Justice – a right not a gift
The importance of Justice
Justice is a very important principle in Islam – so much so that it is one of the main pillars, not just of Islam, but any system. If any system fails to deliver justice, it will collapse. The divine message which God revealed to mankind from the first man, Adam till the last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all), came to establish justice and teach people how to establish justice in their lives. In Arabic justice (adl) appears in the Quran 18 times in different verses and in different chapters in the Quran.
In the sunnah there are countless narrations in which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned the importance of justice. Justice is not simply what is delivered in court, but something which has to permeate every aspect of our life – whether it is between our children, in our speech, in our transactions, between our friends, or our employees, justice has to be there.
Usually when we speak about justice, what comes to our minds is the government, the prime minister, the president, the king, the ruler, and whoever is in the position of authority. We see justice as something they are responsible to deliver, and more often than not they fail. From the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we can see how Allah Almighty and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged justice and how greatly justice is rewarded.
Definition of Justice
One definition of justice is that it is the opposite of injustice (al jawr) and oppression (ad–dhulm) Another definition is that al adl means being in the middle – away from any extreme. Justice is also to ensure everyone gets their rights and what is due to them. Justice is not just about others, but also applies to our own selves.
The word adl is derived from the three letters ‘ayn’, ‘daal’ and ‘laam’ and has another meaning, which is to stay on the straight path, which is known as al istiqama, which we say in Surat Fatiha when we ask God to guide us on the straight path, ‘ihdinassiratal mustaqeem’ because the straight path and the middle path is the path of justice.
Three dimensions of justice – God, people and ourselves
The three dimensions in which we need to apply justice are to ourselves, justice to others and to God.
Justice to God means to follow His commands i.e. to do justice to our salah by praying on time, not rushing, not being distracted. We often in English ‘I can’t do justice to this’ meaning that we are not giving something the time and attention it deserves. Thus we need to give Allah’s commands the time and attention they are due.
Our relationship with God has to be based on justice and we need to try our best and ask Him to excuse us for any shortcomings, mistakes, and heedlessness during our salah. That is why we finish our salah we seek His forgiveness by saying words of istighfar (repentance) such as astaghfirallahul adheem, and by glorifying Him through tasbeeh, to make up for the gaps in our salah because we can’t do full justice to salah.
Istighfar, giving charity, nawafil (extra voluntary salah) are fillers. In one of verses of the Quran, which is repeated most frequently, as it is recited by the imam who delivers the Friday khutbah, it says:
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِٱلْعَدْلِ وَٱلْإِحْسَـٰنِ وَإِيتَآئِ ذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱلْبَغْىِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Surely Allah enjoins justice, excellence and giving to kith and kin, and forbids all that is shameful, evil and oppressive. He exhorts you so that you may be mindful. (16:90)
In this verse from Surat a-Nahl, God Almighty commands justice and makes it obligation for us and from Himself to be just. His beautiful names include Al Hakm (the One who Judges) and al Adl (the Just) which go together, meaning that He is the One who judges with justice. No one can deliver full justice but Him. That is why on the Day of Judgment, Allah will end all injustice and mete full justice for all of His creation:
ٱلۡیَوۡمَ تُجۡزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفۡسِۭ بِمَا كَسَبَتۡۚ لَا ظُلۡمَ ٱلۡیَوۡمَۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَرِیعُ ٱلۡحِسَابِ
Today every soul will be rewarded for what it has done. No injustice Today! Surely Allah is swift in reckoning.” (40:17)
God Almighty made justice a right for every human being. If we fall short in being just towards someone, we will be held accountable for failing to do this, because it’s an obligation on you. Part of justice to Allah is that we are accountable for fulfilling prescribed acts of worship that are fard (obligatory) and wajib (very close to obligatory). If we do not do something which is recommended but not obligatory, we are not punishable.
God Almighty warns us against injustice in any form. In the very famous Holy Hadith, narrated by Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace be upon him), God Almighty said:
عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ الْغِفَارِيِّ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه و سلم فِيمَا يَرْوِيهِ عَنْ رَبِّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى، أَنَّهُ قَالَ: “يَا عِبَادِي: إنِّي حَرَّمْت الظُّلْمَ عَلَى نَفْسِي، وَجَعَلْته بَيْنَكُمْ مُحَرَّمًا؛ فَلَا تَظَالَمُوا
O My servants! I have forbidden dhulm (oppression) for Myself, and I have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. [Muslim]
This is a clear statement commanding justice and forbidding injustice. Injustice creates corruption in the community, creates hard feelings, resentment and animosity, leading to disconnection and the fragmentation of society. No one loves the one who is oppressing them. A community has to be based on harmony and cooperation and mercy (rahma) between people.
The Quran prohibits all injustice
As mentioned in Surat an-Nahl, God Almighty commands justice and excellence. In Surat an-Nisa, God repeats the word justice around 4 times in particular because the chapter is commanding mankind to be fair in the dealings with women (nisa) and orphans (yatama), who have been oppressed throughout history. The definition of an orphan is a child (i.e. anyone under the age of the puberty) who has lost their father, as the loss of one’s guardian and the breadwinner in the family leaves one vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This is why the chapter repeats the command of justice to emphasise it. In Surat al-Anam, God says:
﴿١٥٢﴾ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ ۖ وَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ لَا نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۖ وَإِذَا قُلْتُمْ فَاعْدِلُوا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَىٰ ۖ وَبِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ أَوْفُوا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
And do not approach the orphan’s property, except with the best intentions, until he has reached maturity. And give full weight and full measure, with equity. We never burden a soul beyond its capacity. And when you speak, be fair, even regarding a relative. And fulfil your pledge to Allah. All this He has enjoined upon you, so that you may be mindful. [6:152]
In Surat an-Nisa, God says:
٥٨﴾ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
Allah instructs you to return trusts to their owners, and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. Excellent are Allah’s instructions to you. Allah is Hearing, Seeing. [4:58]
Here we are being told that we should return whatever belongs to others back to them and when we judge between people we have to judge fairly – it is an obligation, whether we are in a position of authority in courtroom or as an arbitrator, we have to be completely impartial and fair. If we lean towards one group over another because of emotional ties, or self-interest, or because they paid us, this is against justice and this is haram. There are some obstacles which prevent us from delivering justice.
Obstacles that prevent justice – relationships, money & influence
The first obstacle to delivering justice is relationships. For this reason a judge cannot preside over a case concerning their relative, as it is conflict of interest.
Another obstacle is if a judge fears the consequences of judging against someone, his judgement will be skewed by this fear. Unfortunately, even in this country, we’ve seen this. Therefore the judgment is political, rather than based on evidence. This is haram.
When the defendant is very rich or in a position of power and influence judging against them is hard because they may cause you to lose your job, or block your son’s application or create difficulties for you. The fear of their influence and power might make a judge change their mind. A judge who is strong and principled will not sway their judgment. This is the ideal scenario, but in reality fear is a factor.
If the defendant is known to be malicious or vicious such as members of the mafia and other gangs, the judge will be afraid they will go after his family, so he may change his judgement. This is why Allah Almighty says in the Quran that connections or wealth should not obstruct justice:
﴿١٣٥﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِنْ يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَنْ تَعْدِلُوا ۚ وَإِنْ تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, witnesses for Allah, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah takes care of both. So do not follow your desires, lest you swerve. If you deviate or turn away—Allah is Aware of what you do. [4:135]
One must overcome any fear even when dealing with people of wealth and influence and deliver justice when one is in the position of authority.
Being just to our children
God also commanded us to be fair when we deal with our children. Noman bin Basheer mentioned that his father gifted him a garden, bustan. At that time in Madinah gardens were filled with fruit and a profitable source of income. Noman’s mother queried this. She was not pleased that there was unfairness in this, as his brothers and sisters had not received the same, so she asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to approve it. Nu’man bin Bashir reported:
عَنِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ، قَالَ تَصَدَّقَ عَلَىَّ أَبِي بِبَعْضِ مَالِهِ فَقَالَتْ أُمِّي عَمْرَةُ بِنْتُ رَوَاحَةَ لاَ أَرْضَى حَتَّى تُشْهِدَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه
وسلم . فَانْطَلَقَ أَبِي إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِيُشْهِدَهُ عَلَى صَدَقَتِي فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” أَفَعَلْتَ هَذَا بِوَلَدِكَ كُلِّهِمْ ” . قَالَ لاَ . قَالَ ” اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْدِلُوا فِي أَوْلاَدِكُمْ ” . فَرَجَعَ أَبِي فَرَدَّ تِلْكَ الصَّدَقَةَ .)) رواه مسلم.
عن النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ*: ((اعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ أَوْلَادِكُمُ اعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ أَبْنَائِكُمْ اعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ أَبْنَائِكُمْ قالها ثلاث “)).
My father donated to me some of his property. My mother Amra bint Rawaha said: I shall not be pleased (with this act) until you make Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) a witness to it. My father went to Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) in order to make him the witness of the donation given to me. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to him: Have you done the same with every son of yours? He said: No. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Fear Allah, and observe equity in case of your children. My father returned and got back the gift. [Muslim]
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not say, ‘Bless you. What a great gift! How generous of you,’ instead he was very careful in his judgement, and refused to give his approval. He asked if the man had gifted the equivalent to this other children and when the answer was negative he refused to witness the injustice.
In another narration, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Fear Allah Almighty and deliver justice between your children” three times. This is because parents have favourites, but they are not allowed to treat them differently, as it creates rivalry, resentment and a sense of inferiority among the ones who are given less love, attention or gifts. Therefore we have to be just with our children – if we gifts one of them, we have to give the others the equivalent.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was very keen that every aspect of every action was carried out with the right intention and the right practice. Sometimes the intention is pure but the application is not right. No doubt that the father of Noman bin Basheer had good intentions and it never crossed his mind that he was being unjust. He was just showing an act of kindness to his son. However his wife spotted the injustice, and checked it with the Prophet Muhammad.
One cannot pretend they don’t have a favourite child or a favourite brother or sister. This is natural and related to our feelings. However, regardless of our feelings, our actions have to be fair and equitable. Sometimes we love one child more than the others, because of their kindness, or their nature, that they are easy going and obedient etc. The other one might be rebellious, or argumentative and rude. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, but they cause you to be annoyed or angry. All this is in your heart between you and Allah Almighty.
Justice in contracts
The Quran is very clear that when you write a document, you have to do it with justice. Known as ayat ud dayn, the longest verse of the Quran, in the longest chapter of the Quran, Surat al-Baqarah, is the on how to record a debt.
﴿٢٨٢﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا تَدَايَنْتُمْ بِدَيْنٍ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى فَاكْتُبُوهُ ۚ وَلْيَكْتُبْ بَيْنَكُمْ كَاتِبٌ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ كَاتِبٌ أَنْ يَكْتُبَ كَمَا عَلَّمَهُ اللَّهُ ۚ فَلْيَكْتُبْ وَلْيُمْلِلِ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ رَبَّهُ وَلَا يَبْخَسْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ فَإِنْ كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ ۖ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّنْ تَرْضَوْنَ مِنَ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَنْ تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَىٰ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ الشُّهَدَاءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُوا ۚ وَلَا تَسْأَمُوا أَنْ تَكْتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوْ كَبِيرًا إِلَىٰ أَجَلِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا ۖ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً حَاضِرَةً تُدِيرُونَهَا بَيْنَكُمْ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكْتُبُوهَا ۗ وَأَشْهِدُوا إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ ۚ وَلَا يُضَارَّ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ ۚ وَإِنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
O you who believe! When you contract a debt with one another for a term appointed, write it down. And have a scribe write in your presence, in all fairness. And let no scribe refuse to write, as Allah has taught him. So let him write, and let the debtor dictate, and let him fear Allah his Lord, and diminish nothing from it. But if the debtor is incompetent, or weak, or unable to dictate, then let his guardian dictate justly. And call to witness two witnesses from among your men. If two men cannot be found, then a man and two women from among those whom you approve as witnesses. If one of them forgets, the other will remind her. Witnesses must not refuse when called upon. And do not think it unimportant to write down, whether small or large, including the time of repayment. That is more equitable with Allah, stronger as evidence, and more likely to prevent doubt—except in the case of a spot transaction between you—then there is no blame on you if you do not write it. And let there be witnesses whenever you conclude a contract, and let no harm be done to either scribe or witness. If you do, it is corruption on your part. And fear Allah. Allah teaches you. Allah is Knower of all things. [2:282]
This specifies the rules of borrowing and lending – one must note down the details of the loan and have it witnessed. At that time, this required having a scribe, because not everyone was literate. Even in today’s world, writing a contract is a lawyer’s business, not everyone can do it.
﴿١٠٦﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا شَهَادَةُ بَيْنِكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ حِينَ الْوَصِيَّةِ اثْنَانِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِنْكُمْ أَوْ آخَرَانِ مِنْ غَيْرِكُمْ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَأَصَابَتْكُمْ مُصِيبَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۚ تَحْبِسُونَهُمَا مِنْ بَعْدِ الصَّلَاةِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّهِ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ لَا نَشْتَرِي بِهِ ثَمَنًا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَىٰ ۙ وَلَا نَكْتُمُ شَهَادَةَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا إِذًا لَمِنَ الْآثِمِينَ
O you who believe! When death approaches one of you, let two just persons from among you act as witnesses to the making of a will, or two persons from another people if you are traveling in the land and the tragedy of death approaches you. Engage them after the prayer. If you have doubts, let them swear by Allah: “We will not sell our testimony for any price, even if he is a near relative, and we will not conceal Allah’s testimony, for then we would be sinful.” [5:106]
Preparing a contract that lets you get away with cheating someone is sinful. If the agreement was that certain conditions have to be fulfilled, one cannot dupe their client by wording the contract in a way that the conditions do not have to be fulfilled. Often contracts are very hard to understand due to the legal terminology, but this is not an excuse to obfuscate the contract and the other party.
Justice for orphans
God Almighty asked us to deal justly with orphans. When their father passes away, a guardian looks after the children. Usually the guardian is an uncle and their money is under his supervision. The uncle would often use the money up himself. This is haram. The money is rightfully theres and should be spent on them. In Islamic courts, a Qadhil-aytaam isappointedby the courts, dedicated to supervising the affairs of orphans and a judge oversees their money is spent correctly. The guardian opens an account for them and the judge checks everything is in order. They cannot withdraw any money from that account without the approval of the judge. It does happen that somebody passes away, leaving millions for their children but if there’s a fear that the guardian appointed by their father may not be suitable, the judge can become their guardian. It is strictly prohibited to misappropriate their wealth or abuse one’s authority to squander it.
Obstacles to justice – hatred
One of the things that prevents justice is hatred towards another. If a judge has to preside over a case involving someone he holds a grudge towards he will not be able to be just.
﴿٨﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
O you who believe! Be upright to Allah, witnessing with justice. And let not hatred of any people prevent you from acting justly. Adhere to justice, for that is nearer to piety. And remember Allah. Allah is informed of what you do. [5:8]
In Surat al-Maidah, God Almighty is telling us that hatred is a cause of injustice . If someone hates another, they can change the evidence or increase their sentence to get revenge. However, they have to park their hatred and only deal with the evidence, the facts and the documents.
As in Surat An-Nisa, when God said ‘O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, witnesses for Allah, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives’ this is true justice. This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) repeated that had his own daughter Fatima stolen he would apply the punishment for stealing on her, and have her hand chopped off. There is only one set of rules – not one for family and friends and another set for others. The Shariah judges all people equally. There is one system for everybody – not one for the poor and one for the rich, or one for politicians or celebrities and another for the general public. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.
Justice when testifying as witnesses
Justice is also important when we testify as witnesses. So if you’re a witness Allah Almighty says that you have to be witnesses to justice – Shuhada bil qist. This is an amanah (trust). If you were to falsify testimony, and change what you saw or heard, that is betraying the Amanah and it is punishable. Usually two witnesses are required in court and they should have good character. A judge will not accept the testimony of someone who is known to be a liar, or a fraudster. The judge will often cross examine witnesses to check they are telling the truth. This is adala (justice).
Just rulers in the akhirah
In the hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says 7 categories of people will receive the shade of God’s Throne on the Day of Judgement. They will be the VIPs in the Hereafter. They will receive special treatment – one of these 7 categories is a just ruler.
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ سَبْعَةٌ يُظِلُّهُمْ اللَّهُ فِي ظِلِّهِ يَوْمَ لَا ظِلَّ إِلَّا ظِلُّهُ الْإِمَامُ الْعَادِلُ وَشَابٌّ نَشَأَ بِعِبَادَةِ اللَّهِ وَرَجُلٌ قَلْبُهُ مُعَلَّقٌ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ وَرَجُلَانِ تَحَابَّا فِي اللَّهِ اجْتَمَعَا عَلَيْهِ وَتَفَرَّقَا عَلَيْهِ وَرَجُلٌ دَعَتْهُ امْرَأَةٌ ذَاتُ مَنْصِبٍ وَجَمَالٍ فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ وَرَجُلٌ تَصَدَّقَ بِصَدَقَةٍ فَأَخْفَاهَا حَتَّى لَا تَعْلَمَ يَمِينُهُ مَا تُنْفِقُ شِمَالُهُ وَرَجُلٌ ذَكَرَ اللَّهَ خَالِيًا فَفَاضَتْ عَيْنَاهُ
“There are seven whom Allah will shade on a day when there is no shade but His. They are a just ruler, a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, one whose heart is attached to the mosques, two who love each other, meet each other, and depart from each other for the sake of Allah, a man who is tempted by a beautiful woman of high status but he rejects her, saying , ‘I fear Allah,’ and one who spends in charity and hides it such that his right hand does not know what his left hand has given, and one who remembered Allah in private and he wept.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
When people will be sweating and drowning in their sweat because the sun is so close to them on the Day of Judgment, up to their ankles, knees, stomachs and even their necks, the just rulers will be spared the blazing heat.
When people will be sweating and drowning in their sweat because the sun is so close to them on the Day of Judgment, up to their ankles, knees, stomachs and even their necks, the just rulers will be spared the blazing heat.
Don’t take what is not yours. Don’t deceive when presenting your case
عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ إِنَّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ إِلَىَّ وَلَعَلَّ بَعْضَكُمْ أَنْ يَكُونَ أَلْحَنَ بِحُجَّتِهِ مِنْ بَعْضٍ فَأَقْضِي لَهُ عَلَى نَحْوٍ مِمَّا أَسْمَعُ مِنْهُ فَمَنْ قَطَعْتُ لَهُ مِنْ حَقِّ أَخِيهِ شَيْئًا فَلاَ يَأْخُذْهُ فَإِنَّمَا أَقْطَعُ لَهُ بِهِ قِطْعَةً مِنَ النَّارِ ” .)) رواه مسلم.
Umm Salama reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying:
You bring to me, for (judgment) your disputes, some of you perhaps being more eloquent in their plea than others, so I give judgment on their behalf according to what I hear from them. (Bear in mind, in my judgment) if I slice off anything for him from the right of his brother, he should not accept that, for I sliced off for him a portion from the Hell. [Muslim]
This shows that a judge can only judge based on the evidence put before him by the plaintiff and defendant – if they are lying then this is oppression (dhulm), because they are taking something which is not rightfully theirs, which is haram. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was warning us, that one might think they are being smart by pulling the wool over the judge’s eyes, but in fact they are carving themselves a piece of hellfire.
‘Abdallah b. ‘Amr bin al ‘As reported God’s Messenger as saying,
عن عبد الله بن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال*: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((“إِنَّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَلَى مَنَابِرَ مِنْ نُورٍ عَنْ يَمِينِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكِلْتَا يَدَيْهِ يَمِينٌ: الَّذِينَ يَعْدِلُونَ فِي حُكْمِهِمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ وَمَا وَلُوا “))
“Those who act justly will be with God on pulpits of light at the right hand of the Compassionate One, and both His hands are right. They are those who are just in their jurisdiction, towards their people and what is under their charge.” [Muslim]
God Almighty will place the just on pulpits of light – those who were just to themselves, to their family and to those under their guardianship. Whether you are a parent, a doctor, a teacher, or a boss, whenever you have others under your authority or guardianship, ensure you treat people fairly and ensure they are given their rights.
‘Iyad bin Himar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال: ((“أهل الجنة ثلاثة: ذُو سُلطان مقسط مُوفق ؛ ورَجل رَحيم رقيق القلب لكل ذِي قربى ومسلم ؛ وعَفيف متفف ذو عيال”)).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The people of Jannah will be of three kinds: A just successful ruler, a man who shows mercy to his relatives, and a pious believer who has a large family and refrains from begging.” [Muslim]
Justice is not a gift – it’s a right. Give everyone their rights. Do not expect to be thanked for giving someone their right. Some people will thank you for giving them a donation for instance or something extra which is not theirs, but if you’re giving someone their right, this is an obligation.
The call of the oppressed
God Almighty has promised to answer the call of the oppressed. Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
عن أنس بن مالك قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اتَّقُوا دَعْوَةَ الْمَظْلُومِ وَإِنْ كَانَ كَافِرًا فَإِنَّهُ لَيْسَ دُونَهَا حِجَابٌ
“Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, even if he is an unbeliever, for there is nothing to veil it.” [Musnad Ahmad]
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله تعالى عنه قَالَ رَسُولُ الله صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم: ‘ثَلاَثَةٌ لا تُرَدُّ دَعْوَتُهُمْ: الصائِمُ حِينَ يُفْطِرُ، وَالإمَامُ العَادِلُ، وَدَعْوَةُ المَظْلُومِ يَرْفَعُهَا الله فَوْقَ الغَمَام وَيَفْتَحُ لَهَا أَبْوَابَ السمَاءِ، ويَقُولُ الرَبُ: وَعِزَّتِي لأنصُرَنَّكَ وَلَوْ بَعْدَ حِينٍ’. رواه الترمذي و ابن ماجه وابن خزيمة وقَالَ الشيخ أحمد شاكر: صحيح.
In another narration, Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him):
There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just ruler, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it up above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.’ (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
In this hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) is saying that justice will certainly come, though it may take time. Regardless if a person is oppressed is Muslim or non-Muslim, God Almighty hears their call and responds. So one must be careful not to oppress anyone or be unjust towards anyone.
And I say many times to be honest, sometimes if you can avoid getting into injustice it will cost you sometimes some money, but do it. Don’t get into this. For instance you have a misunderstanding between you and the plumber, or between you and the doctor, between you and somebody. You owe him some money. He has done something for you. We agreed on 300 – no we didn’t agree on 300, we agreed on 350 or 500, give or take. Sometimes you didn’t remember it might be – I don’t know – we didn’t have a document. You know what try to negotiate it but be careful you need to get consent. If he’s fine with this then done. If not, personally I would give him what he’s asking for and say, just go. I don’t want to regret on the day of judgment I have done injustice to you. Now I can give you the money but in the akhirah I can’t give you the money. So sometimes what you can save with money, in the akhirah you can’t save with money. Be careful.
Justice in your words
Finally we need to be just in our speech. We should choose our words carefully. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said kind words are charity. Conversely unkind words hurt. God Almighty said in the Quran:
say what is best.
There are so many aspects to justice that it is hard to do justice to the topic itself! However this is a brief overview of justice. To summarise, we have to do justice between us and God Almighty by worshipping Him with sincerity and purity of intention, purity of worship and belief, by performing salah properly and worshipping Him properly. This is justice.
We have to be just to others by not taking anyone’s rights. And we have to be just to ourselves.
`Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُقَاتِلٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، أَخْبَرَنَا الأَوْزَاعِيُّ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ أَلَمْ أُخْبَرْ أَنَّكَ تَصُومُ النَّهَارَ وَتَقُومُ اللَّيْلَ ”. قُلْتُ بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ. قَالَ ” فَلاَ تَفْعَلْ، صُمْ وَأَفْطِرْ، وَقُمْ وَنَمْ، فَإِنَّ لِجَسَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِعَيْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِزَوْجِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا ”
“O `Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” [Bukhari]
If you are not giving everyone their right, it means you’re doing injustice – either to yourself, or your spouse or your parents, or family.
Those in a position of authority bear a heavy burden. Hundreds and thousands of people will be attached to them on the Day of Judgement if not millions, saying they did injustice to them and they did not fulfil their promises.
By contrast, when we read the biography of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Uthman, Ali and ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz’ (may Allah be pleased with them all) we see true leaders – humble and down to earth. They cared about the people and they were just. Being in the position of authority is not easy and this why the reward is so great and why just rulers will be given VIP treatment on the Day of Judgement. Many people will not be in that category.
We ask God Almighty to enable us to be people of justice, for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, for those who are under our care, and those who are close to us. We ask Allah Almighty to make us people of justice. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Al Manaar New Muslim Group 29th November 2022
Transcribed by S Jawaid
- Growing up into a young Muslim adult
- Being good neighbours
- Mirroring the Prophet (peace be upon him)
- Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Jameel, Al Jaleel, Al Kareem
- Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Hafidh
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