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Ruling on “Honor” Killings

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling of Sharia on what is known as "honor" killings?

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Islam has forbidden unlawful killing and considered it a heinous crime and a major sin since Allah, The Almighty, said{What means}, " If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of God are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him."{An-Nissa`, 93}. In addition, Ibn 'Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "A believer continues to guard his Faith (and thus hopes for Allah's Mercy) so long as he does not shed blood unjustly."


Islam regards a person`s life inviolable and calls for its preservation as one of the higher objectives of Sharia. In this regard, Allah, The Almighty, said, "……if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people………"{Al-Maidah, 32}.

These principles indicate that in case it was proven that an unmarried man or woman has committed Zina (Fornication and adultery), the prescribed corporal punishment for that sin shouldn`t be implemented, as agreed by scholars, and whoever does so(on his own) commits the crime of unlawful killing, not the penalty which is prescribed in Sharia.

However, if a married person was accused of Zina, then the Sharia judgments in that regard have to be derived from what is certain and most probable on basis of clear evidence, not conjecture or illusion. This is because the prescribed corporal punishment for Zina is to be implemented when it(Zina) is proven with certainty by one of two matters:

First: The testimony of four men, who saw the sexual intercourse taking place with their own eyes, and this has never been reported in the history of Islam, that we know of, since it is almost impossible. Therefore, if their testimonies differed or they became less than four, then the penalty of slander must be implemented on them for defaming others. Allah, The Almighty, said, {What means} "And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;"{An-Nur, 4}.

Second: The perpetrator insistently confesses before a judge for four times his being guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse, and the judge tries to tell him to take his words back at each time.

Having considered testimony and confession, it is imperative that we consider court and fair trial, which are amongst the key rights of any human being. This is because proving crimes and implementing penalties go under the jurisdiction of the judge and not the individuals, even if the latter are blood relatives of the accused.

Moreover, having doubts about someone or suspecting their behavior doesn`t prove their committing adultery. On the contrary, doubt is usually interpreted in favor of the accused and, in principle, a person is innocent of such a crime unless there is a clear evidence proving otherwise. Innocence is the certainty and can`t be eliminated by doubt since, as well known, no penalty is given on suspicious proof. Omar Bin Al-Khattab(May Allah be pleased with him) said, "I would prefer to give no penalty on suspicious proof than give one on such proof."{Al-Istithkar by Abed Al-barr, 8/13}.

The so called "Honor Killings" is in itself an abominable crime that is spreading in communities nowadays. The killer thinks that he washes off his shame, but he doesn`t realize that he is actually committing a graver sin, that is shedding a Muslim`s blood unlawfully. By doing so, he brings retribution(Qisas) on himself, as viewed by many a scholar because court hasn`t passed a verdict ascertaining that the killed was guilty as charged. The killer hijacked the role of the court when he took the matter into his own hands. Basically, citizens have duties and responsibilities that they should abide by in order for social stability and security to prevail. Such matters must be left to courts because they have the final say in that regard.

It is forbidden for a man to kill a woman, who is a blood relative of his, under the pretext of defending honor. On the contrary, it is a gruesome crime that he must be held accountable for. Kinship ties or suspicion shouldn`t be taken as an excuse since judgments aren`t founded on doubt, and courts, not individuals, are the only authority that issues verdicts and ensures their implementation. And Allah knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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