Whenever I was transferred to a new post, my first order of business was to tend to any cases involving minors. In reviewing this particular matter, I noticed that although my predecessors had also requested the file, no action had ever been taken. I reactivated the case and summoned the merchant, who was quite influential. When he appeared before me, he began using such flattering phrases as ‘I am your humble servant’ and ‘I am at your service.’ After going to great lengths to show his warmth and friendliness, he said: ‘Your Honor, there is no need for any of this; there is nothing wrong with my guardianship.’ I replied: ‘It’s been 12 years since you provided an accounting for the minors under your guardianship.’ ‘But sir, there is no need for an accounting,’ he said, ‘for my brother’s widow is currently my wife, two of his daughters are my daughters-in-law, and the other children are like my own. But I will certainly comply with your order and bring you an accounting tomorrow.’ He came back the following day with a large envelope full of cash. I asked: ‘What’s this?’ He lowered his head and replied: ‘Your Honor, this is merely an unworthy gift, and there is no one here but you and me.’ ‘You are mistaken,’ I said, ‘there is someone else here, and that is God.’ Then I realized why the case had remained dormant till now.
As for the merchant, he used every means at his disposal—I even received a recommendation from the Ministry of Justice to drop the case—but I remained steadfast in demanding an accounting for the minors. Finally, I warned him that if he did not comply with my order and render an accounting within 24 hours, I would have him imprisoned. Once he realized there was no other alternative, he requested that we send a few officials to conduct an accounting. I sent four trustworthy clerks, and after a month of hard work they finally produced the records. The fortune the brother had amassed from the orphans’ inheritance was astronomical, and that was only what the clerks had managed to account for. I immediately revoked his guardianship and returned the properties to the minors. But God only knows how much of their inheritance he had already spent.
In my opinion, an official who accepts a bribe to overlook an investigation commits a greater transgression than the solicitor of the bribe.
In spite of these difficulties, Ostad Elahi persevered in government service for almost 30 years. He gradually rose through the ranks, from an Examining Magistrate in the District Courts to Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to Chief Judge of the Criminal Court of Appeals, the highest rank attainable in the judiciary. Later, in reflecting on this period of his life and the influence that his profession had on his spiritual path, he concluded that a single year spent in the judiciary striving to accomplish his duty and render justice for the sake of divine contentment had provided him with more spiritual experience than the 12 years of consecutive asceticism he had engaged in during his adolescence and youth.
In both volumes of his oral teachings, Ostad recounts numerous anecdotes from his judicial career. In these sayings, Ostad relays how he came to enter the judiciary despite his own reluctance, the manner in which he executed his duties as a judge, the pressures he routinely confronted, and the basis for his early retirement. A careful examination of the detailed explanations that appear in these works reveals the tests that he arranged for himself in the midst of society to constantly challenge his system of thought.