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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Archie #46

Thou shall judge... PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Salahaddin   
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 18:21

God doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For God is He Who heareth and seeth all things” - (An-Nisa 4:58)

We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what God hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers - (Al-Maidah 5:45)

“And this (He commands): Judge thou between them by what God hath , and follow not their vain desires,” - (Al-Maidah 5:49)

The position of a judge is a noble position in Islam but with it comes tremendous responsibilitiesand obligations. The power and authority that comes with the territory is not one to be boasted or to be proud about but one task that must be taken seriously.

To me, being a judge in Islam is not like any other job. It is not even a career but an entrusted task that must be performed in line with Syariah principles and manner.

For those who are able to do it properly, Allah decrees a reward even though one has erred.

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If the judge rules and strives his utmost to work it out and gets it right, he will have two rewards, and if he rules and strives his utmost to work it out and gets it wrong, he will have one reward.”

Those who take these responsibilities lightly shall receive punishment from God.

There are three types of judges:

“Narrated Buraydah ibn al-Hasib: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Judges are of three types, one of whom will go to Paradise and two to Hell. The one who will go to Paradise is a man who knows what is right and gives judgment accordingly; but a man who knows what is right and acts tyrannically in his judgment will go to Hell; and a man who gives judgment for people when he is ignorant will go to Hell. “

A judge must treat parties appearing before him with dignity, restraint and politeness. A judge should never be rude to any person or persons appearing before him but should instead show compassion and courtesy. I believe Islam is a gentle religion hence our beloved Prophet (s) was one of the gentlest man alived.

As an upholder and champion of the Hadith, a judge should also follow the demeanor of our beloved Prophet (s). Prophet Muhammad (s) showed kindness, compassion, fairness, courtesy and gentleness in settling dispute between parties.

Unfortunately, some judges forget to emulate our Prophet’s(s) gentle attitude. Some have known to be extremely rude and arrogant to both parties and their legal representative whilst sitting on the bench in open court. Some even go to the extent of belittling the legal counsel in front of their client and passing remarks which are derogatory and degrading. Such behavior is totally uncalled for. For the legal counsel, they are put in an unfair position as they are not able to defend themselves or to answer back for fear of being cited for contempt of court. When a judge put any parties in an unfair position, then the judge is an unfair judge.

As human, people tend to make mistakes. If the judge feels that the mistake is to be corrected immediately, then I feel that it should be done discreetly in the private chamber. If it must be done in open court, then it must still be done politely and without intention to shame the wrongdoer.. Under no circumstances should rudeness be invoked. Humiliating a person in public is not an Islamic trait.

A judge should also never hear matters in anger. Anger is tool of satan which can cloud the fair judgment of a sane person.

“AbuWa'il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa'di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution” - Hadith Sunan of Abu Dawood, Narrated Atiyyah as-Sa'di, r.a.

I might be wrong but as far as I know, if a person, regardless of position, have offended another person, then he must seek for forgiveness.

Narrated AbuSirmah: “The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone harms (others), Allah will harm him, and if anyone shows hostility to others, Allah will show hostility to him”.

“And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin” - (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:58)

If the judge had offended the parties or even their legal counsel unfairly or unjustly, and if the people whom he has offended have not forgiven him; in the Hereafter, they will plead their case before the Al Mighty and the position will be turned. He may be a judge with power and authority on earth but he cannot escape liability and the consequences for his actions in the Hereafter.

Some scholar or olden time have shied away and resist the appointment as judges because they fear that they may not be able to fulfill their responsibilities. If a person seeks the appointment of power, then the person must be fully qualified to fulfill the obligation, not just in terms of knowledge but also in terms of attitude and behavior.

“Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone seeks the office of judge among Muslims till he gets it and his justice prevails over his tyranny, he will go to Paradise; but the man whose tyranny prevails over his justice will go to Hell. “

It is a sad state in our Syariah courts now. In my years of experience, I have come across several civil court judges who depict the true character of a just judge. They deal with parties fairly and with great respect and courtesy and they deliver their decision fairly. I wish I could say the same about our Syariah Courts. May be it was just my luck that I have not had similar experience in the Syariah Courts. The one that I have encountered were either too stern and arrogant or some were just plain rude. As a Muslim, I dislike hearing negative comments about Islam and our Syariah system but when face with these types of situation, I find myself not being able to defend the courts.

I feel the time had come for us evaluate and assess ourselves and our follies before we become the talk of the circus, after all, action speaks louder than words…
*Note: the writer wants to be known as 'Salahaddin'
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