Naturally, human societies experience differences of opinions and different behavioural approaches, which, at times, result in disputes among people. These disputes require a system of justice for the peaceful continuation of the social order.
After the formation of meaningful civilisations, various justice systems were introduced. Some were cruel as they were based on certain human inclinations and some were too lenient to be called justice systems.
Before the advent of Islam, the justice system in Arabia (if there was any at all) was purely patriarchal, be it in familial disputes or tribal conflicts. The reconciliation between different tribes was carried out through a succession of tribal feuds and vendettas.
The system of justice on the basis of laws and penalties through the system of courts and judges was something unfamiliar to the Arabs. Islam not only introduced this concept for the settlements of disputes through judicial systems; Islam made it obligatory upon Muslims to utilise this particular system for their own good.
Allah states in the Holy Quran:
“But no, by thy Lord, they are not believers until they make thee judge of all that is in dispute between them and then find not in their hearts any demur concerning that which thou decidest and submit with full submission.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V. 66)
This verse explains that disputes must be settled through a judicial system and following that, it is the moral duty of a person to accept the final decision. After the judicial process has given a decision, there should not be any kind of doubt left in minds.
Regarding the severity of the punishment of an action, it is stated:
“And the recompense of an injury is a penalty the like thereof; but whoso forgives and his act brings about reformation, his reward is with God. Surely, He loves not the wrongdoers.” (Surah al-Shura, Ch.42: V.41)
This verse explains that the principle of punishment in respect of a wrong or injury should be in proportion to the wrong done, but where forgiveness leads to reformation, the wrong deed should be forgiven or the penalty may be reduced.
A breach in either of these principles would not lead to the reformation of the wrongdoer. The traditions of the Holy Prophetsa serve as the basis for the foundation of the Islamic judicial system.
On one instance, Hazrat Abu Dharrra reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Allah the Almighty said, ‘O my servants, I have forbidden injustice for myself and I have forbidden it among you, so do not oppress one another.” (Sahih al-Muslim)
In light of the principles laid down by Allah the Almighty and the practice of the Holy Prophetsa, an arbitration council was established to provide a substitute for the Ahmadiyya Jamaat to resolve civil disputes between its members in accordance with the Islamic law.
An announcement published by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Musleh-e-Maudra in 1919 served as the stepping stone for the formation of different departments of the Jamaat including Dar-ul-Qaza (Arbitration Council). Later, this system was firmly established in 1925.
Members of the Jamaat send a request to Dar-ul-Qaza for assistance to resolve their disputes with the help of arbitration. The judges of this department offer their judgements based on the ordinances of the Holy Quran, sayings and practice of the Holy Prophetsa, and Islamic jurisprudence. All these procedures and judgments are carried out free of charge. If the matter is not resolved by the judges, the last appeal is presented to Khalifatul Masih, after which the final verdict is given.
It should be kept in mind that only those disputes or matters are entrained through this system that do not call for territorial law to intervene; so the cases of manslaughter, terrorism, treason and kidnapping etc. all fall out of the remit of the arbitrary council, or Qaza. While explaining the concept of arbitration in Islam, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, the fourth Khalifa of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, states:
“The fact is that almost every country of the world permits members of its society to resolve their differences mutually through arbitration. And in most countries, to my knowledge, arbitration is respected so much by the law that if irreversible arbitration is signed by both the parties involved, even then the Supreme Court would not annul that decision.
“We have created a Qaza Board and Qazis in the Ahmadiyya Community. And all Ahmadis who do not want to go to the common law for resolving their disputes and problems, they come to the Qaza, signing a document that ‘we, with volition and without any coercion, require you to resolve our dispute according to the law of the Quran.’
“And in such case, no government has ever interfered, no government has ever obstructed its passage and it goes on smoothly.” (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, The Relationship Between Religion and Politics in Islam, pp. 26-27. 1992)
As a result of this system, members of the Jamaat do not necessarily have to take their personal cases before the civilian courts of the country and their problems are resolved by the assistance of the Jamaat.
This system has now been established throughout the world for the benefit of members of the Jamaat. It is important to reiterate the point that cases brought before the Qaza in the Jamaat are only disputes of civil nature where arbitration can not only save the time and money of the parties, but also of the country’s courts that have a lot more important issues to resolve.