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Islam and Social Justice (Part 1)

Islam and Social Justice (Part 1)

Islam has emphasized several principles so that relationships among members of the society may be justly and fairly organized. Foremost among these principles is social justice with all the denotations and connotations the term may involve. The aim behind social justice was to found a society that enjoys peace, fraternity, love, and welfare. Indeed, justice in Islam is not restricted to or practiced on Muslims only. Rather, it is the genuine right of all members of the society regardless of anything else.

Meaning and Significance of “Justice”

Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, equity and fairness.[1]

In Islam, justice stands for placing things in their rightful place.[2] It stands also for giving others equal treatment with no discrimination whatsoever.

In his A Theory of Justice, Rawls claims that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”[3]

Perceptions of justice differ in every culture, as cultures are usually dependent on a shared history, mythology and/or religion. Each culture’s ethics create values which influence the notion of justice. Although there can be found some justice principles that are one and the same in all or most of the cultures, these are insufficient to create a unitary justice apprehension.[4]

Justice is the basis of human life and the cardinal principle along which human society operates. It encompasses all the aspects of human life and enables one to live in peace and harmony with other fellow beings.

Remarkably, Islam lays great emphasis on justice because it facilitates the establishment of social order that enables humans to develop their humane qualities, live in peace and harmony and make this world worth living. Peaceful life is possible only when we are just in our thinking and activities. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an,

“Indeed! We sent Our messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and Balance that people may uphold justice.” (Al-Hadid 57:25)

In Islam, justice is significant as it is one of the 99 Divine Attributes of Allah. Allah Almighty is the Ever-Just. Justice is one of the basic values the Ever-Glorious Qur’an underlines and mentions oft-repeatedly in a number of its ayahs. Allah Almighty enjoined Muslims to practice justice in all their affairs starting with being just in rulership and governance, giving testimonies, treating one’s family and spouse, and all people even foes and enemies. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an,

“Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between people that ye judge with justice: verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things.” (An-Nisa’ 4:58)

He says also,

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

Indeed, it is not enough for a real Muslim to do justice or act righteously in a neutral atmosphere; one is required to do justice to people who have a grudge against him or to whom he has an aversion. This is what the religion of Islam dictates his followers.


About Dr. Ali Al-Halawani


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