Why in the Qur'an we find in one hand:

  • وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ

[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah . And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (5:38)

Where the male thief is quoted and precedes the female thief.

while on the other hand:

  • الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِى

The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse - lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah , if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment. (24:2)

where the adulteress has preceded the adulterer!

Is there a deeper meaning?

1 Answer 1


1. the thief (male then female)

Imam al-Qurtobi answered this in his tafssir (al-Jami' li ahkaam al-Qur'an in the 27th and last point discussing verse (5:38) as follows (My own translation):

يقال : بدأ الله بالسارق في هذه الآية قبل السارقة ، وفي الزنى بالزانية قبل الزاني ما الحكمة في ذلك ؟ فالجواب أن يقال : لما كان حب المال على الرجال أغلب ، وشهوة الاستمتاع على النساء أغلب بدأ بهما في الموضع ; هذا أحد الوجوه في المرأة على ما يأتي بيانه في سورة " النور " من البداية بها على الزاني إن شاء الله .
It was said that Allah began with the male thief in this verse before quoting the female, and in the verse about Zina with the adulteress before the adulterer, what is the deeper meaning?
Then the answer is that it is said: As the love for goods (money) is stronger within men, while the desire of pleasure is stronger within women HE started with them in each topic; And this is one of the views about the woman -as will be discussed later in surat an-Nur- and why the start was by quoting her before the adulterer inshaa' Allah.

ثم جعل الله حد السرقة قطع اليد لتناول المال ، ولم يجعل حد الزنى قطع الذكر مع مواقعة الفاحشة به لثلاثة معان :
Then Allah made the hadd (punishment) for robbery cutting off the hand, because it takes/robes the money while he didn't make/Declare the hadd for Zina by cutting off the genital organ (penis) while the fahishah (the fornication) is done by using it for three reasons:

أحدها : أن للسارق مثل يده التي قطعت فإن انزجر بها اعتاض بالثانية ، وليس للزاني مثل ذكره إذا قطع فلم يعتض بغيره لو انزجر بقطعه .
The first: is that the thief has a similar organ /body part, so if he got reproached by it he would be able to compensate with the other, while the adulterer has no similar organ, so if it was cut off he can't compensate after being reproached.

الثاني : أن الحد زجر للمحدود وغيره ، وقطع اليد في السرقة ظاهر : وقطع الذكر في الزنى باطن .
The second one is: The application of had (punishement) is considered as a reproach to the person who has been found out guilty and others, and while cutting off the hand is something obvious, cutting of the male genital in case off Zina would keep it hidden.

الثالث : أن قطع الذكر فيه إبطال للنسل وليس في قطع اليد إبطاله ، والله أعلم .
And thirdly: Cutting off the male genital is an annulment of offspring which is not the case with cutting off the hand. And Allah knows best.

In at-Tahrir wa tanwir sheikh at-Taher Benachour added an information which may sound strange if we look at seemingly negative view of women in the pre Islamic Arabic culture and said that Arabs were not used to apply punishments on women, so it was essential to make clear that even female thieves would be punished if they were found guilty, which goes against to the customs of Arabic tribes!

As-Saboni shortly answered this saying because there are more male thieves than female

2. adulteress and adulterer

Imam al-Qurtobi when discussing the issues and topics in verse (24:2) added some information and said (again my own translation):

قدمت الزانية في هذه الآية من حيث كان في ذلك الزمان زنا النساء فاش ، وكان لإماء العرب وبغايا الوقت رايات ، وكن مجاهرات بذلك . وقيل : لأن الزنا في النساء أعر وهو لأجل الحبل أضر .
The adulteress has been quoted first in this verse as at the time the Zina was wide spread among women, and the female slaves and the whores of the time had some flags (*), and they used to publicize with it. It was also said that Zina is dirtier for women and it is more harmful for conception

(*)to show whether they are free to receive a "new patron".

وقيل : لأن الشهوة في المرأة أكثر وعليها أغلب ، فصدرها تغليظا لتردع شهوتها ، وإن كان قد ركب فيها حياء لكنها إذا زنت ذهب الحياء كله . وأيضا فإن العار بالنساء ألحق إذ موضوعهن الحجب والصيانة ، فقدم ذكرهن تغليظا واهتماما .
It was also said that (following) desire among women is stronger, that's why she was quoted at the start to deter her desire, even if she had been given some shyness, once she commits Zina all her shyness is gone. And also the disgrace on women is higher that's why they have been designated to be hidden and guardianship so they were mentioned first to emphasize all this and to show the importance of their "conservation"!

Some answered this also saying that the woman has a stronger part in this act and the consequences can be seen on her easier.

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