Justice is an admirable virtue among all people, yet it has a dynamic dimension in Islam. Justice and fair dealings are regarded as duties to Allah. Each person is responsible for exercising justice in accordance with the level of authority he has been given by Allah. The greater the authority, the greater the responsibility, the greater the degree of justice expected. So, it is fair to conclude that Islam and oppression do not mix. A Muslim is required by Allah to administer and establish justice wherever he finds himself. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stated this command very clearly in his Last Sermon, in which he advised Muslims not to oppress one another. Therefore, Islam and justice are inseparable. In order to establish justice, a person must develop the consciousness to combat oppression. One�s sense of justice is positively related to his level of faith. Depending on one�s level of authority and power, oppression can be fought with the hand, the tongue or the heart and the latter of which is said to be the weakest of faith. Simply stated, the proper use of power yields justice, while the abuse of power yields oppression or injustice. This is a difficult test that many do fail. Man has been faced with this struggle since his creation. As world population increases, so does the struggle for leadership, human rights, and freedom of choice. Allah sent us the guiding light with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to fight against oppression and stand up for justice.
Leaders of nations have the most responsibility to bear. They are often tempted by pressure groups, self interest, or by their own prejudices to deviate from justice. Allah states in the Qur�an that justice is an obligation to Him:
O you who believe! Be securers of justice, witnesses for Allah, and do not let the hatred of a people make you swerve to do wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is nearer to God-consciousness; and fear Allah, for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do. (Al Maida: 9)
While concern for the welfare of the people, justice and obedience to Allah�s laws are the duty of a ruler. As long as the ruler obeys Allah�s orders, the people are to obey him. The ruler is obligated to consult with his advisors as well as the representatives of the people to hear their concerns and needs. So, there is no room for tyrants and dictators in Islam.
The concept of justice in Islam is unparalleled. Allah states in the Qur�an:
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses for Allah, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it concerns rich or poor, for Allah can best protect both. Then do not follow caprice, lest you swerve and if you twist or turn (from justice), verily Allah is well acquainted with all that you do. ( Al Nisaa: 135)
At a very young age, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) joined a pact of chivalry for the establishment of justice and the protection of the weak and the oppressed made by certain chiefs of the Quraysh. He took part in an oath when they all vowed they would stand together as one man on the side of the oppressed against the oppressor until justice was served, whether the oppressed was a man of Quraysh or a foreigner.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) certainly inspired us with his deep sense of justice. He shook 7th century Arabia with his triumph in purifying souls and uplifting morality, as he laid the foundations of a just family, society, and state. He brought a new world order based on justice in which the life and property of all citizens are considered sacred whether they are Muslims or not. He taught the people that everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Allah. He also added that no man has a right to be master of another, to spread oppression and corruption on earth. He reminded the people that there is an eternal life which awaits us, in which Allah will judge us with justice. Allah is so just, He even hears the requests made by an atheist when he is oppressed. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) drew up the world�s first constitution in which the rights of the religious minorities were protected. He condemned racism and nationalism. For the first time in history, women, children, orphans, foreigners and slaves were granted many rights and protection. Allah states in the Qur�an:
O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in Allah�s sight is the greatest of you in piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. ( Al-Hujurat: 13)
The similarity between 7th century Arabia and the 21st century world is striking. Both worlds lived under the yoke of many false gods: kings, emperors, priest, monks, feudal lords, rich businessmen, psychics, and man-made gods of their own desires, all try to rule over man. Today only the names have been changed, but the essence is still the same. Powerful nations, passion, cultures, science and technology are suppressing our sense of justice. Let�s just say history repeats itself!
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, �The just and fair will be seated on chairs of light before Allah. Such people are those who decide with justice and deal justly in matters relating to their families as well as other affairs entrusted to them.� The price of freedom and justice on this earth is very high, so the reward in the Hereafter is even higher. Are we willing to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices? Allah sent us the message and gave us the free will to choose. The choice is ours to make. Will we answer the call for justice? Is it possible to rise above our self interest?