Of rule of law in Islam


Abdul Rasool Syed
RULE of Law is the bedrock of Islam. Islam attaches great importance to the principles of justice and equality and admonishes its adherents to strictly act upon the injunctions of Islam in this regard. The spirit of Islam is to establish a society based on the refined principle of Rule of Law. Allah, the sublime in this regard commands in Holy Quran: “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (ie justice and worshipping none but Allah alone — Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan [ie to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in a perfect manner],” (An-Nahl 16: 90). At another place, Allah says in the book of guidance: “And act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Al-Hujurat 49:9).
Moreover, Allah, the omnipotent commands justice in speech as well as in judgments. Allah says: “And whenever you give your word (i.e. judge between men or give evidence, etc.), say the truth even if a near relative is concerned,” (Al-Anam 6:152). In Surah Al-Nisa, Allah, Almighty further says” “And when you judge between people to judge with justice.” (An-Nisa 4:58). Holy Prophet (SAW) himself was an epitome of justice and fairness and staunchly believed in Rule of Law. In administration of justice, he made no distinction between high and low, rich and poor and Muslims and non-Muslims. From numerous instances reported in the traditions, a few are given below. Sakhr, a chief of a tribe, had helped the Holy Prophet (SAW) greatly in the siege of Taaif, for which he was naturally obliged to him. Soon after, two charges were brought against Sakhr: one by Mugheerah, May Allah be pleased with him, of illegal confinement of his (Mugheerah’s) aunt and the other by Banu Saalim of forcible occupation of his spring by Sakhr. In both cases, he decided against Sakhr and made him undo the wrong. [Abu Daawood]
Abdullaah Ibn Sahl, may Allah be pleased with him, was deputed to collect rent from Jews of Khaybar. His cousin Mahisah, may Allah be pleased with him, accompanied him but, on reaching Khaybar, they had separated. Abdullaah, May Allah be pleased with him, was waylaid and done to death. Mahisah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported this tragedy to the Prophet (SAW) but as there were no eye-witnesses to identify the guilty, he did not say anything to the Jews and paid the blood-money out of the state revenues. [Al-Bukhari] A woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraysh, some prominent people including Usaamah Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet (SAW) refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying: “Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad’s (My) daughter Fatimah (RA) would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed.” [Al-Bukhari] The Jews, in spite of their hostility to the Prophet (SAW) were so impressed by his impartiality and sense of justice that they used to bring their cases to him and he decided them according to Jewish law. [Abu Daawood]
Once, while he (SAW) was distributing the spoils of war, people flocked around him and one man almost fell upon him. He pushed the men with a stick causing a slight abrasion. He was so sorry about this that he told the man that he could have his revenge, but the man said: “O messenger of Allah, I forgive you.” (Abu Daawood) Moreover, in his fatal illness, the Prophet (SAW) proclaimed in a concourse assembled at his house that if he owed anything to anyone, the person concerned could claim it; if he had ever hurt anyone’s person, honor or property, he could have his price while he was yet in this world. A hush fell on the crowd. One man came forward to claim a few Dirhams which were paid at once. [Ibn Hishaam] Holy Prophet (SAW) also laid great stress on resorting to equality in dealing with the people. He asked people to shun notions of racial, familial or any other form of superiority based on mundane things and said that righteousness alone was the criterion of one’s superiority over another. He himself evinced equality in dealing with people on many occasions. Some of such instances are quoted in this piece.
Once the Prophet (SAW) visited Sa’d Ibn ‘Ubaadah, may Allah be pleased with you. While returning, Sa’d sent his son Qays with him. The Prophet (SAW) asked Qays to mount his camel with him. Qays hesitated out of respect but the Prophet (SAW) insisted: “Either mount the camel or go back.” Qays decided to go back. [Abu Daawood] At another occasion he (SAW) was traveling on his camel over hilly terrain with a companion, Uqbah Ibn ‘Aamir, May Allah be pleased with him. After going some distance, he asked ‘Uqbah, May Allah be pleased with him, to ride the camel, but Uqbah thought this would be showing disrespect to the Prophet. But the Prophet (SAW) insisted and he had to comply. The Prophet (SAW) himself walked on foot as he did not want to put too much load on the animal. [An-Nasaa’ee] To conclude, Rule of Law is part and parcel of our religion. Therefore, we, as a Muslim, must uphold these noble principles of Islam under all circumstances.
— The writer is a Legal practitioner-cum-columnist based in Quetta Balochistan.