Justice and Fairness under All Circumstances
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The third rule in social relations is the commitment to justice and fairness with all people without discrimination. Hence, one is required to be fair even if such fairness forces him to confess his mistake in any incident or issue. This rule expresses the ethical background of the Islamic concept of social relations.
In its capacity as one of the most significant aspects of the social system, this rule has been adopted by Islam as the basis on which its whole system is established. Hence, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) regarded justice as an essential foundation of man’s relationship with Almighty Allah.
Second to divine mercy, justice is a pillar in man’s relationship with the Creator; in the production and distribution of wealth; in government; in judgment between parties of a dispute; and in man’s relationship with himself.
Maintenance of Justice among People
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) emphasized justice and fair play as the basis of the social system in general and in social relations in particular. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: Fear Allah and act justly yourselves, for you are censuring people who do not establish justice.6
He (‘a) is also reported to have said: Justice is sweeter than honey, softer than butter, and more fragrant than musk.7
Protest against Injustice
The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) prohibited unjust treatment of the people. Usually, injustice is the result of misappropriation and disequilibrium in the accurate criteria of social relations.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: No one commits a wrongdoing but that Almighty Allah shall punish him for it in his personal affairs or property. As for wrongdoings that one commits in his relationship with Almighty Allah, they are forgivable when the wrongdoer repents.8
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: No act of injustice is graver than wronging one who has no helping power to repel it save Almighty Allah.9
Abu-Basir has reported that two disputing men visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and each one put forward his claim. After he had heard both of them, the Imam (‘a) said: Truly, I say, he that gains something by unjust means has in fact gained no benefit. Verily, the wronged party seizes from the faith of the wronging party more than the wronging party seizes unjustly from the property of the wronged party. He that causes evil to people must not complain against the evil that is caused to him. Verily, the son of Adam (i.e. man) will reap only that which he has sown. No one can harvest sweetness from the bitter and no one can harvest bitterness from the sweet.
Upon hearing these words, the two disputing parties made up with each other and left.10
Giving others their rights even if it be against oneself
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) urged their followers to be fair with all people by giving them their rights even if it went against their own interests. Hence, The Holy Imams (‘a) confirmed that the quality of faith (i.e. iman) cannot be ascribed to anyone who does not treat all people equally and give each one his due even if he does not receive his own due.
Seemingly, any unjust act in social relations initially arises from one’s preferring oneself to others and giving one’s own right precedence over the rights of others. This trend then develops to include preferring certain individuals to others and giving the rights of a certain group precedence over the rights of the public. Justice will be established among all people when each person gives all others their due even if it is against oneself.
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Three acts are the masters of all deeds: (1) to treat people fairly even if it is against oneself, (2) to be cordial with your brothers in faith, and (3) to praise Almighty Allah in all circumstances.11
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: He who financially comforts the poor from his wealth and gives people their dues, even if it be against his own interests, is a true and faithful believer.12
Abu-’Ubaydah al-Hadhdha' has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: May I tell you about the most difficult duty that Almighty Allah has imposed on His creatures? It is to give others their rights against oneself, to equate brethren-in-faith with oneself, to praise Almighty Allah under all conditions, to perform any act of obedience to Almighty Allah whenever it is encountered, and to avoid any act of disobedience to Him whenever encountered.13
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) instructed their followers strongly to love for their brethren-in-faith whatever they loved for themselves.
This instruction can be evidently seen in Imam ‘Ali’s instructive letter to his son, Imam Hasan (‘a), in which he said: Love for the others whatever you love for yourself and hate for them whatever you hate for yourself.14
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) also said: Almighty Allah, through revelation, addressed to Adam the following: I will summarize the whole wording for you in the following four statements…one statement is about Me, the other about you, the third about what is between you and Me, and the fourth is about what is between you and the people…The word that is for Me is that you must worship me without setting any partner with Me. The word that is for you is that I reward you for your deeds when you are in the most urgent need for that reward. The word that pertains to what is between you and Me is that you pray to Me and I respond to you. The word that pertains to what is between you and the people is that you accept for them whatever you accept for yourself and hate for them whatever you hate for yourself.15
Nobility of Character and Indulgence
The fourth rule according to the instructions of the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is showing nobility of character, kindness and leniency while interacting with people. This is the ethical basis of openness in social relations.
It is necessary to understand that the ethical tenor of social relations consists of love and affection. It is not an empty, formal relation or a mechanism that is based on mutual benefits and interests; rather, it is an emotional and sentimental tie because social relations cannot attain perfection through common or personal interests but through mutual love and affection.
Undoubtedly, good manners, showing affection to others, courtesy, and forbearance in dealing with people are expressions of this love and indicate the first important step on this path, remove all barriers and negative impacts that stand against love, and symbolize love at the time that its constituents and elements attain perfection.
Traditions corroborating this tenor and its outcomes have been reported from the Holy Prophet (S): Shaykh al-Kulayni, through an authentic chain of authority, has quoted Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as relating the following: A Bedouin from the Banu-Tamim tribe came to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked for an advice. The Holy Prophet (S) answered: Try to endear yourself to people and they will certainly love you.16
The author of Wasa'il al-Shi’ah has dedicated two sections, in the chapter on laws of association with people, to good manners and forbearance. In these sections, he has recorded numerous traditions confirming this fact and relating the perfection of faith to love and endearing oneself to others17 because it has also been reported that true faith and religion are in reality love. Let us now cite a number of validly reported traditions that confirm these facts.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Certainly, the most faithful of the believers have the best manners.18
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, good conduct dissolves sins in the same way that sunlight dissolves snow.19
He (‘a) is also reported as saying: Good manners promote to the rank of those who persistently observe fasting and spend their nights in acts of worship.20
He (‘a) is also reported as saying: The wisest of all people are those with the best manners.21
He (‘a) is also reported as saying: Verily, Almighty Allah grants his servants a reward for good conduct equal to the reward of one who is frequently engaged in jihad in the way of Allah.22
He (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Just as my Lord ordered me to persevere in obligatory (religious) duties, so also He ordered me to observe forbearance.23
He (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Treating people with moderation is half of one’s faith, and to be lenient towards them is half of one’s sustenance.24
Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah reported that he once asked al-Zuhri whether he had met ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (Zayn al-’Abidin) (‘a). Al-Zuhri answered, “Yes, I have met him. I have never met a person more virtuous than he is. By Allah, I have never known that he had a friend in secret or an enemy in public.”
Sufyan asked, “How was that?”
Al-Zuhri answered, “Because all those who loved him envied him out of their abundant knowledge of his outstanding merits, and all those who hated him used to treat him with tolerance because he treated them with even more tolerance.”25
Fudhayl ibn Yasar reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) whether to love and hate for Allah’s sake is part of faith. The Imam (‘a) answered: Is true faith anything other than such love and hate?
Then the Imam (‘a) said the following Qur'anic verse to confirm his words: …Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience; these it is that are the followers of a right way. (49:7)”26
Safwan al-Jammal reported on the authority of Abu-’Ubaydah Ziyad al-Hadhdha' that Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said to him: O Ziyad, is religiousness anything other than love? Consider Almighty Allah’s saying (in the Holy Qur'an), “Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (3:31)” Consider Almighty Allah’s saying to Muhammad (S), “Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts. (49:7)” He has also said, “They love those who have fled to them. (59:9)” Thus, the religion is love and love is religion.27
Although love, mentioned in these traditions, stands for love for Almighty Allah, surely to love Muslims and faithful believers for His sake has to be a class of faith because such love stems from love for Almighty Allah and for His sake, as maintained by other traditions.
Sallam ibn al-Mustanir has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: When a believer loves (others) for the sake of Almighty Allah, this becomes one of the greatest parts of faith. Verily, he who loves, hates, gives, and withholds for the sake of Almighty Allah is one of His elite servants.28
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: One of the firmest handles of faith is to love, hate, give, and withhold exclusively for the sake of Almighty Allah.29
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:233, S. 37, H. 1.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:233, S. 37, H. 3.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11: 338, S. 77, H. 3.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:338, S. 77, H. 1.
10. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:334, H. 22.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:225, S. 34, H. 2.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:225, S. 34, H. 5.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:226, S. 34, H. 10.
14. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter No. 31.
15. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:146, H. 13.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:433, H. 1.
17. - Refer to al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:503-539, Chapter: Etiquettes of Association with People (Ahkam al-’Ishrah), S. 104, 121. In addition, sections 29 and 30 are also full of other traditions demonstrating the importance of endearing oneself to others and associating with them with forbearance.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:503, S. 104, H. 1.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 6.
20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 4.
21. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 9.
22. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:505, S. 104, H. 15.
23. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:540, H. 1, S. 121.
24. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:540, S. 121, H. 5.
25. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:542, S. 121, H. 10.
26. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:435, H. 16; al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:409, H. 930, published by the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly.
27. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:435, H. 17; al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:409, H. 931, published by the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly.
28. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:431, H. 3.
29. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:431, H. 2.