The Punishment of the sexually immoral people
By Sami Zaatari
Missionary Sam Shamoun has written an article claiming the Quran is inconsistent, confusing, and contradictory regarding the punishment for people who commit sexual immorality. As usual, all he does is show his own confusion, his own ignorance, and his own lack of knowledge on Islam. It would have been better for Shamoun to raise his confusions and doubts to a sheikh so he would get his answers, rather than doing this he sought to use his ignorance as a form of argumentation, and that in itself is a fallacy since you don't really have an argument, all you have is an argument based on your own ignorance!
In this article we shall clear his doubts; we shall educate him on the punishment for fornication, and adultery in Islam.
The Punishment for the sexually immoral:
The Quran has several verses speaking against fornication and adultery, other than these verses which speak out against this act the Quran also has rules and laws which are legislated for punishing those who commit such sexual immoral acts. One such verse which was revealed to punish the sexual immoral was this verse:
YUSUFALI: If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way.
YUSUFALI: 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, Most Merciful.
The consensuses of Islamic scholars have agreed that these verses meant that men and women who were guilty of adultery, fornication, or any other type of sexual act would have to face some sort of punishment. In the case of the women it was that she would be confined to her house until death came to her or Allah ordained another way.
Also the verse regarding the lewdness of men was referring to a homosexual act between two men.
However so, this form of punishment was soon abrogated, and Allah did indeed ordain another way, and that was flogging, that the ones guilty of sexual immorality would now face the punishment of getting lashed:
YUSUFALI: The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- 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.
So as you can see the punishment for sexual immorality was now to be punished by lashing, those who committed adultery or fornication would receive up to 100 lashes and after this they would be forgiven.
The ignorant missionary though to create a contradiction between these 2 passages, the missionary wrote:
The other problem raised by this specific text is that it is in direct tension with the punishment prescribed elsewhere for sexual immorality or zina
There is no tension between the two passages, none at all, infact they both go with each other very well, since Allah stated in the first form of punishment that there could be another different form of punishment if he wills, and indeed he did will that by stipulating a new punishment which was that of flogging, and that the previous punishment had now been abrogated. The Quran itself states that it abrogates verses:
YUSUFALI: None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
Hence the verses are not in tension nor contradiction, Shamoun ignored part of the verse which stipulated the first punishment, then he ignored the Quranic concept of abrogation, since he knew had he accepted the Quranic concept of abrogation it would have debunked his entire argument because nearly all major Islamic scholars and first Muslims such as Ibn Abbas said that the first punishment which was stipulated had been abrogated by the second which now stated the punishment of adultery and fornication would be that of flogging.
(And those of your women who commit illegal sexual intercourse, take the evidence of four witnesses from among you against them; and if they testify, confine them (i.e. women) to houses until death comes to them or Allah ordains for them some (other) way.) `Some other way' mentioned here is the abrogation of this ruling that came later. Ibn `Abbas said, "The early ruling was confinement, until Allah sent down Surat An-Nur (chapter 24) which abrogated that ruling with the ruling of flogging (for fornication) or stoning to death (for adultery).'' Similar was reported from `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Zayd bin Aslam and Ad-Dahhak, and this is a matter that is agreed upon. (Tafsir ibn kathir and hadith of Ibn Abbas)
Now even after this another ruling was brought down, this time in the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad, the punishment for the one who commits adultery was to be punished by death, by stoning:
Volume 8, Book 82, Number 806:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
A man came to Allah's Apostle while he was in the mosque, and he called him, saying, "O Allah's Apostle! I have committed illegal sexual intercourse.'" The Prophet turned his face to the other side, but that man repeated his statement four times, and after he bore witness against himself four times, the Prophet called him, saying, "Are you mad?" The man said, "No." The Prophet said, "Are you married?" The man said, "Yes." Then the Prophet said, 'Take him away and stone him to death." Jabir bin 'Abdullah said: I was among the ones who participated in stoning him and we stoned him at the Musalla. When the stones troubled him, he fled, but we over took him at Al-Harra and stoned him to death.
So as you can see the punishment for adultery is stoning. Now Shamoun tried to argue in his article, how do Muslims know when to stone someone and when to not stone someone, that the Quran is confusing regarding the wording for fornication and adultery. Well we have already shown how we know, and it is from this hadith, the prophet asked the man is he married, and he said yes, hence the prophet said he should be stoned. What we learn from this is that there is a distinction between the punishment of a un-married person and a married person, because had there been none the prophet wouldn't even bothered asking whether he was married or not and simply stoned him.
In fact there is another hadith which also shows a punishment being carried out on a person who fornicated and was un-married:
Volume 3, Book 34, Number 435:
Narrated Zaid bin Khalid and Abu Huraira:
that Allah's Apostle was asked about an unmarried slave-girl who committed illegal sexual intercourse. They heard him saying, "Flog her, and if she commits illegal sexual intercourse after that, flog her again, and on the third (or the fourth) offense, sell her."
So as you can see, an un-married person gets the lash, while the married gets the stoning.
Hence in reality the punishment for those who commit adultery and fornication in Islam is very easy and simple to understand, what Shamoun did was bring up all these Quranic verses, and the hadiths on stoning and tried to act like they contradict each other and so on when they do no such thing. Shamoun's tactic for his article was the typical missionary style tactic, to bring up lots of narrations, and Quranic verses, he knew this would ultimately confuse a normal Muslim because he knows most Muslims don't take the time to research such topics, hence he was banking on their ignorance. However so for Muslims who do know and have studied these matters they shall never be confused by such easy and feeble arguments.
So to make things easier for our readers we summarize all the information up:
1- The First ruling on the sexual immoral was that they would be confined to their homes and given some sort of punishment deemed fit for their sexual immorality.
2- Later on the Quran abrogated the first ruling, legislating a new ruling, which was that the one guilty of sexual immorality would be flogged.
3- The Sunnah of the prophet then made a distinction between the un-married and the married, and that the married would be stoned, and that the un-married would not be stoned.
Hence this matter is all cleared up. Perhaps Shamoun should begin making better arguments, because it is clear that all the arguments he uses are kinder garden arguments for Muslims who learn their deen, it is like a man going up to a professor and challenging him to add 1 plus 1!
I would also like Muslims to visit this article which deals with the concept of abrogation:
And indeed Allah knows Best!