Adultery is the consensual sexual relations between two individuals who are not married to each other and one or the other is married to someone else. The definition of adultery varies in different jurisdictions and it is considered as a sin in almost all religions. Under Muslim law, “Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse by a person whether man or woman, with someone to whom they are not married.” Adultery or extramarital sex is considered as the infringement of matrimonial bond and is regarded as one of the foremost crimes condemned by Allah in religious book of Muslims- the Quran.
Zina is an Arabic term used for premarital or extramarital relationship. The act of zina is considered as the most heinous crime and people may be punished harshly for it. Quranic verses prohibiting adultery as said by Allah are:-
“Do not go near adultery. Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads to other evils.” “Say, ‘Verily, my Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and reason.”
“[Under Islamic laws in an Islamic state] it is not lawful to shed the blood of a Muslim except for one of the three sins: a married person committing fornication, and in just retribution for premeditated murder, and [for sin of treason involving] a person renouncing Islam, and thus leaving the community [to join the enemy camp in order to wage war against the faithful].”
Adultery in Islam is one of the most atrocious and dreadful of all sins. Its horrendousness can be determined from the reality that it has been considered equivalent to the deadliest of crimes in Quran. The above stated Quranic verse perfectly explains that.
Adultery is considered as an unforgivable crime, due to its calamitous consequence which affects the person involved, family unit and the society in general. It leads to betrayal and infringes the faith and harmony which is the basis for a satisfying family life; it fritters away the vigor; it knocks off balance; it deteriorates the purity of the character and obliterates the feelings of devotion and loyalty and consequently the individual has to face the fury of Allah and punishment in various forms.
Fornication and infidelity are regarded as unpardonable and reprehensible sins and regarding adultery, the Prophet said, “When adultery and promiscuous behavior becomes rampant in a nation, Allah will expose them to His chastisement and He will send upon them such (strange) diseases that their own ancestors never heard of.”
Brutal punishments are given to men and women who get involved in the sinful act of zina. According to Islamic laws, for premarital sex, the chastisement is 100 lashes, while for adultery the adulterers are punished by stoning to death which is also known as Rajm or severe flogging. However, stoning as punishment for extramarital sex is not stated in Quran but is prescribed in Hadith. Hadith are the verbal mores connecting to the words and conduct of the Islamic prophet Mohammad.
Although, men are exceptional in this case and a married man sleeping with an unmarried woman is not considered adultery but it becomes a crime if the woman involved is married and she practices extramarital relationship. In this case, punishment prescribed for her is no less than stoning to death.
Islamic laws are in general callous and ruthless and the method is reputed to be a puritan legal system.