Assessing the quality of a witness's testimony
25 Aug 2011 12:59 GMT
How does the Muslim judge consider each of the following factors in determining the weight and sufficiency of testimony presented in an Islamic court of law: (a) the gender of the witnesses (b) their moral quality and integrity (c) their relationship to the litigants (d) their interest in the outcome of the case

Answered by

Sheikh Hânî al-Jubayr, judge at the Jeddah Supreme Court

Judicial verdicts in Islamic courts are arrived at by relying upon whatever strengthens the belief that one of the litigants is telling the truth. This is a general principle.

The judge must undertake to look into the specific details of the case, and he must consider all the evidence and indicative factors that lead to his weighing his judgment in favor of the truth of the claims of one of the litigants over the claims of the other.

For instance, if one of the witnesses stands to benefit materially from the testimony that he gives in court – or to remove some harm from himself – then his testimony will not be relied upon. This is because the vested interests of the witness cast the veracity of the testimony into serious doubt.

Conversely, a witness’s testimony can be strengthened by a confirmation of his strength of memory, intelligence, and integrity of character, which can be attested to by other character witnesses.

Similar conditions apply to the judge as well, For instance, one of the principles of Islamic judicial procedure is that a judge may not preside over a case of a relative, since the judge’s objectivity will be compromised.

Further details on this topic can be sought from the primary literature. An excellent book on the subject is al-Turuq al-Hukmiyyah (Judicial methods and Procedures) by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

-- Al Arabiya Digital