The punishment for adultery is revealed here. Allah-SWT declares that the meanings and the interpretation of this Surah have been determined by Him-SWT . To believe and act upon these is mandatory for all believers. Besides, it carries very clear evidence and bare facts so that the believers may beware and learn a lesson there from.
It has been enjoined that a woman and a man guilty of adultery are to be awarded hundred lashes each. No believer ought to display any compassion in the enforcement of Divine Law as it is Allah-SWT's Din and not the orders of worldly rulers. In other words, it is not only the execution of His-SWT Command but also a source of attaining His-SWT Pleasure. This aspect, however, would only be considered by the one who believes in Allah-SWT and the Day of Judgment. Secondly, this punishment must be enforced in public, and the Muslims must witness it so that it serves as an admonition, and that insult is added to the injury for such a hideous act. As endorsed by Hadith and the practice of the Holy Prophet-SW, this punishment of flogging is prescribed for adultery where both the offenders are unmarried. If the offenders are married and adultery is proven, both will be publicly stoned to death.
In fact, the punishment for adultery was also enforced gradually; it was comparatively lenient to begin with but was later made gradually severe. As revealed in Surah an-Nisa, if a woman was found guilty of adultery, and the accusation was endorsed by four witnesses, she was to be confined within the house, while her partner was to be tortured, until Allaah-SWT created some other way, or their death occurred. This Ayah has revealed that ‘way', that they be flogged in public, a hundred times each. The Holy Prophet-SW said that this sentence is for the unmarried offenders. Quran and Hadith are both Divine Revelations and the Companions-RAU did not discriminate between the two as they heard both from the Holy Prophet-SW. So it is incorrect to say that stoning is not proper because the Quran does not mention it. Such a critic commentator cannot be a believer.
Anyone who does not consider Hadith as important and practicable must be asked where did he get the Quran from? Therefore, the law is that once fornication is proven the offenders will be publicly flogged. It is also at the Judge’s discretion that he may add to the sentence a yearlong exile for the man. However, if a married man and a married woman commit this crime, they will be stoned to death. This is not only endorsed by the sayings of the Holy Prophet-SW but was also his practice. He sentenced a bachelor to be flogged a hundred times, while a married woman was stoned to death. The same punishment was awarded during the era of the four Caliphs and the following Islamic Governments. For details, books on Hadith and Fiqh may be consulted.
The offences entailing such severe punishments are extremely damaging for the society. The testimony to prove these must, therefore, be fool proof. In case of any shortfall or a shadow of doubt, the Had of stoning or flogging will not be enforced and the Qadhi shall punish the offenders according to his own judgement, by way of T'azir. The evidence of two males or one male and two females is considered enough for Hudud but for stoning to death, the testimony of four male eye witnesses is imperative and must prove that the act of adultery has physically taken place. Merely discovering the twain naked, or in some other state repugnant to Shari'ah will invoke T'azir and not Had. And if the testimony proves to be wrong and fails to establish the crime, the witnesses will be subjected to ‘Had’ termed as ‘Qazf’ (wrongful accusation), which is eighty lashes. Besides, the punishment for other acts against the Shari’ah will be enforced by way of T'azir
Adultery is so terribly harmful that it transforms the very nature of the indulgent. A habitual adulterer prefers to marry an adulteress, an immoral or ungodly and polytheist woman, as the aim is to satisfy his lust. Similarly an adulteress also prefers an adulterer or a non believing man to satisfy her lust as she does not seek the real purpose of Nikah, which is to protect one's lineage and morality. Adultery, or Nikah when aimed merely at satisfaction of lust, is prohibited for the believers. The basic aim of the latter is to lay the foundation of a legal and a noble family. However the Jurists assert that if two adulterers get married, the Nikah will take place, the lineage of their children will be established and the laws of inheritance will be applicable, notwithstanding their intentions. On the contrary, there can be no Nikah between a believer and a polytheist at the very outset.
Besides, those who accuse chaste women of adultery and fail to produce four witnesses will be punished with eighty lashes, to ensure that nobody dares accuse a chaste woman out of vengeance or to her tarnish. Moreover, their testimony will not to be entertained ever in future being extremely vile persons. The false accuser will have to endure this punishment. However, if he subsequently repents and reforms himself he will be spared the punishment in the Akhirah, for Allah-SWT is indeed Forgiving and Merciful.
In a situation where a husband accuses his wife of adultery he will also have to produce four witnesses. Otherwise he will have to swear upon Allah-SWT four times that he is telling the truth, and the fifth time he must declare that if he be lying let him be accursed by Allah-SWT . This is termed in Shari’ah as L’an which means 'to accurse’. And if he confesses that he was telling a lie he will be punished for Qazf which is eighty lashes. In case of L’an he will be spared the punishment. In this case the wife will not be sentenced under Hadud rather she will also be given a chance to plead. If she confesses as guilty she will be duly punished, otherwise she must swear upon Allah-SWT four times that her husband is lying and the fifth time she must say that if he is telling the truth, let Allaah-SWT ’s Wrath be on her. She will also be spared the punishment but because of L‘an the couple will neither remain lawful for one another nor can they ever remarry. The details of L'an can also be seen in books on Fiqh. The Commentators record several instances of L‘an during the Holy Prophet-SW’s period.
Had Allah-SWT not been so Beneficent and Merciful towards the believers, their society would have deteriorated like that of the non believers. This indeed is His-SWT Munificence that He-SWT has ordained severe punishments to protect Muslim society and has also left the door of repentance ajar, providing the sinners an opportunity to save themselves from eternal damnation. He-SWT indeed is the Wisest.