In this excerpt, Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201) relays cases in which a presiding judge revealed the falsity of the petitioner’s or defendant’s claim by employing shrewd investigative techniques to detect their guilt. For example, in one case the petitioner accused the defendant of failing to return money he had entrusted to him. The judge bade the petitioner to go to the mosque in Karkh where he claimed the money had been transferred and fetch a page of the Qurʾānic muṣḥaf kept there, so the defendant might swear his innocence on it. Once the petitioner was on his way, the judge asked the defendant whether he thought the petitioner had already reached the mosque. Although the defendant had claimed that he was not familiar with the site in question, he answered, “Not yet.” Having caught the defendant in a lie, the judge decided the defendant was deceitful and must return the money to the petitioner. In a second case, the judge of Hamadān discerned the dishonesty of a man who was called to give testimony by noting a difference in his stride. The man usually walked with a measured stride, taking a certain number of steps through the courtyard when he was called as a witness, but this time the judge noticed that the crossing took him several additional steps, “indicating that he walked slower to feign dignity.” The judge thus drew on his individual knowledge of the witness’s behavior to reject the latter’s credibility on the basis of subtle evidence. In his chapter on circumstantial evidence in Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts, Hossein Modarressi cites these cases to illustrate how the judge might employ various forms of evidence, including his own knowledge, in order to resolve a case and achieve justice. However, he notes that both instances occurred before the stage of the case at which procedural due process begins, and thus they do not prove that the judge can employ personal knowledge later.
This source is part of the Online Companion to the book Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts, ed. Intisar A. Rabb and Abigail Krasner Balbale (ILSP/HUP 2017)—a collection of primary sources and other material used in and related to the book.
The Muwaṭṭaʾis the first extant treatise on Islamic law, written by the eighth-century Medinan jurist Mālik b. Anas (d. 179/795). It provides an unparalleled window into the life of the early Muslim community of Medina—where the Prophet Muḥammad lived and died after immigrating from Mecca—as well as the rituals, laws, and customs that its members upheld years after his death. Harvard’s Program in Islamic Law, in conjunction with Harvard University Press, published an English translation of the Muwaṭṭaʾin 2019, edited and translated by well-known Islamic law scholars Professors Mohammad Fadel and Connell Monette. This translation is based on the recently published critical edition of the Muwaṭṭaʾ, The Royal Moroccan Edition (Rabat: Ministry of Endowments, 2013). With its extensive notes, the English edition is intended to make this important early legal text widely accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, including those interested in both legal history and Islamic Studies. This Online Companionto the Muwaṭṭaʾmakes the full texts of both the original Arabic edition and its English translation freely available online. We gratefully acknowledge the Moroccan Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs for permissions to make the full Arabic text available online.
This source is part of the Online Companion to the print edition al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, the Royal Moroccan Edition: The Recension of Yaḥyā Ibn Yaḥyā al-Laythī (Harvard Series in Islamic Law), edited and translated by Mohammad Fadel and Connell Monette (PIL/HUP, 2019).