Justice is rooted in Islam. This begins with God’s divine nature. As in the Qu’ran,
Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.” [Qur’an 4:40] (1)
Then extending to how Muslims ought to act, the Prophet peace be upon him quotes God saying,
O MY slaves, I have made oppression unlawful for myself and I have made it unlawful among you, so do not oppress one another.” [Hadith] (2)
Justice has several dimensions: social, economic, political, and legal. In the context of human-to-human interaction, we look at social justice, which, simply and briefly, is concerned with granting all individuals equal rights and opportunities. In Islam, contexts like color, race, and lineage are overlooked in the attempt not only to grant all pupils the same starting point in their strive towards God, but also to create consensus in society that is independent of socioeconomic factors.
Principles of Social Justice
Social justice is centered around four interrelated principles: access, equity, participation, and rights. Access is guaranteeing all people have access to goods and services regardless of their age, gender, and ethnicity. While equity is about ensuring the fair distribution of available resources across society.
Social Justice in Islam: Access & Equity
These two principles are widely represented in the Islamic shariah. The structural nature of Islam expresses the prior. God, the Almighty states in the Qu’ran:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteousof you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.” [Qur’an 49:13] (3)
Thus, Islam assesses that nothing intrinsic, like gender or ethnicity, makes one human more entitled to certain privileges than another.
In fact, Islam preaches the notion of striving towards giving everyone equal access to opportunities. When the Prophet (PBUH) came to Madinah, he instructed the people to support the poor, help the oppressed, and spread peace.
Additionally, Islam encourages acts like taking care of widows and orphans, who are typically oppressed and stranded, and grants immense reward for that. In the earlier days when the norms of pre-Islamic Arabia were still prevalent, Islam strived towards eradicating the existing forms of injustice, like the maltreatment of slaves, and even made freeing slaves a leap in the spiritual journey of any Muslim. The latter is embodied in zakah, which is an Islamic fundamental duty that requires Muslims who possess sufficient wealth to give out to the poor and needy 2.5% of their assets. While the number might not appear as substantial compared to current tax rates, Islam ensures that the right people get the money. Besides zakah, Islam highly holds charity and those who give it.
Social Justice in Islam: Participation & Rights
Participation is defined as enabling people to participate in decisions which affect their lives. One of the fundamental principles in Islamic politics is Shura, which can be defined as consulting and accounting for the opinion of those that can be depended on or entrusted (i.e. to give a viable, unbiased opinion). Shura also emphasizes social solidarity, which is a tool for reducing inequality and social injustice, given how it promotes unity and social inclusion.
Rights are essentially human rights, which are inevitably intertwined with social justice. Islam grants all humans rights, including, but not limited to, the right to life
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And Our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” [Qur’an 5:32] (4)
and the right to justice
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is [fully] Aware of what you do.” [Qur’an 5:8] (5)
Beyond what makes up the typical notion of social justice, Islamic sharia is built on the basis of guarding human life. Also, it has necessitated legislations for this purpose. God is the Just who condemns all sorts of oppression and injustice. Hence, He sent down a law complying with this idea.
In the past, when the Islamic sharia was fully implemented, there were times when what we claim as social justice, a seemingly farfetched dream in our capitalist world, was achieved, and maybe this is a sign of where we should start looking.
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