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Shurayh the Judge

Published: 23/08/2011 07:00:00 PM GMT
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Could you shed some light on the life of Shurayh the Judge? I believe he was the judge in Kufah appointed by `Umar b. al-Khattâb.


Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Shurayh b. al-Hârith b. Qays b. al-Jahm al-Kindî accepted Islam in Yemen during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) though he never met the Prophet (peace be upon him). During the reign of Abû Bakr al-Siddîq, he relocated to Kufah in Iraq.

`Umar appointed him to be the judge of Kufah. He was very young at the time. Abû Nu`aym relates from Umm Dâwûd al-Wâbishiyyah that “people took their disputes before Shurayh at a time when he still had no beard.” `According to al-Sha`bî, `Umar set for him a salary of 100 dirhams.

It is said that he spent sixty years in that office. He also served as judge in Basra for a year.

The Caliph Mu`âwiyah then transferred him to Damascus. On account of this, Shurayh became known as “the Judge of the Two Great Cities”. He retired from office only a year before his death, and he is supposed to have lived to the age of 108 or 110. The date of his death was either in the year 78 AH or 80 AH.

Shurayh was known for his extensive knowledge of Islamic Law and respected for his good judgment. The Caliphs showed deference to him.

It is related that `Alî assembled the people in the public square, saying: “I am going to leave you, so assemble in the public square.” The people came and began to petition him with their questions until they were finished and no one remained but Shurayh, who sat upon his knees and began to ask him. `Alî said: “Go, for indeed you are the most knowledgeable of Arabs in matters of judicial verdicts.” [Hilyah al-Awliyâ’ (4/134)]

Once a woman came to `Alî with a case against her husband in a matter of divorce. After she presented her case to him, `Alî turned to Shurayh and said: “Judge between them.”

Shurayh said: “O Commander of the Faithful! (Should I presume to do so) while you are right here?”

`Alî repeated: “Judge between them.”

Shurayh was also renowned for his impeccable sense of justice and for holding all people equal before the law.

Once, al-Ash`ath b. Qays entered upon the judge Shurayh to visit him while he was in his courtroom. Shurayh greeted him and bade him sit down next to him. At this time, a person came in with a case against al-Ash`ath. Shurayh then said: “Stand up and take the defendant’s seat and address the other.”

Al-Ash`ath said: “On the contrary, I will speak to him from here.”

Shurayh then said: “Will you stand on your own, or must I bring someone in who will make you stand?”

At this point, al-Ash`ath stood up and took his place as ordered.

Source: Islam Today




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