Chastity vs. Adultery

(Concept of Shyness in Islam, Chastity in Islam, Staying away from adultery or Zina, Types of adultery or Zina, adultery of the eyes, adultery of the hand, consequences of adultery or Zina, early marriage in Islam, chatting in Islam, Wisdom of Fasting, Repentance or Tobah from adultery)

      قال الله تعالى: { قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ* وَقُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ} النور30-1.

      قال ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما: ( يغضوا أبصارهم عما يكره الله).

 وقال سعيد بن جبير: {ويحفظن فروجهن} عن الفواحش.

      God the Almighty says: { Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts; that is purer for them. Verily, God is All-Aware of what they do.  And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts} (Chapter 24, verses 30-31).

Ibn Abbas said: “They should lower their gaze from things that God has prohibited.”

Sa’eed Ibn Jubair said: “ ‘Protect their private parts’ from immoral indecent sins.”



God the Almighty commands the Muslim men and women to lower their gaze from forbidden things and to guard their private parts from immoral indecent acts.  Shyness or bashfulness is one of the great morals that Islam has emphasized.  Indeed, Islam considers shyness and shamefulness as part of Faith (Iman). Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace upon him- describes the believer as one who has a sense of shyness and shamefulness that keeps him/her away from immorality and indecent sins.

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أنَّ رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « الإيمَانُ بِضْعٌ وسَبْعُونَ- أوْ بِضْعٌ وَسِتُّونَ- شُعْبةً، فَأَفْضَلُها قوْلُ لا إلهَ إلاّ اللَّهُ، وَأَدْنَاها إمَاطَةُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ، والحَيَاءُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنَ الإيمَانِ» .  رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may Allah be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Iman (Faith) has seventy odd branches (or sixty odd branches). The uppermost branch is the Testimony there is no true god except Allah, and the lowest branch is to remove harmful objects from the road. And Shyness is a branch of faith.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

In order to protect the honor and chastity of both men and women, boys and girls, Islam has obligated hijab and has prohibited association with non-relative men or women for no purpose or need.  Islam encourages both men and women to feel shy of God and to dislike indecent immoral acts like zina (adultery or fornication or a relationship between a man and a woman without marriage) and anything that leads to it.

Adultery or fornication (zina) is an abhorrent act both in society and religion. God the Almighty admonished people to stay away from adultery and fornication (Zina) and promised severe punishment for it both in this world and the Hereafter.  But God -the Most Wise- explained why adultery or fornication should be avoided; first because it is a great injustice to others and so a great sin, and second because it is aberrant behavior and an ugly deed that has serious consequences.

             قال تعالى: { وَالَّذِينَ لا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهاً آخَرَ وَلا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلا يَزْنُونَ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَاماً. يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَاناً. إِلَّا مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلاً صَالِحاً فَأُولَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَحِيماً. وَمَن تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَـلِحاً فَإِنَّهُ يَتُوبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَتاباً } سورة الفرقان 68-70.

      God the Almighty says in another verse: { And those who do not invoke any other deity along with God, nor kill the soul which God has forbidden (to be killed) except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse – and whoever does this shall receive punishment.

  1. Multiplied for him is the torment on the Day of Judgment, and he will abide therein in disgrace.
  2. Except those who repent, believe, and do righteous deeds; for them God will replace their misdeeds into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
  3. And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds; then indeed he has repented to God with true repentance} (Chapter 25, verses 68-70).

Adultery or fornication (zina) is an abhorrent act that can have many negative consequences.  In religion, adultery is one of the mortal sins and a major misdeed that is promised Hell-fire.  Not only that, but if the adulterer doesn’t repent, then he is promised multiplied torment (may God save us).

In society, adultery leads to the loss of women’s rights and social status.  The woman engaged in adultery is merely used for physical gratification and enjoys no rights or obligation.  Furthermore, she loses her status as a mother or sister, and may no longer enjoy the protection of a family.

For men, adultery leads to loss of mental acuity and focus resulting in loss of job performance, family break-ups, severing of ties, and many other consequences.

For children, adultery leads to loss of proper child support and protection, loss of family lineages, and most important loss of a solid family structure and a stable home that offers emotional and financial support which inevitably leads to increased child misbehaviors and crime.  Therefore, God the Almighty warned the believers to stay away from adultery and anything that may lead to it.

Not only that, but Islam also instructs us to avoid anything that leads to adultery.

    قال الله عز وجل: { وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ ٱلزّنَىٰ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاء سَبِيلاً} سورة الإسراء 32.

  قال ابن كثير: ( “وَلا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا”: وهو مخالطة أسبابه ودواعيه. “إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً”: أي ذنبًا عظيمًا، “وَسَاءَ سَبِيلا”: أي وبئس طريقًا ومسلكًا).

     God the Almighty says in another verse: { And come not near or approach fornication or adultery (zina). Verily, it is an immoral sin and an evil way} (Chapter 17, verse 32).

Ibn Katheer said: “ ‘And come not near fornication or adultery’: meaning avoid anything that may lead to adultery.

‘It is an immoral sin’: meaning it is a major sin.

‘And an evil way’: meaning it is a terrible way and behavior.”

Therefore, Islam prohibits unnecessary contact between unrelated men and women.  The more contact unrelated men and women have with each other, the more likely they will fall in sin.  The greatest form of adultery is that of the private parts, but there are smaller forms of adultery as well like looking, talking, chatting, touching, kissing, etc.  The other smaller forms of adultery may eventually lead to the greatest form and are forbidden as well.

Prophet Muhammad described all forms of adultery in the following hadith:

      عن أبي هُريْرةَ رضي اللَّه عنْهُ عنِ النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قَال: « كُتِبَ على ابْنِ آدَمَ نَصِيبُهُ مِنَ الزِّنَا مُدْرِكٌ ذَلِكَ لا مَحَالَةَ: العَيْنَانِ زِنَاهُمَا النَّظَرُ، والأُذُنَانِ زِنَاهُما الاسْتِماعُ، واللِّسَانُ زِنَاهُ الكَلامُ، وَاليَدُ زِنَاهَا البَطْشُ، والرِّجْلُ زِنَاهَا الخُطَا، والقَلْب يَهْوَى وَيَتَمنَّى، ويُصَدِّقُ ذَلِكَ الفَرْجُ أوْ يُكَذِّبُهُ» .  متفقٌ عليه.

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “God has written for the son of Adam his share of adultery which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eye is looking (at something which is sinful to look at), the adultery of the ear is listening (to something which is forbidden), the adultery of the tongue is speaking (to an unrelated woman unnecessarily), the adultery of the hand is the lustful grip, and the adultery of the feet is walking (to a place where he intends to commit adultery). The heart or inner-self wishes and desires, while the private parts fulfill that wish or refrain from it.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

Therefore, not only is adultery forbidden, but anything that leads to it; namely the smaller forms of adultery, is forbidden as well. Just like losing weight requires abstaining from things that lead to it like fatty and sweet foods, similarly guarding chastity and avoiding adultery require abstaining from things that lead to it.

In the above narration, the two main types of adultery or fornication (zina) are mentioned:

I) The major adultery (of private parts), and

II) the smaller (of other limbs), including: adultery of the eye, adultery of the nose, adultery of the mouth, adultery of the ears, adultery of the hand, and adultery of the feet.  The major type is the worst and has the most severe punishment.

The smaller types of adultery have negative consequences and may lead to the major type and therefore are forbidden as well.  The smaller types of adultery include:

  1. Adultery of the Eye: Occurs by looking at non-relative women or men lustfully, and worse watching unclothed women or men. Looking at others’ private parts is an indecent ugly sin that has bad consequences upon the mind, health and faith.

Religious scholars said that the first gate to adultery is the eye.  It is through the eyes and sight that the thought of adultery is conceived.  Thus, we are commanded in the verse above to protect our gaze, and guard this first shield against adultery.  And it is related that the look is an arrow from the arrows of Satan with which he captivates the son of Adam and leads him/her astray.  Indeed, with one look Satan can affect the heart and mislead it so the person follows that look with other greater sins.

Women who wear tight and revealing clothes and then go out, commit this type of adultery.  Satan finds it a good opportunity to mislead people, and she gets equal share of the sin until she returns home.

عن عبدالله – ابن مسعود – رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: « المرأةُ عَوْرةٌ، فإذا خَرَجَت استَشْرَفَها الشَيطانُ».  رواه الترمذي وابن حبان بإسناد صحيح

Narrated Abdul-Allah Ibn Mas’ood -may God be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “The woman is ‘awrah (private and should be veiled), so when she goes out Satan welcomes her seeking to tempt her and use her for temptation.”  Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban.

Thus, women should cover up when they leave the house for any need. The chaste woman does not reveal her body to other men to look at and devour, rather her shyness makes her cover herself and guard her chastity.

2. Adultery of the Nose: occurs when the woman puts on perfume to attract men. The Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- described the woman who puts on perfume before she leaves her house to attract men, and then a man smells it as an adulteress.

3. Adultery of the Mouth and Tongue: occurs by talking to non-relative men or women unnecessarily, or touching them with the mouth. Talking over the cell phone or internet with non-relative men and women for enjoyment and without real need or purpose has been accepted as the norm, while it is a form of adultery and a sin that has grave consequences.  For how many an innocent conversation over the phone or random chat has resulted in affairs that wrecked marriages and destroyed families.

4. Adultery of the Hand: occurs by touching a non-relative man or woman, or chatting with a non-relative man or woman, or having a relationship over the internet or phone. This is a common sin these days, and many men have women friends and women have men friends with whom they chat freely and exchange emails or messages.  This is considered adultery of the mouth and hand, and has bad consequences, both in this world and the Hereafter.  In this world, this action leads to the disruption of legal relationships, the destruction of family structure and unity, the preoccupation of the mind, the deterioration of health and faith, and in the Hereafter with Hell-Fire unless the person repents and returns to God.

5. Adultery of the Feet: occurs by going to bad places like bars, or the market to see other men or women.

God the Exalted says in Qur’an: {On the Day of Judgment, their tongues, their hands, and their legs will bear witness against them as to what they used to do} (surah Al-Noor, verse 24).

Thus on the Day of Judgment, the mouth will be sealed and shut, while other limbs will be given the ability to speak as mentioned in the verse above.  Then on that Day all limbs will admit and reveal everything they used to do.  The eyes, the nose, the tongue, the ears, the hands, and the feet will speak and reveal all of their secrets, and say nothing but the truth. Then man can imagine his condition on that Day, and the terrible situation for those who indulge in sin and immorality.

Indeed, all of these unlawful pleasures and lusts would be a great source of sadness and misery on the Day of Judgment.  And how true is the following statement:

    قال أحد الحكماء: ( الشهوات لذات في الظاهر مكاره في الباطن، والطاعات مكاره في الظاهر لذات في الباطن).

A wise man said: “Temptations and lusts are pleasures on the outside, but hardships on the inside.  While acts of obedience and worship (to God) are hardships on the outside, but pleasures on the inside.”


Regret and Repentance:

Different people have different levels of piety and sin.  Some people fall prey to all kinds of adultery, while others only to one small type.  But the believer should never despair of the mercy of God. 

As soon as the Muslim realizes he has committed any sin, he should repent to God, showing regret and remorse and promising not to do it again.  Indeed, in the verse above, after mentioning the severe punishment of adultery, God -the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving- made an exception for those who repent and turn back to Him.  Those who repent truly are not only promised forgiveness, but also the great reward of turning their misdeeds into good.  God -the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving- says:

{ Except those who repent, believe, and do righteous deeds; for them God will replace their misdeeds into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful} (Chapter 25, verses 68-70).

Indeed, there is no bound or limit to God’s mercy and forgiveness, but the Muslim is asked to turn to God in repentance and seek His Great Mercy and forgiveness.


First Solution:

Islam has encouraged early marriage as an important antidote for the urges of youth.  Marriage is a legal contract that forms the basis of a stable, peaceful and united community.  Indeed, one of the purposes of marriage is to connect families and bring them together.  Not only does marriage protect one’s chastity, but it also guards the rights of every individual in society.  The man’s rights are protected, the woman’s rights are honored, and the children’s welfare is preserved.  Adultery or fornication, on the other hand, destroys this basic unit of a united community, wrecking relationships, disrupting normal family ties, giving up the responsibility of children, and leading to enmity and crime.  It is ironic that these days, early marriage is frowned upon while smaller forms of adultery are accepted as the norm.

Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- gave a valuable advice to young people:

   وعن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمْ البَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ» .  متفقٌ عليه.

Narrated Abdul-God Ibn Mas’ood -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “O young people, whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e. his private parts from committing adultery), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Second Solution:

Thus, the first solution is early marriage. But if marriage cannot be afforded, then the second solution offered by Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- is fasting.  Whoever cannot afford to get married, then he should fast from sunrise to sunset, for fasting protects against adultery.  It was the custom (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- to fast every Monday and Thursday.  When the Muslim fasts and stops eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, his desires weaken and he would stay away from adultery.

Moreover, Fasting is a discipline or religious training for the Muslim to hold himself and refrain from eating and drinking first, and in the process learn to hold himself and refrain from temptations and from any form of adultery.

But when young people turn away from marriage, and when families refuse to marry their sons and daughters to reasonable candidates, then adultery may become widespread, just as Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: “‏ إِذَا خَطَبَ إِلَيْكُمْ مَنْ تَرْضَوْنَ دِينَهُ وَخُلُقَهُ فَزَوِّجُوهُ إِلاَّ تَفْعَلُوا تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ عَرِيضٌ.” رواه الترمذي وابن ماجه. ‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may Allah be pleased with him- that the Messenger of Allah -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “When someone whose religion and character you are pleased with proposes to (someone under the care of) one of you, then marry (your female relative) to him.  If you do not do so, then there will be turmoil (Fitnah) in the land and widespread corruption.”  Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

While in the past, marriage was the norm and a priority for young people, now many young people are turning away from marriage and are looking for other means of distraction and unlawful entertainment which include the smaller forms of adultery and may lead to the major form.  This in turn leads to turmoil; affliction; physical, emotional, financial, and psychological problems; and corruption in the land as described in the hadith.


     Then, we can see that there are many types of zina (adultery).  It is true that zina (adultery) of the private parts is the worst and has the most severe punishment, but the other types have bad effects and severe consequences too.  All types of zina lead to the spread of evil and enmity in the society.  Through immorality and adultery, bad characteristics and injustice spread in the land.  Then the town would be afflicted with crime, diseases, and loss of peace. Thus we have been forewarned to stay away from all types of zina (adultery).

Islam has encouraged marriage, but prohibited any other form of relationship between a man and woman outside marriage.  Islam promotes shyness and a strong sense of shame that prevents the Muslim from dealing with a non-blood relative.  So we have a society of shy and shameful men and women who preserve their chastity and stay away from any form of zina (adultery).  They guard their gaze by avoiding looking at others or unlawful things, they guard their mouth by avoiding talking to others unnecessarily, they guard their hand by avoiding chatting and having relationship over the internet or phone, and they guard their feet by avoiding going to bad places to see other men and women. They guard their chastity and protect themselves from adultery by marriage and fasting. Thus, we have a faithful society that keeps the rights of everyone, which results in a peaceful and united society.

And in case they fall prey to any form of adultery, they show regret and remorse and turn to God in repentance, asking His Forgiveness and promising not to do it again.



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