‘Umar’s instruction to the Judge
‘Umar’s (رضي الله عنه) legislation on the judiciary in his letter to Abu Musa al Ash’ari (رضي الله عنه) in which he said:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
From the slave of Allah, the son of al Khattab, Amirul Muminin, to ‘Abdullah Ibn Qays (رضي الله عنه) (Abu Musa al Ash’ari ), peace be upon you.
Judging (the judicial system) is a confirmed obligation and a way to be followed. Try to understand when cases are presented to you, for there is no use in a person presenting his case if it is not understood. Treat people equally when you address them so that no noble man will hope that you side him unfairly and no weak man will despair of your justice. The burden of proof rests with the plaintiff and the oath is required of one who denies it. It is permissable to make a deal between Muslims, except a deal that permits something that is forbidden or forbids something that is permitted.
If you passed a judgement yesterday then examined it further in your mind and are guided to a different conclusion, then that should not prevent you from returning to the truth, for truth is eternal, and returning to the truth is better than persisting in falsehood. Examine carefully each issue which you are unsure about, where there is no text in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and try to find a similar case, draw analogies and see which is more likely to be pleasing to Allah and closest to the truth.
Whoever claims that someone owes him some dues, set a time limit for him to produce his evidence. If he provides evidence, then restore his rights to him; otherwise ask him to drop his claim. That is better so as to eliminate any doubt.
The Muslims are basically of good character, except one who has been lashed as a hadd punishment or who is known for bearing false witness. Allah is in charge of what is hidden in people’s hearts. Judgement must be based on evidence and oaths.
Beware of becoming impatient, because judging in accordance with the truth bring a great reward from Allah and stores a great deal of reward (in the Hereafter). Whoever has a good intention and checks himself, Allah will be sufficient for him (and he need not worry about people), but whoever shows an attitude to people which Allah knows is not his true attitude, Allah will expose him. Think of the reward of Allah in this world and the Hereafter. And peace (be upon you).
[I’lam al Muwaqqi’een by Ibn Qayyim]