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Testifying against fornicators

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
Translated by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

If four people saw two people committing fornication and then three of them came forth to testify against them, but the fourth person refused so that he could protect the fornicators, has the fourth person done the right thing? His refusal would result in the other three being punished.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

It is not permissible in this case for the fourth person to not testify because his not testifying will result in the punishment of the other three witnesses [since accusing someone of adultery without bringing four witnesses as evidence is a punishable crime]. Generally speaking, it is recommended to not testify against someone who one has seen fornicating in order to conceal his sin, but if–as in this case–not testifying results in the punishment of someone else, then it is obligatory for one to testify. Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari has mentioned this in his commentary on the Rawd as has the great scholar Ibn Hajar it in the Zawajir as the 355th enormity.

السؤال: رأى أربعة أشخاص واقعة زنى وتحققوا منها، فقام ثلاثة بالشهادة على ذلك، وامتنع الرابع بحجة الستر على الفاعلين، فهل ما فعله الرابع صحيح، لأنه سيترتب عليه حدُّ الثلاثة حدَّ القذف؟

الجواب : لا يجوز للرابع أن يترك الشهادة على ما علم من الزنى في هذه الحالة لأنه تعين عليه في دفع الحد عن أصحابه الشهود؛ إذ الشهادةُ على الزنى مثلاً يندب تركُها إذا لم يتعلقْ بتركها إيجابُ حد على الغير, فإن تعلَّق به ذلك كمسألتنا لزم أداء الشهادة كما نصَّ على شيخ الإسلام في شرح الروض في حد الزنا، والعلامة ابن حجر في “الزواجر” في الكبيرة الخامسة والخمسين بعد الثلاثمائة.

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