Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Understanding justice

Uzma Amirjan

In search of finding a genuine idea of justice, I looked for some books and chose some that caught my eyes. The books did not make me feel satisfied. Though written by renowned intellectuals, the books I chose did not answer my questions. I was looking for something more.

Flustered, I shut my eyes and began pondering over what entails justice. Many names and faces, seen in photographs off course, flashed through my mind, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Abdul Sattar Edhi, and many other heroes who stood for justice, for equity, for dignity of human beings. But something was always missing, in almost each case.

Then, on a hunch, I opted to refer to the scripture, our holy book, Al-Quran, to understand the teachings about justice. The meanings i found in the Quran were highly instructive and insightful. The book enlightened my heart and brought satisfaction. The notion of justice has been defined in several parts. The  main concept I acquired from the Quran is that the word justice is covered in all principles of Islam and is in fact an equilibrium for sustaining a life. Justice, I learnt, is a moral virtue which is the key of harmony and peace in a society.

Justice is an aspect of life in which you stand out for truthfulness and devote your ideas and perceptions to a genuine motive regardless of wealth, color, caste, religion and other markers of human identity. To attain a worth living for place, justice is foremost and the most authentic element.

Allah Almighty says;

“O, you who believe!  Stand out firmly for justice, as a witness to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against rich or poor…” – Al-Quran 4:135

In another verse;

“When you speak, speak with justice, even if it is against someone close to you…” – Al-Quran 6:152

Another verse:

Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. (Surat an-Nahl, 125)

Another verse:

We sent Our Messengers with the Clear Signs and sent down the Book and the Balance with them so that mankind might establish justice. (Surat al-Hadid, 25)

These verses clarify that justice is at the core of the message of Islam. Those who claim to be Muslims have to be just, and not only just, but also kind, compassionate and forgiving.

Going to the other dimension, the literal meaning described in Oxford English dictionary is something a person does that is morally correct. In other words it is to be fair. Many concepts are being driven by different philosophers. And one major meaning given to Justice is by Plato, who famously said, “Justice is a virtue establishing rational order, with each part performing its appropriate role and not interfering with the proper functioning of other parts.”

What I understand from these two ideas is that justice, as a term, cannot be circumscribed, because therein lies a whole world of principles triggering actions for equality and equity in a society. Justice is to take actions that are non-deniable by some other person.

In this era, maintaining stability and establishing justice has become a major problem, because those at the helm of power can do anything and get away with it. There’s no resistance from anywhere. The institutions of justice are manipulated, manipulative and fail most of the time to stand for their raison d’etre . The lack of justice fuels anger, resentment and may also lead to organized violence, interpreted as terrorism. By establishing justice in letter and spirit, such problems can be taken care of.

I conclude by saying that, despite of my love for the meanings in Quran, the term Justice has nothing to do with any specific religion or book. All religions  and other irreligious intellectuals have given almost the same meanings to the word justice. To me, justice means maintaining an environment of love and peace, and existing peacefully despite our hidden and apparent differences. Every individual in the society should have right to life, dignity, prosperity, opportunities, and we all should stand for the right of every individual. That for me is justice. It is hard to maintain in a fragmented globalized society, but we have to stand for it. Only through being just to each other can we bring peace and harmony.

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