TITLE OF BOOK: Guide to Advocates; An English Language Translation and Commentary on Tuhfatul Hukkam
AUTHOR: Barrister Abbas Abdullahi Machika Esq
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2020
PUBLICATION HOUSE: www.amazon.com
REVIEWER: Ibrahim Musa
I must first commend Abbas Abdullahi Machika Esq for having the vision to write the English translation of the Arabic book TUHFATUL HUKKAM, now A GUIDE TO ADVOCATES. Not only that, I feel proud that a Nigerian is the first person to write the English translation of such an important magnum opus of shari’a law. You can’t understand fully the significant of this translation until you first know what the Arabic book is to all students and followers of shari’a law in Africa, south of the Sudan in particular and the Muslim world in general.
Tuhfatul Hukkam was originally written by the Chief Judge of Grenada (then part of al-Andalus), Honorable Justice Abubakar Muhammad bn Muhammad bin Asim al-Andalusi al-Garnadi in the year 1399 (820H). Roughly the book is over six centuries old! This book has gained wide acceptance in all Islamic kingdoms where the Maliki School of jurisprudence is widely practised, especially the West Africa sub region. Over the years it had attracted commentaries by various scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence.
Hence, this book “Guide to Advocates; An English Language Translation and Commentary on Tuhfatul Hukkam” presents to the reader comprehensive principles of Islamic Law on Evidence, Practice and Procedure, Family Law, Commercial and Property law, Criminal Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution as well as Ethics and Code of Conduct for Judges, as Hon. Justice I. T. Muhammad, the immediate CJN observes in his foreword to it.
Also Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar, NPOM, Chief Judge, High Court of Justice,
Katsina in his foreword to the book applauded the effort of the Author, Machika, saying “The book is no doubt a welcome development for use by Judges, Lawyers, Teachers and Students of law and even to those who are interested in the subject of Shari’a.”
Dr. Shehu Ibrahim Ahmad, Grand Kadi, Shari’ah Court of Appeal, Kaduna State, has this to say on the book: “This book can be considered as basic ‘must have’ materials for all Law Practitioners, Judges and students of Shariah. Not only those this work provides concise definitions and explanation of Shariah Legal Terms, Laws, Rules and Procedures, it also clarify the differences between case laws that seem to be similar.
Now let me give a brief description of the book to the reader. Just as the adage “a good book can be judge by its cover” says, this book has a professionally designed cover for its genre. The book consists of 17 chapters, with each one divided into sections. Due to space constraints I will not discuss what all the chapters discussed. Chapter 1 dwelt on administration of justice and related matters in 7 sections. Chapter 2 expatiated on witnesses, types of witnesses etc, while Chapter 3 was on swearing of oaths and what relates to it.
Chapter 8 talked extensibly on marriage and related matters. In fact it is the second largest chapter in the book. The biggest chapter is Chapter 11 which is on commercial transactions and related Matters. The last chapter being Chapter 17 on succession and the heirs. I must confess the book is voluminous with 580 pages.
Another outstanding feature of this book is the commentary of the Author on the Arabic texts. Having read the book, I was impressed by the effort of Machika in relating some issues raised by author of the Arabic text with contemporary judgements of Shari’a Courts, the Court of Appeal up to the Supreme Court. He also alluded to this when he said, “In commenting on the legal principles of this text, I endeavoured to provide the relevant case law materials as applied and decided by the superior courts of record in Nigeria. The objective is to as far as possible simplify the principles of Islamic Law by highlighting their applications in disputes that had already been decided by these courts.”
I’m tempted to quote verbatim one of such outstanding commentaries in the book by Machika. “V1-13 The author prays to Allah Most High to ease for him the burden He Has decreed on him, to give him the courage and guidance to be just in his duty of dispensing justice among people, so that he will be one out of the three judges, whose last abode shall be the gardens of al-Jannah, according to the Hadith reported by Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, where he said that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said that judges are of three categories; two are in hell fire, one is in paradise. The judge who knows the truth and judges in accordance with it shall be in paradise, the judge who knows the truth but does not judge in accordance with it has committed injustice and shall be in hell and the last is the judge who does not know the truth and he bases his judgement on his ignorance and personal feelings or convictions shall also be in hell.
“In the case of Ziza v. Mamman, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria states, on the above hadith, that: “Both in Sahih Bukhari, Abu Dawud and Ibn Maja the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was quoted to have said about Qadis (i.e. judges ) thus- The Qadis are of three types. One type will go to paradise and the remaining two will end up in the fire of hell. The person who will go to paradise is one who understood the truth and judged accordingly. The one who judge unjustly after understanding the truth will go to hell. Likewise, Qadi who judge in ignorance also will go to hell.”
“It is still in that illuminating judgment the Court of Appeal declares a nullity judgement delivered by a judge who, singly or in a panel of judges, is not learned in Islamic Law:
“By its nature, Islamic Law abhors a judge not learned in its proceedings toiling with the sacred law. This is why it is mandatory under the Islamic legal system that only a man well versed in the science of Islamic jurisprudence should be made a judge. Therefore if a person or judge is ignorant of Islamic law, his decision on Islamic law is a nullity. Also, if a judge or panel of judges adjudicates in Islamic law while not knowledgeable in that law and not aided by an assessor who is learned in the law, a decision therefrom is a nullity.”
Before I conclude this review, I must tell the reader who is Hon. Abbas Abdullahi Machika? He answered the question himself at the back cover of the book: Barrister Abbas Abdullahi Machika is a legal practitioner based in Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria. He is a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, admitted in the Bar in 1985 with Enrolment Number SCN007334B. He is a Notary Public, Professional Negotiator and Mediator and a member Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria.
Barrister A. A. Machika as he is also known, has been in active legal practice as law lecturer, as Chief Magistrate, as Attorney General of Katsina State. He also served as the Clerk to the House of Assembly, Katsina State and also served as a Member House of Representatives, Nigeria, from 2011-2015.
He is a member of many professional bodies, voluntary organizations and incorporated trustees. He has attended many National and International Professional Conferences, Seminars and Workshops. He has written many topical papers in Law and Law related topics.
He is presently based at Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria, he can be reached through the following:
Concludingly, I concur with Hon. Justice Saddik Abdullahi Mahuta, OON, Galadiman Katsina, Former Chief Judge of Katsina State, when he made a recommendation on the book. He said: “In this translation and commentary of TUHFATUL HUKKAM guidance is provided on various fields like Evidence, Procedure and Mu’amalat which as we all know encompasses the day to day interaction between members of the society at various levels and in various endeavours. The guidance contain in this work is therefore recommended for judges who are desirous to obtain success and fulfillment in their careers. May Allah in His infinite mercy bless this work and make it beneficial to all those who came across same.” Ameen.