Friday 5 July 2024

What are Implications of giving a false statement and false witness as per Qur’an and Hadith

Presenting true and accurate witness is one of the basic pillars of any judicial system of the world. On the contrary, one false testimony can lead to serious ramification and convict an innocent person to languish behind bars for life, or in many cases to the gallows.

Islam, being a complete code of life,  considers false witness as a grave sin with serious moral, social, and legal implications. The Quran and Hadith strongly condemn false testimony due to its potential to cause injustice, harm, and discord within society. However, it is painful to see many a believer rendering false testimonies and appearing as false witnesses to please their masters or in lust for a few pennies more. The false witnesses forget that according to the law, where an innocent person has been executed on the basis of false evidence, the perjurer himself can be sentenced to death.

In many a under developed countries, bearing false testimony is treated — even by many judges — as a quotidian detail in a corrupt, ruthless system. The lower courts are rife with touts offering to bear false witness for a price; in effect, the life of an accused can be in the hands of an individual who makes a living out of misleading the court.

In view of the seriousness of false testimonies and perjury, let us have an in-depth look at the implications of bearing false witness in Islam:

It is said in the Qur'an:
وَالَّذِيۡنَ لَا يَشۡهَدُوۡنَ الزُّوۡرَۙ وَ اِذَا مَرُّوۡا بِاللَّغۡوِ مَرُّوۡا كِرَامًا‏ 
(The true servants of the Merciful One) are those who do not bear witness to any falsehood and who, when they pass by frivolity, pass by it with dignity; Surah Al-Furqan (25:72)

The Arabic word laghv لَّغۡوِ implies all that is vain, useless and meaningless and it also covers falsehood. The true servants pass by in a dignified manner if they ever come across what is vain, as if it were a heap of filth. They do not stay there to enjoy the filth of moral impurity, obscenity or foul language, nor do they intentionally go anywhere to hear or see or take part in any sort of filth.

(The true servants of the Merciful One) are those who do not bear witness to any falsehood This also has two meanings: (1) They do not give evidence (in the court of law etc.) in regard to a false thing in order to prove it right, when in fact it is a falsehood, or at best a doubtful thing. (2) They have no intention to witness anything which is false, evil or wicked as spectators. In this sense, every sin and every indecency, every sham and counterfeit act is a falsehood. A true servant of Allah recognizes it as false and shuns it even if it is presented in the seemingly beautiful forms of art.

In the 30th verse of Surah 22. Al-Hajj it is reiterated that "So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement."

The verse emphasizes avoiding false statements, which can include lies, false testimony, and deceitful speech. Truthfulness is a core value in Islam, and false statements are seen as morally and spiritually corrupting. This verse is part of a broader passage that discusses the sanctity of religious duties and the importance of adhering to divine commandments. The prohibition against idol worship and false statements reinforces the need for purity in both belief and conduct.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has also been quoted as cautioning believers on False Witness

Narrated Abu Bakra: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Shall I not inform you of the biggest of the major sins?" They said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)." He said, "To join partners in worship with Allah (Shirk), to be undutiful to one's parents." The Prophet (ﷺ) then sat up after he had been reclining (on a pillow) and said, "And I warn you against giving a false statement and a false witness; I warn you against giving a false statement and a false witness." The Prophet (ﷺ) kept on saying that warning till we thought he would not stop. (Reference: Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith 7)

The same Hadith is mentioned in Sahi Muslim where in it is narrated by Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned the major sins or was asked about the major sins. He said, "Associating others with Allah, killing a soul, being undutiful to parents." He then said, "Shall I not inform you of the most grievous of the major sins?" He said, "Giving a false statement or a false witness." (Reference: Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 163)

Implications of False Witness
  • Moral Implications:
    • Loss of Integrity: Bearing false witness undermines a person's integrity and trustworthiness. It reflects a serious moral failing and a lack of adherence to ethical principles.
    • Spiritual Consequences: False testimony is considered a major sin that can lead to severe spiritual consequences. False testimony distances a person from the mercy of Allah and can lead to punishment in the Hereafter.
  • Social Implications:
    • Injustice: False witness can lead to wrongful convictions, loss of rights, and various forms of injustice. It disrupts the social order and can cause significant harm to individuals and communities.
    • Discord and Distrust: It fosters an environment of mistrust and discord within society. When false testimony is prevalent, it erodes the foundation of justice and fairness that is essential for a harmonious community.
  • Legal Implications:
    • General Implications: Individuals who commit perjury are complicit in the miscarriage of justice; they corrupt the legal process whose very purpose is to uncover the truth. In a well-functioning justice system, bearing false witness attracts serious legal consequences which act as a deterrent.
    • Severe Penalties: Islamic legal systems (Sharia) impose strict penalties for bearing false witness to deter this serious offense. Penalties may include corporal punishment, fines, or other forms of retribution, depending on the severity of the false testimony and its consequences.
    • Nullification of Testimony: A person known to give false testimony can be disqualified from providing witness statements in the future, which can have long-term legal ramifications.
In view of the above explanation, bearing false witness is a serious offense in Islam with far-reaching moral, social, and legal consequences. The Quran and Hadith emphasize the importance of truthfulness and integrity, warning against the severe repercussions of false testimony. By upholding the principles of honesty and justice, Muslims contribute to a fair and harmonious society, fulfilling their religious and ethical obligations.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 

وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.


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A compehensive and informative article. JazakAllah khairon.

Thank you for your support Dr Sajjad Hassan Ansari, Ph D

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