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Islamic Law in Pakistan – Global Legal Collection Highlights

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The following is a guest post by Tariq Ahmad, a Legal Analyst in the Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress.  This is not Tariq’s first contribution; he has previously blogged about the Law Library’s June 4, 2013 Panel Discussion on Islamic Law and  Sedition Law in India.

A photo of the Old City of Lahore (photo by Tariq)
Old city of Lahore (photo by Tariq)

The Law Library of Congress has a fairly extensive collection of Pakistan law materials, with a number of titles on the application of Islamic Law and its relationship to human rights issues in Pakistan.  More recently we received a number of books on the Protection of Women Act, 2006.  This Act amends a number of provisions in two of Pakistan’s Hudood Ordinances, including the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979, which regulates the punishment of certain sexual crimes, including rape and Zina (the crime of unlawful sexual intercourse which includes pre-marital and extra-marital sex). Most significantly the 2006 Act removed the crime of rape (or Zina-bil-Jabr) from the Hudood Ordinances and added it to section 375 of Pakistan’s Penal Code. Prior to the 2006 Act, under the Hudood Ordinances, women who accused men of rape required evidence of four male witnesses to establish a conviction. Failing that, victims often faced the prospect of being charged with Zina. After the 2006 Act, rape became an offense under the Penal Code, and therefore under the jurisdiction of criminal courts, with convictions based on forensic and circumstantial evidence regulated by the Qanun-e-Shahadat (Law of Evidence) Order of 1984. Additionally, the practice of converting rape cases to Zina cases was abolished under the reform.  Some human rights groups note that despite the reform, the filing of rape cases remains rare and they therefore question whether the law has been fully implemented. Recently, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a constitutional advisory body on Shari’a issues, called for the law to be reviewed since, in its view, the law is in contradiction to Islamic law.

Here are relatively recent English-language titles in the Law Library’s collection that address this topic:

The Law Library also has other English-language titles on the application of Islamic law in Pakistan, such as:

In addition to searching our online catalog for more books on different areas of law in Pakistan, you can request help by visiting our Reading Room or submit a question through our Ask a Librarian service.


  1. The changes in penal codes as to rapes are just window-dressing to deceive foreign-based human rights observers. As a practical matter and as the police apply the law, nothing has changed. A rape victim must still come up with FOUR male witnesses on her behalf, or the rape won’t be prosecuted. Worse if she doesn’t come up with numerous witnesses, the victim herself will be charged with various crimes including including infidelity or sexual congress outside marriage.

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