The importance of judgment in Islam
Muhammadi Gilani, Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts and its other authorities
جلد ۱۴ صحیفه امام خمینی (ره)، از صفحه ۲۳۲ تا صفحه ۲۳۶
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The importance of judgment and the problems involved
The kind of work that you gentlemen are involved in- whether you are a judge or a prosecutor or whether you work in a prison- is difficult and valuable. Your work is difficult because judgment, by nature, is such that one of the parties involved is always bound to be unsatisfied with the verdict. We never find that after one of the two disputing parties is deemed guilty, he silently respects the Islamic criteria for the judgment. In almost all instances, the one who loses the case- whether deservingly or, God forbid, undeservingly- is left dissatisfied. However, the heart of the matter is that this is not an easy job and since you are vested with the responsibility of judgment, you are engaged in a very difficult albeit valuable profession. It is worthy for man to take on challenging responsibilities and to face the problems involved.
I cannot speak about the issue of judgment in a very clear-cut manner. But my point to all the judges, most of whom are perhaps clerics, is that judgment is one of the most important, or perhaps the most important, issue in Islam because what is involved is the lives, property, and the dignity and honor of people. It is one of the most difficult tasks and finding solutions is not easy. On the other hand, there are a large number of pre-requisites to be taken into consideration for a judge. And as of now, we do not have enough judges who possess all those pre-requisites. However, work is being done in that direction. All the same, all those who have been vested with this responsibility, whether it is in Qum or in Tehran, should bear in mind that the clergy is being targeted today and there are many groups that intend to isolate the clergy in society and to side-track them.
If the judges who are involved with people and with criminals ever pass a misjudgment or make any of the said mistakes, our enemies who are only waiting to raise a hue and cry and express their" concern" over issues are bound to blow matters out of proportion all over the place. And it is not as if these enemies are committed to Islam and would, thus, refrain themselves from resorting to lies. It was only either last night or yesterday that someone told me that he had gone to visit a certain person and that as he was leaving that person's office, some people present there mentioned of some torture incident having taken place and asked him if he was interested in seeing the victim who was also present there. The man replied in the positive. Then he said that he approached the" victim" who bared himself claiming to have cigarette burns on his body. The name of a certain person had also been marked upon his body with those burns. He mentioned the name of a judicial authority and claimed that he had been tortured and was burnt with cigarettes and the name of that person was also engraved upon his body. On first glance these marks appeared to have been tattooed upon his body. The man then asked the" victim" about who had seized him. The response was that a group of men had caught him in some isolated area and had pulled him into a car and tortured him. He asked him if he recognized any of them. He replied that he did not recognize them since their heads and faces had been covered. He then asked him as to where he had been tortured, to which he replied that it was in the car. And he mentioned that the assailants were revolutionary guards. The person then asked him what made him believe that they were revolutionary guards since as he had earlier mentioned, that their heads and faces had been masked and that they could well have been his own friends! That left him speechless. The man then told him blankly that he was from among the munafiqin and that he had only come here with a false complaint. He asked him to leave or else he would get into trouble. (On realizing that his game was discovered) he left silently. So this is how the situation is with these people! I have also heard from someone who works in the department of justice of, I think, Shiraz that some of them anesthetize their own group members and then subject him to torture in order to blame the Islamic Republic of torturing people. You have to face such people. You cannot expect to get rid of problems and difficulties. This is not possible. As a matter of fact, your problems are numerous, some of which are imposed upon the clerics. There are, perhaps, a number of complaints most of which are baseless accusations; even though there may be some genuine complaints, too. The same applies to the offices of the prosecutors. They, too, cannot satisfy both the disputing sides and even if a judge issues the most accurate verdict, the loser ends up making a hue and cry. This is as far as the common people are concerned. And yet, there are also such elements whose intention, from the beginning of the Revolution, was to exploit the situation and to gain undue advantage for themselves without contributing anything to the Revolution. Some of them had even aimed at becoming president and when that did not happen they resorted to illegal acts that you are aware of. Your job demands that you deal with people who are engaged in the various conspiracies. There are conspiracies taking place everywhere- in the prisons, outside the prisons, and even at the warfronts- there are conspiracies everywhere. However, your activities are limited to a certain area and even within that limited area; the efforts of your enemies are focused upon converting the prison conditions into what you say.
Informing people about the problems and difficulties
I believe that you should let people know the truth about situations instead of keeping them restricted to yourselves and me. Many allegations have been made against you all although I have repeatedly heard through some people who know you all that these are false accusations. Well, you all tell me and complain to me that these allegations are false but the society does not know what the reality is. Your opponents spread rumors and accusations against you and, unfortunately, some authorities even believe them, thereby aggravating the situation. You are faced with numerous problems but you refrain from informing them to the public. But the ones who cause these problems for you make a lot of undue noise and give the public a distorted picture about your situation and even defame some of you. Take for example someone like Mr. Muhammadi «1» who is serving (the nation) with such commitment. However, only I am aware about his dedication and his services. Moreover, it is not enough for you to talk about your problems here. I agree that you have undertaken a great responsibility but you must exhibit resistance and you must not give in to the problems. I may not have been able to show much resistance but I want you all to do so. By the grace of God, you are young and energetic. And the ones who face more problems and refuse to give in are dearer to God and He rewards them. You tell me that the volume of your work is so huge that you cannot manage to attend to all your affairs in time and yet some people are making so much noise about your performance. I do understand what you all have to say and I do know the difficulties that a judge, a jailor, a prosecutor, or an attorney could face; but the people do not know. Many of them believe that right from the moment a person is sentenced through to the end of his term of imprisonment he is beaten up and is subjected to various types of physical harassment. At the same time, you deny such allegations and claim the contrary, saying that it is your officials and constables that are beaten up by their elements and that you have remained silent about it. These things should be made clear to the public. Those gentlemen who visited the prisons have not come to brief me. However, I have received reports from some honorable sources that have dismissed such allegations, although such things may have occasionally happened in certain prisons. Now, if you have to deal with people who can go to the extent of anesthetizing their own people and subjecting them to physical torment only in order to blame you and if you have to deal with people who bring out their small children onto the streets to shout against you and to provoke you, you cannot expect to be able to work in peace. You should, on the contrary, be prepared to face such things everyday. Your responsibility, however, is a noble one even if it, alongside, entails dangers and problems for you all. You are forced to deal with people who do not believe in anything and whose only aim is to eliminate the Revolution because they find it to be detrimental to their interests as well as the interests of their lords and masters. Then how can you expect them to treat you like ordinary people!
Prison should serve as schools for criminals
Such things do happen anyway; however, you should keep striving and work on your actions and treat the people you deal with justly. And as you say, that is what you are already doing. Identify those from among them who are open to advice and are ready to mend their ways. Pick them out and ask some clerics to come and speak with them and counsel them so that they may alter their attitudes. An Islamic prison is a place in which the prisoners should be trained. I remember, during the time I was put into prison in the days of the previous regime, the jailor would often come and talk to me. One day, I heard someone screaming and soon realized that people were being carried off to other rooms for torture and that this jailor approached me only to inform me of what to expect. I raised objections explaining that a prison should be like a training school. If a thief is brought to prison, he should have left behind this habit by the time he is released. He should be trained. Of course, they denied that anyone was being tortured and said that it was just a constable who had been slapped for some misconduct but I knew they were lying. In any case, Islamic prisons should be managed according to Islamic principles and teachings. Even as the foremost personality of Islam, the Commander of the Faithful (Imam `Ali), had been fatally struck on his head, he asked his family to share their food with the prisoner (his murderer) and to treat him according to his advice. «2» When prisoners, who are not involved in conspiracies, see that they are treated with ethical values, they gradually mend their ways. They should be trained with ethical values, which is not an easy task, and could make many of you give up. But I pray for you to be able to withstand all challenges and for you to be able to continue treating the prisoners in the same manner that you are doing now.
At the same time, it is not enough to only inform me about what you have to say. The public should also know about all this. It will not make much difference if only I were to be informed about your activities. There are people among the public who are busy poisoning minds while you stop short of defending yourselves. Such people are spreading falsehood, and as you mentioned they have even managed to convince some revolutionary guards about the presence of torture, thereby intimidating them to quit their posts. Soon even the public may start believing that you indulge in torture. There is a kind of confrontation between you and those who intend to defame and eliminate this Islamic movement and Revolution. Under such circumstances, one has to act skillfully so that such elements are not given any excuse to implement their own devious plans. And of course this is a very difficult task and, God willing, you will be rewarded by Him. I do hope that God Almighty will empower you to face such difficulties and will strengthen you. But I want to reiterate to you what I have been telling everyone who comes to me to report on their activities: It is not sufficient for you all to report only to me! Go to the public and let everyone know what is happening and challenge your opponents to prove their contrary claims. Let people as well as the authorities come and see the conditions of the prisons for themselves and then pass judgment over what your opponents claim. I pray to God Almighty for things to gradually improve. Assure your hearts that you will emerge victorious with the will of God!