The Greatness of Justice
Allaah 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 visit one of Islam’s greatest and brightest symbols of justice, Shurayh Al-Qaadhi (the judge), who narrates: The Caliph `Umar ibn Al-Khattaab 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 told the man to choose a judge and the man suggested Shurayh bin Al-Haarith Al-Kindi whom `Umar accepted.After the judge listened to the bedouin’s testimony, he turned to `Umar asking: “Was the horse normal and healthy when you bought it?” `Umar replied: “Yes, it was.” Shurayh then said: “Then keep what you bought or return it as you took.” ‘Umar 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 Allaah! Make Islam victorious by one of the two `Umars (becoming Muslim).” `Umar 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 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 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 bin Abi Talib 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 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 replied: “No, it is mine since I never sold or gave it to any one.”The man agreed to let a judge decide, which ‘Ali accepted. They went to Shurayh who asked ‘Ali for his side of the story. ‘Ali 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 of lying, but the shield was his, as it was in his hands.Shurayh turned to ‘Ali saying: “I believe you, but we need the statement of two witnesses to back your story.” ‘Ali said that there was his aide Qanbar and his son Al-Hassan to which the man replied that a son could not testify for the benefit of his father. Ali said: “O God, a man who is promised paradise cannot act as a witness! Have you not heard what the Prophet said that Al-Hassan and Al-Hussayn 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 then told him to keep the shield and gave him a horse, besides. Soon after, the man was seen under Ali’s leadership fighting Al-Kharajites (dissenters). Are these two examples not sufficient for us to follow those great men?