Justice in King Giyasuddin's kingdom1

There was once a great Muslim king named Giyasuddin, who also loved archery. As a king he was great; as an archer he was good. One day while he was hunting, he accidentally sent an arrow through the chest of a little child who was crawling in the bushes. It was the only child of a widow, who had brought him with her while she was praying and meditating in the forest. The archer-king was aiming at a deer, but instead of striking the deer, his arrow entered into the little child. The boy was crying most pathetically and the mother was hysterical.

The mother went to the magistrate of her district to make complaints against the archer, in spite of knowing that he was the king. She felt that there should be some justice. At first the muslim magistrate was hesitant: “How can I punish the King?” Then he said, “No, I shall do my duty.”

So he summoned the king to court, addressing the summons to the archer Giyasuddin, not to the king Giyasuddin. On the appointed day the king appeared in court. On other days he would have saluted the king, but it was customary that the judge did not salute anyone summoned to appear in court. So the judge did not salute the king. He remained seated on his bench, and the king stood where convicts are asked to stand.

The magistrate said, “Do you know that you are going to be convicted?”

The king said, “Yes.”

The magistrate said, “This is my punishment. You have to beg pardon of the mother of this poor child and, also, you have to pay everything that the child needs for his recovery.”

The king immediately agreed. “I will do it.” Right away he went to the mother, who was in the court, and begged her pardon. Then he gave her the money necessary for her child’s recovery.

The king was then released. As soon as the king was released, the magistrate came down from his bench and bowed to the king, saying, “You are the King, and I am just an ordinary magistrate. It was you who appointed me and inwardly I shall be grateful to you for Eternity. But here justice was playing its role.”

The king said, “I am so glad that you are just. I want everybody in my kingdom to be as just as you. Had you not summoned me or taken any notice of the woman’s complaint, or had you just called me to court and said, ‘He is the King; so what can I do?’ I would have waited for a few days and then I would have come and punished you for the lack of justice in your district. This sword I would have utilised to punish you if you had not done your duty.”

The magistrate pulled out a cane from under his long gown and said, “If you had not come or if you had not obeyed my order to pay for the child’s recovery and also beg pardon from the mother, I would have punished you with this stick.”

The king smiled broadly at the magistrate and embraced him, saying, “You deserve my embrace; you deserve my fondest embrace.”


  1. GIM 1. 5 January 1979