Understanding Islam

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Regarding Prostitution


Question

We are looking for material related to prostitutes and prostitution. What does Islam say about prostitution? We would highly appreciate your assistance in gathering data on the said subject.



Question from United States of America
Answer

To fully understand the view of Islam regarding prostitution, I would first like to give you an example of a crime that would be more easily comprehendible for the modern world.

We all know that drinking alcohol is not a crime in the modern western world. However, even the greatest of the advocates of human freedom agree that driving an automobile in a state of drunkenness be considered a crime. The reason is quite simple. A drunk driving an automobile does not only endanger his own life, but is also a threat to the life of others. Thus, to save others from a potential harm, we do not permit him/her to drive an automobile in such a state. Likewise, although we allow a person to carry on any business to better his financial position, but we do not allow him to sell drugs (like heroine etc.). The reason again is quite simple. Such drugs are prone to cause great harm to those who use them. All such prohibitions are not only easily comprehendible but also necessary for the well being of the community.

Islam takes a wider perspective of the phrase "well being of the community". According to the Islamic philosophy, "well being of the community" should not focus only on the physical and material well being of the community. Another important aspect (if not more important) of this well being, according to Islam, should include the moral and ethical well being of the community. It is on the basis of this fact that Islam prohibits prostitution. It holds a prostitute to be a person, who not only endangers her own morals but also that of the community. In view of this fact, the Prophet  (pbuh) subjected such people who endangered the moral standards of the Muslim community to punishments of "Fasaad fil Ardh"[1].

Thus, prostitution can be severely punished by the Islamic State considering it a crime against the community, rather than an individual.

An important point that needs to be stressed is that the punishments under the Islamic law should be implemented, keeping in view not only the nature of the crime, but also other situational and contingent factors surrounding the crime and the particular criminal. Thus it is quite possible that a particular person, because of his peculiar circumstances, be allowed to correct his/her behavior and no punishment be implemented on him/her. For example, if the court of law is satisfied that a particular woman was forced into prostitution and was left with no option but to submit to the circumstances and if given a chance, she is likely to lead a good life, it may give her a chance of correction, rather than subject her to a severe punishment.

5th June 1999


[1] That is, creating disturbance in the land. The punishments for 'Fasaad fil Ardh', as shall be explained in a later response, may vary from slightly lighter to extremely strict punishments. Furthermore, 'Fasaad fil Ardh' is one of the only two crimes with that of murder, which may be punishmed by death.




Answer published by Moiz Amjad