Zināʾ (زِنَاء) or zina (زِنًى or زِنًا) is an
Islamic legal term referring to unlawful sexual intercourse.
According to traditional jurisprudence, zina can include adultery (of
married parties), fornication (of unmarried parties), prostitution,
bestiality, and rape. Classification of homosexual intercourse as
zina differs according to legal school. The
1 Islamic scriptures
1.3.1 View of scholars
1.4 Homosexuality and zina
2 Inclusions of the zināʾ definition 3 Accusation process and punishment
3.1 Sunni practice 3.2 Shi'a practice
4 Human rights controversy 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links
Muslim scholars have historically considered zināʾ a hudud sin, or
crime against God. It is mentioned in both
"Nor come nigh to fornication/adultery: for it is a shameful (deed)
and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)."
Most of the rules related to zināʾ, fornication/adultery, and false accusations from a husband to his wife or from members of the community to chaste women, can be found in Surat an-Nur (the Light). The sura starts by giving very specific rules about punishment for zināʾ:
"The woman and the man guilty of fornication/adultery,- 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."
"And those who accuse chaste women then do not bring four witnesses,
flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from
them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors. Except those
who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving,
In Hadiths, the books most trusted in Islam after Quran, the
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle as saying: “Allah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of zina, which he will inevitably commit. The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the tongue is speaking, one may wish and desire, and the private parts confirm that or deny it.” — Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:77:609,Sahih Muslim, 33:6421
The public lashing and public lethal stoning punishment for zina are also prescribed in Hadiths, the books most trusted in Islam after Quran, particularly in Kitab Al-Hudud.[not specific enough to verify]
'Ubada b. as-Samit reported: Allah's Messenger as saying: Receive teaching from me, receive teaching from me. Allah has ordained a way for those women. When an unmarried male commits adultery with an unmarried female, they should receive one hundred lashes and banishment for one year. And in case of married male committing adultery with a married female, they shall receive one hundred lashes and be stoned to death. — Sahih Muslim, 17:4191
Allah's Messenger awarded the punishment of stoning to death to the
married adulterer and adulteress and, after him, we also awarded the
punishment of stoning, I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the
people may forget it and may say: We do not find the punishment of
stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this
duty prescribed by Allah.
Ma'iz came to the Prophet and admitted having committed adultery four times in his presence so he ordered him to be stoned to death, but said to Huzzal: If you had covered him with your garment, it would have been better for you. — Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4364
Narrated 'Aisha: 'Utba bin Abi Waqqas said to his brother Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas, "The son of the slave girl of Zam'a is from me, so take him into your custody." So in the year of Conquest of Mecca, Sa'd took him and said. (This is) my brother's son whom my brother has asked me to take into my custody." 'Abd bin Zam'a got up before him and said, (He is) my brother and the son of the slave girl of my father, and was born on my father's bed." So they both submitted their case before Allah's Apostle. Sa'd said, "O Allah's Apostle! This boy is the son of my brother and he entrusted him to me." 'Abd bin Zam'a said, "This boy is my brother and the son of the slave girl of my father, and was born on the bed of my father." Allah's Apostle said, "The boy is for you, O 'Abd bin Zam'a!" Then Allah's Apostle further said, "The child is for the owner of the bed, and the stone is for the adulterer," He then said to Sauda bint Zam'a, "Veil (screen) yourself before him," when he saw the child's resemblance to 'Utba. The boy did not see her again till he met Allah. — Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:293
Other hadith collections on zina between men and woman include:
The stoning (Rajm) of a Jewish man and woman for having committed
illegal sexual intercourse.
When a woman went out in the time of the Prophet for prayer, a man attacked her and overpowered (raped) her. She shouted and he went off, and when a man came by, she said: That (man) did such and such to me. And when a company of the emigrants came by, she said: That man did such and such to me. They went and seized the man whom they thought had had intercourse with her and brought him to her. She said: Yes, this is he. Then they brought him to the Messenger of Allah. When he (the Prophet) was about to pass sentence, the man who (actually) had assaulted her stood up and said: Messenger of Allah, I am the man who did it to her. He (the Prophet) said to her: Go away, for Allah has forgiven you. But he told the man some good words (AbuDawud said: meaning the man who was seized), and of the man who had had intercourse with her, he said: Stone him to death. He also said: He has repented to such an extent that if the people of Medina had repented similarly, it would have been accepted from them. — Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 17:37, Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4366
The hadiths declare rape of a free or slave woman as zina. View of scholars
Malik related to me from Nafi that a slave was in charge of the slaves in the khumus and he forced a slave-girl among those slaves against her will and had intercourse with her. Umar ibn al-Khattab had him flogged and banished him, and he did not flog the slave-girl because the slave had forced her. — Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:85:81,Al-Muwatta, 41 3.15
Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that gave a judgment that the rapist had to pay the raped woman her bride-price. Yahya said that he heard Malik say, "What is done in our community about the man who rapes a woman, virgin or non-virgin, if she is free, is that he must pay the bride-price of the like of her. If she is a slave, he must pay what he has diminished of her worth. The hadd-punishment in such cases is applied to the rapist, and there is no punishment applied to the raped woman. If the rapist is a slave, that is against his master unless he wishes to surrender him." — Al-Muwatta, 36 16.14
If a confession or the four witnesses required to prove a hadd crime
are not available, but rape can be proved by other means, the rapist
is sentenced under the ta'zir system of judicial discretion.
According to the eleventh-century
The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished (i.e., if there is no proof that the hadd punishment for zina may be carried out against him because he does not confess, and there are not four witnesses, then the judge may punish him and stipulate a punishment that will deter him and others like him). There is no punishment for the woman if it is true that he forced her and overpowered her, which may be proven by her screaming and shouting for help. — Al-Istidhkaar, 7/146
Homosexuality and zina
Islamic teachings (in the hadith tradition) presume same-sex
attraction, extol abstention and (in the Qur'an) condemn
We also sent Lot: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." — Quran 7:80–81
In another verse, the statement of prophet lot has been also pointed out,
Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing. — Quran 26:165–166, trans. Sahih International
Some scholars indicate this verse as the prescribed punishment for homosexuality in the Quran:
"If two (men) among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If
they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning,
However, there are different interpretations of the last verse where
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done. — Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4447
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death. — Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4448
The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily concerned with activities between men. There are, however, a few hadith mentioning homosexual behavior in women; The jurists are agreed that "there is no hadd punishment for lesbianism, because it is not zina. Rather a ta’zeer punishment must be imposed, because it is a sin..'". Although punishment for lesbianism is rarely mentioned in the histories, al-Tabari records an example of the casual execution of a pair of lesbian slavegirls in the harem of al-Hadi, in a collection of highly critical anecdotes pertaining to that Caliph's actions as ruler. Some jurists viewed sexual intercourse as possible only for an individual who possesses a phallus; hence those definitions of sexual intercourse that rely on the entry of as little of the corona of the phallus into a partner's orifice. Since women do not possess a phallus and cannot have intercourse with one another, they are, in this interpretation, physically incapable of committing zinā. Inclusions of the zināʾ definition Zināʾ encompasses extramarital sex (between a married Muslim man and a married Muslim woman who are not married to one another), and premarital sex (between unmarried Muslim man and unmarried Muslim woman). In Islamic history, zina also included sex between Muslim man with a non-Muslim female slave, when the slave was not owned by that Muslim man. Technically, zināʾ only refers to the act of penetration, while non-penetrative sex acts outside of marriage were censored by the Prophet as that which can lead to zināʾ. Sharia, in describing zina, differentiates between an unmarried Muslim, a married Muslim (Muhsan) and a slave (Ma malakat aymanukum). The second one must be lethally stoned (rajm), while an unmarried Muslim and a slave must receive public lashing, and for a slave, the lashing count is half of an unmarried Muslim. Accusation process and punishment Islam requires evidence before a man or a woman can be punished for zināʾ. These are:[page needed]
A Muslim confesses to zina four separate times. However, if the confessor takes back his words before the punishment is enforced or during the punishment, he/she will be released and set free. The confessor is in fact encouraged to take back their confession. Four adult males who are held to be righteous and were never known to neglect a religious obligation or indulge in sin testifying that they all simultaneously observed the couple engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse without any doubt or ambiguity. They are able to say that they saw their private parts meet like the Kohl needle entering the Kohl bottle. If the four witnesses take back their testimony before the actual punishment is enforced, then the punishment will be abandoned, and they (witnesses) will be punished for the crime of false accusation. The witnesses are not allowed to delay their testimony from the time of the incident to the time of testifying. If they delayed testifying in the courts, the punishment will not be enforced, unless they were very distant from the Imam hence the delay was due to them travelling to the Imam.
If a pregnant woman confesses that her baby was born from an illegal
relationship then she will be subject to conviction in the Islamic
courts. In cases where there are no witnesses and no confession then
the woman will not receive punishment just because of pregnancy. Women
can fall pregnant without committing illegal sexual intercourse. A
woman could be raped or coerced. In this case, she is a victim and not
the perpetrator of a crime. Therefore, she cannot be punished or even
accused of misconduct merely on the strength of her falling
The four witnesses requirement for zina, that applies in case of an
accusation against man or woman, is also revealed by Quranic verses
24:11 through 24:13 and various hadiths. Some Islamic scholars
state that the requirement of four male eyewitnesses was to address
zina in public. There is disagreement between Islamic scholars on
whether female eyewitnesses are acceptable witnesses in cases of zina
(for other crimes, sharia considers two female witnesses equal the
witness of one male). In Sunni fiqhs of Islam, female Muslims,
child and non-Muslim witnesses of zina are not acceptable.
Any uninvolved Muslim witness, or victim of non-consensual sexual
intercourse, who accuses a Muslim of zina, but fails to produce four
adult, pious male eyewitnesses (Tazikyah-al-shuhood) before a sharia
court, commits the crime of false accusation (Qadhf, القذف),
punishable with eighty lashes in public.
These requirements made zina virtually impossible to prove in
practice. Aside from "a few rare and isolated" instances from the
pre-modern era and several recent cases, there is no historical record
of stoning for zina being legally carried out.
Some fiqhs (schools of Islamic jurisprudence) created the principle of
shubha (doubt), wherein there would be no zina charges if a Muslim man
claims he believed he was having sex with a woman he was married to or
with a woman he owned as a slave.
All Sunni schools of jurisprudence agree that zināʾ is to be
punished with lethal stoning if the offender is a married Muslim
(muhsan). The punishment for zina by a muhsan is a hundred lashes
followed by stoning to death in public. Persons who are not muhsan
(unmarried Muslim) are punished for zina with one hundred lashes in
public, but their life is spared.[page needed]
Section 23(2) - Any woman who performs sexual intercourse with a man who is not her lawful husband shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to whipping not exceeding six strokes or to any combination thereof. Section 23(3) - The fact that a woman is pregnant out of wedlock as a result of sexual intercourse performed with her consent shall be prima facie evidence of the commission of an offence under subsection (2) by that woman. Section 23(4) - For the purpose of subsection (3), any woman who gives birth to a fully developed child within a period of six qamariah months from the date of her marriage shall be deemed to have been pregnant out of wedlock. — Islamic Laws of Malaysia
Minimal proof for zināʾ is still the testimony of four male eyewitnesses, even in the case of homosexual intercourse. Prosecution of extramarital pregnancy as zināʾ, as well as prosecution of rape victims for the crime of zina, have been the source of worldwide controversy in recent years. Shi'a practice Again, minimal proof for zināʾ is the testimony of four male eyewitnesses. The Shi'is, however, also allow the testimony of women, if there is at least one male witness, testifying together with six women. All witnesses must have seen the act in its most intimate details, i.e. the penetration (like "a stick disappearing in a kohl container," as the fiqh books specify). If their testimonies do not satisfy the requirements, they can be sentenced to eighty lashes for unfounded accusation of fornication (kadhf). If the accused freely admits the offense, the confession must be repeated four times, just as in Sunni practice. Pregnancy of a single woman is also sufficient evidence of her having committed zina.[need quotation to verify] Human rights controversy
Muslim-majority regions with zina laws against consensual premarital and extramarital sex.[page needed]
The zināʾ and rape laws of countries under
Islamic criminal jurisprudence Islamic sexual jurisprudence Namus Nikah mut‘ah Nikah urfi Ma malakat aymanukum and sex Rajm Repentance in Islam Sex and the law
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