A Qadi and a judge during their lifetime often come across cases that are complicated and seem difficult to be solved. In fact, cases like these prove the capability of a judge and the level of his intellect and judicial acumen. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting and difficult decisions taken by Shayr-e-Khuda Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم and see how his decisions resolved the problems of those distressed, relieved the sufferings of those who suffered, and helped those to escape who were on trial [unjustly].
Who is Slave?
A Yemeni man sent his son on a journey and arranged a slave to go along with him. On their way, the two got into a dispute over something. On reaching Kufa, the slave claimed that the boy was his slave and that he was his master. Thus, he attempted to sell the boy.
When this case was presented to the court of Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم, he said to his servant, ‘Make two big holes in the wall of the room and then ask both of them to pass their heads through these holes.’
When they both stuck their heads out of the holes, Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم asked his servant to bring the sword of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
When the servant brought the sword, he کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم ordered him, ‘Cut the slave’s head.’
Upon hearing this, the slave immediately pulled his head back while the boy stood firmly. Thus, Sayyiduna Ali’s strategy helped to reveal ‘Who is the slave?’ (Khulafa-e-Rashideen, pp. 124)
False Witnesses Fled
Once, a man was brought before Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم on the charge of stealing and two witnesses were present there to testify. Meanwhile, Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم was attending to some other task.
Then he کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم said, ‘I have always punished the man severely whenever he happened to be a false witness.’
(Later on) When he کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم summoned the two witnesses, it turned out that both had run away. Therefore, he acquitted the accused. (Musannaf-e-Abi Shaybah, vol. 14, pp. 548, Raqm 29426)
How Were 17 Camels Distributed?
Once upon a time, three men came over to Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم and said: We have 17 camels. One man’s share is half (1/2) of the total camels, the second man’s share is one-third (1/3), and the third man owns one-ninth (1/9) share of all the camels. We ask you to divide the camels between us on the condition that none of the camels should be slaughtered.
Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم sent for a camel from Bait-ul-Mal, thereby making the total number of camels to be eighteen (18). He gave nine (9) camels, which is half of 18, to the first person, who owned half the share of the total camels; six (6) camels, which is one-third of 18, to the second person, who had one-third share; and two (2) camels, which is one-ninth of total camels, to the third person, who had one-ninth share of the total camels. Thus, using his good judgement, he settled a difficult case. A total of 17 camels that resulted from adding 9, 6, and 2 camels were divided among them, without having to slaughter any camel. The leftover (one) camel was sent back to Bait-ul-Mal. (Khulafa-e-Rashideen, vol. 126; summarised)
He Got One Dirham
One morning, two men were sitting for eating a meal. One of them had five (5) Rotis while the other had three (3) Rotis. In the meantime, a man passed by them. Both of them asked him to join them for the meal. All three ate those eight (8) Rotis together.
The third man, while leaving, gave them eight (8) dirhams and said, ‘This is the price of the food that I ate with you. Divide it between you.’
After that, they both began to fight over the distribution of money.
The man who owned 5 Rotis said, ‘I will take 5 dirhams because I shared 5 Rotis and you will take 3 dirhams because you had 3 Rotis.’
The other person said, ‘No, the money will be divided into two halves.’
Both of them reached Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم to present their case.
He کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم said (as an advice) to the man who owned 3 Rotis, ‘Accept the offer of your mate since he had more Rotis than you.’
He said, ‘I will only accept what is just.’
Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم said, ‘Justice is that you take one dirham and your mate takes seven dirhams.’
Surprised, the man said, ‘My mate offered me 3 dirhams which I didn’t accept. You gave me the same advice but I didn’t accept. Now you are saying that my right is 1 dirham as per justice. Could you please explain how my right is one dirham? Then I will accept one dirham.’
He رَضِىَ اللّٰهُ عَـنْهُ said, ‘The three of you ate 24 parts of 8 Rotis. It is not known who ate less and who ate more. So assume that all ate equal number of parts (meaning everyone ate eight parts). Hence, you ate 8 out of 9 parts of your 3 Rotis with one part leftover. Your mate ate 8 out of 15 parts of his 5 Rotis, leaving 7 parts. The third man ate only one (1) part from your Rotis and seven (7) parts from those of your mate. Now as per justice, you will get one dirham and your mate will get seven (7) dirhams.’
Hearing the details, the one who had disputed had to take one dirham. (Isti’aab, vol. 3, pp. 207; summarised)
The Will of a Deceased
A man, at the time of his death, gave his friend 10 thousand rupees and made a will: Upon meeting my son, give him any amount out of it as you want.
By chance, the deceased man’s son came back from abroad after a few days.
Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم asked the man, ‘Tell me, how much would you give to the son of the deceased?’
The man said, ‘One thousand.’
Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم said, ‘Now give him nine (9) thousand, because it is 9 thousand that you want, as the deceased had made the will [asking you to] give him what you want.’ (Khulafa-e-Rashideen, pp. 125)
Sayyiduna Ali کَرَّمَ الـلّٰـه وَجہَەُ الْکریم performed the duties of Khilafah for four years, nine months, and a few days. At last, at the age of 63 years, he was martyred at the hands of a Khaarji, ‘Ibn-e-Muljim’ in Kufa, on 21st Ramadan 40 AH. (Kitab-ul-‘Aqaaid, Tareekh-e-Asakir, vol. 42, pp. 577; Kitab-ul-‘Aqaaid, pp. 45)