Allah created man to be His servant and to implement His Way on earth. If humans distance themselves from this message, then they distance themselves from God’s injunctions. That is why Islam has prepared its followers to follow this righteous instinct; it is a joy to our spirit to stand and think of the greatness of Islamic justice, how fair Islamic law is to individuals and groups, rulers and the ruled!
Let us shed light on one of Islam’s greatest and brightest symbols of justice, Shurayh Al-Qaadhi (the judge), who narrates: The Caliph `Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, bought a horse from a Bedouin, paid its price and rode off with it. However, after traveling a little distance, the Caliph noticed some kind of defect in the horse, so he returned to the seller, requesting him to take it back since it was defective. The man refused, telling the Caliph that the horse was perfectly healthy when it was sold to him. `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, told the man to choose a judge and the man suggested Shurayh ibn Al-Haarith Al-Kindi whom `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, accepted.
After the judge listened to the Bedouin’s testimony, he turned to `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, asking: “Was the horse normal and healthy when you bought it?” `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: “Yes, it was.” Shurayh then said: “Then keep what you bought or return it as you took it.” ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, looked at Shurayh in admiration saying: “Thus justice should be — statement, distinguishing words and fair justice… I give you the position of Chief Justice of Koofah in ‘Iraq.”
This is Islamic justice, an ordinary Bedouin taking the Caliph to court, deciding which judge to go to and the Caliph accepting the judge’s decision voluntarily. However, this leader was not an ordinary man, but the one about whom the Prophet said: “O Allah! Make Islam victorious by one of the two `Umars (by them becoming Muslim).”
`Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, did not threaten the Bedouin or misuse his power, neither did he tell the Bedouin that he had exceeded his authority nor that he would get back to him. No, `Umar accepted the judge’s decision with all modesty.
`Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, admitted that the horse was healthy when he took it and he accepted the judgment, making the case an everlasting example of Islamic justice. The judge’s fairness made ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, appoint him as a judge of Koofah. He rewarded the judge for his justice and fairness and did not jail him for ruling against him, as some leaders may have done in present so-called ‘democracies’.
Another example of Shurayh’s justice
‘Ali ibn Abu Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, lost a shield that was dear to him and later found it in the hands of a non-Muslim citizen who was selling it in one of Koofah’s markets. When he saw it, ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “This is my shield that fell off my camel on so and so night at such and such time.” The man answered: “No, this is my shield in my hand.” ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: “No, it is mine since I never sold it or gave it to anyone.”
The man agreed to let a judge decide, which ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, accepted. They went to Shurayh who asked ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, for his side of the story. ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the shield was his and that he had found it with that man; it had fallen off his camel and he had never sold it or given it to anyone. The judge turned to the other man asking his story. The man said that he did not accuse ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, of lying, but the shield was his, as it was in his hands.
Shurayh turned to ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, saying: “I believe you, but we need the testimony of two witnesses to back your story.” ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said that there was his aide Qanbar and his son Al-Hassan, may Allah be pleased with him, to which the man replied that a son could not testify for the benefit of his father. Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “O Allah, a man who is promised paradise cannot act as a witness! Have you not heard what the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with him, said that Al-Hassan and Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with them, were the masters of the youths of paradise? Shurayh said: “Yes, I have, but a son cannot bear witness for his father.”
Then ‘Ali turned to the man and said: “Take the shield, as I have no other witnesses.”
The man, who was a non-Muslim, then said: “O ‘Ali, the shield is yours. What a great religion! I can sue ‘Ali and get a judge to pass a decision for my benefit! I declare myself a Muslim.” He told the judge that he was following the army and had seen the shield fall down and picked it up. ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, then told him to keep the shield, and on top of that, he also gave him a horse. Soon after, the man was seen under Ali’s leadership fighting the Khawaarij [Kharijites –are one of the deviant sects, who follow their whims and desires and innovation, and deviated from the path of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah].
Are these two examples not sufficient for us to follow those great men?