Praise be to Allaah.
The sin of adultery (zina: unlawful sexual relationship) is a
major sin which Allaah has mentioned in conjunction with kufr, shirk and
murder, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with
Allaah, nor kill such person as Allaah has forbidden, except for just cause,
nor commit illegal sexual intercourse
and whoever does this shall receive the punishment.
The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of
Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace”
The followers of all
religions are agreed that adultery is forbidden; no religion regards it as
permissible. Hence the punishment for it is one of the most severe
punishments, because it is a crime against honour and lineage, which is one
of the five basic principles that Islam seeks to protect, namely life,
religion, lineage, reason and wealth.
Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 24/20, 21
1 – If a woman has been
previously married – i.e., a legitimate marriage with her has been
consummated – then her punishment is to be stoned to death.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said,
when he was sitting on the minbar of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Allaah sent Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) with the truth, and revealed to him the
Book. One of the things that He revealed was the verse of stoning, which we
have read and understood. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) carried out the punishment of stoning and we did so
after him. I fear that as time goes by, people will say, ‘We do not find any
mention of stoning in the Book of Allaah,’ so they will go astray by
forsaking an obligation that was revealed by Allaah. In the Book of Allaah,
stoning is the punishment deserved by any previously-married person, man or
woman, who commits adultery, if proof is established, or pregnancy results,
or he or she confesses.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2462; Muslim, 1691)
2 – If the woman is a virgin – i.e., she is not married yet
or the marriage contract has been done but her husband has not yet
consummated the marriage with her – then the punishment is one hundred
lashes and exile from her country for a year, as stated in the hadeeth of
‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit, who narrated that the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “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 the case of a married male committing
adultery with a married female, they shall receive one hundred lashes and be
stoned to death.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 1690).
If the adulterer or adulteress is a minor below the age of
puberty, then there is no punishment to be carried out, according to all
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to puberty and sound mind, the scholars are
agreed that both are conditions of punishment being obligatory.
The evidence for that is
the words of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him): “The Pen has been lifted from three, from the sleeper until he
awakes, from the minor until he grows up, and from the insane until he
regains his reason.” (Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 3432; classed as saheeh by
al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i, 3210).
But the minor boy or girl
should be punished, with something less than the hadd punishment, in a
manner that will deter them from doing this action. And their guardian must
also be punished if there was any shortcoming on his part, such as allowing
his daughter to mix with boys or being careless concerning such matters.
The girl has to conceal what she has done, and her guardian
must also conceal it, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: “Avoid these filthy things that Allaah has
forbidden. Whoever has done any of them, let him conceal himself with the
concealment of Allaah, and let him repent to Allaah…”
(Narrated by al-Haakim; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in
Saheeh al-Jaami’, 149).
If the signs of puberty
are present in the boy or the girl, then he or she becomes accountable
(mukallif) thereby. Information on these signs may be found in Questions
And Allaah knows best.