“Problems in Contemporary Applications of Islamic Criminal Sanctions: The Penalty for Adultery in Relation to Women”

Taking the penalty for adultery (had al-zina) as a case study, this essay attempts to address some of the practical problems associated with contemporary applications of Islamic penalties know as hudood. It looks at all four Sunni schools of law in relation to zina, and gives an in-depth discussion of their conflicting implications. In empirical terms the study investigates some court cases of zina taken from Sudan, a country in which the Islamic criminal penalties were introduced for the first time in 1983, then in 1991. This piece’s aim in its investigation of these cases, all of which involve women, is to address the question of whether the penalty of zina as currently imposed in some Muslim countries is discriminatory against women. In conclusion this essay argues that women accused of zina have suffered injustices ranging from discriminatory treatment on grounds of their biological makeup to penalization of potential victims of rape.

Sidahmed, Abdel Salam
Source publication: 
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 28(2): 187-204