The Arabic term ZULM (ظُلم) primarily means ‘not putting a thing where it belongs or where it ought to be’; it refers to ‘unfairness and injustice’ by depriving people of their due rights; acting wrongfully, injuriously or tyrannically; exceeding or falling short or deviating from proper time or place; transgressing proper limits; making someone to suffer loss; oppression; tyranny; and inequity.
ZULM has been described as one of the key reasons for the downfall and destruction of nations, in the Quran. Allah says in the Quran:
وَمَا كُنَّا مُهْلِكِي الْقُرَىٰ إِلَّا وَأَهْلُهَا ظَالِمُونَ
And We are not to destroy the townships unless their inhabitants are unjust & wrongdoers (Zālimeen).
[Al-Quran Surah 28: Verse 59]
وَلَمَّا جَاءَتْ رُسُلُنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ بِالْبُشْرَىٰ قَالُوا إِنَّا مُهْلِكُو أَهْلِ هَٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ إِنَّ أَهْلَهَا كَانُوا ظَالِمِينَ
And when Our messengers came to Ibrahim with good news (then, adding) they (also) said: ‘We are going to destroy the dwellers of this town because its inhabitants are unjust & wrongdoers (Zālimeen).
[Al-Quran Surah 29: Verse 31]
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِنَا أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا فَأَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ
And the disbelievers said to their Messengers: ‘We will banish you by all means from our country, or you will have to return to our faith.’ Their Lord then revealed to them: ‘We shall certainly destroy the unjust & wrongdoers (Zālimeen).
[Al-Quran Surah 14: Verse 13]
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّهِ بَغْتَةً أَوْ جَهْرَةً هَلْ يُهْلَكُ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
(Also) say (to them): ‘Tell me if the punishment of Allah comes upon you all of a sudden or openly, will (any other) be destroyed except those who are unjust & wrongdoers (Zālimeen)?’
[Al-Quran Surah 6: Verse 47]
وَلَقَدْ أَهْلَكْنَا الْقُرُونَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا
And indeed We destroyed (a number of) communities before you when they perpetrated injustice (Zulm).
[Al-Quran Surah 10: Verse 13]