“It was eerily silent and dark when he finally reached home after a long tiring journey.He eagerly entered his house, relieved to be home after so long. As he took off his shoes,he heard some strange noises in his room. Could it be a burglar… he thought, as he tiptoed into his room.But when he entered the dimly lit room, he was shocked to see his wife with another man,doing the unthinkable!”
If you read this in a news paper you would know what happened next. He picked up his axe or a bat or a gun or whatever he could find and he killed them both to save his honor. A typical case of honor killing so prevalent in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Not only is it a brutal violent crime, but the name of Pakistan is maligned and my beautiful religion of Islam is dragged down into the mud as well. As if Islam is to blame. As if Islam promotes this kind of revenge or honor killing! As If Islam wants to kill women.
So today lets just see what Allah Subhanawa tala The Most Wise,The Most Merciful has to say to say about it.
It so happened that such a case was brought in front of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). A man came to him and said that I returned home at night and saw my wife with another man. I heard with my own ears and saw with my own eyes (their act of fornication).
At that time only the verses related to fornication had been revealed. In order to punish someone,four witnesses ( who saw them in the act) were needed. If four witnesses were not produced, then the one accusing would be punished by lashing. (for accusing a chaste person without proof).
So when the man came to him, Prophet Muhammad (s) was going to have him flogged (due to lack of witnesses) but then Allah Subhana Watala revealed the following verses:
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَّهُمْ شُهَدَآءُ إِلاَّ أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَـدَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَـدَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّـدِقِينَ – وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كَانَ مِنَ الْكَـذِبِينَ – وَيَدْرَؤُاْ عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَن تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الْكَـذِبِينَ – وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَآ إِن كَانَ مِنَ الصَّـدِقِينَ – وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ حَكِيمٌ
And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies by Allah that he is one of those who speak the truth.) (7. And the fifth (testimony); invoking of the curse of Allah on him if he be of those who tell a lie.) (8. But she shall avert the punishment from her, if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he is telling a lie.) (9. And the fifth; should be that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth.) (10. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you! And that Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, the All-Wise.
Al Quran: Surah Nur: Verse 6 – 10
The following is the event described in detail from Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
Hilal bin Umayyah came back from his lands at night and found a man with his wife. He saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears, but he did not disturb him until the morning. In the morning he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Messenger of Allah, I came to my wife at night and found a man with her, and I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.’ The Messenger of Allah did not like what he had said and got very upset. The Ansar gathered around him and said, `We were being tested by what Sa`d bin Ubadah said, and now the Messenger of Allah will punish Hilal bin Umayyah and declare his testimony before people to be unacceptable.’ Hilal said: `By Allah, I hope that Allah will make for me a way out from this problem.’ Hilal said, `O Messenger of Allah, I see how upset you are by what I have said, but Allah knows that I am telling the truth.’ By Allah, the Messenger of Allah wanted to have him flogged, but then Allah sent revelation to His Messenger . When the revelation came upon him, they knew about it from the change in his face, so they would leave him alone until the revelation was finished. Allah revealed the Ayah:
﴿وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَّهُمْ شُهَدَآءُ إِلاَّ أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَـدَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَـدَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ﴾
(And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies by Allah…,) Then the revelation was finished and the Messenger of Allah said,
«أَبْشِرْ يَا هِلَالُ فَقَدْ جَعَلَ اللهُ لَكَ فَرَجًا وَمَخْرَجًا»
(Rejoice, O Hilal, for Allah has made a way out for you.) Hilal said, `I had been hoping for this from my Lord, may He be glorified.’ The Messenger of Allah said:
(Send for her.) So they sent for her and she came’
The Messenger of Allah recited these Ayahs to them both, and reminded them that the punishment of the Hereafter is more severe than the punishment in this world. Hilal said, `By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, I have spoken the truth about her.’ She said, `He is lying.’ The Messenger of Allah said,
(Make them both swear the Li`an.) So Hilal was told, `Testify.’ So he testified four times by Allah that he was one of those who speak the truth. When he came to the fifth testimony, he was told, `O Hilal, have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.’
He said, `By Allah, Allah will not punish me for it, just as He has not caused me to be flogged for it.’ So he testified for the fifth time that the curse of Allah would be upon him if he was telling a lie.
Then it was said to his wife, `Testify four times by Allah that he is telling a lie.’ And when his wife reached the fifth testimony, she was told, `Have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.’
She hesitated for a while, and was about to admit her guilt, then she said: `By Allah, I will not expose my people to shame, and she swore the fifth oath that the wrath of Allah would be upon her if he was telling the truth.’ Then the Messenger of Allah separated them, and decreed that her child should not be attributed to any father, nor should the child be accused, and whoever accused her or her child, they would be subject to punishment.
He also decreed that ﴿Hilal﴾ was not obliged to house her or feed her, because they had not been separated by divorce, nor had he died and left her a widow. He said,
«إِنْ جَاءَتْ بِهِ أُصَيْهِبَ (أُرَيْسِحَ) حَمْشَ السَّاقَيْنِ، فَهُوَ لِهِلَالٍ، وَإِنْ جَاءَتْ بِهِ أَوْرَقَ جَعَدًا جُمَالِيًّا خَدَلَّجَ السَّاقَيْنِ سَابِغَ الْأَلْيَتَيْنِ، فَهُوَ لِلَّذِي رُمِيَتْتِبهِ»
(If she gives birth to a red-haired child (with skinny thighs) and thin legs, then he is Hilal’s child, but if she gives birth to a curly-haired child with thick legs and plump buttocks, then this is what she is accused of.) She subsequently gave birth to a child who was curly-haired with thick legs and plump buttocks, and the Messenger of Allah said,
«لَوْلَا الْأَيْمَانُ لَكَانَ لِي وَلَهَا شَأْنٌ»
(Were it not for the oath that she swore, I would deal with her.)’
SubhanAllah! He saw his wife in the dead of the night fornicating with another man. Imagine the utmost patience he displayed. He waited till the morning to come to Prophet Muhammad (s) and see Allah’s mercy … He revealed in His guidebook, guideline for the extreme of the cases. SubhanAllah! So many lessons from this case of this Sahabi (ra).
So in an extreme case, where a man himself sees his wife with another man, even then he is NOT allowed to take the law into his own hands. He can not harm or kill them.He will not fly into a rage and do as he pleases. He will bring his wife to the judge. There he will take an oath in Allahs name four times that he saw what he saw. Then his wife is allowed to declare her innocence (or accept the crime if she fears Allah). She also takes oath four times that her husband is lying. In the fifth oath she will invoke Allah’s curse on her own self incase she is lying. After this , they are divorced and she is also given her due mahr. She is not labelled as a fornicator. She is considered innocent.
Such is the care and justice for women in Islam. She is protected and given benefit of doubt whether she is guilty or whether she is innocent. Such is Allah’s mercy.
Who says women have no rights in Islam?? and for all those who scream that a woman’s testimony is not equal to a mans’ in Islam… read the verses again. In this case, her testimony ALONE suffices for her. SubhanAllah Allahu Akbar.!
All that honor killing and the karo kari nonsense that you hear and read about is NOT ISLAM. In many parts of our country, even if a girl is seen speaking to a boy , she is killed in the name of honor. If a man, even as much as suspects his wife of having an affair, he kills her in the name of honor. If daughters have boyfriends.. the parents think they have the option of honor killing! NAY that is NOT SO. Honour killings have nothing to do with Islam. It is cultural.It is murder, pure and simple and on the day of judgement, the first crime Allah will account will be murders. Please do not confuse culture with Islam. Everything thing that occurs in a so-called-Muslim-Country is not according to the Quran.
May Allah guide us and our nation towards understanding the Quran and implementing it in our lives. Ameen.
Read the details of these verses in Tafsir Ibn Kathir here.