THE world is teeming with crimes against humanity; not only the more obvious ones such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, torture, the bombing of innocent non-combatants and the use of chemical weapons, but also the more insidious racism, exploitation of the poor, adulteration, abuse of young people and vulnerable children in schools and theft in the name of development.
Add to this the growing danger to individual security, the repression of freedom of thought and expression in the name of patriotism and religion, and the use of legislation to suppress criticism of the state, and one has all the makings of an order where a few world powers and a handful of individuals control the life, honor and property of a large population.
It is more and more an unjust and unjust world, and not because God made it so.
The concept of justice in the Qur’an begins with the creation of the world; “… and He established the scales (of righteousness)” (55: 7). The idea of balance, in fact, is woven into the whole Islamic code of life, in which Muslims are required to live, worship and act in a balanced manner. Likewise, righteousness is one of the qualities of God: the Qur’an says that God “is never unjust in the slightest degree” (4:40). The Prophet (pbuh) quoted God saying: “O my servants, I have forbidden myself injustice and I have forbidden it among you, so do not do injustice” (Sahih Muslim 2577).
The concept of justice deals with the quality of the soul and of society.
According to Al Raghib Al Isfahani, a specialist in 11th-century Quranic exegesis, the concept of justice in Islam is one that deals with both the quality of the soul and the quality of society. It is of three types: justice to God; justice to others and justice to oneself. The first is related to the fulfillment of the human commitment to God during the primordial phase; that of worshiping only Him and no one else. It is indeed in the nature of man to believe in one God and, therefore, in the Hereafter. Righteousness to God is also a direct consequence of being righteous to oneself and to others.
Several words are used in the Quran for the idea of justice. According to Isfahani, justice towards oneself is “adl” and justice towards society is “qist”. ‘Adl’ carries with it meanings of balance, as in generosity being the balance between being stingy and extravagant.
‘Qist’ means the adoption of principles of equity and equality in a socio-economic sense. This is what constitutes social justice that creates a just, moral and just society in which all human beings are treated equally, regardless of wealth, social status, gender, etc. Those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable in any way are treated in a way that could, over time, bring them on a par with others in a dignified way. In addition, the Quran asks people to be fair to other species and the environment.
The legal form of Islamic justice treats everything fairly, so that even if a next of kin commits a crime, they are morally obligated to testify. One of the most important verses on righteousness is: “O you who believe! Stand up firmly for righteousness, as witnesses of God, even to yourselves, or to your parents, or to your family, and whether (against) the rich or the poor: for God can better protect both. Do not follow the lusts (of your hearts), lest you turn aside, and if you distort (righteousness) or refuse to do righteousness, verily, God knows well all that you do ”(4:13) ). Note that one will be responsible before God for being unjust if one decides to stay away and be neutral, knowing the path to righteousness.
The third type is being righteous and just to one’s inner self: making efforts to purify the soul of deceit, temptation, corruption, and base desires. To indulge in a sin deliberately is to do oneself an injustice (zulm). If one is unfair to oneself and / or to others, it would be tantamount to doing injustice to God. Also, being fair to others and to yourself would be like being fair to God.
The Quran’s code of justice is based on human relations based on justice and equity. It demands not only the justice that is done by legal means in a court, but also that quality which must be the foundation of the character of a true Muslim. Building righteous character in oneself is essential if one is to be fair to others.
Such a character would ensure that one submits to a responsibility against a strict moral scale in which being righteous to God, oneself and others is of paramount importance.
He would treat his neighbor, co-traveler, co-citizen and co-inhabitant of the same global system with consideration, benevolence and compassion.
Many of us might ask ourselves: How righteous are we to ourselves, to each other, and to God?
The author is an individual contributor interested in religion.
Posted in Dawn, July 9, 2021