Sacred Justice…Lessons from Story of Prophet Musa (PBUH)

{O you who have believed, be constantly upright with equity (with others), witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or (your) parents and nearest kin. In case (the person) is rich or poor, then Allah is the Best Patron for both. So do not ever follow prejudice, so as to do justice; and in case you twist or veer away, then surely Allah has been Ever-Cognizant of whatever you do.}   [A’Nisa: 135]

The injustice we see today is overwhelming. No place is free of it. The internet and social media now allow us to witness the wrongs as if it is right in front of us. It’s easy to get discouraged. Let’s start with educating ourselves on sacred justice. These are lessons from the story of Musa (peace be upon him) narrated in Surat Al-Qasas.

Lesson #1: Oppression Requires Division

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{Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.} (Al-Qasas: 4)

“Divide and conquer” is not just a fancy phrase for dividing up work. It is a tactic that historians have studied for centuries. It has been used to successfully colonize lands, it’s used in wars, and it was used in the transatlantic slave trade. 

This verse doesn’t just explain how conniving Pharaoh was. This verse serves as a reminder of the prerequisite to complete dominance of a people. If we can recognize its symptoms early, we have the advantage to be on the right side of the fight. 

Unfortunately, the insidious nature of such division makes it easy for people to ignore and even justify injustice. Malcolm X once said “if you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”  

Being divided can make people justify something like putting little kids in gray cages without their parents. And when these kids go missing or die, it becomes “collateral damage.” 

Lesson #2: Doing The Right Thing is Hard Sometimes

{And the heart of Moses’ mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers.} (Al-Qasas: 10)

It is uncomfortable to do the right thing, especially if you are the only one doing it. Even Musa’s mother, who had been assured by Allah that Musa would be taken care of, had enormous difficulty with her task. 

Doing the right thing is hard, but it’s right. God didn’t promise us ease in the dunya. He commanded us to stand up for justice and promised a reward for it in the hereafter.

 So advise your friend even if you’re afraid of what he/she may say. Donate even if you feel like you’re not making a difference. Educate yourself even if you’re the only one doing it! If it’s for the sake of Allah, it will make this world better and the next one even better!

Lesson #3: Justice Requires Patience

{And he entered the city at a time of inattention by its people and found therein two men fighting: one from his faction and one from among his enemy. And the one from his faction called for help to him against the one from his enemy, so Moses struck him and [unintentionally] killed him. [Moses] said, “This is from the work of Satan. Indeed, he is a manifest, misleading enemy.” He said, “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me,” and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (Al-Qasas 28: 15-17)

Passion is not the most important part of justice. Patience and wisdom are. 

Before deciding an action, thoughtfully assess what you are about to say and do. It is not an Islamic action to take a side on a matter without understanding both sides. Hasty decisions driven by uncontrolled anger and emotions don’t help a just cause. The consequences can be detrimental. So caution must be exercised so Shaytan doesn’t take advantage of your haste. 

In these verses, we see the extreme of what can happen when one takes a hasty action and gives rein to extreme anger. This led to the death of someone and eventually caused Musa to be run out of the city! 

Acting on impulse can also lead to taking sides without proper investigation. It’s extremely tempting to take sides because we have a strong feeling of who is telling the truth. But the exercise in patience and wisdom is for security purposes! It protects us from carrying sin if we’re wrong. I know I personally have jumped to conclusions only to be wrong. So, I sinned because I thought ill or accused someone of something they didn’t do. I had to shamefully apologize and make tawbah. Had I asked questions first before taking sides, I wouldn’t have followed shaytan’s footsteps. Judges in Islamic courts were advised to never pass a judgement when in an emotional state. Whether they were sad, angry, or even hungry. This was to protect them from being swayed unintentionally because of their emotions. 

Conclusion

Humans have abused their free will to wreak havoc on this earth. But Allah is most Just. He has given us the methods toward justice in this dunya all throughout the َuran and authentic sunnah. A Muslim submits to God and upholds justice “even if it be against yourselves or (your) parents and nearest kin.” And perfect justice will come in the hereafter.

About Hana Alasry
Hana Alasry is a Yemeni American Muslim community organizer and activist working most heavily with MAS Youth. Her work focuses heavily on Muslim youth development, Islamic tarbiya and the Yemen crisis. She is currently in PA school studying medicine at the University of Detroit Mercy.