Once, during his Caliphate, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rta) lost his armour. One day, he saw a Jew in possession of an armour he recognized as his own. Ali (rta) approached the Jew and asked him to return his armour. The Jew refused to do so and, instead, demanded that the matter be settled by the reigning Muslim Qadi (judge).
Hence, Ali (rta) and the Jew appeared before the Qadi to settle this dispute. Qadi Shurayh was a very competent judge from Yemen, who was famous for settling Fiqh related matters. He had performed the duties of a Qadi in Kufa during the caliphate of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta), and Usman Ibn Affan (rta) as well. He was well known for his integrity and insight.
When the judge saw Caliph Ali (rta) approach his court, he stood up for him out of respect. Ali (rta) requested him to stay seated. Qadi Shurayh took his seat. Ali (rta) initiated the conversation: “I have lost my armour and found the same in this man’s possession.”
Qadi Shurayh asked the Jew: “Do you have anything to say?”
The Jew replied: “This is my armour and I own it.”
Qadi Shurayh inspected the armour in dispute and addressed the Caliph: “By Allah! Your claim is correct. This, indeed, is your armour. However, the court of law demands that you produce two witnesses to substantiate your claim.”
Ali (rta) produced his slave Qanbar as his first witness, who testified in favour of Ali (rta). Then, the Caliph produced his sons Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) as his second witnesses to testify for him.
Qadi Shurayh stated: “I accept the testimony of your slave; however, I still need another witness, as the testimony of your sons is not acceptable.”
The Caliph said: “By Allah! I heard Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) narrate the Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth stating that Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) are the leaders of the youth in Paradise.”
The judge replied: “By Allah! This is the truth.”
Ali (rta) demanded: “Then why are you unable to accept the testimony of the leaders of the youth in Paradise?”
Qadi Shurayh explained: “Because they are your sons, and a son cannot testify in favour of his father.”
Hence, the judge settled the dispute in favour of the Jew and handed over the armour to him.
The Jew remarked in absolute astonishment: “The Amir-ul-Momineen of the Muslims brought me in the court of his own appointed judge, and the same judge gave a verdict against the Caliph. And the Caliph accepted the verdict gracefully without any resistance.”
Then, the Jew glanced towards Ali (rta) and continued: “Amir-ul-Momineen! Your claim is true. This armour definitely belongs to you. You had lost it the other day and I found it. Therefore, it is your property. Please, accept it.”
The Jew then recited his Shahadah: “I testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
Ali (rta), the wise and honourable Caliph, replied: “I give you not only my armour but also my horse.”
Adapted from “Sunehray Faislay” published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.