Assalamualaikum SS Dato’ Seri Mufti. Is it true that whoever study and practices law has one foot in hellfire?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In answering the above question, we do not find any hadith that state anyone studying or practising law, whether he is a lawyer or a judge, already has one foot in hellfire after thorough research. However, there is a hadith that have similar meaning to it as the following:
- From Buraidah bin al-Hasnib RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
الْقُضَاةُ ثَلَاثَةٌ: وَاحِدٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، وَاثْنَانِ فِي النَّارِ، فَأَمَّا الَّذِي فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَرَجُلٌ عَرَفَ الْحَقَّ فَقَضَى بِهِ، وَرَجُلٌ عَرَفَ الْحَقَّ فَجَارَ فِي الْحُكْمِ، فَهُوَ فِي النَّارِ، وَرَجُلٌ قَضَى لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى جَهْلٍ فَهُوَ فِي النَّارِ
“Judges are of three types, one of whom will go to Paradise and two to Hell. The one who will go to Paradise is a man who knows what is right and gives judgment accordingly; but a man who knows what is right and acts tyrannically in his judgment will go to Hell; and a man who gives judgment for people when he is ignorant will go to Hell.”
Sunan Abu Daud (3573)
The above hadith explains that a qadhi (judge) can never be successful in avoiding the hellfire except for those who has knowledge and apply the knowledge that they have. Applying his knowledge (with known truth) is vital for whoever that knows the truth, however, not practising what he knows and whoever who is ignorant will both end up in hellfire. Clearly, even if an ignorant person passes a judgement which coincidently is the right judgement, he too will end up in hellfire because he sentenced someone without the right and true knowledge or with something that contradicts with what he knows. (See ‘Aun al-Ma’bud, 353/9)
As a conclusion, passing judgement is a great and heavy responsibility, especially when it involves the dignity of someone. However, for someone who has put in all his effort and mental capabilities to come up with an ijtihad according to his abilities, even if the ijtihad in inaccurate, Allah SWT will still reward him for his efforts. If someone come up with an ijtihad and it is the correct, then he will receive double rewards from Allah SWT. Lastly, may Allah SWT make us among His slaves who has taqwa for justice is nearer to taqwa as stated by Allah SWT. Amin.