrictions. It is made obligatory for women to cover themselves. Men are asked to lower their eyes on seeing women-folk. The sound of jewelry or the singing of women are prohibited as they may lead to wanton acts. However, if someone is seen wanting in adopting Islamic teachings, he should be guided in private, but is not allowed to be disgraced. But if someone has crossed all limits and has broken all the ties with Islamic laws, and his crime is established in accordance with the Islamic jurisprudence, then keeping his crime secret might embolden others for committing this crime. Hence, the extent to which Islam has cared for avoiding publicity of the crime, to the same extent the emphasis is laid in making it public for disgracing the culprits, once the crime is established. It is for this reason that not only the punishment for adultery is enjoined to be executed publicly, but the presence of a group of Muslims at the time of execution is also made mandatory.
[From Ma’ariful Quran English by Mufti Taqi Uthmani]
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