Procedure of taking testimony

Fiqh, Moon Sighting / Monday, September 27th, 2010

Principally, the responsibility of taking testimony on moonsighting and making announcement on the commencement of the respetive months accordingly lies with the Qadhi or Hakim. In non-Muslim countries or countries with Muslim minorities, the Muslims may adopt any one of the following to facilitate this function:

1.      Appoint an Ameer or leader;

2.      Setup Hilaal committees

3.      Each locality appoint any Aalim as an authority.

(Umdah al-Riaayaha vol.1 pg.309)

After the testimonies are taken and an announcement is made accordingly, then the decision reached by any of the above 3 groups is binding upon its area of jurisdiction.

Hereunder are a few guidelines which although may not be applied absolutely, are generally persuasive in ensuring that the testimony is satisfactorily authenticated resulting in an accurate ruling:

1.      The witness should be reminded of the serious consequences and repercussions of his testimony and of his accountability unto Allah;

2.      Testimony should not be taken if the skies were clear. This is because in this condition, the testimony of 1 or 2 people will not suffice;

3.      Generally, if a person sees the moon once, he will see it a second time with relative ease. If the witness saw it once and was unable to see it a second time, the possibility that might have been mistaken is increased.

4.      One who has seen the moon will be able to show another with relative ease. If this second person was unable to see it, despite the witness pointing it out to him, it will create doubt in the testimony of the witness;

5.      The witness should not merely give an account of his experience but should use the words of testimony thereby sensitising him of the seriousness of his actions;

6.      The body language and facial expressions of the witness should be observed. He should not seem pressurised to give testimony.

7.      A pertinent point to bear in mind is that the one taking testimony is not obligated to accept the testimony merely on the basis that there are witnesses presented who are prepared to testify. If the testimony is not convincing due to outside factors or inconsistencies, then the testimonies may be rejected and the resultant ruling will be binding.

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