Surah An-Noor (24): Read Online and Download - English Translation

This page contains all verses of surah An-Noor in addition to Interpretation of all verses by Maarif-ul-Quran (Mufti Muhammad Shafi). In the first part you can read surah النور ordered in pages exactly as it is present in the Quran. To read an interpretation of a verse click on its number.

Information About Surah An-Noor

Surah An-Noor
سُورَةُ النُّورِ
Page 350 (Verses from 1 to 10)

سُورَةٌ أَنزَلْنَٰهَا وَفَرَضْنَٰهَا وَأَنزَلْنَا فِيهَآ ءَايَٰتٍۭ بَيِّنَٰتٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ ٱلزَّانِيَةُ وَٱلزَّانِى فَٱجْلِدُوا۟ كُلَّ وَٰحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِا۟ئَةَ جَلْدَةٍ ۖ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِى دِينِ ٱللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْءَاخِرِ ۖ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَآئِفَةٌ مِّنَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ٱلزَّانِى لَا يَنكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً وَٱلزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنكِحُهَآ إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌ ۚ وَحُرِّمَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَٱلَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ ٱلْمُحْصَنَٰتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا۟ بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَآءَ فَٱجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَٰنِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا۟ لَهُمْ شَهَٰدَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَٰسِقُونَ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ تَابُوا۟ مِنۢ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ وَٱلَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَٰجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ شُهَدَآءُ إِلَّآ أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَٰدَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَٰدَٰتٍۭ بِٱللَّهِ ۙ إِنَّهُۥ لَمِنَ ٱلصَّٰدِقِينَ وَٱلْخَٰمِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كَانَ مِنَ ٱلْكَٰذِبِينَ وَيَدْرَؤُا۟ عَنْهَا ٱلْعَذَابَ أَن تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَٰدَٰتٍۭ بِٱللَّهِ ۙ إِنَّهُۥ لَمِنَ ٱلْكَٰذِبِينَ وَٱلْخَٰمِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهَآ إِن كَانَ مِنَ ٱلصَّٰدِقِينَ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُۥ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ حَكِيمٌ

Listen to Surah An-Noor (Arabic and English translation)

Tafsir of Surah An-Noor (Maarif-ul-Quran: Mufti Muhammad Shafi)

English Translation

[This is] a surah which We have sent down and made [that within it] obligatory and revealed therein verses of clear evidence that you might remember.

English Transliteration

Sooratun anzalnaha wafaradnaha waanzalna feeha ayatin bayyinatin laAAallakum tathakkaroona

English Translation

The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse - lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.

English Transliteration

Alzzaniyatu waalzzanee faijlidoo kulla wahidin minhuma miata jaldatin wala takhuthkum bihima rafatun fee deeni Allahi in kuntum tuminoona biAllahi waalyawmi alakhiri walyashhad AAathabahuma taifatun mina almumineena


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:

(1). Stealing

(2). Leveling false accusation against chaste women.

(3). Drinking liquor

(4). Adultery

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 ﷺ 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 ؓ 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 ؓ made the punishment of hundred stripes exclusive to fornication, that is when the crime is committed by unmarried man and woman, and said:

الرّجم للثّیب 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 ؓ that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said:

خُذُوا عَنِّی خُذُوا عَنِّی قد جعل اللہ لھنّ سبیلا، البکر بالبکر جلد مایٔۃ وتغریب عام، والثیّب بالثیّب جلد مایٔۃ والرّجم (ابن کثیر)

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 ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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:

1. - punishment of hundred stripes is exclusive to unmarried man and woman.

2. - An addition of one year's exile.

3. - Rajm or stoning to death of married man and woman.

It is but obvious that the additions made by the Holy Prophet ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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 ؓ 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 ﷺ . The incident was proved by his admission. Then the Holy Prophet ﷺ said: لا قضینّ بینکما 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 ؓ 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 ﷺ . (Ibn Kathir)

According to above tradition, the Holy Prophet ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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 ؓ on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ ، the wordings of which are:

قال عمر بن الخطاب ؓ ، و ھو جالس علٰی منبر رسول اللہ ﷺ : انّ اللہ بعث محمداً ﷺ بالحق وانزل علیہ الکتاب، فکان مما انزل اللہ علیہ آیۃ الرجم قرأناھا وَ وعیناھا وعقلناھا، فرجم رسول اللہ ﷺ و رجمنا بعدہ، فاخشی ان طال بالناس رمان ان یقول قایٔل ما نجد الرجم فی کتاب اللہ تعالیٰ

Sayyidna ` Umar Ibn Khattab ؓ said while he was sitting on the pulpit of the Holy Prophet ﷺ 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:

انا لا نجد من الرجم بدَّا، فانّہ حد من حدود اللہ، ألا و ان رسول اللہ ﷺ قد رجم ورجمنا بعدہ، ولو لا ان یقول قاٰیٔلون ان عمر زاد فی کتاب اللہ ما لیس فیہ لکتبت فی ناحیۃ المصحف، وشھد عمربن الخطاب و عبد الرحمٰن بن عوف و فلان و فلان ان رسول اللہ ﷺ رجم ورجمنا بعدہ – الحدیث (ابن کثیر)

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 ﷺ himself had awarded stoning and we too have awarded stoning after him. If there was no risk of people saying that ` Umar ؓ 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 ؓ is witness, ` Abdurrahman is witness and so and so companions are witnesses that the Holy Prophet ﷺ had awarded stoning. (Ibn Kathir)

This is apparently proved by the address of Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ 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 ؓ 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 ؓ 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 ؓ heard from the Holy Prophet ﷺ 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 ﷺ and his consistent practice. Sayyidna ` Umar ؓ understood fully well that the Holy Prophet's ﷺ 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 ﷺ ، 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 ﷺ 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 ؓ has also said the same thing that the verdict of stoning is established by the tradition of the Holy Prophet ﷺ .

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, غیر محصن or ثَیَّب 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 ؓ 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.

English Translation

The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers.

English Transliteration

Alzzanee la yankihu illa zaniyatan aw mushrikatan waalzzaniyatu la yankihuha illa zanin aw mushrikun wahurrima thalika AAala almumineena


The second injunction about fornication

The first injunction was regarding the punishment of fornication, which has been described in the previous verse. The second injunction is about marrying the men or women who have committed adultery. Alongside the marriage with polytheist man and woman is also described. The commentators have given different views while explaining this verse, but the simplest and safe meaning is that fornication is an obnoxious act, and as such whoever indulges in this act loses his character and taste, and is attracted towards persons of the same character, and likes o marry them.

The objective of this verse, according to this interpretation, is not part of an injunction, but merely to describe a fact of life, normally seen in everyday life. This is a reflection on the filthy act of fornication, and its far reaching detrimental and evil effects. In other words, the verse says that fornication is a poison to ethics, and its poisonous effects ruin the moral behavior of man. He stops differentiating between good and bad, and develops a liking for evil things. He does not bother about permissible (حلال) and prohibited (حرام). Any woman that he fancies for is with the purpose of fornication, and hence he tries to cajole her into the shameful act. If he fails in his advances, only then agrees for the marriage under compulsion. But he does not really like the marriage, because he finds the objects of marriage, such as being faithful to wife, produce virtuous children and take charge of all her needs and alimony for life, a burden and nuisance for him. Since such a person does not have any concern with the marriage, his inclination is not restricted towards Muslim women but is as much for polytheist women. If a polytheist woman lays the condition of marital bond for fulfilling her religious obligation, then he would agree for the marriage as well to meet his desire, without having regard that such a marriage has no sanctity and is not valid in Islamic law. It, therefore, comes true on him that if he has a fancy for a Muslim woman, she would either be an adulterer or will become an adulterer after having illicit relations with him, or he would fancy a polytheist woman, with whom the marriage is as impermissible as adultery. This is the explanation of the first sentence of the verse, that is الزَّانِي لَا يَنكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِ‌كَةً (24:3).

Likewise, if a woman is a habitual adulterer and does not beg Allah's pardon, then a truly believing Muslim male, for whom marriage is a religious trust, would not really fancy such a woman, especially knowing fully well that she would not give up her obnoxious habit of adultery even after the bond of marriage. Only a male adulterer would be attracted to her whose sole aim is to fulfill his lust rather than marriage. But if she makes marriage a condition for any mundane consideration, he accepts that too as a compromise. Alternatively, a polytheist male would agree to marry an adulterer (Muslim) woman. Since, marrying a polytheist is as prohibited for a Muslim woman as adultery, two things have been combined in this situation, that the man is both a polytheist and an adulterer. This is the explanation of the second sentence of the verse الزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنكِحُهَا إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِ‌كٌ . This has become apparent from the above explanation that the term adulterer is used for those men and women who do not repent and beg Allah's Mercy, and stick to this evil habit. In case an adulterer man marries a chaste woman for the sake of house-keeping or for having children, then there is no ban to this marriage from this verse. Similarly, if an adulterer woman marries a virtuous man with the intent of leading a pure life, then also there is no stopping for such a marriage in the light of this verse. Such a marriage will be valid in accordance with the Islamic law. Majority of the Muslim jurists like Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and Imam Shafi` i etc. are of the same view, and it is also established that the companions of the Prophet ﷺ have solemnized such marriages. Tafsir Ibn Kathir has also reported the same fatwa by Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ . Now, as to the last sentence of the verse وَحُرِّ‌مَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (24:3) some commentators have explained the word ذٰلک as alluding towards adultery. In that case the meaning of the sentence would be that, as the adultery is such an evil act, it has been forbidden for believers. There is no confusion in the meaning by adopting this explanation, but taking ذٰلِکَ for the meaning of adultery is rather far fetched in the context of this verse. Therefore, other commentators have adopted the explanation for ذٰلک to allude towards the marriage of adulterer (man and woman) and polytheist (man and woman).

The marriage between a Muslim man and a polytheist woman and between a polytheist man and a Muslim woman is even otherwise established as forbidden by other categorical Qur'anic injunctions, and there is consensus of Ummah on the issue. However, the marriage between an adulterer man and a chaste woman, and a chaste man and an adulterer woman is forbidden as implied by this sentence but is exclusive to the situation that a chaste man after marrying an adulterer woman does not stop her from indulging in adultery even after the marriage, as that will be nothing short of pimping, which is forbidden (حرام) by Islamic law. Similarly, if a pious and chaste lady marries a habitual adulterer man and let him indulge in adultery even after the marriage, then this is also forbidden (حرام). at is meant here is that it is a big sin, but it does not follow that their marriage will be nullified.

The word 'prohibited' (حرام) has two connotations in Islamic law. One, that this act is a sin and one who acts upon it will undergo punishment for that in the Hereafter, and the other is that it will have no legal validity in this world either. For instance if a Muslim man marries a polytheist or a woman of prohibited degree, then it is not only a sin but such a marriage is not valid under Islamic law. There is no difference between such a marriage and adultery. The second meaning of prohibition is that the act is forbidden (حرام) and is liable for punishment, but the legal consequences of the act are recognized. For example if a man elopes or abducts a woman and then marries her before two witnesses with her consent, then despite the act being unlawful, the marriage will be valid and the children legitimate. Similarly the marriage between an adulterer man and an adulterer woman is though prohibited if they marry for some worldly expediency but their real aim is adultery, yet, such a marriage is legally recognized. As such all the provisions of marriage, such as alimony, dower, lineage proof, heritage etc. will all be applicable. This way the word حرّم in this verse fits in very well for the polytheist woman as per former explanation, and for the adulterers (man and woman) according to the latter explanation.

In the light of this explanation it is not needed to declare the verse as cancelled as has been done by some commentators.

English Translation

And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses - lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient,

English Transliteration

Waallatheena yarmoona almuhsanati thumma lam yatoo biarbaAAati shuhadaa faijlidoohum thamaneena jaldatan wala taqbaloo lahum shahadatan abadan waolaika humu alfasiqoona


The third injunction relating to fornication is on false accusation and the punishment prescribed for it

As explained earlier, since adultery is the most damaging and heinous of all crimes for society, as such its punishment is also most severe under Islamic law, compared to all other crimes. Hence it was the requirement of justice and fairness that the special care be attached to prove this act. Without having prescribed evidence under Islamic law, no one should dare accuse any man or woman of adultery. Therefore, the Islamic law has made it mandatory to produce four honest equitable just men as witnesses to the crime, without which the accusation of adultery is declared a big crime by itself, for which the prescribed punishment (حد) is eighty stripes. In view of this mandatory provision one would dare making the accusation of adultery only when he is absolutely sure of watching the crime happening himself. Not only that, at the same time he should be sure that along with him another three honest men have also seen the crime happening, for which they will give the evidence. Because, if there are no other witnesses, or the total number is less than four, or there is doubt if the witnesses will give the evidence, then only one man would never like to venture evidence alone and be punished with eighty stripes.

A doubt and its answer

As for the issue that when there are such strong conditions for the evidence of adultery, the criminals will have a free hand. No one will ever dare to give evidence and fulfill the conditions of Islamic law, and hence, no criminal will ever get punished. But this thinking is totally wrong, because these conditions are exclusive to the punishment prescribed as hadd for adultery, i.e. - hundred stripes or stoning. If two non-mehram man and woman are seen together in a compromising posture or indulging in shameless acts, then there is no restriction against giving evidence for it. All such matters which have nexus to adultery are also liable for punishment under Islamic penal code, for which punishment of stripes is awarded at the discretion of the judge or the ruler in accordance with the extent of the crime, but not the maximum punishment of hadd. Therefore, someone who has seen the act of adultery, but has no other witnesses need not give evidence of adultery, but can testify for having seen the accused persons in compromising position, and the judge or ruler can award the punishment after establishing the crime.

Who are muhsanat (مُحصَنَات)

The word Muhsanat is derived from the word اِحصَان . In the Islamic jurisprudence there are two types of اِحصَان . One, that has been acknowledged for the punishment of adultery. It means that the person against whom adultery is established is sane, adult, a free Muslim, and who is validly married to a Muslim woman and has also copulated with her. In that case the punishment of stoning will be awarded to him. The second type is that which has been acknowledged for the punishment of قَذَف ، that is punishment for accusation of adultery. It means that the person against whom the charge of adultery is levelled is sane, adult, a free Muslim and chaste, that is he has not been proved an adulterer before. The word مُحصَنَات is used in this sense in this verse. (Jassas)


In the Qur’ anic verse, either because of general practice or because of the incident for which the verse was revealed, the accusation of adultery and related punishment is described in a way that the accusers are men and the accused is a chaste lady. But the injunction applies to all situations because of the common ground applicable to all persons. If a woman levels a charge of adultery against another woman or a man, or a man accuses another man, but the required legal evidence is lacking, then in either case the accuser will be liable to the punishment of eighty stripes.(Jassas Hidayah)


The punishment of eighty stripes as hadd is exclusive to false accusation of adultery and does not apply to accusation of any other crime. However, other punishments of ta'zir can be awarded on false accusations of other crimes. Although it is not specifically mentioned in the Qur'an that this punishment is exclusive to false accusation of adultery but the condition of four witnesses is the proof of its exclusiveness, because the condition of four witnesses is only in the case of adultery. (Jassas and Hidayah)


The punishment prescribed for qazf (false accusation of adultery) relates to the right of the person against whom the charge of adultery is levelled. As such the punishment against this crime will be executed only when the person demands the execution of the punishment, otherwise it will be annulled. This is unlike the punishment of adultery, which is purely a right of Allah. Therefore, it has to be executed, even though no person has ever demanded for it.

وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا

And do not accept his any evidence any more - 24:4.

It means that the person guilty of qazf is subject to two punishments. One is inflict at once, i.e. the eighty stripes, but there is another punishment which stays with the culprit forever. This punishment is that his evidence will not be accepted in any matter, unless he begs Allah's pardon with sincere repentance, and is also forgiven by the one whom he had accused. Until this is done, his evidence will not be acceptable in any case. This much is by consensus of Ummah. But in case of Hanafiah, even after begging the pardon, his evidence is not acceptable. Only his sin is pardoned.

English Translation

Except for those who repent thereafter and reform, for indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

English Transliteration

Illa allatheena taboo min baAAdi thalika waaslahoo fainna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ

Except those who repent afterwards and mend their ways; then, Allah is All-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (24:5)

Those who have been punished for false accusation of adultery, if they beg pardon and improve their habits, so that there is no risk of repetition of falsehood from them and also obtain forgiveness from one they had accused, then Allah Ta’ ala grants forgiveness and is Merciful.

This exemption, that isإِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا refers to only the last sentence of the previous verse according to Imam Abu Hanifah (رح) and some other Imams, which is وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (24:4). So, with this exemption it means that the one who is punished for false accusation is a sinner, but if he repents with sincerity and improves himself after obtaining forgiveness from the one he had falsely accused, then he will no longer remain a sinner, and his punishment will be pardoned in the Hereafter. In other words the two punishments meant for this world, which are referred in the beginning of the verse, that is eighty stripes and inadmissibility of his evidence, will remain despite the repentance. It is because the big punishment of stripes has already been executed and the second punishment is part of hadd. All scholars are unanimous on the point that repentance does not remit punishment of hadd, only the torment of the Hereafter is pardoned. Since inadmissibility of the evidence is part of hadd, it will not be remitted by repentance. Imam Shafi'i (رح) and some other Imams have taken this exemption toward all the sentences of the previous verse, which means that as one does not remain sinner after repentance, hence he would also not be debarred from giving evidence. Jassas and Mazhari have provided arguments on both sides - Those interested may consult them.

English Translation

And those who accuse their wives [of adultery] and have no witnesses except themselves - then the witness of one of them [shall be] four testimonies [swearing] by Allah that indeed, he is of the truthful.

English Transliteration

Waallatheena yarmoona azwajahum walam yakun lahum shuhadao illa anfusuhum fashahadatu ahadihim arbaAAu shahadatin biAllahi innahu lamina alssadiqeena


The fourth injunction is of Li'an (لِعَان : curse) among the adjuncts of fornication

The meaning of لِعَان and is to curse and praying for Allah's wrath on each other. Certain specific types of oaths between husband and wife with special connotation are called Li` an (لِعَان) in Islamic law. When a husband accuses his wife of adultery or refuses to own his child as being legitimate, and his wife refutes his allegation to be false, and claims for the punishment of false accusation (قَذَف) of eighty stripes to be awarded to him, then the husband will be asked to produce four witnesses. If the husband produces four witnesses, then the wife will be awarded the punishment of adultery, and if he could not produce four witnesses, then they will be subjected to li'an (لِعَان), that is first the husband will be asked to testify four times with the wordings given in the Qur'an to the effect that he is honest, and the fifth time will say that if he was lying, then Allah's curse be on him.

If the husband hesitates from saying these words, then he should be arrested, and asked either to swear by saying these words five times or accept himself to be a liar. Until he accedes to one of the two alternatives, he should not be released. If he accepts himself to be a liar, then he should be awarded the punishment of false allegation of adultery (حد القذف), but, in case he swears by repeating the required words five times, then the wife be asked to swear five times by uttering the words given in the Qur'an for this purpose. If she refuses to swear, then she should be put under arrest until such time that either she swears five times or accepts her guilt of adultery, in which case she will be awarded the punishment for adultery. In case she agrees to swear and utters the required words five times, then the process of li` an (لِعَان) has been completed. This way they both have escaped the punishment in this world, but in the Hereafter, the one who has lied will suffer the punishment, as Allah knows best who is the liar. However, in this world also, after the process of li'an (لِعَان) this couple will be forbidden to each other for ever-The husband should free the woman by divorcing her. If the husband does not divorce her, then the judge or the ruler can have them separated by his decree, which will have the same force as divorce. Moreover, they also cannot get married again for ever. Details of the process of li'an (لِعَان) are given in the books of fiqh, where they can be seen.

The law of li'an (لِعَان) has been placed in the Islamic jurisprudence to take care of the psychology and emotions of the husband, because in the preceding verses it has been ruled that for putting the blame of adultery on anyone it is essential to produce four eyewitnesses, and if one fails to do so, then he himself will be liable to punishment of false allegation of adultery. For a common man it is possible to keep quiet and not to accuse someone of adultery if he cannot produce four eye-witnesses, in order to save himself from the punishment of false accusation of adultery, but for the husband it is different and a very grave matter, when he has seen the adultery of his wife with his own eyes. For if he accuses his wife without the support of four eye-witnesses he will be liable to punishment of eighty stripes, and if he keeps quiet, it will be a lifelong agony for him to live with the knowledge that his wife has been unfaithful to him. Therefore, the husband's case has been separated from the general law and a separate provision has been prescribed, which is exclusive to the case between husband and wife. For others the directive is the same a: enjoined in the preceding verses.

The books of Hadith have narrated two incidents under this subject. The commentators have different views as to which of the two incidents was the cause of revelation of these verses. Qurtubi has taken both the incidents as the cause of revelation of verses so as the revelation was repeated twice. Hafiz Ibn Hajr, the annotator of Bukhari, and Nawawi, the annotator of Muslim, have treated both incidents as the cause of revelation of the verses. Their reasoning is more appealing, which will soon appear. One incident is that of Hilal bin Umayyah and his wife, which is narrated in Bukhari on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ . The initial part of this incident, also on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ ، has appeared in the Musnad of Alimad like this:

Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ has said that when the verses of Qur'an on punishment of false accusation of adultery were revealed namely,

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْ‌مُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْ‌بَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً

And those who accuse the chaste women (of fornication), but they do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes - 24:4.

in which it is made obligatory on the person accusing a woman of adultery to produce four eyewitnesses, one of them he being himself, and if he fails to do so, then he should be charged with the false accusation and awarded eighty stripes instead, and should also be debarred for life from giving any evidence. After hearing these verses a leader of Madinah, Sayyidna Sa'd Ibn ` Ubadah ؓ enquired from the Holy Prophet ﷺ whether these verses were revealed like that only. The Holy Prophet ﷺ (was very surprised to hear this from Sa'd Ibn Ubadah), asked the Ansar whether they were listening to what their leader had said. The group of Ansar pleaded to the Holy Prophet ﷺ not to reproach him, as he had made this enquiry only because of extreme sense of honour. Then Sa'd Ibn ` Ubadah ؓ spoke himself and said "My parents be sacrificed on your honour! I know fully well that these verses are nothing but truth, and have been revealed from Allah Ta’ ala; but what I am surprised of is that if I see a shameless wife in a situation that a strange man is lying over her, then would it not be right for me to scold him and remove him from there. Instead, will it be incumbent on me to get four men and show them this situation to make them eye-witnesses, and by the time I could find four men, he runs away after performing his work?" (Sayyidna Sa` d's wordings are recorded with slight differences by various narrators, but the gist of all is the same. - Qurtubi)

Only a short time had lapsed after revelation of the verses of punishment against false accusation of adultery and the remarks made by Sa'd Ibn ` Ubadah, that the incident of Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ took place. It so happened that Sayyidna Hilal ؓ returned from his lands late in the night, when he saw a man with his wife with his own eyes, and listened to their conversation. But he did not do anything and waited until the dawn, when he went to the Holy Prophet ﷺ and narrated the story, the Holy Prophet ﷺ was very unhappy to hear about this incident and felt very bad. In the meantime the people of Ansar were gathered and started discussing among themselves that the same thing had happened as was hinted by their chief, and that Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ would be punished with eighty stripes in accordance with the Islamic law, and be debarred for life for giving any evidence. Nevertheless, Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ said 'By Allah I am very hopeful that Allah Ta’ ala will take me out of this predicament'. Sahih of Bukhari has also quoted that in fact the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، after hearing the incident of Sayyidna Hilal ؓ had asked him, according to Islamic law, to produce four eye-witnesses or be prepared for the punishment of eighty stripes on the back. Sayyidna Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ swore an oath by God before the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، and pleaded that he was honest, and that Allah will surely send down a command which will save his back from flogging. While this conversation was still on, Jibra'il (علیہ السلام) descended with the verses containing the law of Wan, that is:

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْ‌مُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ

And those who accuse their wives (of adultery). - 24:6.

Abu Ya` la has quoted the same version on the authority of Sayyidna Anas رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ ، which also says that when the verses of li` an were revealed, the Holy Prophet ﷺ gave the good tiding to Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ that Allah Ta’ ala has sent down the solution to his predicament. Hilal replied that he was hoping the same from Allah Ta’ ala.

Then the Holy Prophet ﷺ called Sayyidna Hilal Ibn Umayyah's wife also, and when they were both together, he inquired from the wife about the incident. She said that her husband was making a false accusation against her. The Holy Prophet ﷺ said that Allah knows one of you is a liar, so would you not dread (Allah's torment) and come out with the truth and repent. Then Sayyidna Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ said 'My parents be sacrificed on you! I have said nothing but truth and whatever I have said is true'. After that the Holy Prophet ﷺ directed that the process of li'an be conducted on both husband and wife according to the revealed verses of the Qur'an. First Sayyidna Hilal ؓ was asked to testify four times with the wordings of Qur'an, which are, 'Believing Allah to be present everywhere and seeing everything, I testify that I am honest in my allegation', Sayyidna Hilal testified four times with the Qur'anic wordings. When it came to testify the fifth time, of which the Qur'anic wordings are, 'Allah's curse be on me, if I were lying'. At that time the Holy Prophet ﷺ said to Sayyidna Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ ، as a warning, that he must be careful and fear Allah, as worldly punishment is lighter than the torment of the Hereafter. The torment of Allah is much more severe than the punishment of people, and that the fifth testimony is the final one, on which the ruling would depend. But Hilal Ibn Umayyah insisted that he could say under oath that Allah Ta’ ala would not punish him for his testimony in the Hereafter (as he was sure that this was a true testimony). Then he uttered the wordings of the fifth testimony. After that the Holy Prophet ﷺ obtained four oaths, in the similar manner, from his wife. She too swore with Qur'anic wordings that her husband was lying. When it came to testify the fifth time, the Holy Prophet ﷺ asked her to wait, and warned her that it was the fifth and final testimony, and as such she should be fearful of Allah, as His torment is much more severe than the punishment by the people, that is the Islamic punishment of adultery. On hearing this, she hesitated to swear and waited in that condition for a while. Then said ultimately 'By Allah I will not disgrace my people', and testified the fifth time, saying that if her husband was true then Allah's wrath be on her. This way when the process of li'an was completed, the Holy Prophet ﷺ separated the husband and wife, that is broke down their marriage, and ruled that the child to be born of this conception will take the mother's name and will not be attributed to the father, but the child should not be disparaged. (Tafsir Mazhari quoted from Musnad Ahmad, authority Ibn ` Abbas).

The second incident

The second incident is also quoted in the Sahih of Bukhari and Muslim, and the details of the incident are narrated by Baghawi on the authority of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ . He has said that the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، while standing on minbar, related the verses' in which it is enjoined to punish the man making false accusation of adultery (حَدِّ القذف ), that is وَالَّذِينَ يَرْ‌مُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ (24:4). At that time Sayyidna ` Asim Ibn ` Adiyy al-Ansa ؓ was also present in the crowd. He got up and pleaded ` O Messenger of Allah, my life be sacrificed on your honour! If any one of us discovers his wife lying in bed with another man and narrates this situation, then he will be punished with eighty stripes, and would be debarred from giving evidence for life. Moreover, the Muslims would call him liar. In such a situation how can we get the eyewitnesses immediately? And if we do, and go in search of eyewitnesses, he would run away after doing his work, by the time we could bring the witnesses. It was the same inquiry made by 'Asim Ibn ` Adiyy ؓ ، which was made by Sayyidna Sa'd Ibn 'Ubadah in the first incident.

This inquiry was made on a Friday. After that it so happened that ` Asim Ibn Adiyy's cousin, Uwaimir, who had married Khaula ؓ another cousin of Adiyy's, saw his wife involved with yet another cousin, Sharik Ibn Sahma'. Uwaimir ؓ related this incident to his cousin ` Asim Ibn ` Adiyy ؓ ، who recited إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَ‌اجِعُونَ and went to see the Holy Prophet ﷺ the next day - again a Friday. ` Adiyy said to the Holy Prophet ﷺ that he had made an inquiry on the previous Friday in which he himself has got involved unfortunately, as the same incident has taken place in his family. Baghawl has narrated the incident in great detail as to how were the husband and wife were called and went through the process of lean (Mazhari)

This incident is narrated in the Sahihs on the authority of Sayyidna Sahal Ibn Sa'd Sa'idi ؓ that ` Uwaimir al-` Ajlani ؓ inquired from the Holy Prophet ﷺ that if someone finds his wife in bed with another man then should he kill that man, as a result of which he will be killed by people or what else should he do? The Holy Prophet ﷺ replied that Allah Ta’ ala has revealed an injunction for the case of your wife and yourself. Go and get your wife. Sayyidna Sahal Ibn Sa'd ؓ ، the narrator of the Hadith, narrates that the Holy Prophet ﷺ subjected them to the process of lian in the mosque (This process has been explained above). When the process of li` an was completed after both husband and wife had sworn five times, ` Uwaimir said ` If I still keep her as my wife this will mean as if I had made a false accusation against her. Therefore, I am announcing three divorces to her'. (Mazhari on authority of Sahihs)

In both these incidents it is reported that the verses of lian were revealed for that particular incident. Hafiz Ibn Hajar and Shaikh ul Islam Nawawi (رح) have noted the alikeness in the two by explaining that it looks the first incident was that of Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ ، and the verses of li'an were revealed in that connection, and immediately after that Uwaimir ؓ was also confronted with a similar incident, which he presented before the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، perhaps not knowing Hilal Ibn Umayyah's incident, which had occurred earlier. Then the Holy Prophet ﷺ told him the judgment in his case. This appears plausible because, in the case of Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ the wordings are فنزل جبریٔل (Then Jibra'il (علیہ السلام) descended with these verses) , while in the case of ` Uwaimir ؓ the wordings are قد انزل اللہ فیک (Allah has revealed about you), the meaning of which could be that Allah Ta’ ala has enjoined His command in a case similar to yours. وَاللہُ سبحانَہُ و تعالیٰ اَعلَ (Mazhari)


When li'an has taken place between husband and wife before the judge then that woman becomes forbidden for good for that man, just like foster relatives are forbidden for marriage among themselves forever. The Holy Prophet ﷺ has said in a Hadith المتلاعنان لا یجتمعان ابداً (The spouses who have gone through li` an can never join each other). Unlawfulness establishes immediately after the li` an. As for the woman's second marriage with another man, she is allowed after the expiry of her ` iddah period of three months, when she is divorced by her first husband or if he had just said that he had left her. This is the ruling given by Imam Abu Hanifah (رح) But if the husband does not carry out any of the two alternatives, then the ruler or the judge would order the separation, which would have the same effect as the divorce, and after that she would complete three periods of menses, and then she would be free to marry another man. (Mazhari etc.)


When the li'an is completed, after that the child that would born from that conception would not have the name of her husband, but would be called after the name of the mother. The Holy Prophet ﷺ gave this ruling in both the cases of Hilal Ibn Umayyah and ` Uwaimir ` Aljani ؓ اجمعین .


Although the torment of Hereafter would increase on the one who is liar, after the li'an, but the punishment of the world be annulled. Similarly, it is not permissible to call the woman an adulterer nor is it permissible to call her child illegitimate. This was also ruled by the Holy Prophet ﷺ in the case of Hilal Ibn Umayyah ؓ . وقضٰی بان لا تُرمٰی ولا ولدھا .

English Translation

And the fifth [oath will be] that the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be among the liars.

English Transliteration

Waalkhamisatu anna laAAnata Allahi AAalayhi in kana mina alkathibeena

English Translation

But it will prevent punishment from her if she gives four testimonies [swearing] by Allah that indeed, he is of the liars.

English Transliteration

Wayadrao AAanha alAAathaba an tashhada arbaAAa shahadatin biAllahi innahu lamina alkathibeena

English Translation

And the fifth [oath will be] that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he was of the truthful.

English Transliteration

Waalkhamisata anna ghadaba Allahi AAalayha in kana mina alssadiqeena

English Translation

And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy... and because Allah is Accepting of repentance and Wise.

English Transliteration

Walawla fadlu Allahi AAalaykum warahmatuhu waanna Allaha tawwabun hakeemun