Legal basis of Confessions in Islamic Law

Confession is a specific form of testimony, involving oneself and it is used as a form of proof in judicial matters. This aspect concerning moral guilt has been carried on in various legislative codes in which a criminal is considered worse if he does not confess to his crimes. Al- iqrar is the Arabic word for confession. It literally refers to an admission or confession.

However under Islamic law, admission or confession is one of the ways in which cases are proof. A confession as a statement oral or written made by a person accused of an offence, stating that he has committed that offence. Confession has been recognized as a source of conclusive proof of a right and a crime by the Holy Quran and the sunnah of the prophet (PHUH) and he implemented Hadd (offences with prescribed punishment) merely on the confession of the accused.

However, a confession must be clear and devoid of ambiguity. It must be subject to one and same interpretations at all times and were an admission (its wording and context) is clear; it is binding on the court to act upon it. On the other hand, confession could be described as admitting liability in the issue or issues before a court of law. It could be oral or written. It is a trite law that a confession of crime by a sane, adult, which is made freely without any element of compulsion, binds the maker.

In Islamic law, there must be legal basis for every principle of law. This legal basis could be found in the primary source of law which is generally known as the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.W) and also in the secondary sources which comprises of so many others like Ijma, Qiyas, Istishan, Customs among others.  Thus, there are numerous verses on the subject, but suffice it to mention the following, Quran Chapter 2 verse 282:

“Let him who incurs the liability dictate (to admit) but let him fear his Lord and not diminish aught what he owes”.

In this verse, there is an order from Allah that if one incurs liability the person must admit it fully. Allah also says in Quran 2:28: 

“Nor it is lawful for them to hide what Allah had created in their wombs if they have faith in Allah and the last day‟

This is also an order that a woman must admit her pregnancy if at all she is pregnant. Allah also says that:

“O you who believe! Be staunch in justice witness for God even though it is against yourself‟.

This signifies that in upholding justice as between human, admission must be made.

The Sunnah is another legal basis for confession in Islam. The prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: “Speak the truth even though is against yourself”.

The prophet executed “Maiz‟, the Ghamedia and Guhaina women on the basis of their admission or confession of committing zina (adultery). It has also been related on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah who said that a man from the tribe of Banu Aslam came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and confessed to have committed zina and gave testimony against himself four times. The Holy prophet then ordered him to be stoned to death.

Finally, another legal basis of confession in Islam is from the Sahabahs. All companions of the prophet and their followers have followed the prophetic way and accepted admission as the highest and strongest means of proof in Islamic of evidence.


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