Justice and Equality

Justice and Equality

Justice as ‘fairness’ is the hallmark of an Islamic political system. The Quran makes it clear that the key task of all the Messengers of Allah and the objective of giving them the Book of Divine laws was to establish justice[1],[2]. Justice must be meted out in all fairness even if the decision goes against one’s own self, one’s parents, relatives, the poor or the rich[3]. And the hatred or enmity of someone should never be a cause to deviate us from the path of justice[4]. Equality before the law is the cornerstone of Islamic Polity. In an Islamic State, everyone is equal before the law – the rich, the poor, the self, the opponent, the loved ones or the enemies.

The Quran combines the concept of justice as ‘giving what is due’ (adl) with the concept of ‘care’ or Ihsaan[5]. ‘Ihsan’ involves ‘giving more than what is due’ or ‘taking less than that is owed to you’. For example, you do ‘adl’ if you pay agreed-upon wages that are due to a worker whose services you hired. But if you feel that the amount of wages would not be enough for him to make his both ends meet and so you give him more than what is due or agreed-upon, that is ‘ihsan’. One’s life remains beautifully balanced as long as one’s earnings match his needs. When the needs exceed the earnings, then his balance or beauty of life is disturbed. Similarly, if some people in a society have too much and others have tool little, the economic balance of the society is disturbed. To keep up the balance is also an aspect of ‘ihsan’.

The Quran enjoins  doing ‘ihsan’ to or taking care of: parents; family and relatives (Zav-il-Qurba); orphans, widows and those who are left alone in the society (Al-yatama); the disabled; those who have lost their jobs; whose business have stalled; whose income fails to meet their needs (Al-masakeen); the near neighbours and the farther neighbours; the colleagues or companions at the side; the needy wayfarer; son of the street; the homeless (Ibn-e-sabeel); servants, subordinates, workers or wives (ma malakt aymanukum)[6]. In an Islamic State, not only everyone gets what is his due right but anyone at the deprived and disadvantaged position is also taken care of, including orphans, widows, disabled, jobless, homeless, and so on.

The concept of Equality before the law is different from the concept of equality in condition, constitution, composition or conduct. The Quran has pointed out the following contrasts regarding inequality of condition, constitution, composition or conduct: The (metaphorical) blind is not equal to the one who sees[7]; The (metaphorical) deaf is not equal to the one who listens[8]; Darkness of any sort is not equal to the light[9]; Fresh and sweet water is not equal to salty and bitter water[10]; The living is not equal to the dead [11]; A man of knowledge is not equal to the ignorant[12]; Goodness is not equal to evil[13]; The vile is not equal to the good, even though the abundance of the vile is impressive[14]; Those who have conviction and do righteous deeds are not equal to those who are evil doers[15]; Those who live a hellish life are not equal to those who live a paradisiacal life[16].

As far as equality of opportunity is concerned, in an Islamic State any ancestral, filial, conjugal or other relationships do not have any value in terms of a person’s individual rank or grade. Nor any gender or other distinctions matter. In an Islamic State, all have ranks according to their personal deeds[17].

In an Islamic State, everyone has to bear the responsibility of the outcome of their actions. Everyone draws the recompense of his deeds on none but himself[18]. On the day and time of judgement, no bearer of burden shall bear the burden (of the consequences of actions) of anyone else[19]. Even the closest relative will not bear the least of one’s burden at the moment of retribution[20]. One needs to mind one’s own actions instead of bothering or boasting about the deeds and feats of the forefathers. Whatever they did, it is they who will get their recompense and one will get the recompense of only what one does himself. One will not be asked any questions about the actions of his past generations[21]. However, if one misguides anyone without knowledge, one shall have to bear not only the consequences of his own actions but also some of the burden of those who acted wrongly due to his misguidance[22].

As far as equality of respectability is concerned, human dignity is an inherent, inalienable and inviolable right of every human being. Allah has honoured all the Children of Adam[23]. All human beings are the Children of Adam. So, all human beings must be treated with honour, respect and regard, without distinction of any kind, such as the colour of their skin, their race, descent, social background, national origin, gender, age, language, religion, political or other affiliation, education, occupation, job, wealth, property or any other status. There is no aristocracy, religious elite, priesthood or any privileged class in Islam.

While a certain level of respect and honour is due to all human beings, those who demonstrate the highest level of integrity deserve the highest degree of honour[24].  The criteria for greater honour do not include wealth, property, race, ethnic background, skin colour, gender, nationality, social background, language, occupation or anything else but integrity; It is neither any academic degree nor any level of education or religious affiliation which does not translate into integrity of the character.

[1] Al-Quran Surah 57: Verse 25

[2] Al-Quran Surah 10: Verse 47

[3] Al-Quran Surah 4: Verse 135

[4] Al-Quran Surah 5: Verse 8

[5] Al-Quran Surah 16: Verse 90

[6] Al-Quran Surah 2: Verse 83; Surah 4: Verse 36; Surah 6: Verse 151; Surah 16: Verse 90; Surah 17: Verse 23; Surah 46: Verse 15

[7] Al-Quran Surah 6: Verse 50; Surah 11: Verse 24; Surah 13: Verse 16; Surah 35: Verse 19; Surah 40: Verse 58

[8] Al-Quran Surah 11: Verse 24

[9] Al-Quran Surah 13: Verse 16

[10] Al-Quran Surah 35: Verse 12

[11] Al-Quran Surah 35: Verse 22

[12] Al-Quran Surah 39: Verse 9

[13] Al-Quran Surah 41: Verse 34

[14] Al-Quran Surah 5: Verse 100

[15] Al-Quran Surah 40: Verse 58

[16] Al-Quran Surah 59: Verse 20

[17] Al-Quran Surah 6: Verse 132; Surah 46: Verse 19

[18] Al-Quran Surah 6: Verse 164

[19] Al-Quran Surah 17: Verse 15; Surah 39: Verse 7; Surah 53: Verse 38

[20] Al-Quran Surah 35: Verse 18

[21] Al-Quran Surah 2: Verse 134; Surah 2: Verse 141; Surah 4: Verse 111

[22] Al-Quran Surah 16: Verse 25

[23] Al-Quran Surah 17: Verse 70

[24] Al-Quran Surah 49: Verse 13

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