By: Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)
Translated by: Ghassan Rimlawi
One of the main principles that Islam, through the Holy Quran and the prophetic traditions, has given a major role in running the universe is the issue of justice. Allah has described himself as being Just. He is the Creator of the universe Who has given His creations a right that they do not have by themselves, that of being treated justly by Him. He has insured in many verses in the Holy Quran that all what happens to man in the worldly life or in the Hereafter is a result of what they themselves have done and not a result of Allah’s injustice. “We did them no wrong but they did wrong to themselves” (16:118).
Allah has given each creature in the universe its rights. He gave man his rights and wanted him to live justice in everything he does, so that the whole universe will follow a straight path. In this regard, no other religion or civilization has stressed the need for justice as Islam did. Allah (s.w.t) tells us in the Quran that the aforetime fundamental basis of religion is justice: “We sent Our messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the book and the balance (of right and wrong), that men may stand forth in Justice” (57:25), which means that all messengers, books and messages were sent to ensure justice among men.
We deduce from this that the relationship between religion and justice is a fundamental and subjective one. To be religious is to be just, but if you are not, even if you fast or pray, you will not bet religious.
Imam Ali (a.s.) divided injustice into three categories: First; to be unjust to those who are above you including Allah. But being unjust to God does not mean wronging Him, for all power is to God (s.w.t). It means that you would not be not giving Him His rights in worship and obedience, and this is what Luqman meant when he told his son: “O my son! Join not in worship (others) with Allah: For false worship is indeed the highest wrongdoing” (31:13). When you do not give those above you their rights then you are unjust. The same thing applies to those above you in work: Trying to get false excuses to justify your absence is also unjust.
The second kind of injustice, according to the Imam, is towards those who are under you, and this is done by making use of your advantageous position of power to refrain from giving them their human, legal and religious rights. The third kind is supporting those who are unjust.
As for the consequences of injustice, the Imam also said in Nahj Al-Balagah that there are three kinds: One that is not forgiven, one that is forgiven and the third will be accounted and punished for.
The first kind is the one that has to do with assuming partners to Allah, and this includes not obeying Allah’s commands. The second kind is the wrong you do to yourself when you commit minor sins, while the third kind is the one which will not be neglected or overlooked. It is the wrong done to other believers.
The Imam goes on to tell us about the punishment on the Day of Judgment. He says: “The punishment is severe, it is not cutting with knives or lashing with whips, but it is something that such torture is nothing compared to;” for the slogan of the Day of Judgment is: “No injustice today”.
Thus, Allah (s.w.t) wants us to establish social, political economic and security justice, by giving each one his rights and what is due to him. Thus, we ought to study the rights of others, to make sure that we do not violate them, just as we expect others to respect our rights and give us what is due to us. For justice, as the Messenger (p.) said, is: If you love for others what you love for yourself you will be the most just.
Furthermore, justice has nothing to do with social classes, or with the kind of person you are dealing with. You are supposed to be just with believers and unbelievers alike, friends and foes, relatives and people you do not know. There is no emotion in justice, no hatred against enemies, and no sympathy towards close relations and friends “O’ ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor. For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts). Lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well –acquainted with all that ye do.” (4:135).“O’ ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: That is next to piety: And fear Allah. For Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do” (5:8)
But our problem is that we always think about what is going to happen now. We are afraid that someone would be angry if we give a true testimony and we fail to keep in mind that it is Allah’s anger that we ought to worry about. But Allah has told us that when the day comes you would surely be punished for what you did.
Therefore, do not dream, and say I’ll worry about it when I am there, for this will do you no good: “Not your desires, nor those of the people of the Book (can prevail): Whoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides Allah, any protector or helper” (4:123).
The first place where the human being learns the concepts of justice and injustice is home. When the father is unjust towards his children or their mother, those children will learn how to be unjust to their children when they grow up: Imam Ali (a.s) says: “I will treat any weakened and downtrodden as if he is among the strong and notable until I give him his right, and I will treat any dignified strong person as if he were week until I take the right (of others) from him”. When you feel you are powerful, and you are tempted to abuse your power to violate or usurp the rights of others, remember that you ought to fear Allah in everything you do or say.
We have to think of this world as a farm in which we grow fruits for the Hereafter.
There are those who gather wood for the fire of hell, and there are those who collect flowers. Gathering wood needs no effort in comparison to growing flowers, but when the flowers blossom, we are overwhelmed by happiness and tranquility.
What do you want to do… collect wood, or grow flowers? Although justice could be tiresome and demanding, it surely provides a better and more virtuous life. “Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and giving to kith and Kin, and he forbids all indecent deeds, and evil and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.” (16:90)
* The aforementioned is an edited Friday sermon.