Month 10: Justice


1. Justice in Islam

In Islam, justice (ʿadālah) is considered to be both a duty and a moral virtue. It defines justice as ‘placing things in their rightful place’ and teaches that justice is of three types: justice to God, justice to others, and justice to oneself.

  1. Justice to God means fulfilling His right by sincerely worshipping and serving only Him.
  2. Justice to others is also called ‘qisṭ’, which means establishing equity and equality in a socio-economic sense. In practical terms, justice is achieved in society when no one is oppressed, and everyone receives their due rights. Those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable are treated in a dignified manner so that over time, they are brought in line with the rest of society. 
  3. Justice to oneself means making efforts to purify the soul and restrain it from following its base desires. That is why committing a sin deliberately is doing injustice (ẓulm) to oneself.

The Qurʾan enjoins justice in many verses, for example:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ

Surah Nahl [16:90]: Indeed Allah commands the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others)…

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ 

إِنْ يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا

Surah Nisa [4:135]: O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, as witnesses to Allah, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives, whether they are rich or poor…

2. Justice under a Just Ruler – Imam al-Mahdi (af)

In a famous tradition, the Prophet (s) is reported to have said: “Allah will raise a man from my Ahl al-Bayt, through whom the earth will be filled with justice and equity just as it has been filled with injustice and oppression.”1

Justice in its fullest sense is only possible under the guidance and administration of a Divinely appointed, just ruler. It also requires for the intellect of human beings to become mature. It is for these reasons that many traditions relate that true justice will only be seen again under the rule of the awaited Imam (af). A tradition from Imam al-Baqir (a) states: “When our Qaʾim rises, he will place his hand (of authority) over the heads of the servants. Thereby they will gain intellectual development and complete their insight.”2

A tradition from Imam as-Sadiq (a) states: “By God! Certainly, the justice of al-Mahdi (af) will penetrate their houses and rooms just as heat and cold penetrate therein.”3

So let us see how we can fulfil Justice by using the easy-to-remember acronym IMAM!

Justice needs to be done to:

I – I, myself:

Justice to oneself means adopting a holistic approach and taking care of:

  • One’s physical body by eating healthily, sleeping well, exercising etc.
  • One’s mental and emotional health by, for example, thinking positively.
  • One’s spiritual body (soul) by following the shariah, performing the wajib acts and refraining from the haram ones. 

M – Mankind:

Justice to mankind means ensuring that everyone’s rights are met. This becomes easier to accomplish when I try to take care of others in the way that I take care of myself. In this regard, the Holy Prophet (s) has stated: “None of you will have [true] faith until you love for your fellow brother what you love for yourself.”

A – Allah:

Justice to Allah means to ensure that we worship no-one other than Him and serve Him in the way He tells us to. To ensure that everything we do becomes worship, we must dedicate every deed we perform to Him. Surah Dhariyat [51:56] states:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.

M – Mahdi (af):

Justice to the Imam (af) means to ensure that our actions do not upset him, and that we continually prepare ourselves for his reappearance. In this way, we are active in our intidhaar; this will in turn hasten his reappearance, so that he take his rightful position as the leader of all mankind.

 1. Abd al-Razzaq, al-Musannif, 11/371; Tirmidhi, al-Sahih, 2/86.

2. Kamil Sulayman, Yawm al-Khalas, p. 269

 3. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 52/362

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