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Rape against Muslim Women

By Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid  ( A Saudi Islamic lecturer and author)

Rape is an abhorrent crime and an abominable sin. This heinous crime is forbidden not only in Islam but in all religions, and all people of sound thinking and pure human nature reject it. 

The Arabic word ightisab (rape) refers to taking something wrongfully by force. It is now used exclusively to refer to transgression against the honor of women by force.  

This is an abhorrent crime that is forbidden in all religions and in the minds of all wise people and those who possess sound human nature. All earthly systems and laws regard this action as abhorrent and impose the strictest penalties on it. 

Islam has a clear stance which states that this repugnant action is haram (forbidden) and imposes a deterrent punishment on the one who commits it.  

Islam closes the door to the criminal who wants to commit this crime. Western studies have shown that most rapists are already criminals who commit their crimes under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and they take advantage of the fact that their victims are walking alone in isolated places or staying in the house alone. These studies also show that what the criminals watch on the media and the semi-naked styles of dress in which women go out also lead to the commission of this reprehensible crime.  

The laws of Islam came to protect women’s honor and modesty. Islam forbids women to wear clothes that are not modest. In addition, Islam encourages young men and women to marry early, and many other rulings that close the door before rape and other crimes. Hence it comes as no surprise when we hear or read that most of these crimes occur in permissive societies, which are looked up to by some Muslims as examples of civilization and refinement! It is worth mentioning here that in America , for example, Amnesty International stated in a 2004 report entitled “Stop Violence Against Women” that every 90 seconds a woman was raped during that year.  

The punishment for rape in Islam is the same as the punishment for zina (adultery or fornication), which is stoning if the perpetrator is married, and one hundred lashes and banishment for one year if he is not married. 

Moreover, Ibn `Abdul-Barr (may Allah bless his soul) said

The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished (that is, if there is no proof that the hadd punishment for zina may be carried out against him because he does not confess and there are not four witnesses, then the judge may punish him and stipulate a punishment that will deter him and others like him). There is no punishment for the woman if it is true that he forced her and overpowered her. (Al-Istidhkaar, 7/146). 

In addition, the rapist is subject to the hadd punishment for zina, even if the rape was not carried out at knifepoint or gunpoint. If the use of a weapon was threatened, then he is a muharib, and is to be subjected to the hadd punishment described in the verse in which Allah says  (The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter) (Al-Ma’idah 5:33). 

So the judge has the choice of the four punishments mentioned in this verse and may choose whichever he thinks is most suitable to attain the objective, which is to spread peace and security in society, and ward off evildoers and aggressors.


Should  A Rape Victim produce four witnesses

By Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

In Islam, we are not allowed to tarnish the honor of anyone. One is required to produce four witnesses when making an allegation of adultery against another person; otherwise, one will be guilty of slandering.

A raped woman is a victim that must be treated with honor and kindness. She is not required to produce four witnesses to prove the crime done against her, nor is she punished for the crime done against her.

If a person makes an allegation of adultery against another person (male or female) he or she must produce four witnesses to support such an allegation; otherwise, he or she is guilty of slandering, which is a grave offense in Islam, for we are not to tarnish the honor of anyone.

A woman who has been raped cannot be asked to produce witnesses; her claim shall be accepted unless there are tangible grounds to prove otherwise. To insist that she provide witnesses is akin to inflicting further pain on her. If anyone refutes her claim of innocence, the onus is on him to provide evidence, and she may simply deny the claim by making a solemn oath, thus clearing herself in public. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The onus to provide evidence falls on the one who makes a claim, and the one who denies (the same) can absolve himself or herself by making a solemn oath to the contrary.”

As for a spouse who witnesses his or her partner committing adultery and the other party denies it and they are unable to provide witnesses, they are, if they so desire, to part company by repudiating each other by engaging in what is known as a solemn oath and prayer of curse (li`an). It is described thus in the Qur’an: “And those who accuse their wives, and have no witnesses but themselves, then the testimony of each of them shall be a testimony sworn by God repeated four times, that he is indeed truthful. And the fifth (oath) is that God’s curse be upon him if he is lying. And it shall avert punishment from her that she testify a testimony repeated and sworn by God four times, that he is lying. And a fifth (oath) that the wrath of God be upon her, if he has spoken the truth” (An-Nur: 6-9).

 Excerpted, with slight modifications, from:

Punishment for Rapists


By Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Sulaiman, professor of law and Islamic Shari`ah at Cairo University:

Islamically speaking, the raped woman is not guilty of any sin because she was forced to it beyond her control. Stressing this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Allah has forgiven my Ummah for their mistakes, what they forget and what they are forced to do.” Thus, the raped woman is a victim and all members of her community should deal with her with honor and kindness and should encourage her to obtain her rights through all possible means.

If a woman is raped, she should press charges against the one who raped her. If it is proved that she was raped, then the court must apply discretionary punishment or ta`zir on the rapist. Such discretionary punishment may reach the death penalty, according to some schools of thought. This is based wholly on the fact that the rape is confirmed through medical tests and court procedures, without the confession of the rapist himself.

In cases where the rapist confesses the crime, then the penalty for zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) is to be applied to him. If he is not married, then he is to be whipped 100 lashes. If he is married, then he is to be stoned to death.

As for the rape victim, no punishment is to be inflicted on her. She is to be treated with dignity and honor, and all forms of help should be given to her to gain her rights.

Excerpted from : Fatwa



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