What is punishment for adultery? Is there any difference in the punishment of males and females in the case of adultery?
Adultery, by definition, means “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and somebody who is not that person’s husband or wife”. In relation to adultery, the term used by the Qur’an , “Zinaa” more accurately translated as “fornication” is a more general term. “Zinaa” implies sexual relations with a person with whom such relations are not recognized, licensed and approved by the society. Thus, in the modern day societies, after the complete abolition of the institution of slavery, the term “Zinaa” applies to all sexual intercourse (including adultery), outside the bond of marriage.
The Qur’an has prescribed the maximum punishment for “Zinaa“. This punishment is mentioned in Surah Al-Noor 24: 2. According to this verse, the punishment for Zinaa is:
One hundred lashes. This punishment shall be administered in public. This is the only punishment which, according to the Qur’an should be administered in public and people should especially be gathered to witness it;
If the convict is married to a chaste person, his/her nikaah shall be severed. He/She shall not be allowed to marry a chaste person again.
For more details on the punishment of fornication, please also refer to one of my earlier responses to a related question1.
The maximum punishment for adultery is not any different for males and females. However, in a particular case of adultery, it is quite possible that the man and the woman are given different punishments, because of the fact that the two have their own specific set of circumstances under which they have committed the crime. One of them may deserve to be dealt with in a softer manner than the other. Nevertheless, this difference is not made on the basis of gender, but on other observable grounds. Thus it is quite possible that in one case the male, due to his particular situation and the conditions influencing him is dealt with in a softer manner and the female in a stricter manner. While in another case, the woman deserves to be dealt with in a softer manner and the man in a stricter manner.
21st May 1999