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Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:55 am

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During the caliphate of 'Umar, some matter was disputed between the Caliph and Ubayy ibn K'ab, a Companion famous for his knowledge of law and recitation of the Qur'an. Ubayy as plaintiff brought his case before Zayd ibn Thabit, the judge of Madina.

Zayd called 'Umar to him, saying: 'O Commander of the Believers! Come to my side!'

'Umar was angry with that request and remarked:

'It is a sign of partiality that you call to me to your side. A judge who judges according to the Qur'an is supposed to follow the Qur'an's injunctions, not to show respect to the Caliph in the court. According to the Qur'an, there cannot be any difference between a Caliph and an ordinary man in the court.'

The judge explained:

'I called you to my side, not because I respect you and take your side, but to be able to hear you better. You are the accused and I must listen to you without missing any of your words or gestures.'

'Umar then thanked God that he had a just judge.

A comparable incident took place during the Caliphate of 'Ali. There was a case between him and a Jewish subject of the state. The presiding judge in Kufa was Qadi Shurayh. The Qadi called the Jew and the Caliph to stand side by side before him. However, he addressed the Jew by his proper name, whereas he addressed 'Ali, the Caliph, by his kunya, Abu l-Hasan (father of Hasan). This was a tradition in Arabia and was understood as an expression of esteem and affection. 'Ali expressed displeasure. The judge asked him:

— Were you angry because I told you to stand beside the Jew?'
'Ali replied:
— No! Because you called the Jew by his name, while calling me by my kunya.'

This inspired the Jew to become a Muslim.

A similar incident took place during the reign of Mehmed II, the Conqueror, was the seventh sultan of the Ottoman State, who at the age of 21 when he captured Constantinople in 1453. After the conquest, he ordered a castle to be built. After completion of the castle, he saw that it was not as he wished because a Greek architect had deliberately cut the marbles used in the building shorter than they were supposed to be. The Sultan became furious and ordered the architect's hand to be cut off.

The architect referred the case to the court. The judge in Istanbul at that time was Qadi Khidr Celebi, who had been a school-friend of the Sultan.

When the Sultan entered the court, he sat on a bench but the judge warned him to stand up and stand beside the Greek architect. After hearing the case, the judge declared his verdict:

Since the Sultan had had the architect's hand wrongly cut off without the permission of law, his hand too would be cut off.

The Sultan consented to the verdict, saying: 'Whatever the law decrees, it must be obeyed.' However, he added that, if the architect agreed, he would pay blood-money for his hand according to the law. The architect agreed and the Sultan paid him the double of what the law ordered together with a house where he could live until death.



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