Subject : Ruling on Seeking to be an Islamic Judge
Fatwa Number : 480
Date : 02-02-2010
Classified : Jurisprudence
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

What is the ruling of Sharia on seeking to be an Islamic judge?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


Jurists have discussed the issue of seeking to be an Islamic judge, and  arrived at the following conclusion:

1- If a person isn`t qualified to be an Islamic judge and doesn`t possess the adequate scientific knowledge for that, then it is unlawful for him to assume such position.

2- If a person is qualified and there is no other qualified person in his district who fits for this position, then he should take it.

3- If there is another qualified person in the same district who is equal or better than him, then it is disliked for him to seek this position because Anas narrated the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever seeks to be a judge and asks others to intercede for him with it, then he will be left on his own. And whoever is coerced into it, Allah sends an angel down to him so that he can be correct." {Related by Tirmithi}.

In addition, Abu Musa narrated: "Two men from my tribe and I entered upon the Prophet (PBUH). One of the two men said to the Prophet (PBUH), "O Allah`s Apostle! Appoint me as a governor," and so did the second. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "We don`t assign the authority of ruling to those who ask for it, nor to those who are keen to have it." {Related by Bukhari & Muslim}. 

However, this prohibition excludes the person who seeks to be an Islamic judge to disseminate the Sharia sciences, do right, cause falsehood to perish, support the wronged, and help the weak. The evidence on this is that Prophet Yousef (PBUH) deliberately asked to be put in charge of the granaries and store-houses, and the drudgery of establishing them and guarding them, for the simple reason that he understood that need better than any one else, and was prepared to take upon himself rather than throw on to another the obloquy of restricting supplies in times of plenty. This is reflected in the following verse: "(Joseph) said: "Set me over the storehouses of the land: I will indeed guard them, as one that knows (their importance)." {Yousef, 55}.

However, if the person seeks to be a judge for personal superiority and receiving bribes, then this is forbidden and officials shouldn`t enable him to assume this position.

Al-Shirbini {May Allah have mercy on him} said: "When Caliph Othman Bin Affan asked the son of Omar Bin Al-Khattab to become a judge, he refrained from that."

Moreover, when Ali Al-Hussein Bin Mansour was asked to assume the authority of ruling Nishabur, he hid for three days and invoked Allah to spare him such position; he died on the third day."

Makhool {May Allah have mercy on him} said: "If I had to choose between becoming a judge and getting killed, I would chose to be killed."

Similarly, Al-Shafie {May Allah have mercy on him} refrained from becoming a judge when Caliph al-Ma`mun asked him for that.

Abu Hanifa {May Allah be pleased with him} refrained from assuming the position of a judge when Al-Mansur asked him for that, so the former had him beaten and imprisoned.

It goes without saying that when those scholars and jurists refrained from assuming the position of Islamic judge, it was assumed by more competent individuals. However, if refraining would only cause the unqualified to assume this position, then those scholars and jurists should put their trust in Allah and take it up. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.



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