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The Rules of Conduct for the Litigants in the Qur'an

It has been demonstrated that the criterion for judiciary is nothing other than Divine revelation, and that the sole authority in settling disputes is someone learned in the revelation, who believes in it and possesses the attributes that have made him fit for adjudication. It is essential that he should be referred to in a dispute, and turning away from him to refer to someone else is turning from truth to falsehood. It is 'far error' as God, the Exalted, has said:

"Hast thou not regarded those who assert that they believe in what has been sent down to thee and what was sent down before thee, desiring to take their disputes to tyrants (taghut), yet they had been commanded to disbelieve in them? But Satan desires to lead them astray into far error" (4:60).

It is not for a believer to seek the judgement of one in whom he has been commanded to disbelieve. It is also not for an oppressor (taghut) to appoint himself to judgement. Man will not attain the degree of faith until he makes the Messenger of Allah the judge, choosing him as the arbiter, as Allah, the Exalted, had chosen him, referring to him in his disputes with others, and then not finding any objection or reservation in himself against what the Messenger has ruled, whether it is for or against him, since a believer is one who submits his affair to Allah, the Exalted:

"But no, by thy Lord! they will not believe till they make thee the judge regarding the disagreement between them and then find in themselves no impediment touching thy verdict, but surrender in full submission." (4:65)

The noble verse clearly explains the duty of the litigants in a disagreement or dispute, and urges taking recourse to the Messenger and no other person. It also urges complete submission to his judgement when an appeal is made to him--may blessings of Allah on him and his family-for faith is the tranquillity and peace of the soul, and is not achieved except through the submission of both the heart and the action of bodily members.

The Noble Qur'an has described as wrongdoing (zulm) the act of one who does not seek the judgement of God and His Messenger except if he is in the right. Similarly it has described as 'success' the act of one who complies and is obedient when called to Allah and his Messenger so that judgement may be made between him and his adversary. The Almighty says:

"When they are called to God and His Messenger that he may judge between them, lo, a party of them swerve aside; but if they are in the right, they will come to him submissively. What, is there sickness in their hearts, or are they in doubt, or do they fear that God may be unjust towards them and His Messenger? Nay, but those-they are the wrongdoers." (24:48-50)

This indicates that turning away from the judgement of the Messenger only arises from wrongdoing. God, the Exalted, also says:

"All that the believers say, when they are called to God and His Messenger, that he may judge between them, is that they say, 'We hear, and we obey'; those-they are the successful." (24:51)

This indicates that success requires submission to Allah and His Messenger. It means that the believer pledges allegiance to Allah and His Messenger, and the requirement of allegiance is that he 'sell' himself and all the wealth and family he possesses to Allah and His Messenger. In this way, he neither owns his ownself nor anything attached to him, since he has sold it all to Allah and His Messenger, and it is not for him to act independently concerning himself or what appertains to him, except with the approval of Allah and His Messenger. Therefore Allah, the Exalted, has said:

"It is not for any believer, man or woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have the choice in the affair. Whooever disobeys God and His Messenger has gone astray into manifest error." (33:36)

Just as the believer does not have a choice in seeking the judgement of Allah and His Messenger, since it is incumbent on him, similarly, he does not have a choice in his affair after their judgement has been passed against him. Not submitting to their judgement is disobedience and straying from the right path. In addition, the Messenger was sent with the Book to judge between the people with the truth, and this judgement was made obligatory on him, may benediction of God be on him and his family. Thus, referring to him and accepting his judgement became incumbent.

If it were not so, then, on the one hand, judging between the people with the truth would not have been made obligatory on the Messenger, and on the other hand, it would not have been incumbent on the people to seek the judgement of the Messenger and abstain from determining it among themselves.


Firstly, it should be noted that taking recourse to the taghut is disobedience, and taking wealth by virtue of his judgement is unlawful gain, even though what has been taken may be lawful. This is if the disputed wealth consists of a particular property or article. As regards debt, it is doubtful whether the same rule applies to it. Details of this should be sought from books on jurisprudence.

Secondly, adjudication is only for the settlement of disputes, and has no effect in altering facts, whatever they may be. When someone makes a false claim and supports it with a false witness, or denies a truth and takes a false oath, and that is hidden from the judge, the latter will rule according to the false evidence or oath and contrary to the facts. It is incumbent on everyone who has knowledge of it to be on his guard against it, for it is a piece of fire. The details of it are also in legal books.

Adapted from the book: "The Islamic System of Judiciary in the Qur'an" by: "Jawadi Amuli"

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