Witnesses play an important role in the administration of justice. The witnesses help the court in arriving at a decision. Therefore, a person who is called to depose before a court must exercise care and caution. A slight mistake on his part can ruin the career of the other or deprive a genuine person of his rights. The most revered Prophet (SAW) has laid down guidelines for the Muslims. Most of the people appear in a court to support or disprove a claim. The people, therefore, must go through the sayings of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in this regard to achieve ultimate salvation.
The Holy Prophet’s (SAW) friend and the first Caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) once said, “The Holy Prophet (SAW) said thrice. Should I inform you about the greatest of the great sins?” The pious companions (RA) said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger (SAW)” He said, (1) To join others in worship with Allah, (2) to be undutiful to one’s parents.” The Holy Prophet (SAW) then sat up after He had been reclining on a pillow and said, “(3) And I warn you against giving a lying speech (false statement).” And the Holy Prophet (SAW) kept on saying that warning till the Companions (RA) thought He would not stop. (Al Bukhari).
The wording and content of the hadith needs to be considered seriously. Firstly the most revered Prophet (SAW) described it as one of the “greatest of great” sins and secondly repeated the warning a number of times to make His companions realize the gravity of the sin.
In the contemporary times people give witness carelessly and recklessly. The most revered Prophet (SAW) was aware of the deterioration the Ummah would undergo at a particular stage. And, what yardstick did the Holy Prophet (SAW) use to describe it? He did not say taking wine or fornication would become a way of life. He said the witnesses will go ahead of their oaths and their oaths will go ahead of their witnesses.
According to Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA), the most revered Prophet (SAW) said, “ The people of my era are the best, then those who follow them and then those who follow the later. After that there will come some people whose witness will go ahead of their oaths and their oaths will go ahead of their witness.” (Al Bukhari).
The hadith merits and in-depth analysis. Whom did the Holy Prophet (SAW) make a mention of in this hadith? Of course the contemporary people.
As mentioned above the witnesses play an important role in the administration of justice, the witness must try to help the court in arriving at a just decision. He should not mislead the court by giving a false statement.
However, there is an exception. A person who makes peace between people and in the process invents a statement is not a lair. Narrated umm Kulthum bint Uqba (RA) that she heard the Holy Prophet (SAW) saying, “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a lair.” (Al Bukhari).