There are various approaches and strategies that may be adopted to uncover the truth without resorting to torture, despite the complexity of the cases involved. Arriving at the truth through permissible and scientific means is possible although it takes time and expertise for this to be achieved.
A body was discovered in the city of Isfahan, during the governorship of Hujjatul-Islam Muhammad Baqir al-Shefti. He explored various avenues to identify the murderer but to no avail. He eventually called upon the services of an experienced psychoanalyst, who examined the corpse thoroughly.
He then ordered all the butchers (of the city) to a gathering in the presence of the governor, and in that gathering he asked them to line up such that their backs are to the governor. In the end, he told the butchers, “You can go now.” As they began to walk away, he said, “You! The murderer, where are you going?” at this moment suddenly one of them unconsciously turned back. The expert ordered him to be detained, and when after questioning, it became apparent that he was the murderer.
Afterwards when the psychoanalyst was asked how he arrived at his conclusion, he said that when he examined the corpse, he noticed traces on the clothing of the deceased, which were indicative of the murderer wiping clean the murder knife, and this is the practice of the butchers when they slaughter a sheep, they wipe clean their knife on the wool of the animal.
The murderer is aware of his crime but he suppresses his conscience to keep it hidden, however occasionally the crime is revealed through a slip of an action if he is caught unawares. Imam Ali (A) is reported as saying; Muhammad Taqi Kadhem al-Tustari, 1321-1410 H, and also the book “Astonishing Judgements” by Ibn Abil-Hadid al-Mo’tazili.
“An individual does not intend something unless it shows in the expressions of his face, or in the slips of his tongue.” 17
The rule of repetition and doubt
It is also reported from the reign of governor al-Shefti, that a woman complained to him that “one of the well-known and influential individuals has managed to usurp (my) orchard that is adjacent to his orchard, and as he has the influence and the money, he has made many people to act as witness that the orchard is his, and all of this was done in my absence.
Now that I have found out about this, I do not seem to have evidence to counter his, to prove that the orchard is mine. Do you think you could do something for me?”
After he satisfied himself of her honesty, governor al-Shefti decided to pursue the matter further. He first approached the individual concerned and said to him that this woman claims the orchard is hers, what do you have to say in this matter? The man refuted the allegation and presented the papers to prove the property belonged to him, along with the signatures of numerous witnesses testifying to that effect. The governor noted the evidence and discharged him.
After a while the governor asked that man “For how much did you buy the orchard?” and the man replied, “I did not buy the property.” . . . Some time later the governor asked the man “Who gave you this orchard?” and the man replied, “Nobody gave me it.”
On yet another occasion the governor asked the man “Did you inherit it from your father or from someone else?” and the man replied negative. In this way and on different occasions the governor continued to ask the man questions about how came to possess the property, and on each occasion the man answered negatively without realising the consequences of his replies.
The set of questions the governor had asked and the set of answers the man had given proved that he was not the rightful owner of the property. The governor then turned to the man said “You denied all possible ways of owning the orchard, so how did you come acquire this orchard?
” The man tried to justify his actions but failed to present a viable case for his claim, and given the replies he had previously given, it became apparent that the documents and the witnesses were all false. The rights of prisoners according to Islamic teachings then ordered the documents to be destroyed, and decreed that the orchard belongs to the woman unless someone else could prove otherwise.
Twist and Turn
On the method of investigations by one of the judges, it is reported that a man came to the judge and said to him, “a friend and I owned some money that we buried in the vicinity of tree outside the town for safe keeping.
After a while I needed the money and my friend and I went to the location to excavate the money, but there was no trace of any money in the place that we had buried it. I strongly believe that my friend had taken the money, since no one else knows about the money we had buried there.”
The judge asked the man if he had any witness or proof for his claim. The man replied “No. Except that no one else knows about this.” The judge summoned the friend and asked him about the money and the tree, he denied all knowledge about them.
The judge then asked the friend to remain there for a while to which he obliged. The judge then asked the claimant to go to the tree near which the money was buried and check again. The man said, “What is the use of this action?”
The judge said, “Perhaps the man who had taken the money changed his mind and brought the money back or you might find him there, and take the money from him.” The man was not satisfied with the idea, but did what the judge had asked him to do. A while after the claimant had left the judge said to the friend, “It seems that your friend is taking too long.
” The friend said, “no he is not.” The judge asked “Why not?” the friend said, “Since the tree is too far out from town.” The judge then turned to the friend and said, “You have now admitted you know where the tree is . . . you must now bring forth the money which you had taken dishonestly.” The man had no choice but to give the money to the judge as he inadvertently admitted the whereabouts of the tree.
When the claimant returned, the judge told him, “The only reason I asked you to go to the location of the tree was to give me an opportunity to question him again and extract the admission from him, and my idea worked as I planned, and here is your money.”