You are here

Stoning and Adultery

Stoning and Adultery

Date Published: 
Tuesday, 18 April, 2017

Does Islam prescribe the death penalty for consensual sex? The religion that allows a man to keep sex slaves also requires the execution of consenting adults.

There were several times in Muhammad's life when he ordered that people be put to death when they had committed no crime other than "illegal" sexual intercourse.  The only unmarried sex explicitly allowed in Islam is between a Muslim man and his slaves.

Quran: Stoning is not prescribed in the current version of the Quran.  According to Muhammad's companions, a verse that did exist at one time ordering that adulterers be stoned, but it was forgotten. (See Additional Notes).


According to Umar (Muhammad's companion and Islam's second caliph) " sent down the Book (Quran) upon him (Muhamad), and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him."  Umar went on to insist that "Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah's Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession." ()


In other words, there was a verse in the original Quran narration that prescribed the stoning of adulterers, but it was left out of the compiling process in the years following Muhammad's death.  Umar's insistence on the stoning verse is recorded in other volumes that comprise the most reliable collection of Hadith, including Sahih :  "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, 'By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah's Book,' and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed. And the punishment of the Rajam is to be inflicted to any married person (male & female), who commits illegal sexual intercourse."  (Rajam refers to stoning).


According to a strong tradition (found in Sunan ibn Majah, Book of Nikah, Hadith no. 1934), Aisha also recalled the verse that prescribed the death penalty for adulterers.  It was written on a palm leaf that was in her home following Muhammad's death.  Unfortunately, a goat or sheep wandered into the house and ate the leaf (along with others) before it could be collected and merged into the hodgepodge of writings that became the Quran.