What does Islam say about Zina

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What is the definition of zina?

Zina is illicit sexual intercourse – having sex with someone you are not married to.

We have been warned about zina in many narrations in the hadith and in the Quran Allah Almighty did not just say ‘Don’t commit zina’ but ‘Don’t come near zina’ (la taqrabu zina). This means that the area of prohibition is wider than is wider than the act of zina itself.

Zina is prohibited and anything which leads to zina is also prohibited. The eye can commit zina by looking and admiring and liking the haram. The hand can commit zina by touching the haram. And the private parts can commit zina which is the actual zina – sexual penetration.

Zina is punishable and the hudud (specified punishment) for that depends on whether the person is married or not. If the conditions are fulfilled – that the act was witnessed by four people, the punishment is 100 lashes for a single person or stoning to death if the person was married and committed adultery.

Those who fornicate – whether female or male – flog each one of them with a hundred lashes. And let not tenderness for them deter you from what pertains to Allah’s religion, if you do truly believe in Allah and the Last Day; and let a party of believers witness their punishment. (24:2) Let the fornicator not marry any except a fornicatress or idolatress and let the fornicatress not marry any except a fornicator or an idolater. That is forbidden to the believers. (24:3) Those who accuse honourable women (of unchastity) but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and do not admit their testimony ever after. They are indeed transgressors. (24:4)

Are you obliged to stop someone from committing a sin?

It depends if you hold a position of authority and whether they would listen to you. If you are not in a position of authority, you can only remind them. They may or they may not listen. Your obligation is to try to remind them as wisely as possible.

Accusing a spouse of adultery

Allah Almighty mentioned in the Quran how to deal with accusations when a man came to the Prophet (peace be on him) saying that his wife was cheating on him. He had seen his wife committing adultery with his own eyes. The Quran revealed that he needed four witnesses to prove this. Or a spouse can go to go to court and swear four times that their spouse has committed adultery. In addition they accept that the curse of Allah will fall on them if they are lying. This is called li’an. It is not divorce, but the nullification of the marriage contract.

If the spouse denies they committed adultery even though they committed it, the curse of Allah will fall on them.  

Why are four witnesses required in cases of prove zina?

This is a protection mechanism to safeguard people’s honour. Otherwise anyone could accuse anyone else and they would lose their reputation, as happened with Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace be on him) though she was innocent.  Moreover, it is a serious matter as the accused would be punished by lashes or death if they are found guilty, so this protects carriages of injustice by preventing unfair prosecutions.  

The concept is to protect the community but not at the expense of the individual and their dignity and honour. The Quran holds false accusation about zina a punishable offense. The Quran makes a distinction between the qazif (the slanderer) and the shahid (one who appears in a court as an eyewitness). An eyewitness cannot be branded as a slanderer merely because the court did not hold his evidence as a sufficient proof of the crime.

Does the shariah view rape and sexual assault? Does prosecution for rape require 4 witnesses?

According to shariah, four witnesses are required to prove that zina (sexual penetration) took place. No other sin requires four witnesses.

In Islam a sexual act is either halal or haram. In our time, outside marriage, it is always haram. Consequently rape is classified as zina, because it is not a halal sexual act.

In the past, the reason for requiring four witnesses was to ensure that an allegation could be proved beyond doubt, and that it was not imagined.

Now, we have new forms of evidence which can prove that zina (penetration) took place. We can prove the incident by taking medical reports and DNA tests which can show that zina took place. Unfortunately not all courts accept this because they are still living in the past. Video evidence which has not be edited and tampered with, can also be taken as evidence.

If penetration did not take place, but a woman was attacked, that does not negate the fact that she has been sexually assaulted.

Whether it was zina or not, if a woman is attacked sexually, it is punishable. A judge needs to sift the evidence from the accused and the victim.

It is a important not to increase the pain of women who have suffered rape by making them feel to blame or calling them liars. They have already been through an ordeal. Instead of helping the victim, it helps the predators if you allow them to get away with this. This is not in line with fairness and justice and the shariah.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Culture vs Islam (Western Culture) 2020

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