Zina – Fornication in islam

Syed Bukhari

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Zina - Fornication in islam

What Is Zina?

Zina – Fornication in islam – Zina linguistically means immorality and refers to unlawful sexual relations in Islamic law. It has a general meaning which includes anything that leads to the act, and a specific meaning which refers to penetration of the private parts.

Zina is One of the Gravest Sins (Quran 25:68-70)

After shirk (associating others with Allah) and murder, zina is one of the most serious major sins. It violates people’s honor and lineages.

Forbidding Coming Near Zina (Quran 17:32)

The Quran uses the words “ithm” (sin) and “ghayyi” (pollution) to refer to the spiritual and physical impurity caused by zina. Scholars explain this refers to the terrible punishment in the hereafter as well as diseases spread in society through unlawful sexual relations.

Definition of Zina

Zina refers to unlawful sexual relations in Islam. It has a general meaning including anything that leads to the act, and a specific meaning referring to penetration of private parts. 

The Prophet said minor zina acts like looking and speaking can lead to actual zina if one’s private parts act on those thoughts.

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: I have never heard any better definition of small faults [al-Najm 53:32] than that which Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): Allah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of Zina, and there is no way to escape from it. The Zina of the eye is a glance, the Zina of the tongue is speaking, and the Zina of the mind is wishing and hoping; then the private part either acts upon this or it does not. (Reported by al-Bukhari, 11/26; Muslim, 4/2046).

Zina is One of the Gravest Sins

Zina is considered one of the most serious major sins after associating others with Allah and murder. It violates people’s honor and lineages.

Zina is clearly identified as a major sin in the Quran, violating honor and moral boundaries. It’s considered a path leading to hellfire, so Muslims must avoid not just the act but anything approximating it through unlawful glances, touching, language or thoughts about non-mahrams.

“And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah, nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds, for those Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [al-Furqan 25:68-70]

Forbidding Coming Near Zina

The Quran clearly forbids not just zina, but even coming near actions that can lead to it, calling it an evil path to Hell. This includes being alone, touching, looking, or thinking about non-mahrams.

 The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: The wives of the mujahideen are as sacred and forbidden to those who stay behind as their own mothers. There is no man of those who stay behind who is entrusted by one of the mujahideen with the care of his family and then betrays him (by committing Zina), but he will be detained on the Day of Resurrection, and (the one whom he betrayed) will take as much of his good deeds as he wishes. So what do you think? (Reported by Muslim, 3515)

Zina Violates Rights and Spreads Immorality

Zina violates spousal rights and spreads immorality. Incest, neighbor’s wife, and betraying spouses away on righteous duties like jihad multiply the sin.

Zina - Fornication in islam

The Evil Effects Of Adultery In This World And The Hereafter

The traditions of the Prophet and Imams warn that zina has dangerous effects in this life and the next. It can lead to spread of diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, emotional damage, alienation from God, lack of blessings, and of course punishment in the hereafter.

Punishment for Zina

The punishment depends on marital status – lashing for unmarried, stoning for married. Aggravating circumstances increase the sin and punishment.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned in the hadeeth about the three whom Allah will neither look at nor praise on the Day of Resurrection, and who will have a painful punishment. (Saheeh Muslim, 156)

Avoiding What Leads to Zina

Anything leading to zina must be avoided, like looking, touching non-mahrams, privacy, or thinking about it. The Prophet sternly warned against this.

How to avoid repeating the sin and penalty of zina (illicit sexual relations)

  1. It is good you got married to avoid temptation. But stop thinking about the first woman completely.
  2. Remember death often – it deters sin and motivates obedience.
  3. You have no excuse for this relationship when married. Go to your wife when tempted.
  4. Make sincere dua, worshipping Allah alone at night. He answers sincere slaves.
  5. Meeting this woman risks falling into zina which earns Allah’s wrath. It is a major sin.
  6. Zina has many evil effects – loss of faith and blessings, punishment, and moral corruption.
  7. Do righteous deeds instead. The chaste attain Allah’s rewards through obeying Him.

Avoid all that leads to zina, repent sincerely, and worship Allah alone to attain His rewards and forgiveness. Strengthen your marriage and faith. Leaving sin is the path to Allah’s blessings.

The Qur’aan: 

“And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with Allaah, nor kill such person as Allaah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment”
[al-Furqaan 25:68] 

Zina – Fornication in islam – Islamic law’s prohibition on zina (fornication and adultery), the prescribed punishments in Islamic law, and potential conflicts with human rights norms

A few reflections:

  • Islam takes sexual morality extremely seriously, aiming to protect lineage, family bonds and society’s moral fabric. However, the emphasis is on prevention over punishment.
  • The Qur’an explicitly prohibits zina and details flogging as punishment, but stoning is based on hadiths, and debate exists among scholars over validity and scope of both punishments. There is space for re-examining these in light of modern context.
  • Islamic law operates under a framework of priorities – preservation of life and religion are paramount. Preventing social harms is important, but punishments are not meant to reach the level of torture or contravene human dignity.
  • The objectives of Islamic law are in line with international human rights in many ways. But cultural differences exist over certain boundaries and punishments. Dialogue is needed to align Islamic ethics with evolving human rights norms.

In essence, while Islamic law takes a strong stance against sexual misconduct, its goals of preserving life, dignity and social order can be fulfilled through ethical activism over harsh enactments. Prioritizing faith and ethics over fixed punishments allows aligning Islamic values with human rights.



What does the Quran says about fornication?

If a man or a woman commits adultery, whip them one hundred times each. Don’t let your compassion for them stop you from following Allah’s law, if you really have faith in Allah and the Day of Judgment. And make sure some of the believers watch them suffer

What is fornication before marriage in Islam?

In Islam, premarital sex (fornication), as well as sex outside marriage (adultery) are absolutely forbidden and considered grave sins that bear serious consequences in this world and the hereafter (Quran 24:2). Islam gives sex a form of an esteemed status by limiting it to the husband-wife relationship

Is adultery the same as fornication in Islam?

Zinā in shariah is inclusive of fornication (consensual sexual intercourse between unmarried adults) whereas adultery is extramarital sex

What is the difference between adultery and fornication?

Adultery is only used when at least one of the parties involved (either male or female) is married, whereas fornication may be used to describe two people who are unmarried (to each other or anyone else) engaging in consensual sexual intercourse

Is fornication major sin in Islam?

[an-Nisa’ 4:93]. Killing a soul, or murder, is one of the most serious crimes, but it is a major sin of a lesser degree than shirk (associating others with Allah). It is a major sin like fornication/adultery, theft, and so on. The one who does that is not a disbeliever unless he regards it as permissible to do that.

What is the punishment for fornicating in Islam?

Islamic law tries to enforce sexual morality to the core and anyone who is found guilty of fornication is punished with one hundred lashes and a married Muslim who is found guilty of adultery may be stoned (rajm) by a group of Muslim believers until that person dies to send a clear warning to wannabe adulterers

Is kissing part of fornication?

Definition of fornication: sexual intercourse between people not married to each other. If kissing leads to intercourse and you are not married, yes

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