Individual Justice in Islam
In the Qur'an and the ahadith of the religious leaders, justice is of two kinds: individual and social. Both are highly regarded by the holy religion of Islam.
The individual justice means that the man should abstain from falsehood, backbiting, and other major sins. He should not insist on committing other sins. He who is endowed with this quality is called 'Adil (just). According to the Islamic regulations, if such a man has educational ability as well, he can take charge of judicial and governmental positions, or he can become a religious authority or maintain other social positions. But the one who is deprived of this religious personality cannot enjoy these privileges even though he may be a scholar.
Social justice means that man should not trespass upon the rights of others. He should consider all the people equal by the divine laws. He should not exceed justice in implementing religious laws. He must not be influenced by feelings and sentiments. He must not deviate from the right path. The Almighty Allah states: "Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice...(16:90)."
Again He states: "...And that when you judge between people you judge with justice...(4:58)."
Orders have been issued in many Qur'anic verses and ahadith to consider justice in words and deeds. In several cases, the Almighty Allah has explicitly cursed the oppressors.
TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION
The Almighty Allah has repeatedly mentioned about tyranny in His Divine Book and has reproached this indecent quality which is a characteristic of the beasts (in two-thirds of the number of Surahs of the Holy Qur'an, which are 114, there is a discussion on tyranny).
There is no one who has not felt the badness and unfairness of tyranny by his own nature or who more or less does not know what painful calamities have come upon human society, what bloodsheds have taken place, and what a large number of houses have been demolished due to tyranny and oppression.
It has been proven by experience that the palace of tyranny will not last long no matter how strong it may be and sooner or later, it will collapse on the heads of the oppressors. The Almighty Allah states: "...Surely Allah does not guide the unjust people (6:144)."
Religious authorities have also stated: "Monarchy and kingdom will last with blasphemy, but these will not stabilise with tyranny and oppression."
Being bound to live in a society, man has no escape from the company of people. Undoubtedly, man associates with other people to protect his own social status, to further h is material and spiritual advancement day by day, and to solve the difficulties of his life better and with greater ease.
Thus he must behave with other people in such a way so as to attain endearment, to augment his social honour day by day, and to add to the number of his friends. If people see unfriendliness or bitterness in the behaviour of others, their hearts will be filled with abomination and anguish. Finally, a day will come when everyone will escape from the company of such a person and he will be hated and disfavoured by others. He must then live all alone and as a stranger in his native land. This is one of the most bitter and most unpleasant examples of man's misfortune. This is what the holy religion of Islam has enjoined its followers to have good social behaviour and has prescribed the best etiquettes and instructions in this respect. For example, Islam has ordered Muslims to greet when they meet one another and has considered the person who greets first to be superior to the other.
The Holy Prophet (SA) took the lead in greeting others. He even greeted women and children. If someone greeted the Holy Prophet (SA), he would in turn greet him better.
The Almighty Allah states: "And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it...(4:86)."
Allah has also stated that man should show humbleness and modesty in his association with people and should respect others commensurate with their social status.
The Almighty Allah states: "And the servants of the Beneficent Allah are they who walk on the earth in humbleness...(25:63)."
The point that should be mentioned is that humbleness and modesty do not mean that man should degrade himself before the people and thus hurt his personality, rather these mean that man should not show off his superiorities and honours to the people and should not associate with himself other extraordinary privileges. One must not consider the people degraded and insignificant. Similarly, respect to the people does not mean that one should respect others to an extent bordering on flattery and buttering, rather it means that one must value everyone according to his religious and social status. One should respect the dignitaries commensurate with their rank and status. One must also respect the others according to their observation of human qualities.
Again paying respect to people does not mean that m an should keep mum and overlook the indecent acts of people. Neither it means that man should associate with the people in a gathering in which all act against human prestige or carry out an action against religious principles. It doesn't mean that man should go with the stream for the fear of defamation either, for the people should, in fact, be respected on the basis of their human dignity and their religious and moral values, not because of their physique and stature. If a man loses his human dignity and religious value, there will be no reason for his being respected by the others.
The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: "One should not commit a sin before Allah for the sake of obeying others."
TEASING PEOPLE AND MISCHIEVOUSNESS
These two attributes are closely linked together, for teasing people means annoying them and inflicting pain on them either by means of the tongue, such as cursing and using words which annoy others, or by means of the hands, such as performing an action to make the people unhappy. Mischievousness means doing things to cause evil for the people. At any rate, these two attributes are at the opposite pole of the dreams of comfort of life and peace of mind, for the sake of which, man has established the society.
Therefore, the religion of Islam, which gives the top priority to the interests of the society, has forbidden the people to tease others and to make mischief, as the Almighty Allah states: "And those who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned (it), they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin (33:58)."
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "Whoever bothers a Muslim, has bothered me and bothering me is bothering Allah. Such a person has been cursed in the Tawrat, the Injil, and the Qur'an." He also states: "One, who casts an angry glance on a Muslim and frightens him, will be frightened by Allah on the Day of Judgement."
ASSOCIATION WITH THE GOOD PEOPLE
Although man associates with a large number of people, he is obliged to associate with some people more than others due to the exigency of his life. These are the people who are called "friends."
Surely, the main cause for this friendship and relationship is a kind of similarity in ethics, manners, profession, and the like which exist between the two persons or among a group of individuals. Since companionship gradually transfers the habits and character of one of the two companions to the other, a man must choose the company of good people, for in this case, the decent ethics of his friends will be transferred to him and he will benefit from their taintless and benevolent friendship and cooperation. He will also be enthusiastic in the continuation of their friendship. Furthermore, he will improve his own social value and dignity among the people.
Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (AS) states: "Your best friend is the one who leads you to do good deeds."
He also states: "Man is evaluated on the basis of the friends he chooses."
First let me know with whom you have associated, so that I can describe your identity. It is the value of your acquaintances, that determines the value and worth of your life.
COMPANIONSHIP WITH THE BAD PEOPLE
Companionship with the bad people and the evil-doers is the source of all sorts of wretchedness and misfortune. To clarify this matter, it suffices to say that if we ask the criminals and the evil-doers such as thieves and bandits the cause of their aberration and deviation, they will undoubtedly reply that the companionship and association with bad people have put them in such a situation. From among a thousand wicked and defiled people, not even one can be found who has chosen an indecent course of action deliberately.
Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (AS), states: "Shun the companionship of bad people, for a bad friend makes you similar to himself. Unless he succeeds in this respect, he will not accept you as a friend."
'Ali (AS) also states: "Avoid the friendship of an evildoer, for he will sell you for a trivial thing."
Associate less with bad people, for you will be distressed; since human nature is apt to acquire habits,
The relationship of human beings with one another, which is the basis of human society, is established through speaking. Thus true words that reveal a concealed reality to man are one of the essential bases of the society. Great advantages, which are always necessary for a society, are acquired by means of telling the truth.
The advantages of truthfulness can be summarized in a few sentences as follows:
(1) A truthful person is trusted by his fellow-men and relieves them of determining the truthfulness of his remarks.
(2) A veracious person is honoured by his conscience and is relieved of the pain of falsehood.
(3) A truthful person keeps his promise. He will not be disloyal to what he is entrusted with, for truthfulness in action is not different from truthfulness in words.
(4) Many differences of opinion and disputes will be eliminated as a result of truthfulness, for the main reason for most quarrels is the denial of truth and reality by either or both parties.
(5) As a result of truthfulness, a large part of moral imperfections and violations of laws and provisions is eliminated automatically, because most people lie in a bid to cover these kinds of deeds and actions.
Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (AS) states: "A true Muslim is one who prefers truthfulness, although it may be to his detriment, over falsehood from which he may benefit; and gets internal satisfaction as a result of this preference."
THE DISADVANTAGES OF FALSEHOOD
From the aforementioned statements, the disadvantages of falsehood also become clear. A liar is the wicked enemy of human society. He endeavours to ruin the society by his falsehood which is a big crime. This is because falsehood resembles narcotics which kill the intelligence and commonsense of the society and hide the reality. Falsehood is also similar to alcoholic beverages which intoxicate the people and render them unable to distinguish between good and bad.
Therefore, Islam considers falsehood as one of the mortal sins and does not believe in any religious stature of a liar.
The Holy Prophet (SA) has stated: "Three groups of people are munafiqin even if they recite salat and observe sawm. They are the liars, those who do not keep their promise, and those who are disloyal to what they are entrusted with." Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (AS) also states: "Man derives pleasure from his faith when he gives up falsehood; even he should give up his lying which may be for fun sake."
Falsehood has not only been introduced as a sin and an indecent deed in Islam, but its indecency and unfairness is also clearly perceived by commonsense. The prevalence of this indecent deed in the society will soon shatter the confidence of the people towards one another which is the only basis in their social relationship. By the disruption of such a relationship, the people will, in effect, live in isolation because of having utmost anxiety from one another although they may apparently seem to be living in a knitted society.
Man always deals with external matters in his life. He keeps himself alive through his activities and by bringing about changes in matters and thus fulfils his desires. This creature who works by commonsense and will power has based his vast and extensive life on knowledge. His work is directly related to the knowledge available to him. He constantly adjusts his learnings and performs his external activities accordingly.
Therefore, receiving true information is essential for man and is of prime importance. If the correct outside news are not revealed to man, for instance, if he sees the ditch as a road and the road as a ditch, or if he sees the distant as the nearby and the nearby as the distant, or if he receives the news in an untrue way, he will not be able to continue his living. Thus it becomes clear that falsehood is a serious threat to social life and a liar is a person without any personality and dignity. He is the enemy of the society and his remarks are considered invalid and unreliable by the people. He himself is cursed by Allah.
BACKBITING AND LIBEL
Slandering others and backbiting them, if true, are called backbiting, and if wrong, are called libel and sometimes calumny.
Surely, the Almighty Allah has not created man (except the prophets and the Imams) free from sins. As a result of his shortcomings, man is fallible and all people live behind the curtain with which the Almighty Allah has covered their deeds by His Divine Wisdom. If this divine covering is lifted from over the defects and shortcomings of the people, they will be repugnant from one another and will avoid the company of each other, thus leading to the destruction of the foundation of their society. Therefore, the Almighty Allah has declared backbiting as haram, so that everyone may live in peace from backbiting by one another and the outwardly appearance of the environment of their lives would seem adorned until gradually the same outward beauty corrects the internal obscenity.
The Almighty Allah states: "...Nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?....(49:12)."
The sin and obscenity of libel is definitely greater than backbiting and the wise are thoroughly aware of its obscenity. In His words, the Almighty Allah has made the badness and obscenity of libel quite clear and states: "Only they forge the lie who do not believe...(16:105)."
DAMAGING THE PRESTIGE OF PEOPLE
Damaging one's chastity is a mortal sin in Islam and, in different cases, severe punishments such as whipping, killing, and stoning to death have been laid down for it.
Allowing the commitment of this indecent deed, although it may have been agreed upon by both the parties, will shake the foundation of families which is of prime importance in Islam and will cease the proceeding of the precepts of inheritance and the like. Finally, it makes parent-child affection and relationship invalid and leads to the disappearance of the true guarantee of society which is the natural result of reproduction.
SELF-RESPECT AND HONESTY
The world of creation, that has created man sociable and in need of cooperation, has prepared him in such a way as to be able to manage his own affairs in the society with his own capability and to handle his living from what he gains in his life.
With consideration of what has already been discussed above, there remains no doubt that the attribute of self-respect means that man should take advantage of Allah-given powers in his life and should utilise them for attaining his goals. He must not rely upon the powers of others and this, indeed, is one of the natural and praiseworthy qualities of man. Self-respect is like a barrier which protects man from an inferior life and from many unjust acts and indecent deeds. Whoever is not endowed with self-respect and fixes his eyes on others, would easily sell his will power and personality to others and would offer whatever he is asked for, even if it may be his natural freedom, prestige, honour, and dignity.
Most crimes such as murder, banditry, theft, pickpocketing, the crime of lying, flattery, disloyalty to one's country, reliance on foreigners, and the like are the evil consequences of greed and reliance upon others. But whoever wears the crown of honour of self-respect, does not submit himself to any splendour but the splendour of the Almighty Allah, does not yield to any authority and pomp, and always defends what he considers to be true. self-respect is the best means by which one can acquire the attribute of honesty and safeguard it.