Justice is a mercy from Allah to humankind. It means to place things in their rightful place. Justice is an instrument of preserving and elevating human’s honor and dignity.
As such, justice is of divine character and cannot truly exist; and it cannot be established without divine guidance of Allah, the Most Just.
What Does it Mean to Be Just?
The term ‘adl is very comprehensive. It includes giving people what they deserve, impartiality, fairness and speaking the truth.
Justice also means avoiding oppressing others, including animals and our environment. It means to avoid bias and prejudice and being balanced in one’s view and judgements.
Looking at what it means to be just shows us that it is one of the most important characteristics of a human being; and it’s part of the Muslim character in particular. We should strive to be as just as possible. To inculcate what it means to be just in our lives.
Justice, as established by Allah, our Merciful Creator, in His last and final religion is a heavenly gift. Being just means that our emotions do not impact on acting correctly.
A Beautiful Story of Justice
There is an interesting story from Abdullah ibn Rawahah, a noble companion of Prophet Muhammad.
After the battle of Khaybar (7 Hijrah) against the renegade Jews, the Jews were defeated and an agreement was signed.
According to the agreement, the Jews can remain on their lands and in their fortresses if they paid half of their agricultural yield to the Prophet Muhammad.
Abdullah ibn Rawahah, a companion from the Ansar, was appointed to estimate the agricultural produce of the Jews. He had to make sure that the taxes were paid according to the agreement. However, the Jews tried to bribe Abdullah ibn Rawahah in order to get away paying less to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Abdullah ibn Rawahah was very upset about the Jews’ attempt to bribe him. He declined it full heartedly. With strong, clear words, Abdullah ibn Rawahah expressed his anger.
However, despite their illegal offer to Abdullah, he treated them with justice and said to the Jews:
“However, (you can rest assured that) neither my excessive love for him (the Prophet), nor my excessive hatred for you will prevent me in the slightest from being just with you.”
What Do We Learn From Abdullah ibn Rawahah?
We learn from this story that Abdullah ibn Rawahah’s sense of judgment was in no way affected by his emotions. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) teaches that justice must be blind to relationships and emotions.
Justice must transcend the levels of human’s biases. Justice as part of the Islamic worldview is a way of life. Abdullah ibn Rawahah teaches us that we need to follow our Islamic way of life in every circumstance; he teaches us to uphold and preserve justice because of its divine character.
By practicing divinely inspired justice, can our societies be elevated. We will be elevated in our morals, proficiencies, communities and families. And by upholding justice in our communities, we will regain a sense of safety.
Practicing Justice Starts in our Family
This starts in our very own family. We need to be just with our family members and fulfill their rights. By living and practicing justice, we can teach our children to become just members of our societies.
By connecting them to the Source of all justice, Allah SWT, we will insha’Allah connect them to His teachings. For example, treating siblings equally just will help children to develop trust; and they, in turn, know how to act justly. They will feel safe in their family and communities when they have their rights.
Complete Divine Justice
The world as we know it is a divine test for human kind. Complete divine justice will be established on the Day of Judgment. This is due to Allah’s complete and infinite wisdom. We need to take consolation in that if we see something that we feel is not portraying justice as we understand it.
Allah is aware of everything. Aware of every unjust act, of every unjust word, of every oppression and every crime. We need to do our best to establish justice in our families and communities, with our own selves and the rest of creation. And we need to inculcate this heavenly virtue as good as possible in our lives to (re-) gain a sense of safety in our communities.
Allah expresses this beautifully in His noble Quran:
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice; and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do (5: 8).