It is a paradox that it is the Muslims who deny justice to their own people, while the cornerstone of the tenets of Islam is administration of justice. Let us have a brief look at the significance of justice in the Islamic system.
The Holy Qurâan considers justice to be a supreme virtue. It is a basic objective of Islam to the degree that it stands next in order of priority to belief in Godâs exclusive right to worship (Tawheed) and the truth of Prophet Muhammadâs (peace be upon him) prophethood.
The very fact that two of the attributes of Allah are closely linked to justice, apparently, underscores the significance of imparting justice to all. The two attributes are the Just (Al-Adil) and the Dispenser of Justice. (Al-Muqsit)
The Holy Qurâan commands, âAllah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.â (Al-Nahl 16:90)
Prophet Muhammad underscored the importance of rulers being just in one of his famous sayings. âThere are seven categories of people whom Allah will shelter under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. (One will be) a just leader.â (Saheeh Muslim)
The Qurâan warns believers against subjective factors or personal emotions leading them to deviate from the path of justice, which is also the path of Islam, but it weighs heavily upon those who are required to adjudicate in disputes or to give judgment on other issues.
âO you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: That is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.â (Al-Maidah: 8)
Muslims are also called upon to rise above social evils such as nepotism and favoritism. Almighty Allah says in the Qurâan, âO you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.â (Al-Nisa: 135)
A disordered society compounded of danger and distractions, unjust and troubled, provides no security for any other human pursuit let alone his spiritual development. The man who has to worry about his familyâs safety all the time is diverted from the remembrance of Allah, as is the one who has suffered injustice and must struggle to eliminate feelings of anger and resentment. Injustice fractures the brotherhood and sisterhood of the believers, which is an essential element of an Islamic society.
The simple fact is that Allah, who is called âthe Just,â commands justice both in society and in every aspect of human relations.
There were cases in the early history of Islam when men whom the ruler intended to appoint as judges fled from the court rather than assume this terrifying responsibility.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself when he was called upon to judge between litigants in civil matters warned that one of them might be more eloquent in putting his case than the other and thereby achieve an unjust settlement.
âIn such a case,â the Prophet said, âI will have given him a portion of hellfire.â This is clearly a grave matter indicating that those who seek justice must themselves practice it without deviation even to their own hurt.
For a Muslim, his yardstick in his life is the Holy Qurâan together with the example of the Prophet and their reflection in the human heart. There is no higher aim for the Muslim than the cultivation of a God-fearing heart. From the sound heart comes sound judgment.
Islam is a realistic religion. It recognizes the reality of human weakness. Those who are injured are permitted to take retaliation (Al-Qisas) but they are reminded at every turn that it is better to forgive and to seek reconciliation. The Muslims are commanded to return good for evil, thus breaking the vicious circle of animosity.
In the Prophetâs dealings with the unbelievers, who tried every means to destroy him and his community, he exemplified the rule of forgiveness and reconciliation, forgiving even the most vicious of his enemies when he finally re-entered Makkah in triumph, providing them with gifts so that their hard hearts might be softened and peace prevail after the years of conflict.
Justice might have required their punishment, but there is no contradiction here since there is more than one way to achieve balance, which, after all, is the ultimate objective of justice.
Islam describes its community as a society of the middle way (Al-Ummah Al-Wasat), a religion of moderation in everything except the love and worship of God. Muhammad (peace be upon him) condemned extremism with the greatest severity and todayâs Muslims have a greater need to be reminded of this than ever before as they do of his saying that âanger burns up good deeds just as fire burns up dry wood.â
According to a saying of the Prophet, Almighty Allah says, âO My slaves, I have forbidden injustice for Myself and forbade it also for you. So avoid being unjust to one another.â (Saheeh Muslim) ¬