Foundations of a Spiritual Law #1

The first foundation must be forgiveness. In order to be spiritual the law must allow disputants or victims to settle their problems without recourse to sanction or punishment.

This is widely practiced in transitional justices through truth and reconciliation laws. Following the dissolution of Apartheid in South Africa, it was neither retribution nor reciprocity that was pursued, but the acknowledgement of past mistakes. Within this lies the element of forgiveness, sincerety and compassion, without which a new society cannot function. If the whites in the Apartheid's were to be punished, all that was left would be revenge.

In Jinayat, the practice of 'diyat' is recognized. When a person kills and the family of the victim is willing to forgive, the killer is set free from death penalty in exchange of payment of some money to the victim's family (the diyat). Of course, it is not easy to recognize if the real motivation for the victim's family is sincere forgiveness or monetary. This system therefore, may have a loophole.

Another example where forgiveness is practiced in law, is a system of amnesty. The top leader of a country will normally hold constitutional power to grant amnesty, abolition or reduction of a term of imprisonment.

When Prophet Muhammad conquered the city of Mecca, the Quraish who had persecuted him and his followers for years had been expecting that the worst would come. However, instead of applying attribution and punishment, the prophet grant Amnesty to the Quraish and the citizens of Mecca.

Forgiveness is the glue of a well functioning society. The law must therefore incorporate forgiveness into its system.

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