In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Most High] said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَۚ إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَاۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْۚ وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah; even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do. [Surah An-Nisaa. Verse 135]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] commanded His servants to stand out firmly for justice on behalf of everyone – be it an enemy or an ally. And the affair that is most worthy of being established with justice are the statements and methodology related to the commands of Allaah as well as everything that Allaah has related (i.e. in the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah). Therefore, to establish these affairs based on desires and disobedience is contrary to the command of Allaah and a negation (i.e. either intentionally or unintentionally) of that which Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] was sent with (i.e. the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah).
The establishment of justice is the responsibility of those entrusted with the task to convey Islaam after the death of the Messenger, and this task cannot become a reality unless when one establishes it based on pure justice and sincerity to Allaah- (sincerity) to Allaah’s Book, to Allaah’s Messenger (i.e. follow him) and sincere dealings and advice when dealing with Allaah’s servants. These people are the true inheritors (i.e. inheritors of the knowledge left behind by the Prophets); but not that one who merely makes his companions, sect and path the determinant of truth and the distinction between (truth and falsehood) by showing enmity to the one who opposes him and allies with the one who agrees with him, merely based on being opposed or agreed with [i.e. without sound proofs based on the Book and the authentic Sunnah], because (then) where is that command to stand out firmly for justice on behalf of everyone, even though standing out firmly for justice is the greatest command and obligation?!
Then Allaah (The Most High) says: [شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ – As witnesses to Allah]: A witness is that one who presents information about something; so if he presents credible information, he is a just witness and his (statement) is accepted; but if he gives false information, he is a false witness. Allaah [The Most High] command us to stand out firmly as just witnesses for His sake, therefore it has to be carried out for the Sake of Allaah and not for other than Allaah.
And in (Surah Al-Maa’idah Verse 8, Allaah (The Most High) said]: [كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ لِلَّهِ شُہَدَآءَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِۖ – Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses]: This Aayah establishes four affairs: One should stand out firmly for justice and carries that out for sake of Allaah; witness to justice and carries that out for the Sake of Allaah. Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَۚ – Even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin].
Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] commands us to stand out firmly for justice and testify (for or against) everyone, even if it were someone who is the most beloved person to us. A person should stand out firmly for justice (for or against) himself, his two parents, his other close relatives and his best friend amongst the people. If a person’s love for himself, his parents and his relatives prevents him from standing out firmly for the truth against them, especially if the truth is with someone he hates and regards as an enemy due to them, then indeed none will stand out firmly for justice in such circumstances except one whose love for Allaah and His Messenger is more than their love for everyone else. Likewise, a person has to establish justice when dealing with his enemies and that one that one who deprives him of his rights, because indeed it is not permissible that hatred for his enemies leads him to be unjust towards them, just as it is not permissible that love of himself, his parents and relatives makes him abandon standing firmly for justice against them. Therefore, hatred harboured against someone should not lead him to falsehood, and love (of himself, parents and relatives) should not make him fall short in establishing truth, just as some of the pious predecessors said, “The just person is that one who when angry, his anger does not lead him to falsehood, and when he is pleased it does not remove him from truth”.
The two verses of the Qur’aan [i.e.Surah An-Nisaa Verse 135 and Surah Al-Maa’idah Verse 8] convey two rulings and they are: standing out firmly for justice and making a truthful testimony on behalf of one’s allies and enemies.
Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَاۖ – Be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you)]- Meaning, Allaah is the Lord of both of them and their Protector, and they are both His slaves. It may be that you become fearful of standing firmly for justice by testifying against a rich person or a poor person – either fearing that the rich person might lose his wealth or because the poor person has nothing, so your hearts become lackadaisical towards standing out firmly for the truth. Therefore, it should be said to them, “Allah is a better Protector to both the rich and poor person. Allaah knows the affair of the rich person more than you and He is more Merciful to the poor than you, so do not refrain from standing out firmly for the truth and from giving testimony (for or against) the rich or the poor.
Then Allaah said: [فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْۚ – So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice]. Meaning, Allaah forbids (His slaves) from following desires, which will lead them to abandon justice.
Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do]. Meaning, Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] mentions two reasons that will inevitably lead to concealment of truth, then He warned against them and issued a threat: the first of them is distortion and the second is to turn away from giving truthful witness. That is because when a proof that supports the truth is manifested and the one who wants to repel it finds no way of doing so, he refrains from mentioning it and thus becomes a silent devil, and sometimes he distorts it. Distortion is of two types -distorting words and meanings. Distorting words occurs when one utters a word in a context in which it does not establish the truth – either adding to the word or omitting something from it, or substituting it with something else- to the extent that the listener is made to believe something, whilst something else is intended, just as the Yahood [i.e. those Yahood who disbelieved in the Prophet and hated him] used to distort words when giving Salaam to the Prophet [i.e. saying As-Saamu Alayka (death be upon you), instead of saying Assalaamu alaykum)]. This is one type of distortion. The second type of distortion is related to meanings – distorting the wording, giving it an interpretation that is not intended by the one who uttered it and pretending not to know its unintended meaning; or dropping other meanings intended by it etc. Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do].
And when it is the case that a witness is required to bear witness based on what the affair should be [i.e. the complete truth], therefore neither should he hide nor change it. Turning away from the testimony is tantamount to concealment and distortion is tantamount to alteration and substitution. Therefore, contemplate on this verse and the treasures of knowledge it contains. The Eemaan of a person cannot be complete, except by way of accepting the texts of the Sharee’ah and calling the people to them – neither turning away from them at times nor distorting them at other times. (1)
Narrated Umm Salamah [may Allaah be pleased with her] that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Indeed, I am only a human being and you people (i.e. disputants) come to me with your disputes. And it may be that one of you can present his case more eloquently than the other and I consider him truthful, and judge in his favour. So if I ever judge and give the right of a brother to his brother, then it is a piece of hell-fire and let him not take it”. [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari -Kitaab Al-Ahkaam (Book of Judgements): Chapter 29: Hadeeth Number: 7181]
Some Benefits Derived From This Hadeeth:
[a] The Ummah [i.e. the scholars and judges] have been commissioned to judge based on what is apparent; but the mere judgement of a judge cannot prohibit the lawful and allow the unlawful [i.e. because it cannot be taken if proven erroneous].
[b] This Hadeeth contains a refutation against those who say that the Messengers possess knowledge of the unseen.
[c] This hadeeth also shows that speech can be seen to be true based on what is apparent, but it is truly falsehood with regards to what is hidden within it.
[d] This hadeeth shows that the one who receives a judgement in his favour is more aware than every other person as to whether he is entitled to it or whether he is a falsifier. So, he takes it if he is entitled to it or leaves it if he a falsifier, because in reality a judgment cannot change an affair from what it was in origin [i.e. the original truth in the affair before its distortion or concealment].
[e] This hadeeth shows the sinfulness of the one who argues based on falsehood until he receives what he wants, whilst he is upon falsehood.
[f] This hadeeth is proof to show that a scholar can make a mistake and it is a refutation against those who say that every Mujtahid is correct. The Mujtahid is forgiven (when he makes a mistake). (2)
Amr Bin Al-Aas [may Allaah be pleased with him] narrated that he heard Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]saying, “If a Mujtahid gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct, he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, even then he will get a reward”. [Bukhari Number 7352]
A Mujtahid is not deprived of reward. The judgement of a non-Mujtahid is different from that of a Mujtahid. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah be pleased with him], “The one who speaks about the religion without knowledge and out of ignorance (is guilty of) lying and he is sinful. The one who intentionally speaks to oppose the truth is threatened with entry into the fire of hell, as opposed to the affair of the one who speaks based on permissible Ijtihaad, for indeed he strives, fears Allaah as much as he is able, desires to seek knowledge as much as he was able, speaks for the sake of Allaah, knows the stronger proof and speaks based on that. This person is given two rewards if he is correct; but if he is mistaken, he receives one reward. A Mujtahid can be correct or mistaken. (3)
Who Is Qualified to Give a Fatwa
Abdur-Rahmaan Bin Abee Layla [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: I have met a hundred and twenty companions of the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] in this Masjid and not a single one of them would be asked about a hadeeth, except he wished that his brother would suffice him in (answering). Then the affair was assigned to a people who claimed knowledge at present. They give answers in affairs which if presented to Umar Ibnul Khattaab [radiyallaahu-anhu], he would have gathered the (Sahaabah of) Badr to consult them. [Sharhus Sunnah of Imaam Al-Baghawee: 1/305]
Imaam Shaafi’ee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
It is not permissible for anyone to give fatwa in Allaah’s Religion except a man who is knowledgeable about the Book of Allaah – [knowledgeable] about its Naasikh and Mansookh [i.e. the science of abrogating and abrogated related to verses of the Qur’aan]; its Muhkam [i.e. the clear verses which the scholars who are firmly grounded in knowledge point out be to those that do not require explanation by other verses] and its Mutashaabih [i.e. the verses which the scholars who are firmly grounded in knowledge point out be ones that require elaboration and explanation through other verses]; its [sound] interpretation; [knowledge about when an Ayah or Surah] was revealed- whether it is Makkiy or a Madaniy [i.e. the subject matter regarding how to determine that an Aayah or Surah was revealed in Makkah or Medeenah]; what is intended by a verse and for which circumstances [or purpose] it was revealed. Thereafter, he should have sure knowledge about the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] in relation to its Naasikh and Mansookh [i.e. the subject matter regarding the abrogating and abrogated ahaadeeth discussed by the scholars who are firmly grounded in knowledge], and he should know the affairs of the hadeeth in the manner in which he knows the Qur’aan. He should have sure knowledge about the Arabic language and Arabic poetry, and what is needed of it. Then he applies this [knowledge] alongside being a just person and one whose speech is little. He should be one who has the ability to adjudicate [or make sound judgements] on the differences of opinions held by the scholars of the different eras and he should be talented. If he is like this [i.e. if the upright scholars upon sound Islamic creed and methodology- those firmly grounded in knowledge-testify that he is qualified in all these fields], then he can speak and issue fatwa in affairs of halaal and haraam. But if he is not, then it is not for him to give fatwa. (4)
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee [may Allaah preserve him] said:
We do not say that there are people of ijtihaad amongst ahlul bidah because they are followers of desires, and Allaah and His Messenger have testified to this. The misguided innovator stirs up discord and errs, and then says to you, ‘This is ijtihaad’. When Hikmatiyaar and the misguided parties [in Afghanistan] murdered Shaikh Jameel Ur-Rahmaan, they said: ‘This is ijtihaad.’ They [ahlul bidah] do not fall into an affair of misguidance or a calamity except that they say, “This is ijtihaad.” This is [tantamount] to diluting Islaam, falsehood, misguidance, bidah and confounding truth with falsehood, when the mistakes of the [true and qualified scholars of ijtihaad]- for which they are rewarded- are placed at the same level with innovation, about which the Messenger declared to be destined for the hell fire. (5)
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim. Vol 1. Page 300-303]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt From Saheeh Al-Bukhaari – Kitaab Al-Ahkaam with Fathul Baari. Hadeeth Number 7181]
[Ref 3: Al-Arba’oona Hadeethaa Fee Usoolil Fiqh. pages 32-33. slightly paraphrased];
[Ref 4: Source: An Excerpt from I’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een 2/87. Publisher: Daar Ibn Al-Jawziyyah’ 1st ed 1423AH.slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from ‘Ajwibatul Allaamatush Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadee Al Madkhalee Alaa As-ilah Abee Rawaaha Al-Manhajiyyah page: 20]