When Judges Are Judged
About those who pronounce judgement, the Prophet said, “There are three kinds of judges, one of whom will occupy the Garden of Paradise, while the other two will be consigned to Hellfire.
The one to be admitted to the Garden will be the one who recognizes the truth and makes his judgement in accordance with it, while one who recognizes the truth yet makes his judgement in defiance of it will occupy the Fire, as will he who comes to a decision on the basis of ignorance.” (Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah)
The first obstacle which has to be surmounted in arriving at the truth, whatever the issue, is the veil of falsehood which conceals the facts. Once this has been removed and what is right has been made manifest, there is still the question of personal acceptance of the truth, and, equally important, the willingness to act upon it. Basing a decision upon accurate knowledge frequently demands a sacrifice of some sort—of prestige, position, power, credibility, etc.—from the person who has to make it. Those noble souls will be held worthy heirs of the eternal life who strive to find the truth and who, having found it, are prepared to make whatever sacrifices are necessary in its acceptance and implementation. They are the ones whom God will admit into the Garden of Paradise.
Basing a decision upon accurate knowledge frequently demands a sacrifice of some sort—of prestige, position, power, credibility, etc.—from the person who has to make it.
The other two categories of people mentioned by the Prophet cannot be deemed fit to enter Paradise. In the first instance, because lying in the face of a known truth is like staging a rebellion against God Himself, and in the second, because a lack of seriousness in the quest for truth—a willful ignorance—is quite enough to destine one to damnation. If, having earnestly sought out the truth, one makes a wrong decision, one’s action will surely be forgiven, but if, in matters of right and wrong, one makes a judgement without any proper investigation and scrutiny of the facts, one can never be forgiven in the eyes of God.
It should not be thought that this applies only to the judges who sit in the courts of law. Every one of us has to make decisions in life which affect the destinies of others in greater or lesser degree: it is on the basis of these decisions then that our eternal fate will be decided.