When the Judge Ruled Against the Caliph

When [the fourth Caliph] Ali was setting out to Siffin, he found that he was missing a coat of armour of his. When the war was over and he returned to Kufa, he came across the armour in the hands of a Jewish man. He said to the Jew, ‘The armour is mine; I have not sold it or given it away.’ The Jew said, ‘It is my armour and it is in my hand.’ He replied, ‘Let us go to the qadi [judge]!’ Ali went first…Qadi Shurayh said, ‘Speak, O Amir al-Mu’minin [Commander of the Faithful].’ He said, ‘Yes. This armour, which this Jew has, is my armour; I did not sell it and I did not give it away.’ Shurayh said, ‘What do you say, O Jew?’ He said, ‘It is my armour and it is in my possession.’ Shurayh said, ‘Do you have any evidence, O Amir al-Mu’minin?’ He said, ‘Yes. Qanbar and al-Hasan will witness that the armour is mine.’ Shurayh said, ‘A son’s witness is not acceptable on behalf of his father.’ Ali said, ‘A man from the Garden, and his testimony is not acceptable? I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saying, “Al-Hasan and al-Hussein are the two lords of the youth of the people of the Garden.’”

The Jew said, ‘The Amir al-Mu’minin brought me before his qadi, and his qadi gave judgement against him. I witness that this is the Truth, and I witness that there is no god but Allah and I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and that the armour is your armour.’

[Excerpted from Tarikh al-Khulafa’  (History of the Caliphs) of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, cf. partial English translation by Abdassamad Clarke, Ta-Ha Publishers, 1995, pp. 204-205]

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