By Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in Islam: An Introduction
Islam calls toward the welfare of mankind, the establishment of justice between all people being one example. Justice in Islam is not for Arabs alone; it is for all the people of the world without exception.
While mentioning the objectives of revealed religions, Allah says:
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain their affairs in justice.
[Surah Al-Hadid 57:25]
Thus it stands established that the deputation of the Messengers and revelation of the Books were aimed at achieving a basic objective, so that the people will accomplish justice; in other words, fairness to ensure that everyone without exception gets his rights. Allah says:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُم بِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.
[Surah An-Nisa 4:58]
The command is lucid in its message that when you judge between “people” – not only Muslims – that you judge with complete justice. In fact, Allah revealed nine verses of Surah An-Nisa admonishing His noble Messenger, peace be upon him, when he was about to defend some of the hypocritical Muslims who had accused a Jew of stealing. The accused had not stolen; the accusers themselves had stolen. Allah says:
نَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِمَا أَرَاكَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَكُن لِّلْخَائِنِينَ خَصِيمًا
وَاسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
وَلَا تُجَادِلْ عَنِ الَّذِينَ يَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ خَوَّانًا أَثِيمًا
Indeed, We have revealed to you the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which Allah has shown you. And do not be for the deceitful an advocate. And seek forgiveness of Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful. And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Indeed, Allah loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.
[Surah An-Nisa 4:105-107]
Allah has commanded the believers to stand firmly for justice. They should not be dissuaded by affection for kin or hatred of others. Justice is above the emotions of love and hate. It must be for Allah alone. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.
[Surah An-Nisa 4:135]
This is the justice towards loves ones, whether it is towards family members or even one’s own self. Allah also says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
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 aware of what you do.
[Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:8]
In spite of dislike or hatred against certain people, Muslims are not supposed to commit transgression, because Allah does not like those who depart from justice nor does He guide them to the right path, as such people never succeed in this world or the Hereafter.
Muslims apply justice with all people. They applied it in the lifetime of the Messenger, peace be upon him, during the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the early centuries of Islam. We know of Umar ibn Al-Khattab ordering the aggrieved Coptic Egyptian to seek retribution from the son of the governor of Egypt, Amr ibn Al-‘As. History then recorded his famous statement:
متى استعبدتم الناس وقد ولدتهم أمهاتهم أحرارا
When did you begin to enslave people while they were born from their mothers free?
This spontaneous statement of Umar became the opening statement of the formal documents ofhuman rights and constitutions of advanced countries in modern times.
What must be lauded here is that Islam made the masses perceive that justice is an obligation which endures no remissness or lenience and that the aggrieved will, for certain, retrieve his due from the perpetrator. There is nothing strange that one would travel all the way from Fustat to Medina, bearing all the hardship of the long journey, to claim his due. In the Roman empire, the oppressed were robbed of their possessions and honor and they could not raise their voice. There was no one in the wilderness to listen to his cry.
In contrast, during the caliphate of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the judge appointed by him passed his verdict against Ali himself, the Commander of the Faithful, in favor of a Christian subject, because Ali could not refute the claim against him. Upon seeing the fairness of Islamic justice, the Christian could not resist to declare publicly his faith in Islam and to confess that Ali was right and had been framed, adding that such verdicts were nothing less than prophetic.
Such examples are ample in history books.
[Qaraḍāwī, Y. (2010). Islam: An introduction. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust. p. 340-343]
(www.faithinallah.org / 17.04.2012)