English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 24: An-Nur — The Light (Revealed at Madinah: 9 sections, 64 verses)

Section 1 (Verses 24:1–24:10): Law relating to Adultery


بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

سُوۡرَۃٌ اَنۡزَلۡنٰہَا وَ فَرَضۡنٰہَا وَ اَنۡزَلۡنَا فِیۡہَاۤ اٰیٰتٍۭ بَیِّنٰتٍ لَّعَلَّکُمۡ تَذَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱﴾

24:1 (This is) a chapter We have revealed and made obligatory and in which We have revealed clear messages that you may be mindful.

اَلزَّانِیَۃُ وَ الزَّانِیۡ فَاجۡلِدُوۡا کُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنۡہُمَا مِائَۃَ جَلۡدَۃٍ ۪ وَّ لَا تَاۡخُذۡکُمۡ بِہِمَا رَاۡفَۃٌ فِیۡ دِیۡنِ اللّٰہِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ ۚ وَ لۡیَشۡہَدۡ عَذَابَہُمَا طَآئِفَۃٌ مِّنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲﴾

24:2 The adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them (with) a hundred strokes,1 and do not let pity for them detain you from obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let a group of believers witness their punishment.

اَلزَّانِیۡ لَا یَنۡکِحُ اِلَّا زَانِیَۃً اَوۡ مُشۡرِکَۃً ۫ وَّ الزَّانِیَۃُ لَا یَنۡکِحُہَاۤ اِلَّا زَانٍ اَوۡ مُشۡرِکٌ ۚ وَ حُرِّمَ ذٰلِکَ عَلَی الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۳﴾

24:3 The adulterer cannot have sexual relations with any but an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress, none can have sexual relations with her but an adulterer or an idolater; and it is forbidden to believers.2

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَرۡمُوۡنَ الۡمُحۡصَنٰتِ ثُمَّ لَمۡ یَاۡتُوۡا بِاَرۡبَعَۃِ شُہَدَآءَ فَاجۡلِدُوۡہُمۡ ثَمٰنِیۡنَ جَلۡدَۃً وَّ لَا تَقۡبَلُوۡا لَہُمۡ شَہَادَۃً اَبَدًا ۚ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡفٰسِقُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۴﴾

24:4 And those who accuse free women and do not bring four witnesses, flog them (with) eighty strokes and never accept their evidence, and these are the transgressors3

اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ تَابُوۡا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ذٰلِکَ وَ اَصۡلَحُوۡا ۚ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۵﴾

24:5 except those who afterwards repent and act aright; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَرۡمُوۡنَ اَزۡوَاجَہُمۡ وَ لَمۡ یَکُنۡ لَّہُمۡ شُہَدَآءُ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡفُسُہُمۡ فَشَہَادَۃُ اَحَدِہِمۡ اَرۡبَعُ شَہٰدٰتٍۭ بِاللّٰہِ ۙ اِنَّہٗ لَمِنَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۶﴾

24:6 And those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves,4 let one of them testify four times, bearing Allah to witness, that he speaks the truth,

وَ الۡخَامِسَۃُ اَنَّ لَعۡنَتَ اللّٰہِ عَلَیۡہِ اِنۡ کَانَ مِنَ الۡکٰذِبِیۡنَ ﴿۷﴾

24:7 and the fifth time (he shall swear) that the curse of Allah be on him, if he is lying.

وَ یَدۡرَؤُا عَنۡہَا الۡعَذَابَ اَنۡ تَشۡہَدَ اَرۡبَعَ شَہٰدٰتٍۭ بِاللّٰہِ ۙ اِنَّہٗ لَمِنَ الۡکٰذِبِیۡنَ ۙ﴿۸﴾

24:8 And it shall avert the punishment from her, if she testify four times, bearing Allah to witness, that he is lying,

وَ الۡخَامِسَۃَ اَنَّ غَضَبَ اللّٰہِ عَلَیۡہَاۤ اِنۡ کَانَ مِنَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۹﴾

24:9 and the fifth time (she shall swear) that the wrath of Allah be on her, if he speaks the truth.5

وَ لَوۡ لَا فَضۡلُ اللّٰہِ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ رَحۡمَتُہٗ وَ اَنَّ اللّٰہَ تَوَّابٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿٪۱۰﴾

24:10 And if it were not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy — and that Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy) Wise!


  1. Chastity, as a virtue, is not given the first place in modern civilized society. The breach of the greatest trust which can be imposed in a man or a woman, the breach which ruins families, destroys household peace, and deprives innocent children of their loving mothers, is not looked upon even as seriously as the breach of trust of a small sum of money. Hence the Islamic law seems to be too severe to the West. The punishment for adultery is here stated to be flogging, not stoning to death, which was really prescribed by the Jewish law. The cases of stoning to death for adultery by the Prophet’s orders relate actually to a Jew and a Jewess in one case (Bukhari, 23:61), and others apparently occurred before the revelation of this chapter. That stoning to death was never contemplated by Islam as a punish­ment for adultery is made clear by 4:25, where it is stated expressly that the punishment for adultery in the case of slave-girls, when they are married, is half the punishment which is inflicted on free married women, and stoning to death could not be halved. Besides, the Quran nowhere speaks of stoning as a punish­ment for adultery. Flogging was aimed more at disgracing the culprit than at torturing him. In the time of the Prophet, and even for some time after him, there was no whip, and flogging was carried out by beating with a stick or with the hand or with shoes. The culprit was not stripped naked, but he was required to take off thick clothes.
  2. The idolater or the idolatress is mentioned along with the adulterer or the adulteress on account of the low standard of morality among the idolaters.
  3. This is an effectual restraint against slander and gossip, which so often bring disaster upon the heads of innocent women. Unless there is the clearest evi­dence of adultery against a woman, the slanderer is himself to be punished.
  4. The ordinance relates to the case of husbands who accuse their wives of adultery and have no evidence (see a case in Bukhari, 68:30). In such a case divorce is effected, the husband not being punishable for the accusation, though he cannot produce witnesses, and the wife not being punishable for adul­tery, if she denies the charge in the manner stated. The same procedure would be adopted in a reverse case.
  5. Editor’s Note: In this procedure, the testimony of the husband and of the wife are treated as of equal value and weight.