Islamic Teachings about Justice
Amidst the catastrophically unjust events unfolding in the Gaza attacks since early October 2023 – this blog is intended to shed light and highlight the unparalleled concept of true justice in Islamic teachings. Let’s all continue to pray deeply for peace for our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Allah teaches us in the Holy Quran: “Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin; and He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice, and rebellion.” (Quran 16:90)
Islam places a significant emphasis on the importance of justice. Justice is considered a fundamental principle in Islamic teachings, and it is deeply ingrained in Islamic core values and ethical framework. Key aspects of what Islam teaches about the importance of justice are as follows:
1. Divine Justice: In Islam, justice is not just a human virtue but also a divine attribute. As Muslims, we believe that Allah (God) is perfectly just, and His decisions and actions are characterized by absolute justice. This belief underscores the importance of justice in the Islamic faith.
2. Quranic Guidance: The Quran, the holy book of Islam, contains numerous verses that emphasize the importance of justice. For instance, in Surah An-Nisa, it is stated: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both.” (Quran 4:135)
3. Prophet Muhammad’s (s) Example: The Prophet Muhammad (s) is considered the highest example for Muslims to follow. He was known for his great sense of justice and fair dealings. His famous sayings include: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.” When asked how to help an oppressed person, he responded, “By preventing the oppressor from oppressing others.”
4. Avoiding Oppression: Islam strongly condemns oppression and injustice. Muslims are encouraged to stand up against any form of oppression and wrongdoing. This includes both personal injustices and societal injustices.
5. Equality before the Law: Islam teaches that everyone, regardless of their social status, wealth, or background, should be treated equally before the law. The concept of equality and impartiality in justice is deeply rooted in Islamic jurisprudence.
6. Restitution and Compensation: Islamic law, known as Sharia, provides a framework for resolving disputes and ensuring justice. It includes provisions for restitution and compensation for victims of injustice. These principles aim to restore the rights of the aggrieved party.
7. Judicial System: Islamic societies historically had well-developed judicial systems that sought to uphold justice and fairness. Judges and scholars were tasked with interpreting and applying Islamic law to ensure justice.
8. Charitable Acts: Acts of charity and helping those in need are seen as acts of justice in Islam. Giving to the poor and supporting the less fortunate are ways of achieving social and economic justice.
In summary, Islam places a high value on justice as a core principle. It emphasizes the need for fairness, equality, and the prevention of oppression in all aspects of life. As Muslims we are called to uphold justice in our personal conduct and in society at large, and encouraged to seek justice even when it may be against our own interests.
Prophet Muhammad’s (s) Teachings About Justice
Let’s now explore more specific examples of the Prophetic sayings and actions related to the concept of justice in Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (s), as the final Prophet, with the final divinely revealed message to humanity, emphasised the importance of justice in every aspect of his teachings.
“The best deed in the sight of Allah is to render justice.” (Hadith)
The Prophetic sayings and actions (Hadith) and the Quranic revelations he received from Allah, provide abundant guidance on the concept of justice. Here are some key teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s) about justice:
Equality Before the Law: Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasised that all individuals, regardless of their social status, wealth, or tribal affiliation, should be treated equally before the law. He is reported to have said, “Your lives and property are sacred, just as this day and this month are sacred.” (Hadith from the Farewell Sermon)
Standing Up for Justice: Prophet Muhammad (s) stressed the importance of standing up for justice, even when it is against one’s own interests or loved ones. He said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.” The companions asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”
Protection of Rights: Prophet Muhammad emphasised the importance of protecting the rights of individuals, including the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups. He stated, “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”
Kindness and Compassion: While seeking justice, Prophet Muhammad (s) also emphasised the importance of kindness and compassion. He said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth, and He Who is in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”
Fairness in Legal Proceedings: Prophet Muhammad stressed the importance of fairness and evidence in legal proceedings. He said, “Avoid legal punishments as long as you can find an excuse to avoid them.” This highlights the principle of not punishing someone without clear evidence of wrongdoing.
Justice in Family Matters: Prophet Muhammad (s) stressed the importance of justice in family and marital matters. He is reported to have said, “The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family.”
Protection of Property: Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasised the sanctity of property rights. He said, “Your property and your blood are inviolable until you meet your Lord, just as this day and this month of yours are inviolable.”
These teachings reflect the Prophet’s commitment to establishing a just and equitable society, where the rights and dignity of all individuals are respected, regardless of their background or beliefs. Justice, compassion, and fairness were central to his mission as the final prophet of Islam.
Throughout his life and prophethood, Prophet Muhammad (s) championed the cause of equality. His final sermon delivered a very strong message:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” (Hadith)