Islam has glorified justice
By: Sayyid Mahdi as-Sadr
Justice is the master of virtues and the course to peace. Islam has glorified justice and encouraged it through numerous texts of the Quran and the Sunna: “Allah commands (people) to maintain justice, kindness, and proper relations with their relatives. (16:90)”
“Be just in your words, even if the party involved is one of your relatives. (6:152)”
“Allah commands you to return that which had been entrusted to you to the rightful owners. Be just when passing judgment among people. (4:58)”
As he was asked about the codes of the religion completely, Imam as-Sajjad (a) said: “They are to say the right, judge with justice, and fulfill the pledge1.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “Justice is more delicious than honey, softer than butter, and more sweet- smelling than musk2.”
Imam ar-Rida (a) said: “The application of justice and charity is sign of the continuance of graces3.”
Forms of Justice
(1) Man’s justice towards God
This is the brightest form, the highest concept, and the title of credibility of justice. How is it possible for anyone to fulfill the obligations of God so justly since God is the All-benefactor whose graces are innumerable and favors are incalculable? It is impossible to achieve justice towards the Lord who is absolutely Self-Sufficient except through confessing of shortcoming.
Justice towards God stands for the believing in Him, being sincere with Him, believing in His messengers and representatives, and responding to the necessities, such as the love for Him, having the honor of worshipping Him, persisting on the obedience to Him, and being away from the acts of disobedience to Him.
(2) Man’s justice towards the society
This form of justice can be achieved by observing the individuals’ rights, refraining from maltreating them, dealing with them through noble traits, and courtesy, and sympathizing the poor as well as the other matters of social justice.
In the holy Quran, God summarizes the factuality of the public justice by saying: “Allah commands (people) to maintain justice, kindness, and proper relations with their relatives. He forbids them to commit indecency, sin, and rebellion. Allah gives you advice so that perhaps you will take heed. (16:90)”
Amirul-Mu'minin (a) depicted the course of the social justice so briefly and eloquently: “My son, make yourself the measure for dealings between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others, as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others, which you would like others to accept from you. Do not talk about what you do not know even though what you know be very little. Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.”
(3) Justice towards the dead
The alive should be just towards the dead who departed this life leaving fortunes and gaining nothing in their everlasting journey except a few yards of clothes and narrow spans of the inside of the earth.
It is just for the alive to feel sympathetic to the dead and reward them equitably by implementing their wills, defraying their debts, doing charitable and righteous deeds for their sake, and seeking God’s forgiveness to them.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “The dead feels happy for seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness for him in the same way as the alive feels happy for the presents gifted to him.”
“As for Muslims who do a charitable deed for the sake of a dead, Allah will double their rewards and will reward the dead for that deed, too4.”
(4) Justice of the rulers
Because of their being the leaders of people and the guardians of nation, the rulers are the worthiest of being characterized by justice. On that account, the rulers’ justice represents the highest concept of justice and the most influential. Through the rulers’ justice, security is achieved, peace predominates, luxury prevails, and the subjects become happy.
Advantages of Justice
The sound souls are created on the nature of the love for justice and hate for wronging. Over the existence on this earth, all human beings agreed unanimously, despite their different trends and courses, on glorifying justice. Furthermore, they have gone on praising its virtues and dedicating themselves to the doing of justice. It is then the secret of the existence of nations and the symbol of virtues. Only was it because the loss of justice, the great powers collapsed and the glorious civilizations reduced to rubble.
The Ahlul-Bayt (a) were high examples of justice. Their deeds and words were immortal lessons that light for humanity the courses of justice, right, and guidance: In his final disease, the Prophet (S) asked people to retaliate upon him if he had made mistake with any of them intentionally or unintentionally. Suwada Ibn Qays said: “O God’s Messenger, once, you were riding your she-camel and having a cane in the hand when I received you after you had been in Ta’if. As you were trying to beat your riding animal with your cane, you hit my belly.” The Prophet (S) ordered him to retaliate. “Show me your belly,” asked Suwada, and the Prophet did. “May I put my mouth on your belly, God’s Messenger?” asked Suwada. The Prophet permitted, and Suwada said: “I seek the guard of the Prophet’s place of retaliation against fire of Hell.”
The Prophet then asked him to retaliate or forgive. “I will certainly forgive, God’s Messenger,” said Suwada. The Prophet prayed: “Allah, forgive Suwada Ibn Qays, for he forgave You Prophet Muhammad5.”
Abu Saeed al-Khidri narrated the following: A Bedouin asked the Prophet (S) importunately to defray the debt that he owed him. The companions interfered and reproached the Bedouin, saying, “Woe is you. Do you know to whom are you addressing?” “I am only demanding with my right,” said the Bedouin. The Prophet (S) said to his companions: “You should have been with the right party.”
He then summoned Khawla bint Qays and asked her to loan him some dates and promised he would repay her when his share would come to his hand. She did, and the Prophet (S) gave the Bedouin his due in full after he had invited him to a meal. The Bedouin said: “You have given the due in full. God may give you your due in full.” The Prophet commented: “Those who give the due in full are the best of people. Woe to the nation whose individuals do not give the weak his due in full.”
It is said that the Bedouin embraced Islam after he had seen the high morality of the Prophet, and said: “God’s Messenger, I have never seen such a fair individual6.”
Thus was Amirul-Mu'minin Ali (a). Imam as-Sadiq (a) narrated the following.
When he hold the position of caliphate, Ali (a) scaled the mimbar and said: “All praise and thanks be to Allah. I will not seize a single dirham from your shares so long as a single bunch of my dates in Yathrib is available. Be sure. Do you think I will prefer you to myself?” Aqil7 stood up and said: “This means that you will put me and the black ones of Medina on the same level, does it not?” The Imam (a) asked him to sit down, and said, “You have no preference to the black ones of Medina except by means of a virtue in Islam or piety8.”
The following narration in recorded by Ibn Hagar in his book titled ‘As-Sawaaiq ul-Muhriqa’ page 79: (Ibn Asakir narrated that) Aqil asked Amirul- Mu'minin (a) to give him some money because he was poor. The Imam told him to wait until his share of the public treasury would come out. As Aqil insisted, the Imam asked a man to take Aqil to the market and lead him to the locks of the stores so that he would unlock and take from them. “Do you want me to be thief?” asked Aqil. The Imam (a) said: “And do you want me to be thief as you ask me to give you the shares of Muslims?” Aqil then threatened he would join Muawiya.
As soon as Aqil asked him, Muawiya gave him one hundred thousand dirhams and asked him to take the mimbar and tell people his story with his brother.
Aqil ascended the mimbar and said: “People, when I tried to make Ali give up his religion, he refused and preferred his religion to me. But when I asked Muawiya to prefer me to his religion, he did9.”
Ibn Abbas narrated the following: I, once, visited Amirul-Mu'minin (a) and found him repairing one of his old slippers. As he finished, he added it to the other and asked me to evaluate. “It is valueless,” I answered. As he insisted, I said: “They may be half a dirham.” He (a) commented: “By Allah I swear, these slippers are favorable for me to my leadership to you unless I constitute the right or reject the wrong10.”
On another occasion, Imam Ali (a) said: “By Allah, I would rather pass a night in wakefulness on the thorns of as-Sadan (a plant having sharp prickles) or be driven in chains as a prisoner than meet Allah and His Messenger on the Day of Judgment as an oppressor over any person or a usurper of anything out of worldly wealth. And how can I oppress any one for (the sake of a life) that is fast moving towards destruction and is to remain under the earth for a long time11.”
Terminologically, injustice is to put a thing in an inappropriate place. Polytheism, hence, is grave injustice, because it is replaced with monotheism. Conventionally, injustice stands for the seizure of rights, and the words and deeds of hostility against others, such as revilement, backbiting, and confiscation of property, crimes of beating or murder, and the like forms of wrongdoings.
Injustice, however, is one of the bad characteristics that are deep-rooted in most of the mentalities. All over history, humankind suffered various kinds of tragedies that made life seem depressing. It therefore is the comprehensive of sins, source of evils, and incentive of corruption. God says: “The unjust will certainly have no happiness. (6:21)”
“Allah does not guide the unjust. (6:144)”
“Allah does not love the unjust. (3:57)”
“The unjust will face a painful punishment. (14:22)”
“We destroyed certain generations who lived before you because of their injustice. (10:13)”
“Do not think that Allah is unaware of what the unjust people do. (14:42)”
“(On the Day of Judgment) to redeem oneself of one's injustice, one would gladly spend the wealth of the whole earth if it were possible. On seeing the torment one will try to hide his regret. They will all be judged fairly and no wrong will be done to them. (10:54)”
Amirul-Mu'minin (a) said: “By Allah, even if I am given all the domains of the seven (stars) with all that exists under the skies in order that I may disobey Allah to the extent of snatching one grain of barley from an ant, I would not do it. For me, your world is lighter than the leaf in the mouth of a locust that is chewing it. What has Ali to do with bounties that will pass away and pleasures that will not last?”
Abu Bassir narrated the following: Two parties of litigation filed their case before Imam as-Sadiq (a). After he had listened to both of them, the Imam spoke: “It is quite true that he who seizes something by wrong means is not seizing goodness. Certainly, the oppressed party seizes from the religion of the wronging party more than that which the wronging party seizes from the oppressed party’s property. He who does evil to people should not show loathing towards the evil that is done to him. As a matter of fact, man will harvest nothing but that which he sowed. No one will harvest sweetness from the bitter, and no one will harvest bitterness from the sweet.”
These words of the Imam (a) made the two parties settle their litigation before they left him12.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “He who seizes his brother’s property wrongfully will consume a flame of fire on the Day of Resurrection13.”
“As for him who wrongs others, Allah will cause him, his descendants, or the descendants of his descendants to be wronged by absolute persons.”
When the Imam was asked how it is acceptable for God to cause somebody to wrong the descendants of the wrongdoer, he referred to God’s saying: “Those who are concerned about the welfare of their own children after their death should have fear of Allah and guide them properly. (4:9)”
To punish sons for their fathers’ crimes is restricted only to those who accept and welcome their fathers’ wrongdoings so that they would inherit such usurped properties. To punish such sons is a reproach that discourages the wrongdoers from aggressions out of their care for their dear sons. It is also a good tiding for the oppressed individuals that their oppressors will be punished eventually.
The Prophet (S) said: “For anyone who begins his day without having the intent to oppress anybody, Allah will forgive his sins that he committed against his Lord-.”
Forms of Injustice
Self-wronging is the negligence of the obedience to God. Therein, disappointment and humility will be the result: “(I swear) By the soul and that (Power) which designed it and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety, those who purify their souls will certainly have everlasting happiness and those who corrupt their souls will certainly be deprived (of happiness) (91:10).”
(2) Injustice towards the Family
Injustice towards the family occurs when the paterfamilias neglects to apply the true Islamic education to them, overlooks to guide them to virtue, uses excessive severity and violence, and prevents them from having the necessities of good livelihood. Such matters cause material and ethical shortcomings to the family members.
(3) Injustice towards the Relatives
This form of injustice occurs when the relatives are deserted, disappointed in misfortunes, and deprived of feelings of kindness. Such matters bring about enmity and disregard of relations.
(4) Injustice towards the Society
This form of injustice occurs when the individuals of a society are treated proudly, their rights are neglected, dignities are disrespected, and interests are disregarded. Such behaviors cause social corruption. The most hideous forms of social injustice is wronging the weak individuals who lack the ability to defend themselves and have no weapon other than complaining and supplicating to the All-merciful Just Lord.
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: “When my father was dying, he hanged me to his chest and said: son, I command you with the matter that my father said to me that his father had commanded him with when he was dying. I command you to beware of wronging him who has no supporter against you except Allah14.”
(5) Injustice of the Rulers
This sort of injustice is the gravest.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) narrated: “Allah ordered, by revelation, one of the prophets to go to the absolute ruler of that kingdom and say to him: I have not appointed you for shedding their blood and seizing their property. I only appointed you for responding to the cries of the oppressed people. Even if they are atheists, I will not neglect the oppressions that the wronged people encounter.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) related on the authority of his fathers that the Prophet (S) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, Hell will speak to three categories of people: the rulers, the reciters, and the wealthy. It will say to the ruler: ‘Allah gave you authority, but you did not rule justly.’ Hell, then, will swallow him in the same way as birds swallow grains of sesame.
To the reciter, Hell will say: ‘You adorned yourself before people but fought against Allah by committing the acts of disobedience to him.’ Hell, then, will swallow him.
To the wealthy, Hell will say: ‘Allah showered you with abundant worldly wealth, but when He asked you for a loan, you refused out of your stinginess.’
Hell, then, will swallow him15.”
The previous threat is not restricted only to the wrongdoers; it also includes those who join the oppressors, those who accede to their deeds, and those who contribute in their evildoings. All these are partners in the sin and the punishment: Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “The wrongdoer, his supporter, and the one who accepts his deed are partners (of the same crime).”
To stand by the oppressed people and protect them from inequity is one of the best acts of obedience to God that leave nice traces and good marks on the spiritual and material existence of humankind.
Imam al-Kadhim (a) said to Ibn Yaqttin16: “Guarantee for me one thing and I will guarantee for you three things: guarantee for me that you will settle the need of anyone of our adherents that you meet in the center of caliphate and I guarantee for you that you shall not encounter the strike of swords, you shall not be under the ceiling of any cell, and poverty shall never visit your house17.”
Abu al-Hasan (a) said: “There are certain disciples of Allah who accompany the rulers for guarding Allah’s disciples. (According to another report,) Those are the ones whom Allah will save from Hell18.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “The expiation of holding governmental authorities is to settle the needs of the friends19.”
A man asked Imam as-Sadiq (a) to write a message to an-Nejashi, the treasury official of al-Ahwaz and Persia, to cancel the debts that he owed his office, since an-Nejashi was Shiite. The Imam did, and the man carried that message to an-Nejashi and handed it over to him when they were alone. In that message, the Imam (a) wrote: “In the Name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful. Please your brother and Allah will please you.”
As he read the message, an-Nejashi kissed and put it between his eyes and asked the man about his need. “I owe your office ten thousand dirhams,” said the man. An-Nejashi asked his secretary to cancel the debt and record ten thousand dirhams that the man would have the next year. He then took out ten thousand dirhams and gave to the man and asked, “Have I pleased you?” “Yes, you have,” answered the man. An-Nejashi took another bag of ten thousand dirhams and gave to the man and asked, “Have I pleased you?” “Yes, you certainly have,” said the man. An-Nejashi went on giving that man everything, including a riding animal, a bond maiden, and a servant, and asking whether he had pleased him until it was the turn of the rug on which he was sitting. He also asked the man to provide all his needs so that he would settle them.
The man came to Imam as-Sadiq (a) and told him of the whole story. The Imam was highly delighted. “Son of God’s Messenger,” asked the man, “Are you pleased by that which an-Nejashi had done to me?” The Imam answered: “Yes, indeed, by Allah. His deed has also pleased Allah and His Messenger20.”
Bad Consequences of Injustice
To deem ugly and deny injustice is a natural quality of humankind. The free spirits refute injustice and exert all efforts for fighting against it. Commonness of injustice is the most dangerous epidemic on societies, since it causes social collapse. To overlook acts of injustice encourages the oppressors to go beyond the limits in aggression and criminality. It also enjoins the oppressed people to revenge themselves upon others. Such being the case, disorder will be common. All this will certainly produce dissolution of nations as well as loss of security and luxury.
Treatment of Injustice
It is very difficult to treat from injustice and pull up its roots. At any rate, it may be possible to ease the sharpness of injustice by:
• Keeping in mind the virtues of justice and nice influence, such as spread of peace, amicability, and comfort,
• Learning lessons from the disadvantages and mental and material damages of injustice,
• Strengthening the religious restraint by means of educating the conscience and the feelings of the values and purposeful concepts of faith, and
• Studying the examples of the despots who suffered the evilest consequences because of their tyranny and injustice.
It is narrated that a Kurdish celebrity, once, was invited to a banquet of a prince. As he noticed two grilled partridges on the banquet, he smiled. The prince asked him for a reason. He narrated: “When I was in the vigor of my youth, I waylaid a merchant. When I was about to kill him, he begged me, but, uselessly. When he despaired, he turned to two partridges that were on a mountain and asked them to be the witnesses on that crime. Now, I remembered that situation when my eyes fell on these two grilled partridges.”
As the man finished, the prince said: “Yes, the two partridges testified on your crime.” He then ordered to behead that man21.
It is also narrated that, one night, Abdul-Melik Ibn Marwan the Umayyad caliph- could not sleep; therefore, he summoned a storyteller who told the following story: “An owl in Mosul asked the hand of the daughter of an owl in Basra for her son. The owl of Basra stipulated that the dowry should be one hundred ruined villages. ‘Well,’ answered the owl of Mosul, ‘I cannot do so now. But if God perpetuates our governor for only one more year, I will easily do it.’”
Abdul-Melik was highly affected by this story. Since early morning, he dedicated all his efforts to repealing the injustice that befell some people, judging justly between individuals, and inspecting his officials’ deeds22.
1. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 16 (as quoted from Kitab ul-Ahsara; page 116 and as-Saduq’s al-Khissal).
2. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 89 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
3. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 16 (as quoted from Kitab ul-Ahsara; page 116 and Uyounu Akhbar ir-Ridha).
4. These two narratives are quoted from Sheikh as-Saduq’s Men La Yahdhuruh ul-Faqih.
5. Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; part 1 page 671.
6. Quoted from Fadhaail ul-Khamsa Mines Sihah is-Sitteh, part 1 page 122 (as quoted from Ibn Madgeh’s Sahih).
7. Aqil ibn Abi Talib is the brother of Imam Ali, peace be upon him.
8. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 9 page 539 (as quoted from al-Kafi).
9. Quoted from Fadhaail ul-Khamsa Mines Sihah is-Sitteh, part 3 page 15.
10. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 2 page 570.
11. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 2 page 606.
12. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 162 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
13. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 162 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
14. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 162 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
15. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 16/209 (as quoted from as- Saduq’s al-Khissal).
16. Ibn Yaqttin was holding a high position in the center of caliphate.
17. Quoted from al-Bahaai’s al-Kashkul; 124.
18. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 10 page 28 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
19. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 10 page 28 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
20. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 10 page 28 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
21. Quoted from al-Kashkul: 21. It is also in Hayat ul-Hayawan; THE PARTRIDGE
22. Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; 1/110. It is also recorded in Siraj ul-Mulouk.