On the Seat of Justice.

Islam does not approve differences and confrontation. Imam Ali, peace be on him, in this connection says: “Refrain from differences and disputes between these things poison the minds of the brother in faith against one another and sow the seed of discord in them”.

(Ref: Usulul kafi, p. 451).

It cannot, however, be denied that due to clash of interests, people are sometimes, compelled to have to resort to trail and judgement, Islam orders that in that event they should refer to persons who are competent to give decisions. And, in order to encourage competent persons to adjudicate, Imam Ali, peace be on him, says: “The best people are those who decide justly”.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. XXIV, p. 7).

Imam Ali, peace be on him, gave the following orders to Malik Ashtar to find out such persons: “Select the wisest person in the land for administration of justice among the people. He should be person for whom this task is not hard and the litigating parities should not be able to prevail upon his views. He should not persist in his mistake and should not be incapable of returning to truth when he recognizes it. He should not be covetous. He should not consider a matter superficially in arriving at a decision and should give very deep thought to it in case of doubt. Above all he should depend on reason and should not be annoyed by the lengthy explanations proposed by the litigating parties. He should be more patient than anyone else in bringing truth to light and when the real position becomes crystal clear his judgement should be explicit and decisive. He should be a person who is not elated be the praises of the peoples and who is not influenced by the words of deceitful persons. And such persons are very rare:

(Ref: Nahjul Balagha, p. 1000)

Islam has forbidden women from acting as judges and Imam Baqir, peace be on him, says in this regard: “A women should not adjudicate and should not be a ruler”.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, Vol. XXIV, p. 9)

Islam has strongly repressed unjust adjudication and severely reprimanded oppressive judges so much so that the Holy Qur’an has declared them to be transgressors,

(Ref: Surah al-Ma’ida, 5:47)

and at another as tyrants

(Ref: Surah al-Ma’ida, 5:45)

and still another as unbelievers.

(Ref: Surah al-Ma’ida, 5:44).

Futhermore, Imam Ja’far Sadiq, peace be on him, says: “Whoever gives a wrong decision which is opposed to Divine orders, even with regard to two dirhams, is an unbeliever.”

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. XXIV, p. 6).

Besides all this Islam considers such state of affairs as a root cause of the cessation of Divine blessings. Imam Ja’far Sadiq, peace be on him, says: “When the rulers become oppressive in their decision the sky withhold rains”.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. XXIV, p. 6).

And in order to present the status of a judge in its true perspective the Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, says: “The tongue of a judge is between two flames of fir, and when he arrives at a decision regarding a case his destiny is decided. If he takes a just decision he goes towards paradise and if he does not so, he is drawn hell”.

(Ref: Wasa’ilush Shi’ah, vol. III, p. 396).

Islam has prescribed some code of conduct for a judge, which fully indicates the great efforts made by this Divine religion for the establishment of justice.

Imam Ali, peace be on him, says to Muhammad son of Abi Bakr, who was appointed by him as the Governor of Egypt: “spread your plumage for the people of Egypt and keep your flanks level for them and remain cheerful; in their presence. Observe equality even in the matter of looking at them so that the strong may not expect injustice on your part for the protection of their interests and the weak may not lose hope of receiving justice from you”.

(Ref: Nahjul Balagha, p. 877).

And the Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, orders: “Whoever wishes to arbitrate between the people should observe equality between them in all respect so that he may not differentiate between them in the matter of casting a glance or making a sign or allotting a place. He should also not raise his voice against anyone of them unless he does so with the other also”.

(Ref: Jawahirul kalam, Kitabul Qaza.’).

When Imam Ali, peace be on him, deputed Abdul Duwayli to act as his agent in a case but suspended him before the end of the proceedings of the case. He asked the reason at which the Holy Imam replied: “Because I found that your voice was louder than the voice of your colleagues”.

(Ref: Mustadrakul Wasa’il, vol. III, P. 197).

Islam has forbidden the judges to help anyone of the litigating parties in any manner whatsoever. Hence, the Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, has forbidden a judge to prompt a witness.

(Ref: Mustadrakul Wasa’il, vol. III, p. 195).

To ensure that a judge is always accessible to the people Islam has prohibited him for keeping a mediator. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny says: “If a person enjoys authority over the people in some manner and appoints a mediator for himself Allah will not be kind to him on the Day of Judgement although on that he will helpless and needy”. (Ref: Jawahirul Kalam, Kitabul Qaza’). And Imam Ali, peace be on him, also directed Shurayh to hold court in Masjid (and any other place where people had access to him and the proceedings assumed the shape of an open court) and desisted from adjudicating at his house.

(Ref: Mustadrakul Wasa’il, vol. III, p. 197).

It is evident that when a person is hungry or angry or is feeling sleepy it is very difficult for him to give a correct decision. Hence the Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, has prohibited a judge from deciding a case while he is angry or hungry or is feeling sleepy.

(Ref: Mustadrakul Wasa’il, vol. III, p. 195).

It is interesting to note that, with a view to ensure that the judges and persons who rule over the people do not make any distinction between them, Islam has prohibited them from making transaction in purchase, sale and trade except with those persons who do not know them because it is possible that by means of such transactions mutual acquaintance or friendship may influence them and which may hinder the administration of justice. Hence Imam Ali, peace be on him, says: “If a governor engages himself in trade he cannot administer justice”.

(Ref: Jawaharul Kalam. Kitabul Qaza.’).

It has also been related that once Imam Ali, peace be on him, went to the bazaar to purchase a shirt. There he met two sellers but as they knew him he refrained from purchasing the shirt from them. Eventually he came across a third person who did not know him and bought the required shirt from him for three dirhams.

(Ref: Jawaharul Kalam. Kitabul Qaza.’).

Islam has also prohibited a judge from making one of the litigating parties his guest. It so happened that once a person was the guest of Imam Ali and later came before him along with his adversary regarding a case. When Imam Ali, peace be on him. Realized that the man had been his guest for this purpose he was very much annoyed and said to him: “Don’t stay with me for the Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, has forbidden the judge to accord hospitability to one of the two litigating parities”.

(Ref: Wasa’ilush Shi’ah, vol. III, p. 398).

It must be mentioned here that Islam made strenuous efforts to uproot the giving and taking of bribes in a Muslim society so much so that in many traditions a man who accepts a bribe has called and unbeliever.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. III, p. 9).

The Holy Prophet, peace be on him and his progeny, says: “May Allah curse the one who gives a bribe and the one who takes it and still the other one who acts as a mediator between the two”.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. III, p. 6)

He has also said: “Refrain from taking bribe because it is a blasphemous act and one who takes bribe is deprived of paradise.” And with this object in view Imam Ali, peace be on him, instructs Malik Ashtar: “Give him (the judge) ample means and make his life so comfortable that there should be no excuse left for him and he should not need anything from the people”.

(Ref: Biharul Anwar, vol. III, p. 9)


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