Justice and Fair Play
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
As has been previously clarified, justice and fair play is founded on the conception that justice is obligatory and injustice is forbidden. The most evident application of justice in social relations is fair play, which means that one must treat all people with justice and fairness even if it be against one’s own interest.
Injustice is forbidden not only in personal practice; rather, man is required to refuse all elements of injustice. This situation can be embodied in the following issues:
Restoration of Violations
One who has wronged another, by seizing his property or violating one of his rights, and he then feels sorry and stops doing wrong is required to restore the rights that he has violated. This act is called restoration of violations.
In this respect, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Wronging is of three categories; a category Allah will not forgive, another Allah will forgive, and a third Allah will not overlook. The category that Allah will not forgive is to worship other deities beside Almighty Allah. The category that Allah will forgive is the wronging that one commits against himself secretly. The third category that Allah will not overlook is His servants wronging each other.¯1
Wahab ibn ‘Abd-Rabbih and ‘Ubaydullah al-Tawil have reported that an old man from the tribe of Nakha’ said to Imam al-Baqir (‘a), “I have been a governor since the time of al-Hajjaj up to now. Will my repentance be accepted now?”
The Imam (‘a) did not answer. The man repeated the same question, but this time the Imam (‘a) answered, No. It will not be accepted until you restore all the rights that you have violated.¯2
Abu-Basir has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Whoever devours any amount of his brother-in-faith’s property unlawfully, intending not to restore it, will consume a firebrand on the Day of Resurrection.¯3
One who has committed a moral wrongdoing against anyone—such as backbiting, disgracing, defaming, or any kind of moral violation and aggression—is religiously required to seek forgiveness from these people after repenting before Almighty Allah, imploring His forgiveness, doing charitable acts on their behalf, rehabilitating them, and doing acts that can be considered a restoration of their rights.
Guiding towards the True Path after Misleading
Almost certainly, the worst example of moral wrongdoing is to lead someone astray and to lead him from the path of truth towards the wrong path. One who has committed such a grave wrongdoing and then repents must exert all efforts to restore the one whom he has misled to the path of the truth and guide him in the right direction.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have related the following narration: Once, a man sought worldly prosperity through legal means, but he could not gain anything. He then tried to seek it through illegal means, but he still failed. Satan then inspired him, thus, “May I lead you to a matter that will bring you worldly prosperity in abundance and make huge numbers of people follow you?” “Yes,” answered the man, “You may.” Satan said: “You may contrive a tenet and call people to follow it.” The man did and many people responded to and obeyed him. After he had gained abundant worldly prosperity, he began to feel sorry for what he had done. He therefore said to himself, “What a terrible thing I have done! I have invented a false tenet and called people to follow it. I do not believe that my repentance will be accepted unless I make every single person who has followed my fake tenet renegade it.”
He therefore began to come to his followers who had responded to his call and tell them that his tenet was baseless and that he himself had invented it. However, every one of them belied him and insisted on following that fake tenet, saying, “You have only started suspecting your own belief and abandoned it.” As a result, he tied himself to a chain to the neck and vowed not to release it until Allah would accept his repentance. Then, Almighty Allah revealed to one of His prophets, saying, “Tell this man that I swear by My Honor that I shall never respond to him even if all his organs will be torn apart unless he restores those who died following his fake tenet to life and makes them abandon their belief.”¯4
Helping the Oppressors
Just as it is forbidden to practice any wrongdoing, so also it is forbidden to help any wrongdoer oppress others. Such people are helpers of oppressors. ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Whoever helps a wrongdoer oppress another, Almighty Allah will be wrathful towards him until he retreats his help from that oppressor.¯5
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: The oppressor among people has three signs: he oppresses his superior by disobeying him, oppresses his junior by posing authority over him, and supports other oppressors.¯6
Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) is reported to have said within a long discourse, Beware of making friends with the disobedient and helping the oppressors.¯7
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said: On the Day of Resurrection, a caller shall call out, “Where are the helpers of oppressors, including those who filled an inkpot, tied a bag, or sharpened a pen for them? Bring them together with the oppressors.”¯8
Approval of and Remaining Silent over Wrongdoing
In addition to the forbiddance of practicing wrongdoing, it is forbidden to swallow, accept, or remain quiet over a wrongdoing.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: He who practices wrongdoing personally, he who helps him, and he who is pleased with his deed—these three are partners in that deed.¯9
As for anyone who excuses a wrongdoer for his wrong deed, Almighty Allah shall set up over him one who wrongs him. Then, if he prays, his prayers will not be responded and he will not be compensated for the wrong that has befallen him.¯10
He who wishes survival for an oppressor has in fact wished for Almighty Allah to be disobeyed.¯11
Applications of Fair play
In the field of fair play, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) guided their followers to a set of applications, besides loving for one’s brothers-in-faith whatever one loves for oneself.
Requital of Favors
One of the practical applications of fair play is to recompense a service received from someone with the same service or even better. To this trait, the Holy Qur'an has referred, saying: Is the reward of goodness aught but goodness? (55:60)
Similar to this is to respond to one’s greeting with a similar greeting or even better. The Holy Qur'an thus says, When you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better greeting than it or return it. (4:86)
Repaying for an act of kindness has been confirmed in many traditions. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is thus reported to have said: The Commander of the Faithful (i.e. Imam ‘Ali) used to say, “He who repays a person with the same kindness that was done to him has in fact rewarded that person. He who repays with a double kindness is considered grateful. He who thanks for a kindness that has been done to him is considered noble. If he realizes that the kindness he has done to someone is in fact for himself in the first place, he will neither find people¯12 slow in thanking him nor will he expect them to show him more love. Hence, you must not expect others to thank you for that which you have done for yourself and that by which you have saved your personality. Be it known to you that one who has asked you for something he needed did not save his face against yours; therefore, you should save your face against rejecting him.¯13
‘Ali ibn Salim has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: There is an unconditional verse in the Book of Allah.
“Which verse is it?” asked ‘Ali.
The Imam (‘a) answered, It is this verse: “Is the reward of goodness aught but goodness? (55:60)” This verse is applicable to the believers, the unbelievers, the pious, and the sinful. Whoever is done a favor must recompense for it. To recompense does not mean to do the same favor that was done to him; rather, he must realize that the one who has done him a favor has also had the priority of initiation.¯14
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have said: May Allah curse those who obstruct the path of favors… This happens when the one receiving a favor does not show gratitude. As a result, the one who has done the favor will stop doing any further favors to anyone else.¯15
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever receives a favor must repay it. If he is too weak to repay, he must then thank for it. If he does not do so then he has been ungrateful.¯16
Observance of Duties towards Brethren-in-Faith
Another practical example of fair play is to acknowledge the duties towards brothers-in-faith in the same way as they have done, because duties of the faithful believers towards one another must be reciprocal. This fact has been confirmed in the traditions that have pointed out these duties, such as the following one that is reported from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), Is it not shameful that your neighbors acknowledge their duties towards you but you do not acknowledge your duties towards them?¯17
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:342, H. 1.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:342, H. 3.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:342, H. 4.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:343, H. 1.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:345, H. 5.
6. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Saying No. 350.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 12:128, H. 1.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 12:130, H. 11.
In the same chapter, you can find many traditions appertained to the same topic. However, some of these traditions have been previously mentioned in this book.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:345, H. 1.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:345, H. 2 (Ed. Dar Ihya' al-Turath).
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:345, H. 5.
12. - i.e. those to whom he had done that kindness.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:536, H. 1.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:537, H. 3.
15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:539, H. 1.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:539, H. 2.
17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:399, H. 4.