Slaughtering animals when holding arbitration for disputes

Question: In cases where altercations occur between two or more people over any matter, the elders of the village or the chieftain comes to arbitrate between the quarrelling parties. After investigating the case, finding out the cause of the conflict, the wrongdoer and the wronged, the party proven to be mainly at fault is ordered to slaughter two or more animals, and the party slightly at fault to slaughter one animal; in addition to some other things they may get from the quarrelling parties. Each one of them slaughters his share of animals, as imposed on him, and then the slaughtered animals are served to those who arbitrated the case. Either the conflicting parties are rich or poor, they must abide by these rulings. This custom is called Burhah or ‘Atamah.

In most cases, people do not contact the governmental authorities there to resolve their conflicts. What I need to know is the legal ruling on these customs and whether they are permissible or not. Do those who practice this fall under the category mentioned in the Hadeeth: “Allaah has cursed the one who slaughters (a sacrifice) to other than Allaah” , given that the animals are slaughtered to please the leaders of the tribe? Please advise!

Answer: Arbitration in conflicts in order to expose the guilty, stand for the wronged person, resolve the conflict and settle disputes by the truth which the Islaamic Sharee’ah (Law) has come to administer is a legitimate right by the authority of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah… read more here.

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