Ali's (a.s.) submission to law
- :Yousuf N. Lalljee
The fame of Ali's impartiality as Chief justice spread far and wide. Had circumstances allowed him to reign peacefully the world would have witnessed a unique combination of divine and secular justice. In the cases which were brought to his court, Ali made no distinction between friend and foe, between his own relatives and persons unknown to him.
An interesting story is told of a case in which Ali was himself the plaintiff. It concerned a coat of mail, lost by Ali at Siffin and picked up by a Christian who then wore it himself. Ali recognising his armour on the Christian, took the miscreant to the Qazi of the city, demanding that the culprit should be dealt with according to the law. When the Qazi asked the Christian if it belonged to him, he pleaded "not guilty" saying, "My possession of it is a clear proof of my ownership."
The Qazi then asked Ali to substantiate his charge by producing a witness. Ali produced his son Hasan as a witness but the Qazi refused to accept his evidence saying that he was a close relative of the plaintiff. Ali did not do anything more than saying that it was surprising that the Qazi did not accept the evidence of one who was pronounced by the Prophet as the Head of the Youth of Paradise. The Qazi was now in a great fix for he was loath to accuse Ali of having brought a false charge against the Christian yet unable to convict the accused for lack of proof. Seeing the dilemma in which the Qazi found himself, Ali however said, "The judge ought not to be influenced by the dignity of any party; merit alone as the judge takes it to be, should be the criterion for deciding the issue." The Qazi then pronounced judgment as follows: "In the absence of any conclusive evidence, and this the Caliph has failed to produce, the suit is dismissed."
The Christian merrily walked out of the court, but after going only a few paces he turned back, and going up to Ali, said, "O Commander of the Faithful, verily the coat of mail is yours. got it -on the battlefield of Siffin. I only wanted to see how judical cases are decided in your courts. My Lord, pray stretch forth your hand for I intend to take the oath of allegiance and accept Islam at your hands." So saying he took the oath of fealty to Ali, and accepted Islam. Ali then presented to him that same coat of mail and also a horse, saying, "Blessed art thou indeed. Previously thou wert a soldier of a secular king but henceforth thou past accepted enlistment as a soldier of God." The new convert is said to have joined Ali's army, fighting in all the battles in which Ali was involved until on the battlefield of Nahrwan he was killed, thus obtaining a martyr's crown.
Ali was also very particular that his magistrates should also follow the principle of strictest impartiality, issuing very strict instructions that they should never take bribes and never pronounce judgments until they were fully satisfied with the merits of the case.
Adapted from: "Ali, the Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"
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