In this legal text, the Hanafī jurist al-Sarakhsī relays how the imperial grand judge Yaḥyā b. Aktham (d. 242/857) upheld the Ḥanafī position regarding the eligibility of non-Muslims to serve as witnesses. Yaḥyā was said to have permitted non-Muslim testimony against any other non-Muslims. He explained his position, writing that, “consulting the opinions of the earliest jurists, I have found no one forbidding the testimony of the protected people, except two [conflicting] opinions attributed to Rabīʿa.”
Further, al-Sarakhsī relays the Ḥanafī criterion for witness eligibility which developed in a specific hierarchal framework, as described by Ahmad El Shamsy. Muslims were placed above non-Muslims and, within that, locals above outsiders (dhimmī vs. ḥarbī). As El Shamsy points out, this framework equates the right to give testimony with the right to demonstrate legal authority (wilāya) over another.