Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Zina Definition:

Muslim law: sexual relations; occurring outside of bond of marriage.

Related Terms: Adultery, Hudud, Marriage

Includes, but is not necessarily limited to, adultery.

According to the Koran, sexual relations outside the bond of marriage is amongst the worse of crimes; a hudud:

“The adulterous and the adulterer, flawed each of them a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you from obedience to Allah....”

Gunnar Weimann wrote:

"Zina, or unlawful sexual intercourse, is punishable by death by stoning, if the offender is currently married or has been married in the past. Otherwise the penalty is 100 lashes. In addition, men are imprisoned for one year."

The implications of a finding of zina in a Muslim jurisdiction are horrific. As Pearl points out in his Textbook:

Zina (is) illicit sexual relations.

"The hudud penalty is by stoning in the case of one who has consummated a valid marriage and 10 lashes in other cases.

"These penalties can only be imposed when four eye-witnesses testify to the act.”


  • Pearl, D., A Textbook on Muslim Law (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979), page 317
  • Weimann, Gunnar J., Judicial Practice in Islamic Criminal Law in Nigeria - A Tentative Overview, 14 Islamic L. & Soc'y 248 (2007)

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