What does Adultery mean in Islam

What does Adultery mean in Islam, definition, Adultery and Fornication differences in Islam, Punishment for Adultery in Islam, Concept of four witnesses in Quran, Testimony of husband, God is merciful on those who repent.

What does Adultery mean in Islam, definition, Adultery and Fornication differences in Islam, Punishment for Adultery in Islam
What does Adultery mean in Islam, definition, Adultery and Fornication differences in Islam, Punishment for Adultery in Islam

Adultery is one of the hideous sins in Islam. Allah and his messengers have explicitly prohibited adultery, evident from various verses used in Quran and Hadith. It also probit every aspect that leads to illicit sexual intercourse is forbidden in Islam.

A marital relationship is based on trust and serenity. A sinful act like Adultery erodes the faith in a marriage covenant and disturbs the families. It is considered a menace to society. It erodes the purity of one’s soul that is a blessing of God. Those who engage in adultery get exposed to the wrath of Allah and punished for their sin.

Let us find out the meaning of adultery in Islam and its punishment in Islamic law.

Definition of Adultery in Islam:

Adultery is illicit sexual intercourse between a married person with another person not being their legal partner. Adultery gets recognized as an illicit sexual relationship under Hudud offenses in Islam. 

Islamic law recognizes two types of sexual relationships as pure and legal; one is between husband and wife and the other between husband and their concubine. All other sexual intercourse recognizes as illegal and sin. These illegal sexual intercourses are called Zina

Zina is an Arabic term that means immorality. It comes under the category of hudud offences, which are offences recognized by Allah and mentioned in the book of the Quran. Zina includes all the unlawful sexual intercourse such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, rape, prostitution, and others. Islam not only forbids adultery; but also closes all the doors that lead to it. 

Adultery is a hideous offense which means a married person engages in sexual intercourse beyond the limits of the marital bed. Men who are involved in adultery are called an adulterer. The woman with whom he gets involved is called an adulteress. 

A marriage relationship is the primary element of adultery. If the same act gets committed between unmarried persons, it is called fornication.

In simple words, when a married man or woman gets involved in a sexual relationship with someone else, not being their legal partner is called Adultery.

Adultery and Fornication differences in Islam:

Adultery and fornication are very similar and confusing terms. These two things get based on the same underlying factors, sexual intercourse without the honor of marriage or defilement of the marital relationship. But these two are not the same; there is a thin line of difference between these two. 

When a married person cohabits or engages in sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse is called adultery. A man who engages in adultery is called an adulterer, and the woman is called an adulteress. Adultery is a term used when a marriage covenant gets defiled by the act of an unfaithful partner. A marital relationship is the key element of adultery.

On the other hand, fornication is sexual intercourse between a man and woman, not married one another. Both the persons in fornication are not married to each other engage in sexual acts.

A man who engages in fornication is called more fornicator, and the woman is called fornicatress. Unlike adultery, fornication is a crime between unmarried men and women.

Adultery is an extramarital affair, whereas fornication is a pre-marital affair.

Both fornication and adultery are explicitly forbidden in Islam and considered a great sin.

Adultery is a crime in many societies, but fornication is not. They recognize extramarital affairs as a crime but do not prohibit premarital crime. Under Islamic law, both; adultery and fornication are put on equal footing and considered a heinous offence.

These two offences come under the category of Zina( hudud offence) in Islamic law. It is a sin to commit fornication and adultery; those who engage in such acts get punished for their deeds.

Islam made adultery and fornication punishable. 

Verse 24:2 of the Quran depicted “the fornicator and the fornicatress, strike each of them with 100 lashes. Let not pity withhold you from following Allah’s commands; if you believe in Allah and their last day.”

Islamic law punishes fornicators with 100 lashes for premarital affairs. It is believed that this punishment is only for unmarried fornicators, not for married persons.

In Islamic law(sharia), a married man or woman engaged in illegal sexual intercourse gets punished with 100 lashes each and then stoned to death. This punishment is called Rajm, which conflicts with the Quran verses regarding the punishment for Zina.

This punishment is not mentioned in the Quran anywhere but prescribed in Hadith. Still, the punishment for adultery is a disputable matter among the believers of Islam.

Punishment for Adultery in Islam:

Adultery is a taboo in Islam. The Quran explicitly prohibits adultery and prescribes punishment for those who get engaged in adultery. There are several verses which prescribe punishment for adultery in the Quran and Hadith.

Quran 24:2 depicts, “those who engage in adultery, men and women, give each of them 100 lashes.” 

This statement clearly shows that those involved in adultery; will get punished with 100 lashes according to Islamic law. 

This punishment is known as flogging. It is the exclusively prescribed sanction for an offence like fornication and adultery. In flogging, the offender is beaten with a whip or stick on the back 100 times.

In the Quran, both men and women get punished for their deeds equally. Many people assume that only women get punished, not men. But men and women are both placed on equal footing in Islam.

Everyone who commits adultery will get punished with 100 lashes. Stoning to death is not mentioned in any verse of the Quran; it is explicit law in the book of Hadith.

The Quran changed the social norms by invalidating and abolishing stoning to death and replacing it with 100 lashes. However, many followers of the Islamic community still practice stoning to death as a punishment prescribed by the Quran.

Many followers of the Islamic law believe that this punishment is only for unmarried adulterers, and married adults involved in such crimes must get stoned to death. But there is no evidence regarding the stoning to death. Stoning to death for adultery is called Rajm and is unique in Islamic law.

Rajm is conflicted with Quran prescribed punishment for Zina and gets opposed by many Muslim followers. However, Rajm is mentioned several times in Hadith and accepted by many believers.

Although, several verses of the Quran prescribe 100 lashes as a punishment for all kinds of illicit sexual intercourse, irrespective of their marital status.

It is mentioned in Quran verse 24:2, “strike the adulterers and fornicators on the body with hundred lashes each. And do not let the feeling of pity hold you from following the orders of Allah.”

These statements clearly show that there is no distinction in the book of Allah in prescribing punishment for married and unmarried adulterers. Both men and women receive the same punishment, irrespective of their marital status.

Concept of four witnesses in Quran:

Quran verse 24:4 depicted that “those who accuse women of committing adultery cannot produce four witnesses to testify, punish them with eighty lashes and do not allow them to bring any testimony later.”

This statement clarifies that if anyone accuses married women and cannot produce four witnesses later, the accuser will get punished with 80 lashes. But this rule is not applicable in the case of a married man. 

Testimony of husband:

It is mentioned in Quran 24:6 that “those who accuse their wives and cannot produce any witness other than themselves, then their testimony will count as four if he swears to God that he is telling the truth.”

This statement states that if the husband has no witness to support the accusation, his testimony will count as four if he swears to God that he is honest and truthful. But it is also mentioned in 24:7 that God’s curse will be upon him if he is a liar.

But a woman can avert her punishment by swearing to God four times that her husband is lying. But if she is lying, she will bear the consequences of lying.

God is merciful on those who repent:

The Quran 24:5 depicted, “except for those who repent after that and reform, Allah is forgiver and turns in mercy.” 

This statement clarifies that; if the accused has repented their sin truly or done the evil act in ignorance but repented afterward, the accused will get pardoned for their deeds. Allah is a forgiver and merciful to those who repent. 

The sinners will get condoned if they repent; before getting caught by Islamic law. But god forgiveness is not for those who are continued sinners.

Ask Allah for forgiveness and stay away from any sin in the future. God is merciful and will surely condone your punishment.

Read also: What is adultery in the bible?; Bigamy meaning ; Reason not to divorce after infidelit; Adultery in Catholic Marriage; Adultery in the mind; Adultery in Canada; Can Adultery be Forgiven in Islam?; In Islam can you marry a Christian? 

This post is also available in: English Français (French) Deutsch (German) Español (Spanish) Dansk (Danish) Nederlands (Dutch) Svenska (Swedish) Italiano (Italian) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))