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Imam Ali and Political Leadership

behave in a way that the inferiors become disappointed of justly achieving their rights and that they should lay aside avarice, maintain their dignity in the court sessions. He (a.s.) discharged one of his companions from his judicial post, and when he asked for the reason his removal, the Imām replied as follows:
إنّى رَأَيتُ كَلامَكَ يَعلو عَلى كَلامِ الخَصمِ.“I saw that you speak more loudly than your claimant does.”1

5. Close Supervision over the Actions and performances of Judges

Judges are the upholders of the society’s interests and the judiciary system is responsible for its security. The interest of a society is more than anything else dependent on the Judiciary’s soundness. Therefore, as the Authority of the affairs (wali al-'amr) of the Muslims, Imām Ali (a.s.) felt himself responsible for the Judiciary’s function and did not content himself with admonishing the judges and giving lectures and merely warning them; rather, he would personally supervise their function and sometimes would even see into the way they issued their verdicts. Due to the important role of the judiciary in the welfare of a society and the correction of social problems, he (a.s.) would use any possible chance –despite his heavy responsibilities and numerous tasks– to call on the ‘Platform of Judgment’ (dakkatul qadā) in person and would practice judgment himself so as to present a right pattern for judgment to the people and the judges.

6. Unifying Judicial Procedures

Among the things that the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) would emphasize, was the consistency of judgments, or in other words, ‘unity of judicial procedures’ in judgments. If people notice that judges make different judgments in similar cases, their prompt reaction would without doubt be mistrust in the judiciary and disbelief in the legitimacy of the judgments. Imām insisted that

1.. See ۸/۴, h. ۴۲۱.


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fulfillment of his needs is not seduced into corruption, and thus, a person or a system that must safeguard the society against corruption does not fall into it.

3. Job Security for the Judges

The judge passes a judgment and obviously by his decisive judgment offends some people. There are very few people who would submit to a verdict against them and are not discontented. It is also evident that the violators and lawbreakers are not always from among the lower class of society, nor do clashes and conflicts always take place among them. In fact, it can be said that the upper class commit most of the law breaking and many conflicts do occur among them, and they are those who exert influence and are involved in the political affairs of the society. If a judge does not feel at ease while judging these people and does not see the judiciary and legal system as supporting and assisting, he might hesitate while passing a judgment and back down in restoring rights.
In the ruling system of Imām Ali (a.s.), qualified judges enjoy an elevated status. In his outstanding instructions to Mālik al-Ashtar, after giving him advise to select the best judges for judgment, Imām Ali (a.s.) enjoins him to station the judges near himself in such high position that nobody, not even his own close associates, would harbor any criticism against them to him. It is worth noting that the Imām (a.s.) then draws his attention to the evil doing of the ill-natured, to show that the selfish would often misuse their closeness to him [as a governor] against the judges, in order to reap worldly gains and escape punishment.

4. Observing the Manners of Judgment

The judge occupies a highly distinguished position and his duty is the restoring of rights and firm judgment. A judge is not himself one side of a lawsuit and what he says is most decisive in all disputes. He has to observe the rules of judgment with care. The teachings of Imām Ali (a.s.) in this regard are highly attentive.
He (a.s.) would warn the judges against discriminating between clients, enjoining them not to be suspicious of either of the litigants, offend people with tough language and authoritarian speech, make decisions when angry, speak out of whim, underestimate the tribunal,

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