وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنْ الصَّادِقِينَ وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كَانَ مِنْ الْكَاذِبِينَ وَيَدْرَأُ عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنْ الْكَاذِبِينَ وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا إِنْ كَانَ مِنْ الصَّادِقِينَ (24 :4-9)
Those who accuse honourable women and bring not four witnesses as an evidence [for their accusation], inflict eighty stripes upon them, and never accept their testimony in future. They indeed are transgressors. But those who repent and mend their ways, Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Most-Merciful. And those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves shall swear four times by Allah that they are telling the truth and the fifth time that the curse of Allah be on them if they are lying. But this shall avert the punishment from the wife if she swears four times by Allah and says that this person is a liar and the fifth time she says that the curse of Allah be on her if he is telling the truth. (24:4-9)

This is the directive for qadhf, ie accusing someone of fornication. Although, in these verses, only the accusation of women is mentioned, yet in the Arabic language this style which can be termed as عَلَى سَبِيْلِ التَغْلِيْب (‘alā sabīl al-taghlīb: addressing the dominant element) is adopted because normally in a society only women become targets of such allegations, and the society is also sensitive about them. Consequently, there is no doubt that on the ground of “similarity of basis” this directive pertains to both men and women and cannot be restricted to women only.

In the above quoted verses, two forms of qadhf are stated:

Firstly, a person accuses a chaste and righteous woman or man of fornication.

Secondly, such an accusation takes place between a husband and wife.

In the first case, the law of Islam is that the accuser shall have to produce four witnesses. Anything less than this will not prove his accusation. Mere circumstantial evidence or mere medical examination in this case are absolutely of no importance. If a person is of lewd and loose character, such things have a very important role, but if he has a morally sound reputation, Islam wants that even if he has faltered, his crime should be concealed and he should not be disgraced in the society. Consequently, in this case, it wants four eye-witnesses for the testimony to initiate the hearing, and if the accuser fails to produce them, it regards him as guilty of qadhf.

According to the Qur’ān, the details of the punishment of qadhf are:

1. The criminal shall be administered eighty stripes.

2. His testimony shall never be accepted in future in any matter, and as such he shall stand defamed in the society.

Administering eighty stripes and not considering a person eligible to bear witness are punishments of the Herein, while in the Hereafter he shall be counted among the transgressors except if he repents and mends his ways.

In the second case, ie if such an instance takes place between a husband and his wife, then according to the Qur’ān, if there are no witnesses, the matter shall be decided by pledging oaths. In Islamic law, this case is termed as لِعَان (li‘ān). The husband shall swear four times by Allah that he is truthful in his accusation and the fifth time he shall swear that the curse of Allah be on him if he is lying. In reply, if the wife does not defend herself in anyway, she shall be punished for fornication . If she refutes the allegations, she shall only be acquitted from the punishment if she swears four times by Allah that the person is lying and the fifth time she says that the wrath of Allah be on her if he is telling the truth.

The same procedure shall be adopted if the wife accuses the husband.