To dispense justice as a presiding officer in a court of law is not an uphill task. But, when one is surrounded by ignorant, rough, uncultured and warring clans, the task of dealing even-handed justice becomes a crushing burden. The primary mission of the Holy Prophet was to invite his people to the fold of Islam. His missionary activity needed qualities of mercy, forgiveness, forbearance and a very large measure of connivance for the faults of his unpolished people. On the other hand strict sense of justice demanded, as it always does demand, strictness, impartiality, and readiness to punish. Destiny had placed the two opposite kinds of burden on the shoulders of the Holy Prophet, and as we shall see, he bore them patiently, cheerfully, and magnanimously. Some instances are necessary to give our readers a correct notion of the Prophet's great sense of justice.

Conquest of Ta'if

            After the fall of Mecca, Ta'if was the only locality which had not declared their submission to the regime of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet laid siege to the town but it had to be abandoned unsuccessfully after a fortnight or so. An Arab Muslim chieftain, Sakhr by name, came to know of the Muslim's unsuccessful effort at Ta'if. As he laid siege with his private force the inhabitants of Ta'if felt constrained to enter into negotiations for peace which was granted under certain terms and the glad tidings were conveyed to the Holy Prophet.

            Now Sakhr was the hero of Ta'if. But complaints started pouring into the Prophet's court against his high-handed acts. Moghirah Bin Shobah Thaqfi brought the complaint that Sakhr had unlawfully detained his aunt and was not setting her at liberty. The Holy Prophet summoned him in his audience and ordered him to release Moghirah's aunt at once and Sakhr did it. Thereafter, a deputation of Banu Salim tribe waited on the Holy Prophet and complained that Sakhr had captured their water reservoir when they were pagans. Now that they had embraced Islam, it should be restored to them. The Holy Prophet again summoned Sakhr in his audience and ordered him to remove his guard from the reservoir of Banu Salim and let them acquire its effective possession. Sakhr obeyed. Thus the hero of Ta'if was practically rebuked for his faults instead of receiving any praise.

A Woman Thief of Banu Makhzoom

            Banu Makhzoom was a branch of the great Quraish tribe and they were held in very high esteem by all Arabs. Once it so happened that a woman from that tribe committed a theft. Her case was brought to the Prophet's court. The Prophet ordered her hand to be chopped off. A large number of people wanted that she should be spared because of her high ancestry. They even prevailed upon Hazrat Osamah, son of Hazrat Zaid, the Prophet's beloved emancipated slave on whom the title of "son" was conferred, to approach the Prophet and intercede on behalf of the unfortunate woman. When Osamah pleaded for mercy, the Holy Prophet was greatly enraged and told Osamah:

"The Children of Israel were visited by divine chastisement and utter ruin for no other fault than this that they punished poor criminals and spared those who had worldly position and wealth."

Jews of Khaibar Spared in a Murder Case

            After the conclusion of a peace pact with the Jews, their cultivatable lands in Khaibar were distributed among the Muslim warriors. Among those who received land was Abdullah Bin Sahl. He gave his land on tenancy for purposes of gardening and cultivation. As the harvesting season arrived, he set out with his cousin Mohaista for collecting their share of dates from their tenants. As the two were passing through the streets of a Jewish settlement, Abdullah disappeared in a lane. Mohaista made search and found his cousin's dead body in a wayside pit. He brought the complaint to the Prophet's court, stating that the Jews had slain his cousin. The Holy Prophet asked him if he could state on solemn affirmation that it were definitely the Jews who had murdered his cousin. Mohaista said he was not an eye witness to the murder but he believed that under circumstances of the case no one except the Jews could have killed his cousin. The Holy Prophet asked him if he wanted the Jews to be given an oath Mohaista knew the Jews very well and did not hesitate to tell the Prophet that the Jews could swear a hundred false oaths and it would serve no useful purpose if they were summoned only to take on oath. The Holy Prophet did not cast any aspersions on the Jews for want of first-hand oral evidence. However, he granted one hundred camels to Mohaista by way of legal compensation.

No Blood-Feud in Islam

            Tariq Muharbi, a resident of Rabza, went to Medina with a party of his tribesmen. As he entered the city in the morning and approached the mosque he saw the Holy Prophet delivering a sermon to the congregation of Muslims. A man from among the Ansars of Medina caught sight of Tariq and his people. He got up in a state of agitation and said to the Prophet:

"O Apostle of Allaah! These people belong to the tribe of Banu Thaliba. One of their ancestors had killed one of our ancestors and his blood remains unavenged right upto this day. I request you kindly to do us justice and execute one of these men of Banu Thaliba."

            The Holy Prophet quietly heard the Ansari and calmly replied:

"There is no blood-feud in Islam. A son cannot be punished for the sins of his father."

Prophet's Companion Sold in Debt

            Saraq was a companion of the Holy Prophet. He purchased a camel from a Bedouin but could not pay its price. The Bedouin caught hold of him and brought him to the Prophet's court to seek justice. Saraq admitted that he owed the Bedouin price of a camel but expressed inability to make the payment due to utter poverty. The Holy Prophet handed his person to the Bedouin and permitted the latter to sell him in the market as a slave and realize his dues. A Muslim purchased him for the amount payable to the Bedouin and later on set him at liberty.

Justice Against His Own Self

            To do justice in a case in which one is himself involved is indeed superhuman. The Holy Prophet's sense of justice was so much developed that he had the courage to offer his body for a hurt to meet the demand of justice. It so happened that he was distributing the spoils of war and was surrounded by a very large crowd of Muslims. A man forced his way on to the Prophet and fell almost on the Prophet's face. The Prophet tried to keep him away with the help of a little stick. Accidently the stick caused a little bruise on the man's face. The Prophet at once asked him to take vengeance but the man cheerfully forgave.

            In the course of his illness on the eve of his departure from this world, the Holy Prophet got it publicly declared that any one whose life, property, or honour had suffered at the hands of the Prophet was invited to make good his loss by proper payment or vengeance. After this uncommon declaration, there was an acute stillness in the crowd. However, one single individual brought a demand of a few "dirhams" (small coins) against the Prophet and the amount was immediately paid.

(The End)





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