Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Being a Witness in Today’s World

[further explanation of Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 8]

The Qur’an has also kept in sight the impediments to the fulfillment of such duty. The central obstacle is that a witness is made to appear in the courts repeatedly where he is subjected to absurd cross-examinations aimed at breaking the witness and invalidating his testimony. The result is that anyone marked to be a witness is actually marked out for trouble. Kept away from what he does for living, he becomes a target of all sorts of inconveniences just for nothing. Therefore, when the Qur’an says that the giving of true evidence is necessary it also says in Surah al-Baqarah ayah 282, “And neither scribe nor witness should be made to suffer.”

Today, if we look at the courts and cases, we will notice that spot witnesses and true witnesses are almost extinct. Any sensible person who happens to see something unusual taking place somewhere would instinctively run away from there lest he gets grabbed as a witness. The police fills out its case report with made-up witnesses and this is how cases are concluded or decided.

No one seems to notice the initial error being made in this matter. If witnesses are treated nicely and they are not harassed time and again, good people would not hesitate to come forward to register their testimony as required under the teachings of the Qur’an. But, what is happening here is that the first investigation of a case is handled by the police and it is, by itself, enough to drive a witness crazy by his repeated appearances at the station. Once a witness, he would never be a witness again.

Then the case goes to the court. There comes the problem of dates, one after the other, they keep coming next and next. But, the witness becomes the victim who has to undergo the punishment of a crime he never committed when he comes to record his presence on every such new date.

The blessings of an Islamic legal system can be seen even today by simply restricting the law of evidence. The witness must be free to go within the shortest possible time after recording his testimony.

[SOURCE: Maroof-ul-Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]

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