On Justice

Below are some brief notes on Justice in Islam. Neither the list of points, nor the scriptural texts quoted, are intended to be exhaustive. The topic is clearly more vast than to be encompassed in a brief note such as this.

·                     Justice is a central value – if not the central value – in Islam

“Verily, Allah commands justice, kindness and giving to relatives, and prohibits shamefulness, wrong and transgression. He instructs you that you might take heed.” [Qur’an, 16:90]

`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, the Companion, held this verse to the most comprehensive verse of the Qur’an.

The themes of divine justice, particularly in the Hereafter, and of the imperative for human justice, can be found in a large number of verses.

·                     Justice is also one of the attributes of Allah

“Allah does not do injustice [even to the extent] of an atom’s weight.” [Qur’an, 4:40]

·                     Allah has established creation upon the principle of justice

“And the sky He has uplifted; and He has set the balance.” [Qur’an 55:7]

“[Allah is] maintaining His creation in justice.” [Qur’an, 3:18]

·                     Allah has granted human beings a natural disposition to enable them to discern justice

“So set your purpose for religion as a man by nature upright – the nature [established by] Allah, upon which He has created man. Let there be no altering of Allah’s creation! That is the right religion, but most men know not.” [Qur’an 30:30]

“One who relies on a clear proof from his Lord – and a witness [in the form of a divinely inspired messenger] from Him follows it, and before it was the Book of Moses, an example and a mercy – can [he be equal with the disbeliever]? Such believe therein; and whoever disbelieves therein of the groups, the Fire is his appointed place. So be not in doubt concerning it. Surely, it is the Truth from your Lord; but most of mankind believe not.” [Qur’an 11:17]

·                     Allah has prohibited injustice upon His self, and upon mankind

The Prophet has said: Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, said:

“My servants! I have prohibited injustice (oppression) to Myself, and I have made it prohibited for you amongst yourselves, so do not commit injustice against one another…”  [Muslim]

·                     Final justice will be implemented in the Hereafter

We are expected to stand for, and strive for justice in this world. Nevertheless, justice is not always achieved in this world. The Day of Judgment and the Hereafter are thus necessary corollaries of God’s being just.

“And [the God-conscious believers are] those who believe in what was revealed to you, and what was revealed before you, and they are certain of the Hereafter.” [Qur’an, 2:4].

Of course, for practical purposes – regulation of society, safeguarding of rights and safety – justice must be implemented and meted out (through appropriate channels) in this world: for dissuasion and reform. The belief in the Hereafter should not be used as an excuse for defeatism, fatalism or inaction.

“We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice.” [Qur’an, 57:25]

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