Socio-Economic Justice: its Place in Islam

Socio-economic justice is one of the most important teachings of Islam. According to the Qur’an, the primary mission of all Messengers of God was to establish justice in this world (.Al-Hadid 57: 25). All of the Qur’anic teachings are essentially directed towards enabling people to live with each other in peace and to fulfill their mutual obligations honestly and faithfully so as to ensure justice and general well-being (falah). Within the purview of this mission of the Messengers, the Qur’an predicts, and rightly so, that injustice leads ultimately to destruction (Ta-ha 20: 111).

The Qur’an is one of the two inviolable sources of Islamic teachings. The other is the Sunnah, which also speaks strongly in favor of justice and condemns injustice in very forceful and unambiguous terms. While the Qur’an predicts destruction to be the consequence of injustice, the Prophet (PBUH), predicts darkness to be the consequence. Both essentially imply the same thing: failure to ensure human well-being will lead to darkness and destruction.

This intense and unequivocal stress by both the Qur’an and the Sunnah on justice has been reflected in the writings of all Muslim scholars throughout history. For example, Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) wrote that: “Injustice is absolutely not permissible, irrespective of whether it is to a Muslim or a non-Muslim or even to an unjust person.” Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) also forcefully stated that it is not possible for a country to develop without justice.3 On the basis of this, one can easily state that Islam and injustice cannot coexist. Injustice will prevail in a Muslim society when Islam is weak and, similarly, injustice will be weak when Islam is strong. The present- day reality in the Muslim world, unfortunately, is that Islam is weak and injustice is rampant.

M. Umer Chapra


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