Islamic Date

09 Shawwal

English Date

31 May

Taqwa in Settling Disputes

Narrated Umm Salama (radi Allahu anha), the wife of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam): “Allah’s Messenger heard some people quarrelling at the door of his dwelling. He came out and said, ‘I am only a human being, and opponents come to me (to settle their problem); may be someone amongst you can present his case more eloquently than the other, whereby I may consider him true and give a verdict in his favour. So if I give the right of a Muslim to another by mistake, then it is only a portion of (Hell) Fire, he has the option to take it or give it up (before the Day of Resurrection).’” [The Book of Al-Mazalim: Sahih Bukhari]

This hadith reminds us of the importance of taqwa in settling disputes. The judgment of the judge is subject to the evidence brought before him and the eloquence of the disputing parties. The judge might, therefore, make a mistake in his judgment. However, each party knows what the truth is. Just because a judge ruled in one party’s favour does not give that party the right to take what the judge gave him. If he takes something he knows is not his or he does not deserve, he will be punished for it. The form of punishment will be that he will appear on the Day of Judgement weighed down from carrying the unjustly acquired thing (land, property, animals) on his neck.

Another hadith says that even if a single handspan of land is acquired unjustly then the usurper will have his neck encircled with the weight of seven earths on the Day of Resurrection. [The Book of Al-Mazalim: Sahih Bukhari] Therefore, the judge should remind the parties to have taqwa and remind them about the accountability they will face before Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

These days the excellence of a lawyer is judged by his/her glibness and their ability to win their client’s case; while a lawyer’s lobbying for injustice makes him/her a part of the injustice. Their arguing in favour of an oppressor or usurper will make them also carry the burden of the seven earths for their promotion of sin and injustice. All parties -- clients, lawyers, judges -- need to have taqwa of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) in settling disputes, rather than wait for Allah’s judgement to descend on them.