Injustice in Islam
Sh. Khalifa Ezzat
Dhul-Qa‘dah 11, 1430- Oct. 30/2009
Dear brothers and sisters: Injustice in Islam is forbidden because it is a form of destructive behaviour. Allah says in a Qudsi Hadith, “O My servant, I have forbidden injustice for Myself and forbade it also for you. So avoid being unjust to one another.” [Muslim]
This is a general statement, addressed to all mankind, whether they are Muslim or not, it is not permissible for any person to oppress another even if they are enemies or hate one another. Enmity and hatred is not an excuse to be unjust or practice oppression.”
A Muslim should be just in all cases even if this justice will be against themselves, their parents, or kin. The Qur’an says, ‘O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be [against] rich or poor…’ [An-Nisaa’: 135]
The sole purpose of sending the Prophets was to establish justice in the world and to end injustice. The Qur’an says: ‘We sent aforetime our messengers with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that men may stand forth in Justice.’ [57:25]
What is the meaning of injustice in Islam? Injustice denotes not placing things in their rightful place. It is the opposite of justice which denotes placing things in their rightful position. Injustice also means giving others unequal treatment. Justice is close to equality in the sense that it creates a state of equilibrium in the distribution of rights and duties, although they may not be identical.
Islam is strongly opposed to all forms of injustice and takes all measures to ensure that justice prevails in every field.
Dear brothers and sisters: injustice in Islam has many forms. Some of them are as follows:
Injustice towards Allah: this type of injustice is to associate partners with Him [shirk]. The Qur’an says, ‘Surely, Shirk is a major injustice.’ [Luqman:13]
Injustice to One's Self: this type occurs by doing wrong to one’s own soul by committing sins and disobeying Allah’s commands. This is injustice to the self. The Qur’an says, ‘Do not wrong yourself…’ [at-Tawbah 9]
Injustice to Others: Injustice to others is of many types and forms. Let us consider some of these:
The first form of injustice to others is to cause harm or injury by attacking them physically or financially by taking their property, to defame their honour and reputation by slander. In his last khutbah, the Prophet said, ‘Your property, honour, and life are inviolable to one another.’
The second form of inequality among people is through the duties of the courts. Making judgements based on race, language or colour is a form of injustice. The Prophet said, ‘The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict legal punishments on the poor but forgive the rich. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! If Fatima (the daughter of the Prophet ) did that (i.e. stole), I would cut off her hand.’ [al-Bukhari]
The wrong-doer should not think that Allah neglects them or forgets them, but He gives them time and a chance to repent and do good. The Qur’an says, ‘If Allah were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave, on the (earth), a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: When their Term expires, they would not be able to delay (the punishment) for a single hour, just as they would not be able to anticipate it (for a single hour).’ [16:61]
And says, ‘Think not that Allah doth not heed the deeds of those who do wrong. He but gives them respite against a Day when the eyes will fixedly stare in horror.’ [14:42] the wrong-doer should avoid the consequences of injustice or oppression. They should be aware of the supplication of the oppressed as it rises to Almighty Allah with no barrier between it and Him.
The other form of injustice is caused by the rulers toward their subjects. This type of injustice can be avoided by fairness to all people, regardless of their colour, race or nationality.
Another form of injustice is that of children towards their parents, by being undutiful to them, for this is one of the gravest sins, as the Prophet [pbuh] informed us.
By contrast, injustice of parents towards their children also exists; this happens when parents treat their children differently. The Prophet said, ‘Fear Allah by being just to your children.’ So, a Muslim should not differentiate between his sons or daughters in treatment. Parents’ oppression against their children begins when they fail to teach them the rules and principles of their religion.
Among the forms of injustice is injustice between husbands and wives. Islam urges the husband to live kindly with his wife, to be a fair guardian, not to hit her or insult her or defame her reputation. The Prophet said, ‘Fear Allah regarding women, as indeed you have married them with the trust of Allah and He has made permissible for yourselves their bodies with the word of Allah.” [Muslim]
Among the forms injustice to others is to backbite or gossip about them, slander them, defame them, belittle, mock or laugh at them. All these are forbidden by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Another form of injustice is to neglect the rights of employees by depriving them of their wages or delaying them or exploiting their conditions by forcing them to do hard work for a long time. The Prophet [pbuh] said, ‘Give the employee his fees as soon as he finishes his job.’ [Ibn Majah]. The story of the three persons who were in a cave when a big rock fell and closed the entrance of the cave is a proof of the consequences of giving workers their fees and not being unjust towards them. The full story is narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim
Dear brothers and sisters: the Qur’an mentions in many verses the punishment of the unjust on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an says, ‘The Day that the wrong-doer will bite at his hands, he will say, "Oh! would that I had taken a (straight) path with the Messenger! Ah! woe is me! Would that I had never taken such a one for a friend! He did lead me astray from the Message (of Allah) after it had come to me! Ah! the Evil One is but a traitor to man!" [25:27:29]
The Qur’an mentions many stories about those who were unjust, whether they were the ruler or ruled.
Those who wronged their brothers or sisters in terms of wealth, reputation or any other matter should seize the opportunity in this life to free themselves from their acts of injustice now.
In this regard, the Prophet [pbuh] said, ‘Do you know who the bankrupt is?’ They – the Companions - said, ‘A bankrupt person is the one who has neither dirham [money] nor wealth.’ The Prophet [pbuh] said, ‘The bankrupt person among my followers [Ummah] is the one who would come on the Day of Judgment with prayers, fasting, and zakah but would have offended one person, slandered another, devoured others' wealth, shed the blood of this person, and hit that person. [Consequently] his rewards will be distributed to all of them and when he loses all his rewards before their account is fulfilled, then their sins will be taken and cast upon him and he will be thrown into Hellfire.” [Muslim] Therefore, Muslims must fear Almighty Allah, beware of oppression and be just in all their affairs
Dear brothers and sisters: finally we ask Allah to guide us all.
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