And Do Not Conceal Testimony
My message to you this month is an urgent appeal and reminder of the importance of giving testimony in Islam and the gravity of bearing witness to what is true and just. This comes in light of a tragic rise in unresolved conflicts in our community rooted in Muslims bearing false testimonies. These testimonies have destroyed livelihoods, marriages, and families.
The Islamic way of life dictates that justice is established and injustice is prevented on the individual level and on a communal level. Allah (SWT) sent the messengers to establish justice and orders all creation to preserve the rights of others as He (SWT) says, “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct…”(16:90).
The only way justice is established is through giving testimony and understanding its importance. This is the way truth is distinguished from falsehood. Some Muslims are under the false assumption that they are not required to give testimony so long as they do not give false testimony. Concealing a testimony is as grave as fabricating one. Allah (SWT) states, “…And do not conceal testimony, for whoever conceals it his heart is indeed sinful…”(2:283).
It is fard, obligatory, to give testimony in Islam and bear witness to the truth. It is a necessity of faith and the quality of the believers. Allah (SWT) states, “Oh you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (4:135)
Being honest in words and dealings is the practice of the Muslim. This includes bearing witness in the writing of contracts and when called upon by an Imam or judge. If a Muslim is called upon to be a witness, it becomes compulsory on him to do so if there is no one to take his place. Allah (SWT) says, “…And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon…” (2:282).
Similarly, concealing evidence is forbidden in Islam. Allah (SWT) has not threatened His slaves with a greater threat than He did to those who conceal evidence. Allah (SWT) states, “…And we will not withhold the testimony of Allah. Indeed, we would then be of the sinful…” (5:106)
When a Muslim gives testimony, it must be based on knowledge, clarity, and trust. Doing so strengthens bonds of brotherhood and mutual respect in Muslim society.
Muslims should beware of offering false testimony even concerning an individual that has caused them harm, whether Muslim or not. For example, in the cases of divorce, some husbands and wives go out of their way to offer the judge false testimonies in order to claim the custody of the children or some amount of property or money.
Muslims should also be mindful of giving false testimonies or concealing evidence when it comes to dividing inheritance. Some people might lie in order to prevent other inheritors from receiving their rightful shares, especially when the other inheritors are women.
Unfortunately, some Muslims wrongly believe that providing false information to government agencies to receive benefits is not haram even though it is both haram and illegal and prevents people who are truly in need from receiving these benefits. This includes destroying property in order to receive compensation from insurance companies.
There are many brothers and sisters in our community who have stood boldly against the temptation of falling into bearing false testimony or concealing evidence, even when doing so might cause them personal harm. Instead, they make every effort to ensure that their words and actions will be witnesses for them and not against them on the Day of Judgment. Unfortunately, this is not always received well by their family and the community and sometimes they are even ostracized for their honesty. May Allah (SWT) reward them and make them among those He has promised Heaven.
“And those who are to their trusts and promises attentive. And those who are in their testimonies upright. And those who [carefully] maintain their prayer: They will be in gardens, honored.” (70:32-35)
Sh. Jamal Said