Jury Duty, Author: Issa Abbasi


One late December evening, my Mom handed me a slip of paper that arrived with the day’s mail.  It was the blue slip of paper residents of our county don’t want to see; I had been handed my first summons for (gasp!) jury duty.  My first thought was “oh man, how do I get out of this?!”  I thought this way because of the negative stereotype associated with jury duty.  The majority of the public complains about the long wait in a room full of people you don’t know with nothing to do that can last anywhere from a few hours to weeks.

The day I was summoned for jury duty came and I traveled to my county’s courthouse to serve my time as a petite juror.  As I walked into the courthouse, my pockets had to be emptied and placed into a bucket to be scanned while I was screened for metal objects.  After checking in, all the jurors were taken into a courtroom for a briefing session by the judge.  My row was one of the earliest to be seated, so as the remaining jurors filed into the courtroom, I decided to observe the room and my peers.  The room was elegantly decorated and oil paintings of retired jury selection judges hung around the sides of the courtroom.  The ceiling was very tall and had large chandeliers hanging a few feet apart.  This place looked like a palace! But as I looked around at my fellow colleagues, I noticed that I was sitting in a very diverse crowd.  Almost every race, age group (above 18 years old) and educational level was present.  Some of the jurors worked for themselves, others for a private company and some for government agencies.  But at that point in time, as potential jurors, we were all the same and only differed by the random number we were assigned.  No one was now better, richer, poorer, or smarter than anyone else.

After viewing a DVD about why jury duty is a civic responsibility and being thanked in advance for our time by the assignment judge, we were all taken to the fourth floor jury room.  Once we all took our seats, the jury manager informed the group that we were “confined” to this very juror room.  If we wanted to pick up breakfast, we could only do so from the cafeteria downstairs, but had to return back to the same juror room right away.  About 100 men and women who took time off from work to be responsible citizens sat reading, working on their laptops, watched television or slept until their fate of serving on a jury was determined.  No matter what was going to happen, we had to wear our juror tags that only distinguished ourselves as jurors, but with different numbers.

As I sat in my chair jotting down my “to do list” for the week ahead, I began to think about my prospective job as a juror, until that is, an idea hit me in the face.  On the Day of Judgment, we won’t have a jury of 12 people to decide whether we are guilty or innocent of a crime.  We will have our deeds and the Qur’an to testify either for us or against us.  Once we receive our book of deeds in our right or left hand, our verdict has been made.  If received in the right, to Paradise you will go and if received in the left, to Hell you will go.

Can you imagine that? A verdict that will last forever and that most likely will not change unless you were first sent to Hell (for many, many years) to be cleansed before going to Paradise?  Who would want to go to such a place like Hell where you will eat cacti and drink boiling water?

But Allah (s.w.t.) doesn’t just deal with bound rules and regulations, He deals with mercy.  One of his names is actually Ar-Rahman, or the Most Compassionate!

Allah s.w.t. states in the 23rd Hadith An-Nawawi “My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.”

In Hadith An-Nawai #37 narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) related from his Lord: “Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones.” Then he explained it [by saying that] :” He who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.”

Let us remember that Allah s.w.t. is truly the All Knowing and All Seeing.  We are reminded in the Qur’an about how our deeds will be seen!

Qur’an: 99: 7-8

“So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.”
Because I was not assigned to a case, I was afforded a 2 hour lunch break and upon my return to the jury room, I was released from jury duty by 2:15 PM.  I was so happy to be released from potentially deciding a person’s fate, but I must remind us all that there is no way our deeds will be sent home from their jury duty assignment on the Day of Judgment.

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~ by Yousaf on March 19, 2010.

3 Responses to “Jury Duty, Author: Issa Abbasi”

  1. I just had jury duty this week. I was called and questioned on the stand and I got out of it. My name came up and unlike you, I was called. There was a question on the survey for this case (a car accident) and it asked if I could accept and apply the law fairly and if anything would prevent me from doing so.

    Now let me go back one step. It was a rainy cold day. The minute I left the holding room and walked across to another building to enter the grand courthouse, I was in awe; it reminded me of the churches I went to as a kid in my educational training.

    Then, when I took the elevator with the other potential jurors entered “your honor’s” court room, I was nervous- I had this experience before: being called up to the stand and speaking with a hijab on my head, knowing I will be judged by my words; ironic isn’t it?
    So, back to the question. The question asked if I could accept and apply the law fairly and if anything would prevent me from doing so. I told the court I can accept it, but I can’t apply it. He though I misunderstood and he asked again, and I said ‘no, I can’t’ By now my heart is beating super fast and my face is red. They call me to the sidebar. So I stand up walk to and face the judge and the 2 lawyers: I told them I can accept the law but I feel uncomfortable applying it. The judge said ‘You know, this is an easy case, a car accident.’ [ verses a criminal case) I said yes. He tells me ‘You know I can’t dismiss you becuase you feel ‘uncomfortable’. He told me ‘The law will be explained to you.’ I told him I do not have the knowledge and feel unqualified. I told him that if jurors can’t follow simple instructions to turn off their cell phone, then how can they decide a case (where a party is claiming permanent damage to her body). He told me he didn’t understand me but he would dismiss me. Phew! This entire time the lawyers were quiet; I wonder what they were thinking. BTW, the Judge was nice. The last time I has jury duty was a bit different but the same butterflies and heart thumping was present.

  2. Nice post. I haven’t had jury duty yet, alhamdulillah. I need to catch up on some of your posts.

  3. This is so true, that it honestly brought tears to my eyes to envision it! The day of Judgement part of course!

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