Iran: Code of Punishment for Adultery in Iran

Adultery is a capital offense in the Islamic Republic of Iran and punishable by flogging, hanging, and stoning. The following is a translation of the articles of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran that pertain to the legal punishments for adultery.
Translated by: Dr. Soheila Vahdati / Compared with the original text by: Gholam Hossein Raeesi, Attorney at Law
The Islamic Penal Code

Book II – Hodoud (Shari’a-based Punishments)

Section I – Shari’a-based Punishment for Adultery

Chapter 1- Definition and Reasons for Adultery Punishment

Article 63 – Adultery is defined as the intercourse between a man and a woman whose intercourse is inherently forbidden “haraam”, even if it is from behind, other than those cases where the person has had a doubt [i.e., mistaken identity].

Article 64 – Adultery is punished when the adulterer is mature*, sane, and acting by free will and is also aware of the offence and its punishment.

Article 65 – If a man or a woman is aware that the intercourse with the other party is forbidden, and the other party is not aware, thinking that the intercourse is legitimate, then only the party who has been aware that the intercourse is forbidden shall be sentenced to the punishment.

Article 66 – If a man or a woman who have had intercourse together claim mistake and unawareness, then in the case that the claimant deems honest, then the claim is accepted without oath and witness and the punishment is annulled.

Article 67 – If an adulterer claims that s/he has committed adultery under duress, her/his claim is accepted if the contrary is not believed to be true.

Chapter 2- Methods of Proving Adultery in Court

Article 68 – If a man or woman confesses to adultery four times before the judge, s/he will be sentenced to the adultery punishment and if they confess less than four times, then s/he will be punished by Tazeer. [Tazeer refers to the punishments that are not defined by Sharia’ and it is left to the Sharia’ Judge to specify it by sentence to imprisonment, cash fine, or flogging in which case the number of lashes must be less than Hodoud.]

Article 69 – The confession is valid when the confessor has the virtues of maturity*, sanity, willingness, and liberty.

Article 70 – The confession must be explicit or appear to be not inconsistent with the case.

Article 71 – If a person confesses to adultery and then denies it, if the adultery is to be punished by killing or stoning**, then the denial annuls the punishment of killing and stoning. Otherwise, with the denial after the confession the punishment is not annulled.

Article 72 – If a person confesses to the type of adultery that is punishable and then repents, the judge can either ask the Head of Judiciary for clemency or carry out the punishment.

Article 73 – A woman who does not have a husband, shall not be punished for becoming pregnant unless her adultery is proven by one of the methods mentioned in this law.

Article 74 – Adultery, when punishable by either flogging or stoning, can be proven by the testimony of either four just men, or three just men and two just women.

Article 75 – If adultery is punishable by flogging, then it could also be proven by the testimony of two just men and four just women.

Article 76 – The testimony by women alone or along with the testimony of a just man does not prove adultery but the witnesses will be subject to the punishment for false accusation (Qazf) as specified by the law. [Qazf: is defined as accusing a person of adultery or anal sex. It is punishable by 80 lashes. (Article 139)]

Article 77 – The testimony of the witnesses must be clear and without ambiguity and based on observation and testimony based on conjectures is not credible.

Article 78 – If the witnesses describe the specifics of the subject of testimony, there should be no discrepancy in their descriptions in terms of the time, place, and such. In case of discrepancy among witnesses’ testimonies, then not only the adultery is not proven but the witnesses will be sentenced to punishment for false accusation (Qazf).

Article 79 – The witnesses must testify one after another without any lapse of time. If some of the witnesses testify and then some other witnesses are not immediately present to testify or do not testify, then adultery is not proven. In this case, the witness will be subject to punishment for false accusation (Qazf).

Article 80 – The adultery punishment shall be executed immediately except for the cases described in the later articles.

Article 81 – If the adulterer repents prior to the testimony, then the punishment is annulled and if s/he repents after the testimony, then the punishment is not annulled.

Chapter 3 – Types of Adultery Punishment

Article 82 – The punishment for adultery in the following cases is killing and there is no difference between young and not-young and marriage-bound and not marriage-bound.
a. Adultery with “mahaarim” [“Mahaarim” of a person are the relatives by blood or marriage who are within the prohibited degree of marriage such as one’s siblings, parents, and in-laws.]
b. Adultery with step-mother which shall constitute the killing of the adulterer.
c. Adultery of a non-Muslim with a Muslim woman which will constitute the killing of the adulterer.
d. Adultery by force and duress that will constitute the killing of the forcing adulterer.

Article 83 – The punishment for adultery in the following cases is stoning.
a. Adultery of a marriage-bound man that is defined as a man who has a permanent wife and has had intercourse with her while being sane and can have intercourse with her whenever he so wishes.
b. Adultery of a marriage-bound woman with an adult man, a marriage-bound woman is a woman who has a permanent husband and the husband has had intercourse with the woman when she was sane and has had the opportunity to have intercourse with the husband, too.
c. Adultery of a marriage-bound woman with a minor constitutes flogging.

Article 84 – An old adulterer or an old adulteress who qualifies as marriage-bound shall be subject to flogging punishment prior to stoning.

Article 85 – Revocable divorce, prior to the end of the possible revoking period, does not disqualify a man or woman from being marriage-bound, but irrevocable divorce disqualifies them from being marriage-bound.

Article 86 – Adultery by a man or a woman when each has a permanent spouse but has no access to the spouse due to travel or imprisonment or similar reasonable excuses, shall not constitute stoning.

Article 87 – A married man who before penetration [into his wife] commits adultery shall be sentenced to flogging, having his head shaven, and one year of exile.

Article 88 – The adultery punishment for a man or woman who does not meet the marriage-bound conditions is one hundred lashes.

Article 89 – Repetition of adultery prior to executing the adultery punishment will not constitute repetition of the punishment if the punishments are the same, but if the punishments are of different types, like some constitute flogging and other constitute stoning, then flogging punishment shall be executed prior to stoning.

Article 90 – If a man or woman commits adultery several times and at each instance is punished, then will be killed upon the fourth instance.

Article 91 – During pregnancy and parturition bleeding the woman shall not be subjected to murder or stoning. Also after the childbirth if the infant has no guardian and there is a concern that the infant might die, the punishment will not be carried out, but if a guardian is found for the infant then the punishment shall be executed.

Article 92 – When a pregnant or breastfeeding woman is to be punished by flogging and there is concern for possible harm to the pregnancy or the breastfeeding infant, then the punishment will be delayed until the time that the punishment causes no such harm.

Article 93 – If a sick person or menstruating woman is sentenced to be murdered or stoned, the punishment shall be carried out but if sentenced to flogging then the punishment will be delayed until the sickness and menstruation is over.

Article 94 – If there is no hope for recovery of a sick person, or the Shari’a judge (hakeme shar’) deems appropriate that the punishment be executed during the sickness, then a bunch of one hundred lashes or whips will be inflicted once even if not all of them touch the body of the convict.

Article 95 – If the convict sentenced to punishment becomes insane or converts, the punishment shall not be annulled.

Article 96 – The flogging shall not be carried out in too cold or too hot weather.

Article 97 – The punishment cannot be executed in the land of the enemies of Islam.

Chapter 4 – How to Execute the Punishment

Article 98 – When a person is sentenced to multiple punishments, the order of carrying out the sentences must be such that none of them prevents another, therefore if someone is sentenced to flogging and stoning, first flogging and then stoning shall be carried out.

Article 99 – If adultery by a person, who meets the marriage-bound conditions, is proven by his/her confession, then at the time of stoning the first stone will be thrown by the Shari’a judge and then by others, and if the adultery is proven by the testimony of witnesses, then first the witnesses will throw stones, then the Shari’a judge, and then others.
Note – Absence or lack of action of the judge and witnesses in throwing the first stone shall not prevent carrying out the sentence and in any case the punishment must be executed.

Article 100 – The flogging punishment for an adulterer man shall be carried out as he is standing and wearing no clothing except to cover his genitals. Lashes must forcefully inflict his entire body except for his head, face, and genitals. An adulterer woman shall be flogged in a sitting position with her clothes bound to her body.

Article 101 – It is appropriate that the judge informs the public of the time of the punishment and it is necessary that a group of believers, not less than three people, be present when the punishment is carried out.

Article 102 – An adulterer man shall be buried in a ditch up to near his waist and an adulterer woman up to near her chest and then stoned to death.

Article 103 – In case the person sentenced to stoning escapes the ditch in which they are buried, then if the adultery is proven by testimony then they will be returned for the punishment but if it is proven by their own confession then they will not be returned.
Note – If the person sentenced to flogging escapes they shall be returned in any case.

Article 104 – The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.

Article 105 – The Shari’a Judge can act upon his own knowledge in the cases of [defending] the God’s Rights (Haghollah) and People’s Rights (Haghonnas) and carry out the punishment constituted by the God and it is necessary that he documents his knowledge. The execution of the punishment in case of God’s Rights (Haghollah) is not contingent upon anyone’s request but in case of People’s Rights (Haghonnas) is contingent on the owner of the right.

Article 106 – Adultery during the holy times such as religious festivities and Ramadan and Friday and at holy places such as mosques will constitute flogging in addition to the regular punishment.

Article 107 – The presence of the witnesses is necessary when stoning punishment is carried out but the punishment shall not be annulled due to their absence but it shall be annulled with their escape.

*Note by translator: A man is mature at the age of 15 lunar years, and a woman is mature at the age of 9 lunar years, given that the physical maturity is visible, too.

** Note by translator: Stoning in the Islamic Penal Code of Iran refers to stoning to death.

Source of the Original Code in Farsi (Persian):