Proof or Reason for the Creator’s Justice
By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi
1. Goodness and Evil
We have learned and it seems that this issue is necessary that our intellect distinguishes between good and evil to a certain extent. (This is that very thing which scholars speak about in ethical terms as ‘goodness’ and ‘evil’).
For instance, we know that justice and goodness are good and oppression and stinginess are evil. Before religion even mentions these things, it was clear to us. However, there are other issues which exist which our intelligence is not sufficient to understand and we must seek guidance from Divine leaders and the prophets.
Thus, if a group of Muslims in the name of the Asharites deny intellectual goodness and, evil and the way of distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, to think that only religion brought the issue of justice and oppression, and things like this, is completely wrong.
Because if our intellect does not have the ability to choose between good and evil, how should we know whether or not God would send His message through false prophets? But the moment we say that lying is wrong and evil, and that it is impossible that God would lie, we know that God’s Promises are always true and that He is always truthful, we would never encourage deceit and never give miracles into the hands of a deceitful person.
It is here that we can rely upon what religion and the divine Law says.
Thus, we can conclude that the belief in intellectual good and evil is from religion. (Note this with care).
Now, let us return to the proof of Divine Justice. In order to understand this, we must know what is the source of oppression.
2. Source of Oppression
The source of oppression is one of the following things:
a. Ignorance: It sometimes happens that an oppressive person does not, in truth, know what he is doing. He does not know that he is destroying someone’s rights and he is not aware of what he is doing.
b. Need: Sometimes a person is tempted to undertake a satanic act in order to attain something that another has whereas if he were self-sufficient, in such a situation, he would have no need to commit oppression.
c. Inability: Sometimes a person is not willing to have the rights of another curtailed but he does not have the power or ability to do anything about it, and without willingness, he commits oppression.
d. Selfishness, bearing grudges and seeking revenge: Sometimes none of these qualities exist but selfishness causes one to aggress against others or the sense of seeking revenge or bearing a grudge makes that person commit oppression or the spirit of ‘exclusiveness’ and ‘monopolization’ causes injustice to others.
But noting that none of these ugly qualities and deficiencies exist in God, because He is the Knower of all things, needless of all things, has Power over all things and is kind to all, it makes no sense for Him to commit oppression. He is a Being Who is Endless, Perfect and Unlimited.
Only Goodness, Justice and Mercy can stem from such a Being.
If He punishes those who commit evil, in reality, it is the result of their deeds which causes this, just like a person who, as a result of the use of narcotics or alcohol, is afflicted with an incurable disease. The Holy Qur’an says: “You receive but the recompense of what you have earned.” (10:52)
3. The Holy Qur’an and the Justice of the Creator
It is important to note that the Holy Qur’an greatly emphasizes this point: “Verily God will not deal unjustly with man in aught. it is man that wrongs his own soul.” (10:44)
And in another place, it says: “God is never unjust in the least degree.” (4:40)
“We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least.” (21:47)
Thus, note that what is meant by ‘balance’ here, is the method of weighing good and evil, not like scales of this world.
4. Invitation to Justice and Equity
We have said that the qualities of the human being must be like a ray of God’s Qualities and in human society, God’s Qualities are widespread. According to this principle, to the same extent that the Holy Qur’an stresses the Justice of the Creator, He has also stressed justice and equity in human society and the individuality of individuals.
The Holy Qur’an says that oppression and injustice will destroy society and that the fate of oppressors is of the most painful kind.
The Holy Qur’an, in addition to mentioning the fate of past tribes, has often repeated this truth for people to see the result of oppression and corruption and what punishment will be given, fear that you not suffer such a fate.
The Holy Qur’an clearly states as a principle: “God commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to family members and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion... “(16:90)
It should be noted that committing oppression is an ugly act, to accept oppression and suffer suppression is also wrong according to Islam and the Holy Qur’an, “Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. “ (2:279)
In general, submission to inequity encourages oppression, increases suppression and aids oppressors.
Think and Answer
1. Can our intellect, independent of the Divine Law distinguish between good and evil?
2. What does oppression stem from? What is the intellectual proof of Gods Justice?
3. What does the Holy Qur’an say about the justice of the Creator and how does it negate oppression from Him?
4. What is a human being’s responsibility in regard to justice and oppression?
5. Is it also a sin to submit to oppression?
The Philosophy of Signs and Evil
From the earliest times to the present, a group of the unaware went against God’s Justice and expressed ideas that either God’s Justice did not exist or even sometimes they not only negated justice but used it as a means of proving the non-existence of God like unexpected catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural calamities, and differences of these types which can be found among people and also calamities and evil which extend to human beings or plants and animals.
1. Relative Judgment and Limited Knowledge
Normally, all of us, in our judgments and determination of confirmations, stress the relation things have with us. For instance, we say, such and such is near us or far from us - in other words, in relation to us.
Or such and such a person is strong or weak, that is, in comparison to our physical ability or spiritual situation.
In issues relating to good and evil and calamities and natural catastrophes, people’s judgment is usually the same.
For instance, if rain falls in a region, we have nothing to do with what the total effects of the rain were. We only think about our own environment, home or pasture areas, or, at the most, our own city. If it was a positive event, we say that it was God’s Blessing and if negative, we call it a negative event.
When they destroy a building in order to build a new one, and we only share in its dust, we say that it was a bad event even if in the future a hospital will be built there which everyone can make use of and even if the rain had positive effects in other parts of the city.
In our normal judgments, we consider a snake bite to be a calamity without recognizing the fact that this very bite and poison is effective means of defense for this animal and disregarding the fact that sometimes from this very poison, a life-giving medicine is produced which saves the lives of thousands of people.
Thus, if we do not want to be misled, we must look at our own limitations and in our judgments, not only look at things in relation to ourselves but rather consider all sides of the issue and judge from all points of view.
In principles, events in the world are all linked together like a chain. The hurricane which hits our city today and a heavy downpour of rain which brings floods is one of these long links which is completely related to other links and is related also with an event which took place in the past and will take place in the future.
The conclusion or result is that putting one’s fingers on only a small part of an issue and judging it accordingly is not to have used one’s intellect and logic.
That which is worthy of creation (that which creation deserves) is complete goodness but if something, from one point of view, is evil, goodness prevails. A surgical operation is discomforting, from one point of view, and, from another, beneficial. Thus, goodness is relative.
For further development and discussion, let us look at the occurrence of an earthquake. It is true that in one area, destruction occurs but if we consider its relation to other issues, we can change our opinion.
Does an earthquake relate to the temperatures and pressure within the earth or does it relate to the attractions of the moon which continuously draw the earth towards itself and it sometimes breaks or does it relate to both? Scientists have differing views.
But whatever of these exists, the effects upon another thing must be considered. That is, we must know what effect the temperature inside the earth has in creating oil resources, which is the most important energy material in our age and also the creation of coal, etc. Thus, goodness is relative.
And also what effect the ebb and flow of the tides stemming from the pull of the moon on the oceans has upon life within the water and its creatures and often, watering a dry coast line in places where sweat water meets the oceans. This is also a relative good.
It is here that we understand what relative judgments and limited information we have when we look at issues like this as dark points which the attractions of the created world contains and however much more we look at the relationship between phenomena, we become more aware of its importance.
The Holy Qur’an tells us “Of knowledge, it is only a little that is communicated to you.” (17:85)
2. Undesirable Events and Warnings
We have all seen people who when drowned in blessings, fall under the influence of price and selfishness and in this state or condition, many of the important human issues and duties are forgotten.
And, also, we have all seen that at the time of the calmness of the oceans of life and complete restfulness how such a state of sleep and forgetfulness is given a person, which, if it continues, will bring great misfortune to that person.
Without doubt, some of the undesirable events of life are in order to end that state of pride and to do away with this sleep and forgetfulness of life.
You have most certainly heard that experienced drivers complain about roads which are flat, level and lacking any twists or turns, ups or downs and they describe these attractive qualities as dangerous ones. Why?
Because the monotony of this road causes a driver to fall asleep and it is here that danger comes to him.
It has even been seen that some countries have created artificial ups and downs and put holes to prevent such a danger.
The path or way of life of a human being is also the same. If life does not have any ups or downs or potholes, and if undesirable events never occur, a state of forgetfulness of God and sleep will come and prevent a person from undertaking his or her duties and responsibilities.
We are not intimating that a human being must create undesirable events for himself or herself or welcome misfortune because calamities have continuously been and will continue to be.
Rather, we say that one must be attentive to a part of this philosophy which is to prevent pride and forgetfulness because these are enemies and barriers to well-being and happiness.
We repeat, this is the philosophy of a part of these undesirable events, not all of them because they have other aspects, as well, which, with the Will of God, will be mentioned in further lessons.
The Holy Qur’an tells us: “When the suffering reached them from Us, why then did they not learn humility?”(6:42)
Think and Answer
1. What people have mentioned the issue of calamities and catastrophes in their ideology?
2. Mention some calamities and catastrophes. In your own life, have you ever met up with them?
3. What is meant by relative judging and total judgment and absolute evil and relative good?
4. Are earthquakes and hurricanes only harmful?
5. What positive effects can undesirable events have upon one’s psyche?