Adultery in the Eyes of the Qur’an
The pronouncement on adultery in the Qur’an is as follows:
A woman and a man who commit fornication: flog both of them with one hundred lashes (jalda)... (Qur’an, 24:2)
Jalda implies a small stick rather than a large one. In the time of the Prophet (pbuh), this was done by tying 100 sticks together, and the pronouncement was fulfilled by striking the adulterer just once with 100 sticks tied together in this way.
Apart from that, another point needing to be emphasized is that we can see from other statements on the subject that the punishment of the lashes in question is meant to be a deterrent, and one that could not really be administered in practice:
But those who make accusations against chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses: flog them with eighty lashes and never again accept them as witnesses. Such people are deviators. (Qur'an, 24:4)
As can be seen from this verse, in order to be able to accuse a woman of adultery, four people have to have seen her at the time. These must be eye-witnesses to the act of adultery, not people who saw her before or after it because it would be mere supposition to make that allegation before or after. Since it is in practice not possible for four people to witness an act of adultery, this is clearly intended as a deterrent.
The punishment with 80 lashes of those who are unable to produce witnesses to their allegations of adultery is also a highly deterrent pronouncement. Another verse says that people who accuse a woman of adultery but are unable to back this up with witnesses will be regarded as liars in the Sight of God:
Why did they not produce four witnesses to it? Since they did not bring four witnesses, in God’s Sight, they are liars. (Qur'an, 24:13)
As we have seen, the person who is unable to produce witness is himself accused of lying and defamation. Therefore, the only valid means of knowing whether or not the person is telling the truth is the presence of four witnesses to the adultery. There is simply no other way his words can be valid.
That is the pronouncement of adultery in the eyes of the Qur’an. It is detailed and clear, and the punishment described is very different to stoning to death. Those people who are trying to add the barbarity of stoning onto Islam, despite the clear pronouncement in the verse, are committing a grave slander. The stoning to death implemented under the name of “Islamic Sharia” in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia is both murder and a violation of the Qur’an. The practice in question in those countries is murder under the name of Islam.
Vasily Polenov's oil painting titled “Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery,” 1888