Manners and values to be observed by judges
Certain values must be observed by judges. Anything that may blur the judge's fairness should be avoided whether anger, fear, etc. Rulings have to be based on the Quran, and Sunnah, unanimity, Ijtihad, or a fatwa by a qualified Mufti.
Manners and values to be observed by judges
- A judge should have a strong character and be held in high esteem, but he should be neither arrogant nor violent. He should be soft-hearted but not weak, so that a powerful disputant may not think that he can sway a judge over to his side, nor a weak one despair of receiving justice.
- He should be careful and forebearing, so that he is not angered by what the parties to the dispute under consideration may say.
- He should be intelligent and alert, so as not to be deceived.
- He should be a man of integrity and probity, steering away from whatever Allah has forbidden.
- He should be content, truthful and able to make his own judgement. 'Ali is reported to have said: ‘No one may be a true judge unless he has five qualities: probity, forbearance, having thorough knowledge of what has passed before him, ready to consult people of wisdom and be brave, fearing no one other than Allah.’ A similar statement is also attributed to 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz.
- It is strictly forbidden that a judge should speak to either of the two parties to a dispute in secret, or to favour one of them over the other or to teach either of them how to make his argument or present his evidence.
- It is also forbidden for a judge to give his ruling when he is in a state of anger. This may be extended by analogy so as to include anything that may blur the judge’s vision, such as worries, fears, hunger, thirst, fatigue, illness, etc.
:The Prophet (peace be upon him) said
‘No arbiter between two disputants may give a ruling when he is angry.’
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 7,158; Muslim, hadith No. 1,717
- It is forbidden for a judge to take a bribe. Taking a bribe stops a judge from giving the other party his right, or makes him knowingly give a wrong ruling, and either course is extremely bad.
:Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said
‘Allah curses the one who gives a bribe when seeking a ruling and the one who takes it.’
Related by Ahmad, hadith No. 9,023; al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 1,336; Ibn Majah, hadith No. 2,313
- It is also forbidden for a judge to take gifts from both or either party to the dispute he is looking into. If a personal friend used to give him gifts before he assumed the post of a judge, he may continue to accept these gifts provided that he is not looking into a dispute to which his friend is a party. If a judge refrains from accepting all gifts, it is certainly better for him. A judge should abstain from anything that may influence his judgment or affect his reputation. Scholars mention that he should not even do his own shopping and selling, particularly at shops where he is known. He should guard against being given favourable treatment, for such favours are akin to giving him a gift, and ideally a judge should assign his shopping and selling to an agent who should not be known to be acting for him.
- A judge may not rule on any case in which he, or any relative of his, is party, particularly when he cannot be a witness in a case involving such a relative. Nor may he rule on a case to which an enemy of his is a party. In any such case, his ruling would be suspect.
- A judge may not rule in any case on the basis of his own knowledge of the event or the case, because his judgement would then be suspect.
- A judge should appoint any assistant he may need, such as a clerk to write down the proceedings, a doorman, an interpreter, etc. so that he devotes himself solely to looking into the cases submitted to him.
- A judge must give his rulings on the basis of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If he cannot find in either a text that can be the basis of his judgement, he looks into cases where unanimity of scholars had been achieved. If he still finds no basis and he is qualified to exercise ijtihad, he uses his scholarly discretion. Otherwise, he must seek a fatwa by a qualified Mufti.
- A judge must be absolutely fair to both parties. Umar wrote to Abu Musa al-Asha'ri, a learned Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) whom 'Umar appointed as a judge.
‘Be fair to people in your attention to them, your court and your judgement, so that the weak does not despair of having justice and the strong does not hope to sway you over.’
Related by al-Daraqutni, hadith No. 447