Rare Justice: Judgements, Decisions and Answers to Difficult Questions part 17


1. Eye Witness of a Judge is not Sufficient for Punishing an Accused in a Case of Adultery

It has been reported by Umme Kulthoom, daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) on the authority of Hazrat Omar (RA) who said that he was once petrolling at night in Medina when he saw a couple in a half demolished house engaged in the act of adultery. Next morning, he asked the people if the Caliph sees some body committing adultery, could he punish the culprit at his own accord, i.e., would that one eye witness of the Caliph himself be sufficient for framing the charge of adultery fgainst the culprit and punish on that account. All the people present in the court of the Caliph including his advisers and some of the senior companions of the Holy Prophet (SA) said with one voice:

“What more witness than the eyewitness of the Caliph himself is required for punishing the culprit in a case of adultery.”

Hazrat Ali (A) when heard the above unanimous advice of all the people present in the court of Hazrat Omar, (RA) he said to him Hazrat Omar (RA) In that case you would yourself be punished for false imputation, for a full evidence required in each case of adultery under the religious law is equal to four witnesses without any exemption whatsoever.

The report adds that the same question was put to people by Hazrat Omar (RA) and they replied in the affirmative except Hazrat Ali (A) who replied in the negative (Qaza & Teha) p. 43, through Abu Turab (Urdu), vol. 2 p. 201).

2. When Witnesses Find no Way Out

Three persons once came to Hazrat Ali (A) to record their witnesses in a case of adultery. Their statements recorded, Hazrat Ali (A) asked them as to where was the fourth witness. They replied:

“He would come just now.”

Hazrat Ali (A) ordered them to be punished for false imputation saying that four witnesses were required in a case of adultery as commanded by Allah in the Holy Quran and that the punishment in a case annot be suspended for a moment for want of a witness which is said to appear in the court later. (Qaza) p. 55, through Abu Turab vol. 2, p. 202). 3. Four Unjust Witnesses

Four persons once came to Hazrat Ali (A) to stand as witnesses and record evidence in a case of adultery. Amir-ul-Momineen Hazrat Ali (A) when made a private enquiry about them, they were found to be unjust and also not of good moral character. Hazrat Ali (A) ordered for their punishment for false accusation. (Qaza and Teha, p. 166, also Qaza, p. 55, and Abu Turab, vol. 2, page 202).

4. Cases Wherein Only One Witness is Acceptable

It has been reported by Imam Jafar Sadiq (A) that Hazrat Ali (A) used to decide the cases of loan against only one witness also as well as on taking oath by the appellant (Wafi, vol. 3, p. 148).


About cases as the one above Hazrat Imam Muhammad Baqir (A) says as follows:

If the administration of a state is in our hands i.e., the Muslims we can decide a case even on the production of one good witness only provided the case belonged to rights of the masses, but if the case concerned the rights of Allah or the visibility of Moon, one witness would not suffice. (Wafi, vol. 3, p. 148).

5. Witness by Women

According to what Hazrat Ali (A) has said witnesses of women are acceptable in cases of marriage but not in cases of divorce. Also said Hazrat Ali (A): “If three men and two women are produced as witnesses they are acceptable in a case wherein the culprit has to be sentenced to death by stoning, but if the number of men in such cases is only two and that of women four they are not acceptable.”

(Wafi,, vol. 3, p. 142).

6. Witnesses of Women in Cases Particular to Females

A virgin girl who was accused of having committed adultery was once brought to Hazrat Ali (A). He ordered a few women to examine her in private and say as to whether she was still virgin or the sign of her chastity was removed.

The women appointed by Hazrat Ali (A) for examination of the accused girl reported to him that the girl was still virgin. Hazrat Ali (A) then exclaimed:

“How can I punish a girl accused of adultery when she has been found still virgin according to the report of her own sex.” (Wafi vol. 3, p. 143). 7. Witness of a Women in Case of Will

In a case of a will left by some deceased person a woman was produced as witness. Hazrat Ali (A) decided that in such a case if only one woman is produced as witness, her witness will be acceptable only with regard to t part of the will concerned. (Wafi, vol. 3, p. 144). 8. Witness of Children

Accordin to what Hazrat Ali (A) said witness of minor children is acceptable in cases concerning themselves provided they come direct to report the matter to the authorities concerned before they see their elders who are their guardian. (Wafi, vol.3, p. 145).

9. Witness of Enemy

According to what Hazrat Ali (A) said the witness of an enemy of the one accused in a case is not acceptable. (Wafi, vol.3, p. 148). 10. Witness of a Spy, Face Reader or a Thief

Said Hazrat Ali (A) “I would not accept the witness of spy, face-reader or a thief unless they stand witnesses in their own cases wherein they do admit their crimes.” (Wafi, vol. 3, p. 148).

11. Contradictory Witnesses

If two or more witnesses appeared in one and the same case and their evidences were recorded by Hazrat Ali (A) and all the witnesses appeared to be of good moral character and following justice by experience in public, but their statements were found to be contradictory to one another Hazrat Ali (A) decided the case by ballot, and also took oath from the one in whose favour the ballot was drawn (Qaza, p. 133).

12. Contradiction in Evidence

It has been reported on the authority of Imam Baqir (A) that when Qudarabin Mazoon was brought before Hazrat Omar (RA) with the accusation that the poet named above was found drunk in public and two witnesses were produced against him as evidence to his crime, one of the witnesses happened to be a castrate. Besides the statements of the two witnesses in so far as the evidence with regard to drinking of wine by the famous poet Qudama was concerned happened to be contradictory to each other.
Hazrat Omar (RA) finding it difficult to decide the case called the companions of the Holy Prophet (A) including Hazrat Ali (A) for consultation, particularly the last named person i.e. Hazrat Ali (A) and said to him.

“Ya Abul Hasan! What do you say in this case, because what you will say in the matter will be most welcome and acceptable as according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet (SA) you are the most learned among us all and your decisions are all the righteous ones I, therefore, implore you kindly to decide this case for me.”

“Hazrat Ali (A) advised Hazrat Omar (RA) as follows:

“Although apparently there is contradiction in the statement of the two witnesses with regard to the evidence to drinking by Qudama bin Mazoon i.e., according to the one he was.found drinking whereas according to the other he was found vomitting Wine, but if the two things are put in proper perspective they would appear to be equal to each other because as far as the religious law about drinking is concerned, drinking of wine and vomiting it is just one and the same.”

When Hazrat Omar (RA) further asked him Hazrat Ali (A) if the witness of a castrate was acceptable under the religious and ecclesiastical law, Hazrat Ali (A) replied as follows:

“Why not? The penis (male organ) is just equal to any other part of the Therefore, if man is castrated it is just as if any other part of his body was cut off. Hence the witness of a castrate is as well acceptable as that of any other man without a limb.” (Qaza p. 42, also see Kafi). 13. Punishment for a False Witness

If a person accused of standing as a false witness in a case when brought to Hazrat Ali (A), he punished him by parading him as a public example through the streets of Kufa if he belonged to it otherwise in case of his being a traveller through the streets of the city to which he belonged. (Wafi, vol. 9, p. 73 through Abu Turab (Urdu) by Allama Jazaeri of Lahore, vol. 1, p. 208).


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