Muta, Prostitution, and many other things

Sam Shamoun

This is the second part of our rebuttal. If you have not done so yet, please read first Part One to understand the background to this paper.

Osama Abdallah next says regarding Paul:

Now were Paul's teachings really prohibiting fornication, or is this another lie by Shamoun?

First of all, as we clearly see, there is nothing about fornication in the verses that Shamoun presented above.  Yes, they're talking about marriage, but that has nothing to do with fornication.  Wives living good with their husbands, and being loyal to them, and men who are burning with passion need to get married, etc... are all advises for social life.

But is there an actual prohibition for fornication here?  Absolutely not!


Again, since we are dealing with Osama we are not surprised that we need to repeat the same point over and over again. Note, again, what Paul wrote:

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, TO AVOID FORNICATION (porneias), let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 KJV

Here is the lexical meaning of the word fornication:

porneia {por-ni'-ah}
Strong’s # 4202
1) illicit sexual intercourse

a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12
2) metaph. the worship of idols a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols (Blue Letter Bible)

Now how does Paul say to avoid fornication? Find a person and have sex with him/her? No, absolutely not. Paul says that the way a person avoids fornication IS BY GETTING MARRIED! And since Osama shows that he constantly twists and distorts things, as well as ignores most of what we quote and say, we include some additional passages so that this time he has no excuse for making such unwarranted statements:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; NEITHER the immoral (pornoi), NOR idolaters, NOR adulterers, NOR sexual perverts, NOR thieves, NOR the greedy, NOR drunkards, NOR revilers, NOR robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

"Shun immorality (porneian). Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man (porneuon) sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

"neither may we commit whoredom (porneuomen), as certain of them did commit whoredom (eporneusan), and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand; 1 Corinthians 10:8 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

"But fornication (porneia) and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator (pornos) or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Ephesians 5:3-5

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication (porneian), impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming." Colossians 3:5-6


Do we see a command for college students to not have parties and end up jumping each others after they all get drunk and turn off the lights and commit all kinds of sexual immorality?  Absolutely not!


Sure we do, 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 along with the following:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and ALL IMPURITY or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And DO NOT GET DRUNK WITH WINE, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." Ephesians 5:1-20

We are sure that Osama will reject these passages as evidence since he cannot find the word "college students" in them. Therefore they do not satisfy his challenge.


Do we see disciplinary actions for fornicators as it is in Islam (flogging them each with 100 stripes publicly)?  Absolutely not!


Sure we do:

"It is reported commonly that there is fornication (porneia) among you, and such fornication (porneia) as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord JesusI wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators (pornois): Yet not altogether with the fornicators (pornois) of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator (pornos), or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 9-13 KJV

Paul commands the Church to punish all fornicators by excommunicating them from the congregation and refrain from associating with them. God will also punish all those who refuse to repent of their sexual immorality by sending them to hell:

"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral (pornous) and adulterous." Hebrews 13:4

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators (pornois), sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8

Osama apparently didn’t understand my point regarding the punishment of unmarried fornicators in the OT. I never denied that unmarried individuals who engage in premarital sex were to be punished in the OT period; I denied that they needed to be physically punished as Osama suggests. As I stated, the punishment of such persons is to hold them accountable for their actions by causing them to marry each other, with the man paying a rather hefty bride price.

Interestingly, Muhammad committed a similar sin which Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 5 as sexual immorality. Paul rebuked a man for marrying his father’s wife, whereas Allah commanded Muhammad to marry his adopted son’s wife:

And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown a favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in your soul what Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed. S. 33:37 Shakir

Muhammad’s act also falls under the condemnation of the OT laws:

"You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness." Leviticus 18:15

"If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed incest, their blood is upon them." Leviticus 20:12

Thus, God’s true Word condemns Muhammad as a fornicator, adulterer, and for being guilty of incest.

Osama complains that:

All of this doesn't mean anything to him, but if anything doesn't look good enough in Islam, then all Hell breaks loose.

That's both immature and irresponsible, along with it being a hypocrisy.


Such lies and petty appeals to emotions are an indication of the level of depth and quality of Osama’s response. Realizing that he got refuted badly in my initial rebuttal, Osama obviously feels the need to cover up his inadequacy at writing a coherent refutation of it by appealing to the emotions of his readers. Such cheap debate tricks don’t get far with intelligent readers since they see through such empty rhetoric.

Osama turns his attention to lesbianism in the Holy Bible and claims that Leviticus 20 and Romans 1 do not conclusively condemn the practice of lesbianism. Here are the references in order to see if Osama is correct about the Bible’s alleged silence regarding lesbianism:

"You shall not lie with a male AS WITH A WOMAN; it is an abomination." Leviticus 18:22

"If a man lies with a male AS WITH A WOMAN, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." Leviticus 20:13

To begin with, not every detail and every possible case has to be stated explicitly in the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible establishes clear principles that are sufficient to address any and every situation that a believer may be confronted with. With that just said, these texts make it clear what God intended to be the normal pattern for sexual relations. The expression "as with a woman" presupposes that the only acceptable sexual relation in the sight of God is between a man and a woman. The inference that the inspired author wants his readers to draw from the above references is that a man lying with a woman is the natural sexual relation God designed, whereas lying with anyone else would be an abomination. After all, it is this same author who wrote the following:

"Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone OF MY BONES and flesh OF MY FLESH; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken OUT OF MAN.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become ONE FLESH." Genesis 2:17-24

The statement that there was no suitable mate for the man amongst the animals shows that it is not intended for humans to cohabit with animals. Furthermore, that God created a woman for man demonstrates God’s design for marital union. This reference shows that God doesn’t want a man to cohabit with another man, or a woman cohabiting with another woman.

Hence, when we take into consideration all of these factors it is therefore inescapable that Leviticus is also pointing to the fact that a woman is to likewise engage in sexual relations only with a man. Putting it in another way, for a woman to lie with a woman "as with a man" is equally an abomination by analogy and due to God’s design of things as stated in the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically in Genesis. Paul explicitly makes this very point:

"For this reason God gave them up to DISHONORABLE PASSIONS. Their women exchanged NATURAL relations for UNNATURAL, and the men likewise gave up NATURAL RELATIONS WITH WOMEN and were consumed with PASSION for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error." Romans 1:26-27

Paul’s statements presuppose that men and women engaging in sexual intimacy is the natural relationship God created, and is an obvious echo and reflection on the Genesis account of creation. Anything else which deviates from this design and purpose, i.e. lesbianism, bestiality, homosexuality etc., is unnatural and therefore evil in God’s sight. Osama desperately tried to get around Paul’s clear wording but to no avail. So the Holy Bible does condemn lesbianism, both expressly and by necessary inference.

Since Osama is apparently unable to read texts in their natural meaning, we will be even more explicit and detailed in our interpretation of this above passage. Let’s take it step by step. Romans 1:27 clearly speaks about men who entered (unnatural) sexual relations with other men instead of the natural relations with women. The word "likewise" makes it clear that the unnatural relations that were mentioned in regard to women (verse 26) are of the same kind, i.e. women who had relations with women instead of men, just like those men who had relations with men instead of women.

What makes Osama’s argument truly bizarre, as well as astonishing, is that his Quran fails to expressly condemn lesbianism and bestiality, and yet he has a problem with the Holy Bible’s alleged silence on the issue of lesbianism!

In fact, in my open challenge to Osama (*) I had asked him to produce one clear, explicit reference from the Quran condemning lesbianism and bestiality. I even warned Osama that the moment he tries to use the hadith literature he would falsify the Quran and prove that it is not God’s word in light of its consistent claim that it is a fully detailed revelation. How did Osama respond to my challenge? Well here it is:

Osama failed to quote a single reference where the Quran explicitly condemns lesbianism and bestiality. He quoted the very same verses such as Sura 4:15-16 which had nothing to do with these issues and which were addressed in my article. For instance, notice what Mawdudi said in reference to these passages:

26. In these two verses (15-16) the first, preliminary directives for the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse are stated. The first verse deals with women. The punishment laid down was to confine them until further directives were revealed. The second verse (i.e. 16) relates to both sexes. The injunction lays down that they should be punished – that is, they should be beaten and publicly reproached. Later another injunction was revealed (see Surah al-Nur 24:2) which laid down that both the male and female should be given a hundred lashes. These injunctions are necessarily of a preliminary nature since the people of Arabia were neither used to obeying the orders of any established government, the verdicts of any courts of law nor to following any legal code; it would therefore have been unwise to try to force acceptance of a penal code upon them so soon after the establishment of the Islamic state. In due course, the punishments for unlawful sexual intercourse, for slanderous accusations of unchastity against women, and for theft were laid down in their definitive form and served as a basis of that detailed penal code which was enforced by the Prophet (peace be on him) and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.

The apparent difference between the contents of the two verses led al-Suddi to the misconceived belief that the first verse lays down the punishment for married women, and the second that for unmarried men and women. This is a tenuous explanation unsupported by any serious evidence and argument. Even less convincing is the opinion expressed by Abu Muslim al-Isfahani that the first verse relates to lesbian relations between females, and the second to homosexual relations between males. It is strange that al-Isfahani ignored the basic fact that the Qur’an seeks merely to chart a broad code of law and morality and hence deals only with fundamental questions. It is inconsistent with the majestic style of the Qur’an to discuss secondary details which have been left to people to decide through the exercise of their legal judgement. It is for this reason that when the problem of fixing a punishment for sodomy came up for consideration after the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), none of the Companions thought that the above-mentioned verse contained any relevant injunction. (Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an: English Version of Tafhim al-Qur’an, translated and edited by Zafar Ishaq Ansari [The Islamic Foundation, Leicestershire, United Kingdom, Reprinted 2004], Volume II, Surahs 4-6, pp. 17-19; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Osama then did the very thing I anticipated he would do and which I said would prove that the Quran is a lie, a false book, and definitely not from God. He tried to prove his case from the hadith literature!

In light of his blatant failure, we are going to reissue our challenge to him:


Osama does admit, however, that homosexuality and bestiality are expressly condemned in the Holy Bible, and acknowledges that Paul prohibits homosexuality, and for that we are thankful. But this admission also comes back to haunt him.


Osama need not bother trying to find proof from his Quran since it is not there. The Quran doesn’t even prescribe a punishment for homosexuals as the following Muslim candidly admitted:

That homosexuality must be treated as a crime in a Moslem State is evident from the story of Lot and his people. Verse IV.20 says: "If two men commit indecency punish them both; if they repent and mend their ways, let them be." In this case NO SPECIAL PENALTY HAS BEEN PRESCRIBED. (Faruq Sherif, A Guide to the Contents of the Quran [Garnet Publishing Limited, UK (printed in Lebanon); reprinted 1995, 1998], p. 214; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Concluding Remarks

To summarize what we have seen thus far, both the Holy Bible and the Quran refer to sexual immorality and yet, unlike the Quran, the Holy Bible expressly classifies the following acts as immoral:

  1. Homosexuality.
  2. Lesbianism.
  3. Incest.
  4. Bestiality
  5. Adultery.
  6. Premarital sex.
  7. Sexual relations outside the confines of marriage.
  8. Prostitution.
  9. Unlawful divorce and remarriage.

The Quran fails to expressly condemn lesbianism and bestiality. The Quran even allows adultery and rape in specific situations, as well as sexual relationships between non-married persons.

A person maybe wondering why we are insisting that Osama provide explicit statements from the Quran, as opposed for allowing him to draw valid inferences from passages that may not explicitly be dealing with these issues. The answer is rather simple.

Our challenges serve to expose the utter inconsistency and hypocrisy of Osama for demanding of the Bible what he himself would not demand of the Quran. He will often challenge Christians to find references from the Bible which condemn X, and if they can’t find such statements then this must mean that the Bible doesn’t condemn it but actually condones or permits X.

Furthermore, Osama quotes the hadiths when it conveniently supports his position but will then discard or attack them if they expose Muhammad as a false prophet. He did this in our debate. Anytime I quoted a hadith which falsified Muhammad’s prophethood Osama simply shut it down by questioning its veracity, even when it came from the very same collection of so-called sound narrations which he himself uses throughout his papers without hesitation.

Finally, the Quran, unlike the Holy Bible, claims to be a fully detailed revelation with the implication being that it lacks no essential bit of information (cf. the articles in this section). This means that we should expect the Quran to fully delineate the essentials of faith and morals, such as providing a more detailed list as what sexual immorality actually is and what are the punishments for such acts, as opposed to leaving it to the whims and decisions of scholars.

Yet the fact is the Quran is not fully detailed, but incomplete and incoherent, containing a lot of contradictory commands and instructions.

As we stated at the conclusion of our challenge:

In our debate on the prophethood of Muhammad(*), Osama attacked the Islamic traditions that we used to expose Muhammad. Instead of trying to deal with them, he essentially brushed them aside as fairy-tales, or as he referred to them, as soap opera stories. Osama also sought to attack the Holy Bible even though he went on to use it to prove that Muhammad was a true prophet! …

The dilemma for Osama is quite clear. If he tries to answer our challenge from the Holy Bible or Islamic traditions, he not only exposes his hypocrisy but serves to falsify the Quran’s own claim of being complete. If he tries to reason from natural design that such practices are immoral and unnatural he would again be undermining the Quran since it states that it is an exhaustive record on such matters of morality, religion etc. Unlike the Holy Bible, the Quran doesn’t simply say that it is a sufficient record, and that some laws are to be inferred from natural design and creation. The Quran boasts that it is a fully detailed revelation, a claim which is clearly false, as Osama’s failure to meet our stipulated challenge will show. (Source)

Now watch Osama prove me right when he again does the very same thing I warned him not do and thereby falsify the Quran and Muhammad.

Recommended Reading

Our good friend in the ministry, Quennel Gale, has also written a very good response to Osama’s rebuttal to me:

We anticipate that Osama will fail to address our challenge to prove his case from the Quran and thereby try to save face by running to the hadith literature, which would only prove our argument that the Quran is not a complete record despite what it says. Being confident that he will run away from these challenges and seek to deceptively use the hadiths to bail him out, we will let the following Muslim set him straight:

Death Penalty for Bestiality

There is nothing about the punishment for bestiality in Muwatta, Bukhari or Muslim. We find some ahadith on the subject in books of Abu Da`ud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad and, of these muhaddithun those who do express opinions on the authenticity of ahadith they record, do not have a favorable opinion of these particular ahadith.

There is essentially one hadith prescribing death penalty for bestiality:

‘Abd Allah bin Muhammad al-Nufayli related to us: ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Muhammad related to us: ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr related to me from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of God said: "If anyone has sexual intercourse with an animal, kill him and kill it along with him." (‘Ikrimah) said: "I asked him (Ibn ‘Abbas): ‘Why the animal?’ He replied: ‘I think (the Prophet) disapproved of its flesh being eaten when such a thing had been done to it’." Abu Da`ud said, This is not strong.  (Abu Da`ud 3871)

Narrations of this hadith with variations are also found in Tirmidhi (1374), Ibn Majah (2554), and Musnad Ahmad (2294, 2591). They all are narrated from ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas. One narration in Ahmad comes from ‘Abbad bin Mansur instead of ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr but in that narration the Prophet is not mentioned and the words quoted are understood to be the words Ibn ‘Abbas:

‘Abd al-Wahhab related to us: ‘Abbad bin Mansur informed us from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas that concerning the one who has sex with an animal he said: "kill the fa`il and maf`ul bihi". (Ahmad 2597)

But in al-Hakim a narration from the same ‘Abbad bin Mansur from ‘Ikrimah in which the saying of Ibn ‘Abbas becomes a hadith of the Prophet:

From ‘Abbad bin Mansur from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas that he mentioned (dhakara) the Prophet that concerning the one who has sex with an animal he said: "kill the fa`il and maf`ul bihi" (Al-Hakim, quoted from ‘Awn al-Ma‘bud 3869).

Note that this narration is the same as the one from Ahmad except for the words, "he mentioned the Prophet". These words are awkward and vague, not clearly stating that the death penalty was prescribed by the Prophet. They are a timid attempt to turn a view attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas into a hadith.

It is even doubtful that Ibn ‘Abbas held this view, since in the following narration, Ibn ‘Abbas in fact says something completely different:

Ahmad bin Yunus related to us that Sharik, Abu al-Ahwas and Abu Bakr bin ‘Ayyash related to them from ‘Asim (bin Bahdalah Abi al-Najud) from Abu Razin from Ibn ‘Abbas who said: "There is no prescribed punishment for one who has sexual intercourse with an animal." Abu Da`ud said: "‘Ata also said so." Al-Hakam said: "I think he should be flogged, but the number should not reach the prescribed punishment (for zina`, that is, 100 lashes)". Al-Hasan said: "He is like al-zan." Adu Da`ud said: "This hadith of ‘Asim weakens the hadith of ‘Amr bin ‘Amr." (Abu Da`ud 3872)

The following facts about the above narrations, when taken together, leave little doubt that the hadith prescribing the death penalty for sex with animals is a fabrication resulting from some mistake or an outright lie:

First, the hadith is narrated only on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (d. 68) in the first generation, only on the authority of ‘Ikrimah (d. 104) in the second generation, and then mostly from ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr (d. 144) in the third generation and very rarely from ‘Abbad bin Mansur (d. 152). Imams Malik, Bukhari, Muslim either did not know about it or did not trust it.

Second, narrators in the third generations, ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr and ‘Abbad bin Mansur, are not reliable. Abu Zur‘ah al-Razi considers ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr thiqah and Abu Hatim, Ibn ‘Adi and Ahmad say la bas bi hi. But al-Nasa`i considers him munkar and says he is not strong. Bukhari said that ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr is trustworthy but he has wrongly attributed to ‘Ikrimah several traditions. Yahya bin Ma‘in and al-‘Ajli also called him thiqah but rejected the ahadith he narrated from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas. The views of scholars about ‘Abbad bin Mansur are even more negative. Thus he is described as da‘if al-hadith by Abu Hatim, laysa bi shay` by Yahya bin Ma‘in, layyin by al-Razi and munkar al-hadith, qadri, mudallis by Ahmad.

Third, in one narration in Musnad Ahmad, also from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas, the "hadith" is found as a saying of Ibn ‘Abbas and NOT a saying of the Holy Prophet. So there is a distinct possibility that an opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas was attributed to the Prophet by a later transmitter such as ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr.

Fourth, it is doubtful that Ibn ‘Abbas believed in the death penalty for bestiality, since in another tradition Ibn ‘Abbas himself says clearly, "there is no prescribed punishment for sex with an animal".

Fifth, as noted in ‘Awn al-Ma‘bud, the four Sunni schools of fiqh are unanimous that death is not prescribed for one who commits sexual intercourse with an animal, but may be given some other punishment (yu‘azzar wa la yuqtal). Such an agreement among the fuqaha` would have been difficult to develop if they generally knew and accepted a hadith, in which the Prophet ordered to kill the one who has sex with an animal.

Although, in view of the above considerations, there can be little doubt the hadith in question is a false hadith, yet some later scholars accept the hadith and then try to reconcile it with the opinion of the fuqaha`. Thus some say that killing is mentioned in the hadith only as a threat not meant to be carried out. Some say that the killing of the man is only a threat but killing of the animal is to be carried out in actuality. In contrast to such artificial explanations of later scholars, Abu Da`ud and Tirmidhi themselves show better sense. Abu Da`ud, facing the obvious, declares: the tradition of ‘Asim (in which it is denied that there is any prescribed punishment for sex with animals) weakens the tradition of ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr (in which the death penalty is prescribed). Tirmidhi also shows reservation about the hadith by noting: "We do not find this hadith except from ‘Amr bin ‘Amr and he from ‘Ikrimah and he from Ibn ‘Abbas and he from the Prophet."

It is necessary that when the weakness of a hadith reaches the level shown above we should have the courage to call it a false hadith, something that many scholars do not do. The authentic teaching of Islam, meant to guide humanity for all times to come, could not have been transmitted in this weak way. If we do not declare such ahadith as false then this means that we cannot free ourselves from the errors and lies of some Muslims in the past and therefore cannot faithfully interpret and implement what God and his Messenger have taught us. This in turn means that we cannot move forward as a civilization…

Since the narration in Abu Da`ud 3870 does not attribute the death penalty for the homosexual act to the Prophet but only to Ibn ‘Abbas, it is quite possible that the tradition originally was not marfu‘ (attributed to the Prophet) but became so only at a later time. Earlier we noted a similar situation in case of a hadith from ‘Abbad bin Mansur about bestiality. In one narration (Ahmad 2597) the death penalty for this misdeed is attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas while in another narration, reported in al-Hakim, it becomes a hadith. This evidence strongly suggests that death penalties for sexual crimes were not originally based on the words of the Prophet but of some Companions. We can even go further: since the death penalty at least for the homosexual act was not known to al-Zuhri or Imam Malik as a hadith or even as an opinion of a Companion but as an opinion of some fuqaha` among the Successors, it is quite possible that even its attribution to a Companion such as Ibn ‘Abbas is not historical. Certainly, in case of bestiality we have seen evidence showing that Ibn ‘Abbas did not think that there was any prescribed penalty.

It is also worth noting that all the ahadith about the death penalty for deviant sex, i.e. sex with animals, a mahram, or a member of one’s own gender come from the same very small group of transmitters in the first four generations: Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ikrimah, Da`ud bin al-Husayn, ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr, Ibrahim bin Isma‘il etc. If the Prophet prescribed the death penalty for all these crimes, it is strange that its knowledge in all three cases remained limited to a few Hadith students for about one and a half century.


Death Penalty for the Homosexual act

The pattern of attributing to the Holy Prophet death penalties borrowed from the Torah that he never himself prescribed continues in case of the homosexual act. Unlike the death penalty for incest and bestiality, for the homosexual act we do find the penalty mentioned in a relatively early book – Muwatta. But this early mention is found only as an opinion of Ibn Shihab, and not as a prophetic hadith or as a word of a Companion: 

Malik related to me that he asked Ibn Shihab about someone who committed the homosexual act (‘amal qawm lut, the deed of the people of Lut). Ibn Shihab said, "He is to be stoned, whether or not he is married (muhsan)." (Muwatta 41/11, reproduced in Ahmad 1297)

Here Ibn Shihab does not indicate whether the opinion he is expressing is his own or it comes from something that the Prophet or a Companion said. This recalls what Rabi‘ah used to say to Ibn Shihab: 

Rabi‘ah would say to Ibn Shihab: When you narrate something according to your own opinion, always inform the people that this is your own view. And when you narrate something from the Prophet, always inform them that it is from the Prophet so that they do not consider it to be your opinion. (Khatib al-Baghdadi, Al-Faqih wa al-Mutafaqqih, vol. 1, Lahore: Dar al-Ahya al-Sunnah, p. 148).

One possible, if not probable, reason that Ibn Shihab is not quoting any saying of the Prophet or a Companion on the question raised by Malik is that he does not know any such saying. The same can be said even with greater confidence about Malik, since had he known a hadith or a saying of a Companion, which he considered authentic, he would not have asked Ibn Shihab about the matter or, at least recorded this hadith or saying instead of, or in addition to the word of Ibn Shihab. But in his Muwatta he does not quote anyone except Ibn Shihab.

Bukhari and Muslim also do not contain any hadith or saying on the matter. But in later books the legal opinion expressed in Muwatta by Ibn Shihab becomes an opinion of a Companion, none other than the ubiquitous Ibn ‘Abbas who like Abu Hurayrah became in the tradition a convenient spokesman of every kind of opinion:

Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Rahawayh related to us: ‘Abd al-Razzaq related to us: Ibn Jurayj informed us: Ibn Khuthaym informed me saying:

I heard Sa‘id ibn Jubayr and Mujahid relate from Ibn ‘Abbas in the matter of an unmarried person (al-bikr) who is caught in the homosexual act (al-lutiyyah). He said: "He is to be stoned". (Abu Da`ud 3870).

Here it is understood that a married person who is guilty of the homosexual act is to be stoned.  The question is what is to be done with a person who is unmarried. By answering that he is to stoned, Ibn ‘Abbas is saying exactly what Ibn Shihab opined.

In later books a view similar to that of Ibn Shihab is found as a hadith of the Holy Prophet. Most preferred narration of this hadith is from ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Muhammad from ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas and its contents read: 

The Messenger of God said: "If you find anyone doing as the people of Lut did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done."

(Abu Da`ud 3869, Tirmidhi 1376, Ibn Majah 2551) 

Since the narration in Abu Da`ud 3870 does not attribute the death penalty for the homosexual act to the Prophet but only to Ibn ‘Abbas, it is quite possible that the tradition originally was not marfu‘ (attributed to the Prophet) but became so only at a later time. Earlier we noted a similar situation in case of a hadith from ‘Abbad bin Mansur about bestiality. In one narration (Ahmad 2597) the death penalty for this misdeed is attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas while in another narration, reported in al-Hakim, it becomes a hadith. This evidence strongly suggests that death penalties for sexual crimes were not originally based on the words of the Prophet but of some Companions. We can even go further: since the death penalty at least for the homosexual act was not known to al-Zuhri or Imam Malik as a hadith or even as an opinion of a Companion but as an opinion of some fuqaha` among the Successors, it is quite possible that even its attribution to a Companion such as Ibn ‘Abbas is not historical. Certainly, in case of bestiality we have seen evidence showing that Ibn ‘Abbas did not think that there was any prescribed penalty.

It is also worth noting that all the ahadith about the death penalty for deviant sex, i.e. sex with animals, a mahram, or a member of one’s own gender come from the same very small group of transmitters in the first four generations: Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ikrimah, Da`ud bin al-Husayn, ‘Amr bin Abi ‘Amr, Ibrahim bin Isma‘il etc. If the Prophet prescribed the death penalty for all these crimes, it is strange that its knowledge in all three cases remained limited to a few Hadith students for about one and a half century.  

The reliability of the hadith prescribing the death penalty for the homosexual act is further called into question by the fact that scholars in all ages have shown ignorance or reservation about it. We have already noted that in the first century al-Zuhri shows no knowledge of it, as also Imam Malik in the second century, even though both were clearly interested in the question of punishment for the homosexual act, since they talked about it.  Bukhari and Muslim in the third century did not know the hadith or did not accept it, since they do not include it in their collections. In addition to Malik other early fuqaha` also probably did not know or did not accept any hadith on the subject. Thus Abu Hanifah or early Hanafi fuqaha` turned not to any hadith but to Qur`an 4:16 for guidance about the penalty for the homosexual act. Al-Sindi in his commentary on Ibn Majah notes: 

"The famous view of Abu Hanifah is that [the one who engages in the homosexual act] is disciplined (yu`addab) but there is no hadd for him. His followers have argued this on the basis of the word of the Most High: ‘And the two (alladhan) among you, who commit it (fahishah), punish (`adhu) them both. And if the two repent and do good, leave them alone’."

It is unlikely that Abu Hanifah arrived at the position that the homosexual act requires only discipline and no prescribed death penalty if he knew and accepted the hadith with the clear words of the Prophet: "kill the one who does it and the one with whom it is done". Hence the hadith either did not exist in the time of Abu Hanifah (d. 150) or it was unknown/unacceptable to him.  Later scholars of his school, of course, knew about the hadith but still a majority of them maintained that there is no prescribed death penalty for the homosexual act, which means that they did not take the hadith seriously enough. Some of them, it seems, accepted the hadith and attributed to Abu Hanifah a view incorporating the hadith. Thus Thana Allah Panipati in commenting on Qur`an 4:15-16 mentions another view attributed to Abu Hanifah: if a person persists in homosexual acts, he can be killed.

Shafi‘i also does not seem to have used this hadith. According to Sharh al-Sunnah there are two views attributed to him. According to one view, considered the most authentic by some, the punishment of one who performs the homosexual act is the punishment for zina`

-- rajm if the man is married and 100 stripes if unmarried. For the one with whom it is performed the punishment is 100 stripes and exile for a year whether or not he is married. This view is not based on any hadith, since no hadith supports the distinctions made by Shafi‘i on the basis of married or unmarried or on the basis of being a fa‘il or maf‘ul bi hi. This view represents ijtihad done by Shafi‘i without the use of any hadith. But later another view was attributed to Shafi‘i, according to which both partners in the homosexual act are to be stoned. But even this view shows no knowledge of a hadith on the subject, since it is supported not on the basis of a hadith of the Prophet but an action of ‘Ali, the fourth khalifah. Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman Mubarakpuri, in his commentary on Tirmidhi (Tuhfah al-`Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jami‘ Tirmidhi) says: 

Al-Bayhaqi records about ‘Ali that he stoned a Luti. Shafi‘i said that it is on this basis we hold that the a Luti is to be stoned whether married or unmarried.

It is natural to think that this second view was attributed to Shafi‘i after some ahadith and traditions about the Companions appeared and became known and gained some acceptability.

Tirmidhi includes the hadith in his collection but shows reservation about it in the following words:  

Abu ‘Isa [al-Tirmidhi] said: It is through this line (wajh) that this hadith is known and Muhammad bin Ishaq reported this hadith from 'Amr bin Abi 'Amr, in which he said "he who does the act of the people of Lut is cursed" but did not mention killing and in that hadith it was also said that he who has sex with an animal is cursed. This hadith has also been reported from 'Asim bin 'Umar from Suhayl bin Abi Salih from his father from Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet who said, "Kill the one who performs the act and the one on whom it is performed". Abu ‘Isa [al-Tirmidhi] said: the isnad of this hadith is a matter of contention; we do not know anyone who reported it from Suhayl bin Abi Salih except ‘Asim bin ‘Umar al-‘Umari and 'Asim bin 'Umar is considered weak in hadith before his hifz. And people of  knowledge have differed regarding the penalty for one who does the homosexual act. Some of them said that he is to be stoned regardless of whether or not he is married. This is the view of Malik and Shafi‘i and Ahmad and Ishaq. And some people of knowledge among the fuqaha` of the Successors, including al-Hasan al-Basri and Ibrahim al-Nakh‘i and ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah said the hadd for a luti is hadd of zan and that is the view of Thawri and the scholars of Kufa.

 Al-Sindi in his commentary on Ibn Majah interprets Tirmidhi’s comments to mean that he "has considered this hadith weak".

We have discussed above the most preferred hadith about death penalty for the homosexual act and shown that this hadith is falsely attributed to the Prophet. There are some other ahadith on the subject but they do not talk about the death penalty and/or are even weaker.

A story about ‘Ali

That the Prophet never prescribed any death penalty for the homosexual act is also assumed in a story about ‘Ali by Al-Bayhaqi (d. 458):

"Ibn Abu al-Dunya from ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Hazim from Da`ud ibn Bakr from Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir:

Khalid ibn al-Walid wrote to Abu Bakr concerning a man with whom other men had sexual intercourse. Thereupon, Abu Bakr gathered the Companions of the Prophet and sought their opinion. `Ali was the strictest of all, saying, 'Only one nation disobeyed God by committing such sin and you know how God dealt with them. I see that we should burn the man with fire.’ The Companions unanimously agreed on this." (Al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman).

This incident is also mentioned by al-Waqidi under the subject of apostasy at the end of the section on the apostasy of Banu Salim. The story clearly assumes that the Prophet never prescribed any penalty for the homosexual act, since none of the Companions gathered by Abu Bakr quotes any hadith during the consultation.

Many unhistorical traditions have some historical incident that lies behind them, which they radically transform. But there are some traditions that represent stories created entirely from imagination. The above tradition is an example. There is absolutely no historical basis for this story. This is because:   

n    If all the Companions sat down and decided on any matter of law, it is impossible that we would not read about this decision in any of the books such as Muwatta, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da`ud, Tirmidhi, al-Nasa`i, Ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad. It is also impossible that so many fuqaha will go against this ijma‘ of the Companions and suggest other types of punishments such as stoning, or 100 lashes, or exile etc.

n   The burning of the people of Lut is not mentioned in the Qur`an, which mentions rain of stones of baked clay  (11:82; see also 7:84, 15:74, 27:58, 29:34, 51:33, 54:34). Burning is implied in the Bible, since the Bible says that God sent sulphur and fire on the people of Lot (Gen 19:24).

n   The story is at odds with other traditions in which some Companions allegedly suggest penalties different from the one on which they supposedly agreed in the above story. We have already referred to the tradition that ‘Ali stoned a man guilty of the homosexual act. It is strange that after suggesting to the other Companions, and obtaining agreement from them for, burning the culprit in accordance with what God did to the people of Lut, ‘Ali himself applies the penalty of stoning!  No wonder scholars do not take any of the two traditions about ‘Ali seriously. None of the commentaries – ‘Awn al-Ma‘bud, Tuhfah al-`Ahwadhi etc mention the story in which the Companions agree on death by burning. As for the tradition that ‘Ali stoned a Luti, Tuhfah al-`Ahwadhi alone mentions it only to dismiss it with a brief comment: "As for the stoning by 'Ali of a Luti, it is his action". 

Other Proposed Penalties

Ibn Abi Shaybah (d. 235?) in his Musannaf and al-Bayhaqi record the saying of Ibn ‘Abbas that a person guilty of the homosexual act should be thrown down from the highest building in town and then showered with stones (Panipati). ‘Awn al-Ma‘bud mentions similar penalties but without attributing it to Ibn ‘Abbas: "It has been said of the manner of their execution that it is by demolishing a building over them or throwing them from a high  place (shahiq) as it was done to the people of Lut." These penalties are based on the Qur`anic statement that the town of Lut was demolished and rained with stones made of baked clay, so that some of the sinners died under the rubble of demolished buildings and others by falling from height and those who survived succumbed to the raining stones. This leads to the punishments of throwing the culprits from a high building – further suggested by the fact that for "demolishing" the Qur`an uses the expression "made its high its low" -- or demolishing buildings over them and if they survive showering them with stones. These penalties provide examples of how some fuqaha used unsound logic to arrive at their rules that some Muslims regard as will of God. It is clearly an unsound procedure to devise penal codes from the way God punished past nations. Muslim fiqh is full of rules of this type and there is a need to re-examine the whole process by which fiqh was built in the past and to thus rebuild it on a foundation more faithful to the Qur`an, the authentic Sunnah, and reason.

Ibn Zubayr is reported to have said that the two culprits should be locked up in a place full of very obnoxious smell till they die. (Panipati). This comes from Qur`an 4:15 with the addition that the place of imprisonment be filled with a bad odor, probably to reflect the fact that the culprits prefer to have sex involving the anus, which is full of refuse and bad smell.

All this diversity of punishments proposed shows that imagination of some irresponsible early Muslims rather than inspiration from God is at play in these traditions.

Not only are there no sound narrations prescribing any specific punishments for bestiality, we actually find at least one scholarly reference that seems to support the permissibility of engaging in this perverted act. (Dr. Ahmad Shafaat, Punishment for Adultery in Islam: A Detailed Examination, "Ahadith about Rajm", Chapter Five, Part II:; bold emphasis ours)

And in a footnote this same author admits:

[11] NONE of the six so-called canonical books and other famous books such as Muwatta, Darimi, and Ahmad CONTAINS ANY MENTION OF LESBIAN PRACTICE. The only "hadith" I have seen about Lesbian sex is the following for which I cannot locate the source: "Sihaq of women ((lesbian sex)) is zina` among them." (; capital emphasis ours)

Not only do none of the canonical collections mention lesbianism, neither does the Quran!

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