From an IslamWeb fatwa:

...At-Tabarani reported in Al-Kabeer, and Abu Ya’la, and As-Suyooti classified it as hasan (good), from Waathilah may Allaah be pleased with him that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allaah exalt his mention) said, "Lesbianism among women is Zina (fornication or adultery) between them."

There is also a similar quote at another IslamWeb fatwa. There's another version of the hadith with the same reference:

"Lesbianism by women is adultery between them" -- Habeeb Akande, A Taste of Honey: Sexuality and Erotology in Islam, 2015 (p. 148)

Question: Did the Prophet actually say "lesbianism among women is zina between them" or words to this effect?

I'm wanting to pinpoint this hadith, verify it's legitimate, and check that the translation is accurate.

In principle, I could track down Al-Kabeer and identify what it says. However, I don't believe I have access to Al-Kabeer, nor do I speak Arabic. Googling site:sunnah.com lesbianism doesn't give any hits.

  • 2
    This might be beside your question, but I wonder makes people even imagine that when Islam strongly condemns gayness it may somehow allow Lesbianism given that both are so blatantly in violation of one of the key purposes of sexuality in Islam: reproduction! The liberal ideology has indeed made people blind to what must be already evident even before any conventions of religion, that you're going to risk extinction of human species over just one generation if all people wanted to become homosexuals. And what leads to evil on the collective level is evil on the sporadic individual cases as well – infatuated Nov 29 '16 at 5:56
  • I thought Islam condemned sodomy, which would differentiate male homosexuality from female homosexuality. – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 29 '16 at 6:04
  • it's haram but scholars doesn't say it has the same punishment of zina , because in Lesbianism there is no Inserting ( this is what i read in some arabic fatawa ) ... and it's known that zina punishement doesn't done if there is no inserting even between man and women ! – Mustapha Elbazi Nov 29 '16 at 7:37
  • so the punishement in this case is a Discretionary punishment ! – Mustapha Elbazi Nov 29 '16 at 7:45


I'm wanting to pinpoint this hadith, verify it's legitimate, and check that the translation is accurate.

In principle, I could track down Al-Kabeer and identify what it says. However, I don't believe I have access to Al-Kabeer, nor do I speak Arabic. Googling site:sunnah.com lesbianism doesn't give any hits.

You are correct you don't have access to al-Kabeer -in the meaning you stated- and once you may find a book with this name you'll find it is rather unclear reference as you'll need to know the author of the book too.

Imam at-Tabarani has three major works of hadith (encyclopedia's one could say) which are quoted in the Wikipedia article (however the explanation as given there and quoted here seems to me wrong):

al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr المعجم الكبير – from which he excluded the traditions of Abu Hurayra
Al-Mu'jam Al-Awsat المعجم الأوسط – which contains traditions from Abu Hurayra
Al-Mu'jam As-Saghir المعجم الصغير – which gave a hadith from each of his masters..
(Wikipedia on Imam at-Tabarani)

Note that al-Kabir means the big (the great) in Arabic, while al-Awsat means the middle and as-Saghir means the little or the small.

Narrations with a similar wording

Now according to the Islamweb library my first attempt to find a hadith with this wording or meaning was that the hadith you are look for is not even quoted in at-Tabarani's al-Kabir but in al-Awsat. Note that al-Haythami in his Majma' az-Zawaid quoted the hadith and said it is compiled in al-Kabir and in al-Awsat both on the authority of at-Tabarani's teacher Ali ibn Said ar-Razi علي بن سعيد الرازي who has a bad reputation and is considered as lenient, while the rest of the narrator chain is strong and thrustworthy.

Here's the quote from al-Awsat on the authority of abu Musa al-Ash'ari أبو موسى الأشعري:

" لا تباشر المرأة المرأة إلا وهما زانيتان ، ولا يباشر الرجل الرجل إلا وهما زانيان " .
- - - (My own translation take it with care)
No women sleeps (copulate) with an (other) women unless if they are (considered as) -two- adulterers (zaniyatan) and no man sleeps with a men unless they are (considered as) -two- adulterers (zaniyan).

Al-Bayhaqi also quoted a similar narration in his as-Sunan al-Kubra (also on the authority of abu Musa al-Ash'ari):

إذا أتى الرجل الرجل فهما زانيان ، وإذا أتت المرأة المرأة فهما زانيتان

“If a man has sexual relations with another man, they are both guilty of zina, and if a woman has sexual relations with another woman they are both guilty of zina.” (Source of the translation: islamqa #21058)

Here again al-Bayhaqi considered a narrator called Muhammad ibn Abdurrahman محمد بن عبد الرحمن as unknown and therefore the hadith with the given chain as rejected (note that this person starts the part of the narrator chain which differs from at-Tabarni's narration).

The hadith from al-Kabeer and an other narration

The statement of al-Haythami and the fact that the sahabi on whom's authority the hadith of the fatwa has been narrated made me look further and finally I found in al-Kabir (or al-Kabeer) on the authorithy of Waatilah ibn al-Asqa' واثلة بن الأسقع الليثي (who died around 83 a.H. with an age of 100 or more years according some narrations):

السحاق بين النساء زنا بينهن

And al-Haythami has also quoted it in his Majma' az-Zawaid and commented that the narrators of the chain are trustworthy.

Finally there's an other hadith compiled in at-Tabarni's al-Awsat and al-Bayhaqi's sho'ab al-Iman on the authority of Anas ibn Malik ():

إِذَا اسْتَحَلَّتْ أُمَّتِي سِتًّا فَعَلَيْهِمُ الدَّمَارُ : إِذَا ظَهَرَ فِيهِمُ التَّلَاعُنُ ، وَشَرِبُوا الْخُمُورَ ، وَلَبِسُوا الْحَرِيرَ ، وَاتَّخَذُوا الْقِيَانَ ، وَاكْتَفَى الرِّجَالُ بِالرِّجَالِ ، وَالنِّسَاءُ بِالنِّسَاءِ
- - - (My own translation take it with care)
If my Ummah made halal six things they will be doomed: If appears among them the cursing (curse each other), and they drink wine (alcohol), and they wear silk, and they had female singers (coiffeuse ?), and men were satisfied with men and women with women"

Interpretation of this Hadith

In his al-Mughni ibn Qudamah said (9/59):
If two women engage in lesbian sexual relations, then they are guilty of zina and are cursed, because it was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a woman has sexual relations with another woman, then they are both guilty of zina.” There is no hadd punishment for them because they did not have intercourse, rather it is likened to intimate relations that are less than intercourse, and they are to be subjected to a ta’zeer punishment. (Source: the fatwa quoted above)

So Lesbianism is set equal to adultery, but without the same shari'a punishment (in this life)!

  • i was thinking what if the khalifah of Muslims choose maybe a hard punishment maybe harder than zina punishment for stop such deeds is this allowed for him ? i don't know very much about sharia punishments practicing because there is no sharia in our days :/ – Mustapha Elbazi Nov 29 '16 at 16:55

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