Justice Should Remain Blind


One of the greatest of the medieval Turkish princes was Mahmud of Ghazni (محمود غزنوی) or Mahmud Ghaznawi.  He lived from about 971 to 1030.  During this time his forces conquered large parts of what is now Iran, Afghanistan, and northern India.  It was apparently for him that the title of sultan was first invented.

Edward Gibbon, in Chapter LVII of his lyrical Decline and Fall, tells the following tale about how the prince was in the habit of dispensing justice.  He says:

From the paths of blood, and such is the history of nations, I cannot refuse to turn aside to gather some flowers of science or virtue.

The name of Mahmud the Gaznevide is still venerable in the East:  his subjects enjoyed the blessings of prosperity and peace; his vices were concealed by the veil of religion; and two familiar examples will testify his justice and magnanimity.

As he sat in the Divan, an unhappy subject bowed before the throne to accuse the insolence of a Turkish soldier who had driven him from his house and bed.

“Suspend your clamours,” said Mahmud, “inform me of his next visit and ourself in person will judge and punish the offender.”

The sultan followed his guide, invested the house with his guards, and, extinguishing the torches, pronounced the death of the criminal, who had been seized in the act of rapine and adultery.  After the execution of his sentence, the lights were rekindled, Mahmud fell prostrate in prayer, and, rising from the ground, demanded some homely fare, which he devoured with the voraciousness of hunger.

The poor man, whose injury he had avenged, was unable to suppress his astonishment and curiosity; and the courteous monarch condescended to explain the motives of this singular behavior.

“I had reason to suspect that none except one of my sons could dare to perpetrate such an outrage; and I extinguished the lights, [so] that my justice might be blind and inexorable.  My prayer was a thanksgiving on the discovery of the offender; and so painful was my anxiety that I had passed three days without food since the first moment of your complaint.”

In this way Mahmud explained how he was able to ensure that his justice would remain blind, without concern for the lineage of a criminal offender.  But it is not enough to call generally for blindness in the administration of justice; a judge must make positive efforts to ensure that he stays blind.

None should be above it, and none should be exempt from it.

10 thoughts on “Justice Should Remain Blind

  1. Thanks for the little bit of history Curtius. My parents are Turkish and would talk about the old Turkish sultans who actually did try to institute justice on an empire wide scale. Of course there would also be equally as many bad sultans who would emerge later on.

    It is a reminder that no matter how great a ruler you may have, you need to keep the legacy of great rulers on going and that goes even for a democratic society like America. From the Chinese to the Romans to the Ottomans to the British there was always a point where the empire was seen as something that will go on until the end of time.

    It kind of reminds me of cycles in terms of familial wealth. The first generation is dirt poor and works hard to make money and become rich. The second generation has a better upbringing with the strict hand of the first generation. The third generation is born into a legacy of wealth and does not know what it was that brought them into the wealth and squanders it away. The only difference is the family is now the nation of racial people and the generations can take decades or centuries.

    Americans became rich and then peoples all over started coming. Then the narrative started to change into that of it was mainly immigrants that built the country (see the Broadway show Hamilton that portrays Hamilton as pro-immigration of all kinds when in reality he was against it). People bought into it because public schooling only gives a selective view of history. People from other countries also bought into and wealth became something you went to rather than created. Why create wealth in your home country when you can immigrate to America where wealth is supposedly abundant for all?

    Hence both America gets screwed over as well as the brain and skill drain from the countries immigrants originate from. People need to be able to solve their problems at home rather than simply move away. Because as you move away, you cede power to the lawlessness and the evil peoples of the world until they one day come to your new doorstep.

    Obviously I am complaining from a position of one who benefited from my parents moving to America. So I really have no right considering the state of Turkey as it moves towards a more and more Islamicized society. But part of me also thinks if people like my parents didn’t all want to move to America or outside of the country, we could have changed the country for the better. Same as for all the people escaping Mexico because of the drug wars. Imagine if all the people fought against the cartels instead of immigrating en masse? Sometimes the revolution with numbers and bloodshed is needed rather than the country atrophying away under control of the ruling evil men. I suppose that it what Jefferson meant when he said “the tree of liberty must be watered time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment. Yes, there actually were a large number of good sultans, but no one knows about them in the West. You have to dig deeply to find out more about them. But they are out there…


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