1. Islaam Q & A
  2. Bulugh al-Maram


Buraidah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Al-Qudaat (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; and a man who knows what is right and does not give judgment accordingly and acts unjustly in his judgment will go to Hell, and a man who does not know what is right and judges people with ignorance will go to Hell [even if his Hukm was right].” [Reported by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah, Abu Dawoud and Al-Haakim]

This Hadeeth states two points:

First: Consider a person who does not know the truth and another person who does not act upon the truth despite being aware of it. Both people are equally condemned to Hell-Fire. This means that knowledge without action has no value.

Second: The possibility of committing judgmental error exists for anyone who exercises a judgment. Had it not been so, people would not have been divided as such and the making of such fine distinctions among them would have been out of place.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “He who has been appointed a Qaadi (judge) has been slaughtered without a knife.” [Ahmad and Al-Arba’ah]

This Hadeeth indicates the extent of the severity to which court magistrates are subjected. If the magistrate is a pious person, he strives to obtain a correct and just judgment, yet despite his efforts, he will be subjected to an extreme accountability in the Hereafter.

Another Hadeeth states that a righteous magistrate will be called on the Day of Judgment and subjected to such an intense and severe interrogation that he will say: “Would that I had never exercised a judgment even between two persons!” In the case of a magistrate who turns out to be an oppressor and a bribe-taker, he will dwell in the Hell-Fire.

The Command to be Just

If somebody becomes a Hakam between two people, he should be just in his Hukm (decision), and if he gives Hukm he should refer to the Book and to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

If you are asked to judge between two people, do not give Hukm or punish directly after hearing from only one of them.

In Surat an-Naml (27:27), when the Hud-hud bird (Hoopoe) came with the news about the Queen of Saba, Prophet Sulaiman (‘Alayhis-salam) said:

“We will see whether you were truthful or were of the liars.”

Be fair, if you become a Hakam.

Judgment is a crucial matter, for which a person is accountable.

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat an-Nisaa’ (4:58):

“And that when you judge between people, you judge with justice.

Muhammad ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Aslam and Sharh ibn Hawshab said: “This verse was revealed about those in authority,“ [At-Tabari] meaning those who judge between people. A Hadeeth states: “Allaah is with the judge as long as he does not commit injustice, for when he does so, Allaah will make him reliant on himself.” [Ibn Maajah]

Is Judiciary (Judgment) particular to Judges in court, or is it more general than that?

Al-Qaadi (the judge), according to the terminology of the scholars, is the one who settles a dispute between two adversaries; he clearly shows the legal ruling and abides by it.

Accordingly, the action of the judge is established on two pillars:

  • Mentioning the legal ruling concerning the event
  • Being held responsible for executing the legal ruling with the authority of the ruler, i.e. the obligation to implement the ruling with the power of the sultan.

Whenever these two conditions (or pillars) are fulfilled in one person, then he is considered a judge (Qaadi) who is mentioned in the texts, whether he is appointed in the courts or he is directing traffic. Also, if two adversaries decide to refer to him for judgment, in such a case they will be held responsible for the judgment that he gives.

Ibn Rasheed discussed the definition of Qadaa’ (Judgment): “It is informing about a legal ruling and the obligation of abiding by it.” [Tabsirat al-Hukkam 1/12]

Al-Khateeb ash-Sharbeeni ash-Shafi’ee (Rahimahullaah) said: “It is settling the dispute between two or more adversaries by referring to Allaah’s Judgment (Hukm) [by Allaah’s legal command].”

Ibn Abdus-Salaam said: “The judgment with which the judge is authorized is to show the legal Hukm concerning the event and the obligation of executing it to those who are affected by it.” [Mughni al-Muhtaaj]

Accordingly some examples of the Qaadi (judge) referred to in the Hadeeth narrated by Buraidah are as follows:

“Al-Qudaat (Judges) are of three types” means:

1. The judge who is appointed to the court.

2. The judge to whom two adversaries have agreed to refer a matter for judgment between them. In agreeing to refer their matter for judgment, the two adversaries are required to abide by and execute the judge’s ruling.

3. The teacher who settles a dispute between two students. The two students are obliged to act upon his judgment. The teacher is considered a judge and ruler regards the students when he corrects their exam papers, and gives marks for the answers, or when he estimates marks for their activities and behavior.

Shaikh ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “The exams are considered as Hukm (a matter of judgment/ decision) at the time of correcting them.”

The teacher who estimates grades for the answers of students also estimates grades for their attitude; he is a judge between them. This is because their answers are equivalent to the proofs (arguments) which adversaries usually give in the presence of the judge.

If a teacher gives a student higher scores than he deserves, it means that he preferred him over the other students, despite this student’s deficiency. This is oppression. If he is not pleased that someone who is inferior in grades should be preferred over his own son, then how can he be pleased to give precedence to someone who is inferior in grades over those who excel?

There are some teachers who do not fear Allaah in assessing the grades of students.

For example, a teacher gives a student a grade more than he deserves either because he is the son of his friend, or his relative or the son of a noble person, etc. yet he withholds from other students what they deserve either because of enmity between him and the student or between him and the father of the student, and so forth.

All these actions are contrary to the justice which Allaah (Ta’ala) and His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have commanded. Establishing justice is obligatory in all cases, whether you love them or do not like them. If a person deserves something, then it becomes obligatory to give it to him and whoever does not deserve something, should be deprived of it.” [Ad-Diya’ al-Lamie’ 2/570,571]

4. The manager of an organization who judges for or against his employees, by giving the   bonuses or by demoting them.

5. The police officer who judges between two disputants in a traffic accident, by determining which party is at fault or by determining the degree of error is considered a Qaadi (judge) because he judges between two adversaries and obliges them to act on his judgment.

However, the policeman who comes to the scene and writes the accident report is not a judge, but closer to a witness. He is obligated to testify with justice, not favoring anyone. Otherwise he is considered a witness who gives a false statement, and he is responsible for the loss of somebody’s legal right, because the judge will rule according to what this witness says and describes.

Also, the policeman who is investigating a crime is not considered a judge, because his Hukm (judgment, decision) – that so and so is a criminal – is not binding, and because he is not authorized to execute or implement the ruling. He is like an assistant to the judge. He tries to access details of the crime and delivers this information to the court whereby the judge uses it to make a ruling.

In conclusion, everyone who rules or judges between people and whose judgment is binding, is a judge. The person whose judgment is based on ignorance and oppression is condemned to Hell-Fire, and the person whose ruling is based on knowledge and justice is promised Paradise.


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