Surah Nur >> Currently viewing Surah Nur Ayat 3 (24:3)

Surah Nur Ayat 3 in Arabic Text

ٱلزَّانِى لَا يَنكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةًۭ وَٱلزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنكِحُهَآ إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌۭ ۚ وَحُرِّمَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
Azzaanee laa yankihu illaa zaaniyatan aw mushrikatanw wazzaaniyatu laa yankihuhaaa illaa zaanin aw mushrik; wa hurrima zaalika ‘alal mu’mineen

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 3

Sahih International
The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers.

Yusuf Ali
Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.

Abul Ala Maududi
A man guilty of adultery (or fornication) shall not marry any but the woman guilty of the same or a mushrik woman, and none shall marry a woman guilty of adultery (or fornication) but the man guilty of the same or a mushrik man: such marriages are forbidden to true believers.

Muhsin Khan
The adulterer marries not but an adulteress or a Mushrikah and the adulteress none marries her except an adulterer or a Muskrik [and that means that the man who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan or idolatress) or a prostitute, then surely he is either an adulterer, or a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater, etc.) And the woman who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater) or an adulterer, then she is either a prostitute or a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan, or idolatress, etc.)]. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers (of Islamic Monotheism).

The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers.

Dr. Ghali
The fornicator shall marry none except a female fornicator or a female associator; (i.e., one who associates other with Allah) and the female fornicator, none shall marry her except a fornicator or a (male) associator; (i.e., one who associates other with Allah) and that is prohibited for the believers.

Abdel Haleem
The adulterer is only [fit] to marry an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress is only [fit] to marry an adulterer or an idolater: such behaviour is forbidden to believers.

Quran 24 Verse 3 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Nur ayat 3, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.


(24:3) Let the fornicator not marry any except a fornicatress or idolatress and let the fornicatress not marry any except a fornicator or an idolater. That is forbidden to the believers.[5]

5. That is, only an adulterous woman is a fit match for an adulterous man who has not repented or an idolatrous woman. No believing, virtuous woman can be a match for him. It is forbidden for the believers that they should give their daughters in marriage to such wicked people knowing them to be so. Similarly the fit match for adulterous women (who have not repented) can only be adulterous or idolatrous men; they are not fit for any righteous believer. It is forbidden for the believers that they should marry women who are known to possess immoral character. This thing applies to those men and women who persist in their evil ways, and not to those who repent and reform themselves, for after repentance and reformation they will no longer be regarded as adulterous.

According to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, the prohibition of marriage with an adulterous man implies that such a marriage, if contracted, will have no legal effect. But this view is not correct. Prohibition does not have any legal implications. It cannot mean that if a person violates this prohibition, the marriage will be void, and the parties concerned will be involved in zina in spite of marriage. For the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated: The unlawful does not make the lawful unlawful. (Tabarani, Daraqutni). In other words, an illegal act does not make a legal act also illegal. Therefore, if a person commits zina and then marries, his conjugal relations with his spouse cannot be considered as zina, because in that case the other party of the marriage contract who is not immoral, will also have to be considered as involved in zina. As a rule, no illegal act except open rebellion can cause the one guilty of it to be declared an outlaw, so that no act of his can be regarded legal after that. If the verse is considered in this light the plain meaning would be this: It is a sin to select such persons for marriage as are known to be immoral. The believers should shun them, otherwise they will feel encouraged, whereas the Shariah intends to segregate them as the undesirable and contemptible element of society.

Similarly this verse does not validate the marriage of an adulterous Muslim with an idolatrous woman and of an adulterous Muslim woman with an idolatrous man. The verse simply means to emphasize the act of zina, and declares that the person who commits it being a Muslim, makes himself unfit for contracting a marriage in the pure and pious Muslim society. Even if the accuser is an eyewitness of an immoral act, he should keep the secret and let the filth remain where it is instead of causing it to spread. However, if he has witnesses, he should abstain from publicizing the matter in society but should bring the case to the notice of the authorities and get the criminals duly punished by the court of law.

5a Below, we give the details of the law in serial order.

(1) The context in which the words walla-zina yarmun-almuhsanat (those who accuse chaste women) occur clearly shows that it does not imply any common sort of accusation but specifically the accusation of zina against the chastity of pure women. Then the demand from the accusers to produce four witnesses in support of their accusation also shows that it relates to zina. For in the entire Islamic law producing four witnesses is the legal requirement only in a case of zina and in no other matter. The scholars, therefore, agree that this verse describes the law relating to the accusation of zina, which has been termed qazf for convenience so that this law is not extended to cover cases of other accusations like that of theft, drinking, taking of interest, etc. Apart from qazf, the question of determining punishments for other allegations can be left to the discretion of the judge, or to the consultative council of the Islamic state, who can make general laws to cover cases of contempt and defamation as and when required.

(2) Though the verse only mentions al-muhsanat (pure and chaste women), the jurists agree that the law is not confined to the accusation in respect of women, but it extends to the accusation in respect of chaste men also. Likewise, though the masculine gender has been used for the accusers, the law is not confined to male accusers only but extends to female accusers as well. For as regards to the gravity and wickedness of the crime, it does not make any difference whether the accuser or the accused is a man or a woman. Therefore in either case, the man or accuser or the woman accusing a virtuous and chaste man or woman of zina, will be dealt with under this law.

(3) This law can be applied only in a case where the accuser has accused a muhsan or muhsanah, i.e. a morally fortified man or woman. In case the accused is not morally fortified, the law cannot be applied. if a person who is not morally fortified is known for his immorality, there will be no question of the accusation, but if he is not, the judge can use his discretion to award a punishment to the accuser, or the consultative council can make necessary laws to deal with such cases.

(4) For an act of qazf to be considered as punishable, it is not enough that somebody has accused somebody else of immorality without a proof, but there are certain conditions which have to be fulfilled in respect of the qazif (accuser), maqzuf (the accused) and the act of qazf itself. As for the qazif, he should satisfy the following conditions:

(a) He should be an adult: if a minor commits the crime of qazf, he can be given a discretionary punishment but not the prescribed punishment.

(b) He should possess normal common sense: an insane and mentally abnormal person cannot be given the prescribed punishment. Similarly, a person under the influence of an intoxicant, other than a forbidden intoxicant, e.g. chloroform, cannot be considered as guilty of qazi.

(c) He should have committed qazf out of his own free will or choice, and not under duress.

(d) He should not be the father or grandfather of maqzuf (the accused), for they cannot be given the prescribed punishment.

According to the Hanafis, the fifth condition is that the accuser should not be drunk, because the person who only gesticulates cannot be held guilty of qazi. But Imam Shafai disputes this. He says that if the gesticulation of the drunk person is clear and unambiguous by which everybody can understand what he wants to say, he will be considered as a qazif, because his gesticulation is no less harmful to defame a person than the word of mouth. On the contrary, the Hanafis do not hold mere gesticulation as a strong enough ground for awarding the prescribed punishment of 80 stripes; they, therefore, recommend a discretionary punishment for it.

The conditions to be satisfied by maqzuf (the accused) are as follows:

(a) He should be possessing normal common sense, i.e. he should be accused of having committed zina while in the normal state of mind; the accuser of an insane person (who might or might not have become sane later) cannot be held guilty of qazf, for the insane person cannot possibly safeguard his chastity fully; and even if the evidence of zina is established against him, he will neither become deserving of the prescribed punishment nor incur personal defamation. Therefore, the one accusing him also should not be held as deserving of the prescribed punishment of qazf. However, Imam Malik and Imam Laith bin Saad hold that the qazif of an insane person deserves to be awarded the prescribed punishment of qazf, because he is accusing another person of zina without a proof thereof.

(b) He should be an adult, i.e. he should be accused of having committed zina while being of full age legally. Accusing a minor, or a grown up person that has committed zina when a minor, does not deserve the prescribed punishment, for, like an insane person, a child also cannot fully safeguard his honor and chastity. However, according to Imam Malik, if a boy approaching the age of maturity is accused of zina, the accuser will not deserve the prescribed punishment, but if a girl of that age is accused of havi


3. The Zani marries not but a Zaniyah or a Mushrikah; and the Zaniyah, none marries her except a Zani or a Mushrik. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.) Here Allah tells us that the Zani (male who is guilty of illegal sex) does not have intercourse except with a Zaniyah (female who is guilty of illegal sex) or a Mushrikah (female idolator), meaning that no one would go along with him in this action except a sinful woman who is also guilty of Zina, or a Mushrikah who does not think it is unlawful. By the same token,

﴿وَالزَّانِيَةُ لاَ يَنكِحُهَآ إِلاَّ زَانٍ﴾

(and the Zaniyah, none marries her except a Zani) a sinful man who is guilty of fornication,

﴿أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً﴾

(or a Mushrik) (a man) who does not think it is unlawful.

﴿وَحُرِّمَ ذلِكَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ﴾

(Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.) meaning, indulging in this, or marrying prostitutes, or marrying chaste women to immoral men. Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan said: “Allah forbade the believers from marrying prostitutes.” This Ayah is like the Ayah (about marrying slave-girls):

﴿مُحْصَنَـت غَيْرَ مُسَـفِحَـتٍ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ﴾

(they should be chaste, not committing illegal sex, nor taking boyfriends.) ﴿4:25﴾ And His saying:

﴿مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذِى أَخْدَانٍ﴾

(desiring chastity not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends) ﴿5:5﴾. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said that a man among the believers asked the Messenger of Allah for permission (to marry) a woman known as Umm Mahzul, who used to commit adultery, and who had stated the condition that she should spend on him. So he asked the Messenger of Allah for permission, or he mentioned the matter to him. The Messenger of Allah recited to him:

﴿الزَّانِى لاَ يَنكِحُ إِلاَّ زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً وَالزَّانِيَةُ لاَ يَنكِحُهَآ إِلاَّ زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌ وَحُرِّمَ ذلِكَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴾

(The Zani marries not but a Zaniyah or a Mushrikah; and the Zaniyah, none marries her except Zani or a Mushrik. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.) ﴿24:3﴾ Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said,

«لَا يَنْكِحُ الزَّانِي الْمَجْلُودُ إِلَّا مِثْلَهُ»

(A Zani who has been flogged should not marry anyone except someone who is like him.) A similar report was recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan.

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