BE JUST: EXHORTATION FROM SURATU-N-NISA' [Q4:135] - Assudaisiy.com

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BE JUST: EXHORTATION FROM SURATU-N-NISA' [Q4:135]



By

Bar. Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem (Abu Muhsin)


DELIVERED AT THE RECEPTION ORGANISED BY NAMLAS LASU ALUMNI IN HONOUR OF FIVE NEWLY APPOINTED JUDGES OF THE LAGOS HIGH COURT ON THE 30TH OF JUNE 2024

Allāh says in Suratu-n-Nisa' [Q4:135]

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓاْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

The reasons for the revelation of this verse was provided in Asbaabu Nuzuul of Ali bn Ahmad Wāhidi

On the authority of Suddiy, "This verse was revealed about the Prophet, (ﷺ). A poor man and a rich man went to him to settle a dispute. He was inclined to judge in favour of the poor man because he thought that a poor man cannot wrong a rich person. But Allah, exalted is He, wanted to establish justice regarding the poor and rich alike" hence the revelation of the verse to set the record straight.

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ

Allah addresses the believers in this verse because only the true believer can accomplish the task required in the verse. It will be very difficult for the Disbelievers and the Hypocrites to accomplish.

Oh Believers!!! If you believe in the last day and that you will be called to account for your deeds-Good or Bad. 

كُونُواْ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ

Uphold Justice firmly (Do Justice) (Be Just) among the people generally (irrespective of social class, tribe, religion etc)

Some persons are naturally soft towards the poor and weak, this could be a function of their history and experience. They feel they are always oppressed and if a part of the wealth of the rich is given to the poor, the rich won't feel it. Some others may be tilted towards the rich because he belongs to that class or because of a favour he seeks or a possible favour he may seek.

شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ 

Be witnesses for Allah. What does this mean? It means what should matter to you in the determination of the rights of Allah and His slaves is the Commandments of Allah in the Quran and the Sunnah.

This verse addresses the Judges, Lawyers, Litigants, Witnesses, Media and indeed everyone. 

وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ

Be just and truthful even if the outcome is against you, your parents or close relatives. 

Allah started with the individual because it is natural for us to love ourselves than others. So if we can act against our personal interests in deciding cases or giving testimonies, then it will be easier to do for others.

A companion of the Prophet (ﷺ) Abdullah Bn Rawahah رضي الله عنه was once saddled with tax collection from farm produce from the Jews of Khaibar, they offered to bribe him so he will be easy on them. He told them, "By Allāh!!! I have come to you from the dearest of creation to me (Prophet Muhammadﷺ) and you are more hated by me than an equivalent number of apes and swines to me. However, my love for him (Prophet Muhammadﷺ) and my hatred for you shall not prevent me from being just with you."

Allāh says:

وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى

And let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just and that is nearer to piety- Suratul Maidah [Q5:8]

إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا

Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests (Allah is a better protector of both).

It means, do not favour someone (in your Judgment or Testimony) because he is rich or feel pity for him because he is poor, for Allāh is their caretaker, a better protector of them than you, and has knowledge of what is good for them.

فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ

So do not follow your desires which causes you to deviate (from doing justice).

WHY DO JUDGES BECOME PEOPLE OF DESIRES AND BECOME CORRUPT AND UNJUST?

The points below are my personal observations of the reasons why judges become people of desires who act unjustly and corruptly.

1) Excessive love for acquisition of wealth: Judges must learn to be contented and avoid the temptation to want to compete with others in the acquisition of material possessions.

2) Living above means: Judges have fixed salaries they should learn to live within what they earn earmarking an amount to take care of their personal and family need as well an amount for those who may need assistant.  

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

وَاللَّهُ فِي عَوْنِ الْعَبْدِ مَا كَانَ الْعَبْدُ فِي عَوْنِ أَخِيهِ

Allah will help His slave so long as His slave helps his brother. 

Many judges have been found wanting in the past because they lived above their means and needed to meet up through corrupt means. They should balance between being extravagant and being stingy.

3) Socializing and intermingling with lawyers and litigants: When judges decide not to restrict their social interactions they will be indebted to many people and they will open themselves to more temptations.

4) Laziness: A lazy judge's knowledge of the law and the fact of the case before him is bound to be limited. His decision will be guess work most times and justice will be delayed most times if not outrightly denied. 

5) Paying back benefactors: Many Judges get to the position through lobbying. A lot of them feel indebted to their benefactors and the benefactors also want favours in return. As a Judge, please resist the temptation to pay back the favours done to you with the Justice of the case before you.

6)Anger: We all have emotions and many times our emotions make us irrational. Judges are not left out of this. Judges must refuse the temptation to allow their emotion becloud their reasoning and affect their decisions. They should normalize the habit of rising or taking a break when the feel their anger is getting the most of them.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said on the authority of Abu Bakrah رضي الله عنه : 

 لا يَقْضِيَنَّ حَكَمٌ بيْنَ اثْنَيْنِ وهو غَضْبَانُ

A Judge should not adjudicate between two people when he is angry (Bukhari)

7) Lack of patience: Patience makes a judge see the hidden truth beyond the eloquence or calmness of parties.

8) Pride: The position of a Judge is a lofty one and a Judge may be tempted to see those before as lesser beings, he must refuse the temptation to act arrogantly with pride. "Judges must refrain from wearing their pride on their sleeves. They must show self-restraint even when uncomfortable with the language deployed by counsel before them." Ita G Mbaba (JCA)

9) Lack of mentorship: We need guidance in all spheres of our lives and Judging is not an exception. With mentorship you make less mistakes and increase your chance of rising faster.

When Ali Bn Abi Talib was sent to Yemen to be a Judge he approached the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying: 

 يا رسول اللهِ ! ترسلني وأنا حديث السن ، ولا علم لي بالقضاء ؟ فقال : إن الله سيهدي قلبك ، ويثبت لسانك ، فإذا جلس بين يديك الخصمان فلا تقضين ، حتى تسمع من الآخر ، كما سمعت من الأول ؛ فإنه أحرى أن يتبين لك القضاء قال : فما زلت قاضيا ، أو ما شككت في قضاء بعد

On the Authority of Ali Bn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه 

"The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sent me to the Yemen as judge, and I asked: Messenger of Allah, are you sending me when I am young and have no knowledge of the duties of a judge? He replied: Allah will guide your heart and keep your tongue true. When two litigants sit in front of you, do not decide till you hear what the other has to say as you heard what the first had to say; for it is best that you should have a clear idea of the best decision. He said: I had been a judge (for long); or he said (the narrator is doubtful): I have no doubts about a decision afterwards. (Abu Dawud 2582: Hasan)

10) Spiritual neglect: Humans are naturally forgetful and our minds are weak. The workload and quiet life expected of  Judges should not make them neglect listening to beneficial lectures, reading and pondering on verses of the Quran, seeking knowledge of the religion. Judges need spiritual protection too in view of the delicate position they occupy, they should pay attention to observing their obligatory Solat on time, fasting the voluntary fast, observing their tahajjud, saying the morning and evening Adhkar recommended by the Prophet ﷺ

وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓاْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

And if you distort (your testimony) or refuse to (give it) then know that Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.

This point addresses lawyers who connive with their clients to subvert justice. Lawyers have this unwritten believe that they can do anything in so far as it is covered with the 'cloak of Legal Profession'. Many times lawyers focus on the judges and forget themselves

In an hadith of the Prophet narrated by Ummu Salamah: The Prophet said: 

 إنَّما أنا بَشَرٌ وإنَّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ إلَيَّ، ولَعَلَّ بَعْضَكُمْ أنْ يَكونَ ألْحَنَ بحُجَّتِهِ مِن بَعْضٍ، فأقْضِي علَى نَحْوِ ما أسْمَعُ، فمَن قَضَيْتُ له مِن حَقِّ أخِيهِ شيئًا، فلا يَأْخُذْهُ فإنَّما أقْطَعُ له قِطْعَةً مِنَ النَّارِ.

"Verily, I am only a human and the disputing parties bring to me (their disputes); perhaps some of them are more eloquent than others. I judge according to what I hear from them). So, he whom I, by my judgment, (give the undue share) out of the right of a another party, he shouldn't take it, for in fact I have  given him a portion of (Hell) Fire".

Lawyers when you use your eloquence and advocacy skills to sway the judge to your side when you know that your client isn't deserving of it, you are taking a piece of the hell-fire.

MAY ALLAH PROTECT US FROM THE PUNISHMENT OF THE HELL FIRE AND MAY HE NOT PUT OUR PROVISIONS IN HARAM SOURCES

In conclusion, the Prophet in a hadith narrated by Buraydah bn AlHusaynرضي الله عنه said:

القضاة ثلاثةٌ قاضيانِ في النارِ وقاضٍ في الجنةِ فأما الذي في الجنةِ فرجلٌ عرفَ الحقّ فقضَى بهِ فهو فِي الجنةِ ورجلٌ عرفَ الحقَ فلم يقضِ به وجارَ في الحُكمِ فهو في النارِ ورجل لم يَعرِفِ الحق فقضَى للناسِ على جهلٍ فهو للنارِ

Messenger (ﷺ) said:

"al-Qudat (judges) are of three types, two of whom will go to Hell and one to Paradise. The one who will go to Paradise is a man who knows what is right and gives judgment accordingly. However, a man who knows what is right, and does not give judgment accordingly and acts unjustly in his judgment, will be in the Hell-fire. Likewise, a man who does not know what is right and judges people with ignorance, will be in the Hell-fire." 

[Reported by al-Arba'a, and al-Hakim graded it Sahih (authentic)].

Ali bn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه said in a poem:

لا تظلمن إذا ما كنت مقتدرا

فالظلم ترجع عقباه إلى الندمِ 

تنام عيناك والمظلوم منتبهٌ#

يدعو عليك وعين الله لم تنمِ

“Do not oppress, if you are granted its means# For oppression comes back to its doer as horrible regret.

Your eyes may sleep, but the oppressed are vigilant# They pray against you, and God’s eyes never sleeps.”

- Abu Muhsin

08077470336

aadetolakazeem@gmail.com

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