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General Principles of Criminal Evidence in Islamic Jurisprudence (From Islamic Criminal Justice System, P 109-123, 1982, M Cherif Bassiouni, ed. - See NCJ-87479)

NCJ Number
M M Salama
Date Published
15 pages
Under Islamic law, evidence must be persuasive enough to overcome the presumption of innocence, and the primary modes for receiving evidence are through witness testimony and the defendant's confession.
The presumption of the accused's innocence is fundamental in Islamic law. To support a conviction, evidence must explicitly prove the occurrence of the offense without any need for complex and questionable explanations or interpretations. Conclusiveness of evidence reqires that the time and place of the crime be specified and that each item of evidence be consistent with other evidence presented. The prompt presentation of evidence is also a matter at issue in Islamic law. Some jurists hold that any delay in the presentation of a confession or testimony creates sufficient doubt so as to invalidate it as evidence in serious crimes. Others, however, maintain that delay in the presentation of evidence does not necessarily preclude its reliability. How delayed evidence is handled is under the judge's discretion. The primary modes of criminal evidence are witness testimony and defendant confessions. Evidence outside of these two types takes the form of evidentiary presumptions. The number of witnesses required to prove particular crimes is specified. For testimony to be received, the witness must be an adult, be mentally sound, have sufficient memory capability to record and retain observations, have the use of sight and hearing, be able to speak, have good character, and be a Muslim. For a confession to be accepted as evidence, it must be voluntary, unequivocal, occur during a legal hearing, be repeated the same number of times as the number of witnesses required, and be corroborated by other evidence. Seventeen bibliographic listings are provided.