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Need for Justice, Mutual Help & Cooperation: Islamic Approach

This brings us to the crucial question of what it is that creates an atmosphere of conflict and takes people away from each other. It is, according to the Qur’an, as pointed out earlier, (transgression against each other). To remove this transgression, it is necessary to have justice and mutual help and cooperation as building blocks. Without justice and mutual help and cooperation, it would be impossible to have mutually beneficial globalization. If these two are there, then there will not only be economic integration but also social and political harmony.

Teaching of Qur’an and Sunnah: According to the Qur’an, God sent His Messengers to this world with clear signs as well as the Book and the Balance so that people may establish justice (57:25). Therefore, one of the primary purposes of all Messengers of God, and not just Muhammad (pbuh) or Adam, Noah, Moses and Jesus (peace and blessings of God be upon them all), was to establish justice in this world. This is because, without justice, it would be difficult to realize unity of mankind. It would also be difficult to establish peace and harmony. Justice is, in accordance with the verdict of the Qur’an, essential for this purpose. In the verse just quoted, the word “Book” refers to the Qur’an, which provides the worldview and the rules of behaviour. The “Balance” refers to the criteria for right and wrong provided by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It also refers to the establishment of a fair equilibrium or balance in all aspects of human life, as it exists in nature. If human beings act in accordance with these rules, there will be unity and globalization. Without implementing these rules of behaviour, there will be no justice and hence no harmony or peace. The Qur’an clearly states that:

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Those who believe and do not impair their belief with injustice, for them there is peace and they are the rightly guided ones. (6:82)

So, this is the verdict of the Qur’an. If you wish to have peace and harmony in this world, there is no other way but to do justice to people. Even belief by itself is not sufficient. Belief has to be reinforced by the elimination of injustice. So, justice is one of the basic requirements of Islam, and the Prophet (pbuh) reinforced this further by emphasizing that injustice leads to darkness on the Day of Judgment. The term “CjUlia..used by the Prophet (pbuh), is the plural of which means darkness. In its plural sense, it implies ‘pitch darkness,’ that is darkness in which a person cannot see anything. So, there will be only darkness in the Hereafter for of learning and persuasions. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Sabians, all worked together in the Muslim world at that time. There was free and unhindered discussion of all intellectual issues, leading to all-round intellectual advance. This was one of the reasons for the rapid progress of Islam at that time. This tolerance was the result of Islamic teachings. According to George Sarton, “Religious faith dominated the Muslim life to an unprecedented extent.”

Views of Some Classical Muslim Scholars: After having seen what the Qur’an and the Sunnah have to say about justice, let us look at the views of some of the great Muslim scholars. Ibn Taymiyyah says that:

“Justice is an imperative on everyone towards everything and everyone. Injustice is absolutely not permissible irrespective of whether it is to a Muslim or a non-Muslim or even to an unjust person.”

We need to bear in mind here that when Ibn Taymiyyah says justice towards everything, it is not justice towards only human beings but also towards animals, birds, insects, and the environment. “Everything” includes all of these. So, justice has to be ensured for everything and everyone, and even to an unjust person.

Ibn Khaldun, one of the great historians and social scientists, also stated emphatically that “injustice is destructive of civilization.” This he said six hundred years ago, while development economics, until even a few decades ago, was not unanimous on the role of justice in development. Some economists emphasized that justice is a luxury and it is not possible to bring about development with justice. However, experience has taught development economics that development is not possible without justice. It, therefore, took a turn in the seventies and eighties of the last century and, in general, economists now agree that justice is indispensable for development. Ibn Khaldun arrived at this conclusion six hundred year ago in the light of Islamic teachings, and said: There can be no development without justice."

We can, therefore, state with confidence that the general Islamic imperative is that justice must be ensured and that the benefits of development must be shared equitably by all. Without justice, not only will development suffer but there will also be conflict and lack of cooperation. Integration and globalization will also be difficult to realize. Justice requires that equals must be treated equally and unequals unequally. This is elaborated further in the following discussion on economic, social and political integration.

M. Umer Chapra


Source: Essays on Muslims and the Challenges of Globalisation, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Republished with permission.