The tenth Greater sin is adultery (zina) according to the traditions of Masoomen (a.s.). Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have all described it as a Greater Sin.
In the following ayat the Almighty says:
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement."
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)
The meaning of asaam (sin) and ghayyi (sexual desires)
The book Minhaaj us-Sadeqeen states that aasaam (sin) in this ayat denotes a valley of Hell. Fornicators shall be punished in this valley. It is also said that asaam means the secretions of blood and puss from the private parts of the people of Hell. It is a black puss.
Another ayat says:
"But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed the sexual desires, so they will meet perdition."
(Surah Maryam 19:59)
Some traditions record that the asaam of the previous verse and ghayyi (sexual desire) of this verse are two wells in Hell. These two wells are so terrible and deep that if a stone is dropped into one of them, it will take seventy years to reach the bottom.
It is mentioned in Surah Bani Israel:
"And go not nigh to Fornication, surely it is an indecency and an evil way."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:32)
It is an evil due to which paternity is not established. It leads to corruption and mischief. The child that is born is bereft of inheritance. The child that is born and its father do not have rights upon each other like the legal father and son.
An Evil Way to Fulfill the Sexual Urge
In the book, Balahae-e-Ijtemai the above ayat is explained as follows:
"One must not even go near fornication for it is a lowly act. It is a very dirty action and leads one astray."
The seriousness of this sin as mentioned in the Quran is evident from this ayat;
"... It is an indecency and an evil way." These words clarify the Islamic point of view, which opposes all types of indecencies and carnal desires. It shows that adultery is an indecent act and an evil way of satisfying the sexual urge. The Almighty Allah has created the sexual urge for continuation of the human race. He has also created a feeling of love and physical attraction between man and woman. If this sexual urge is satisfied in a disciplined manner, the human race is assured of peace and prosperity. It must be remembered that fornication contaminates the progeny.
But when this evil becomes prevalent in a society just to satisfy the basic instincts, it leads to destruction and despair.
Also, as a result of an immoral life countless people and their children suffer from debilating, deforming and incurable diseases. Huge sums of money are drained from the budget to take care of victims and to find a cure for such diseases. Innumerable illegitimate children are born ill and undernourished; destitutes without a home and with no one to care or be concerned for them.
Page number 131 of the same book describes the evil that has spread due to sexual crimes and illicit relationships. Such destruction and evil does not have an equivalent in the 20th century.
In the highly competitive world of today, man strives to use all his assets to optimal capacity. His efforts are fully concentrated in deriving the maximum efficiency from all his inputs so that he can achieve unprecedented progress in minimum time. So it is pity to see him make a wasteland of his most precious possessions, his natural instincts and desires gifted to him by Allah for his happiness and prosperity.
Like all branches of science, nuclear and medical science has also made a progress. Vast sums of money are poured into research for discovering new drugs that may save mankind from the scourge of these diseases. Yet, the number of people suffering from debilitating maladies resulting from immoral conduct are ever on the increase. In every country, countless such people have to be hospitalised over extended period of time. They wreck their own lives and are also a burden to society.
Every country makes ambitious plans to achieve progress and prosperity. But all these development plans come to naught as millions of illicit children are born, posing a challenge to the economy of even the most affluent countries. For the poor undeveloped countries the results are disastrous. Not only are the uncared children a drain on the country's economy, they even pose a law and order problem as they grow up uneducated in a condition of abject poverty and crime. A shocking survey of data reveals the enormity with which sexual crime has gripped the world.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica a majority of Americans contract venereal diseases. America has hundreds of special hospitals for patients with venereal diseases.
The book "Qawaaneene Jinsi" says that every year thirty-four thousand novel born children die of hereditary diseases. The deaths caused by these diseases are more than the deaths due to any other cause (except tuberculosis).
The 'Kahyan Daily' (no.5356) has mentioned,
"Dr. Maulin Norjoe who practices in North London, writes in his article that every year 50000 abortions of illicit children are carried out in London. One child out of every twenty newborns is illegitimate."
The daily 'Ittelat'(no.1414) writes that in 1957 America had illegitimate children numbering 201700. There has been a five fold increase in the next twenty years. This year, unmarried pregnant women numbered 24000. It is astonishing and pathetic that a majority of them are less than eighteen years of age. In Paris, of the total of 43515 new born children, 4145 are illegitimate. In the Soviet Union, every year 17000 illegitimate children are born.
The Evil Effects of Adultery in this World and the Hereafter
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Fornication has six types of effects. Three are for this world and three for the Hereafter. The three evils which become evident in this world are:
1) The face of the adulterer loses countenance.
2) He falls into depravity and destitution.
3) His death draws near.
And the three punishments for Hereafter are:
(1) He is liable for Divine anger.
(2) His reckoning is severe.
(3) He abides forever in Hell."
Fornicator in the Barzakh
The fifth Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"Whoever commits Fornication with a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Magian woman, whether she is a slave or a free woman; and dies without repenting of his sin, then the Almighty Allah opens three hundred doors of punishment in his grave. From each door many snakes, scorpions and pythons emerge from the fire and burn and torment him till the Day of Qiyamat."
Fornicator on the Day of Judgement
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) describes the fornicator in detail and says that when he would be raised from his grave on the day of judgement he shall be in a horrible state.
The Imam says,
"When a fornicator will rise from his grave the stink of his body shall hurt the people. The people will know what deeds he had committed in the world. Till the Almighty Allah would order him to be thrown into the fire."
Then Imam Baqir (a.s.) continues,
"Know that Allah has prohibited Himself the Haraam things. He has also prescribed the rules and regulations of life. No one is more modest than Allah. It is His modesty that He has prohibited Fornication."
The stench of the Fornicator will be a nuisance for the people on the Day of Judgement
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says:
"On the day of Qiyamat a bad smell shall be released by the order of Allah. And all the people will become restless because of it. So much so that it would be difficult to breathe. Then a caller will proclaim loudly, 'O people of Mahshar! Do you know what this stench is?'
They would reply, "We do not know! However this stink is causing great discomfort", then Imam (a.s.) continued,
"It is the bad smell from the sexual organs of the fornicators who died without repenting for their sins. O people, Allah curses these people, you too invoke curse upon them." Then there will be not a single person who would not say, 'O Allah send your curse (anger) upon these fornicators'
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"After me when Fornication will increase, sudden deaths will also increase."
He also said:
"Fornication causes depravity and destitution, and because of it, populated places become deserted."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Allah has made adultery Haraam because it causes many evil things. Murder of innocent, lack of lineage and paternity, lack of training of children and lack of proof of inheritance."
Fornication With Pure Women
The punishment for illegal sexual act with a woman is hundred lashes. The penalty of illicit sexual intercourse between a married woman and married man is stoning to death.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"There are three types of people with whom Allah will not even speak on the day of Qiyamat. There is a terrible punishment for them. One of these three group will be of the women who inspite of having husbands commit adultery with others."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Whoever commits Fornication with a married woman, both of their sexual organs will give out such a stink that it would be felt even at the distance of five hundred years. This stench will pierce the people of Hell. And such fornicators will be subjected to the most severe punishment."
Problem from Every Angle
The book "Burhan-e-Quran" examines the punishment for adultery as prescribed in Islam keeping in mind the factors of human desires and sexual feeling, Islam has also enunciated the easiest ways of satisfying sexual desires and fulfilling sensual feelings. It has ordered its followers to marry at the beginning of puberty. It is the most recommended way.
The book also describes the punishment prescribed in Islam for adultery. It also discusses the way of life recommended by Islam which; if followed strictly; would minimise or even eradicate the practice of illicit relationships.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Marriage is my practice. One who forsakes this practice of mine is not from me."
The rules and regulations of marriage in Islam are simple so that there are no encumbrances in finalising a marriage. An Islamic government is bound to provide financial support to the unmarried people who are unable to marry because of poverty. In this way, youthful passions and desires are contained and illicit relationships are minimised. In order to eradicate this evil, Islam directs us to fulfill a social as well as a spiritual code of conduct. At the social level it is obligatory for those more fortunate amongst us to fulfill the needs of the less privileged. The wealthy amongst us are duty bound to take care of the financial needs of the poor. It is likewise obligatory to make a sustained and dedicated toil to educate the people for both social welfare and spiritual upliftment. Islam expects every individual to help the members of the community in whichever manner he can. The philosophy of Islam, if adhered to, can ensure the removal of poverty and ignorance which in turn ensures the removal of envies, perversion and illicit and illegal affairs associated with these. With an early marriage, the basic material needs of man are taken care of and an individual is well equipped to resist getting involved in degrading acts like adultery.
Self-control is further strenthened by practicing the laws of Islam which are encoded at the spiritual level. Islam has defined some acts of worship as obligatory. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) have taught us and guided us to innumerable recommended acts of worship like mustahab fasts, Mustahab prayers and Etekaf. Every prayer essentially refines a person's character and raises him to greater heights of nobility. By earnestly keeping up prayers and fasts, an individual can strengthen his inner resources and develop his spiritualism. Such an individual will have the power to exercise control over his passions and natural instincts and will not stoop to commit adultery which is declared as a Greater sin by his religion.
Islam prescribes very strict and severe laws of punishment for the wrong doers. This is necessary. It is only the severity of a law that compels mediocre individuals to abide by it. But, however severe the punishments prescribed in Islam may be, they are always tempered by Allah's Mercy and Compassion. Hadd (punishment) for adultery can only be executed if there are four just witnesses who have seen the sin being committed with their own eyes. Obviously the worldly punishment can be given only to those who publicly and shamelessly behave like beasts. It is truly amazing that even for such loathsome behaviour, Islam orders leniency in punishment. For example, only a married person who commits adultery is to be stoned to death. The punishment for an unmarried person is a hundred lashes.
The present day youth is caught in the mire of economic and moral decline. They are mentally disturbed and unstable. They believe it is advantageous to avoid the bonds and responsibilities of marriage and satisfy their natural needs with illicit relationships.
Undoubtedly, these problems have arisen because we do not implicitly practice the code of conduct as laid down by Shariat and we do not fully implement the rules and regulations as defined in Islam. Had there been an Islamic government, it would have endeavored to eradicate this immorality from the society by providing the basic needs to the poor and facilities for an early marriage.
An Islamic government would strictly ban pornography, bars, night clubs etc., all of which arouse sexual desires in people and lure them to indecencies and indiscriminations. Islam prohibits all activities that excite passions and promote shameful and degrading behaviour.
The strict laws of punishment in Islam should not lead us to think that Islam only wishes to punish the wrong doers. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evil. In fact, Islam takes a very compassionate view of sinners. On the one hand, the stern orders of punishment are strictly regulated so no injustice is done in carrying them out. On the other hand, Islam outlines a code of social obligation that creates an atmosphere of joy and dignity for all. No one in an Islamic society would be compelled by helplessness and desperation into bad conduct. It is a pity and our misfortune that we fail to implement fully our social obligations.
Islam has not ignored the punishment for the wrong-doers. Punishment is prescribed for sins in order that law and order are maintained in the society. Hadd (punishment) for adultery is prescribed only when a person performs this act shamelessly and openly, in the presence of four just witnesses. He defiles the chastity of some women and satisfies his beastly desires in the worst manner. Islam orders the punishment only when four just witnesses state that they have witnessed the actual act with their own eyes. Islam punishes the fornicator when he plays with the honour of the society. It is surprising that even in this case, Islam has been lenient with the wrong doers to a great extent. If the adulterer is unmarried a hundred lashes is his punishment. Stoning to death is only for that sinner who has a legal wife and indulges in this serious crime only to give vent to his lewdness.
It is necessary to mention this remarkable fact. In today's world, the youth is having such a state of mind that due to the economics and morals of the society they try to escape from the bonds of marriage and are attracted towards sexual perversions.
It is true that our youth is involved in economic difficulties and moral problems. But what is the root of this problems? A simple answer to this is that Islamic rules and regulations are not being followed and are not being put into practice. If the Islamic laws are fully implemented we would remain safe from immorality. If there had been an Islamic government it would have endeavoured to eradicate the lewdness and immorality from society. It would have provided the means of an early marriage. It would have also endeavoured to provide the basic necessities to the common people. It would save its youth, who are its future, from falling into the abyss of destruction.
If the Islamic government is in power, such things like shameful films, pornographic magazines, bars and night clubs would not have any existence because these things arouse the sexual desires. The Islamic law prohibits all such activities that promote sins and evils. In Islamic society, the youth is not compelled to remain celibate due to such created problems. Rather, such an atmosphere and society is created wherein all the people spend their life with chastity and dignity. Islam is not only for punishing the people. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evils.
For this very reason, Islamic law first takes into consideration the condition and helplessness of the fornicator, and only then does it prescribe the punishment. The fornicators are divided into seven groups and different penalties are fixed for them.
1) Stoning to death.
2) Stoning and lashes - both.
3) A hundred lashes and exile from the city after shaving the head.
4) Fifty lashes.
5) Seventy five lashes.
6) "Zighas"- it means picking up the lash many times to hit once.
7) The penalty of Fornication and fine - both.
Here, we shall describe the legal rulings, according to jurisprudence and traditions, for the information of our respected readers.
1) In order to establish the crime of adultery, four just male witnesses are required or three just male and two just female witnesses or two just male and four just female witnesses. If two just male witnesses and four just female witnesses state that they have witnessed the act, and if the sinner or the fornicator does not have a legal wife, or the fornicator woman does not have a legal husband, than they are not stoned to death. They are only given a hundred lashes each.
2) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at one and the same place.
3) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at the same time.
4) All the witnesses must testify in the same sitting.
5) If four just people quote the testimony of four just witnesses it is not sufficient.
6) If four just witnesses testify that a certain woman has committed fornication, their testimony shall not be accepted if they are not familiar with this woman since they do not know her and it could be that she is the legal wife of that man.
7) If three of the four witnesses testify and the fourth one refrains from testifying, or if his testimony differs from the previous three witnesses, the three witnesses who have testified shall be punished for 'qazaf' (defaming a chaste man or woman of adultery).
8) If the fornicator confesses his crime thrice, but refrains from the fourth confession, he cannot be punished. For a penalty to be lawful, it is necessary to confess four times.
9) He must make four confessions in four different sittings. He cannot be penalised if he makes four confessions in one sitting.
10) It is not permitted for the Judge to goad the accused to confess. He must also not be prompted to complete sentences (that is, words must not be put into his mouth). The Judge must try to maintain purity, chastity and dignity among the common people and must try his utmost that the crime of adultery is not proved. The Judge must try to give such suggestions to the accused that he may be able to save himself from the penalty by falling into doubts and uncertainties. It is also the duty of the Judge to encourage the accused to plead innocence.
11) When a married man confesses of adultery four times but later pleads innocence, the penalty of stoning will not be imposed upon him. His punishment shall be reduced.
12) A new convert to Islam who is unaware of the punishment shall not be punished.
13) If the adulterer is unmarried and he is suffering from some illness, the jurist is authorised to beat him with a broom of twigs or a branch of the date palm. He should consider these as lashes. He could also beat him with a branch or broom and consider each of its twig equivalent to one lash.
14) The lashing should be so controlled that the flesh of the body is not affected. The accused can only be punished when he has committed the crime willingly. (If someone is forced to commit fornication, penalty cannot be imposed upon them ).
15) If a man mistakes a woman to be his legal wife and has sexual intercourse with her, then he cannot not be punished.This is thus the detailed analysis of the laws prescribed by the all Beneficent and the all Merciful Allah, who knows His creatures very well. He has prescribed such regulated punishments for a serious sin like fornication. Now we shall quote a tradition that proves the extent to which the saints of Allah strived to protect the dignity of the people. How much precaution they took in passing a decree of fornication.
In the time of the rule of Umar a woman came to him and confessed of adultery. She also said, "Please impose the penalty of fornication upon me."
When Umar heard this, he ordered that the penalty of fornication be executed upon this woman. Ali (a.s.) happened to be there and was surprised at this. He said, "Umar, inquire from this woman the conditions when she had committed fornication."
The woman explained, "I was extremely thirsty in the desert. When I went far in search of water, I sighted a black tent which belonged to an Arab. I approached him and asked for water. But he refused to give me any water without my having adultery with him. I did not agree to his devilish desires and ran away into the desert. My eyes became sunken and I felt as if each of my bones were breaking. I returned to this man and in exchange of a drink of water I gave my body to him."
Ali (a.s.) said,
"It is this compulsion which is mentioned in the ayat,
'...But whoever is compelled by hunger, in inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving Merciful,'
(Surah Maidah 5:3).
This woman is not at all culprit of the crime."
Then Imam (a.s.) ordered for her release and she was released.
(Burhan - e - Quran)
source : Forty Hadith/ by Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni