Fair Dealing In Islam
Jurists have defined justice and equality as keeping a thing in its right place, or keeping the balance. It is this which keeps the sky and the earth in their right places. If today justice were to be excluded from this world, there would be such a deluge of cruelty and brutality as would sweep off even our foundations.
The life of nations depends upon justice. This is a very important and valuable right which Islam has given to man.
The Holy Qur’an has laid down: “… And let not the hatred of some in stopping you from Masjid Al-Haram lead you to transgression …” (5:2). “And let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is near to piety; and fear Allah …”( 5:8). Stressing this point the Qur’an again says: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, even though it be against yourselves, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better protector …” (4:135) This makes the point clear that Muslims have to be just not only with ordinary human beings but even with their enemies.
Justice and equality were the two main factors for expansion of the Islamic state from Arabia to Spain and from there to India. Some Christians and Hindus say that Islam was spread at the point of the sword. But the sword the Muslims had in their hands was justice. Take any book of history you will find this event recorded therein. When Abu Obaida, the Muslim supreme commander of Syria, had to evacuate the Syrian town of Hims, in the face of a sudden attack by a superior Roman force, he summoned the padres and the elite of the town and said to them:
“We received revenue from you, so that we may spend it on your defense and betterment. But we cannot do it any longer, as we have to evacuate this town under duress. Therefore take back the seven hundred thousand dirhams you paid to us as revenue and tribute.” On seeing this astounding and unparalleled justice of their Muslim rulers, the Chief Padre said: “No deed of justice and equality can excel this unrivaled masterpiece of yours. I give you my pledge that if ever we are at liberty to choose our rulers, we shall choose you Muslims and none other.”
After the conquest of Khyber, a treaty was made between the people of Khyber and our Noble Prophet (peace be upon him), according to which half of the annual produce was to be sent to the Bait Al-Maal – the Muslim exchequer. In one year Abdullah Bin Rawaha (radi allahu anhu) was sent to get the stipulated share. He divided all the grains into two equal heaps and permitted the people of Khybar first to choose either for themselves. The people collected large quantity of gold ornaments to bribe him. At this Abdullah Bin Rawaha (radi allahu anhu) said , “You people have enraged me by offering this bribe. But remember, I shall not give up justice even in rage.” This greatness of the Muslim officer’s character had such an effect on the Jews of Khyber that one of them said with real conviction in his voice, “By God, the sky and the earth exist due to this justice of yours.”
Thousand of such remarkable events of justice and equality are recorded in our history. It was this deep sense of true justice and equality on the part of our forefathers which won the hearts of Jews and Christians of Egypt and Syria, and the worshipers of fire of Iraq and Iran. We are the upholders of the Qur’an. We have to set such a glorious example of the traditional Muslim justice, equality, mercy and kindness that the non-Muslims will be forced to sing our praises. We are commanded to be just and kind with others.
Qur’an says: “Verily! Allah enjoins Al-Adl and Al-Ihsan, and giving help to kith and kin. . .” [16:90]
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better protector to both (than you)…” (4:135)
Justice and equality to which Islam invites its followers is not limited only to the people of a particular country, tribe, nation or race, or the Muslim community as a whole. It is meant for all the human beings of the world. Muslims, therefore, cannot be unjust to anyone. Their permanent habit and character should be such that no man should ever fear injustice at their hands, and they should treat every human being everywhere with justice and fairness.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that: “The life and blood of Muslims are equally precious” (Abu Dawud; Ibn Majah). In another Hadith he has said: “The protection given by all Muslims is equal. Even an ordinary man of them can grant protection to any man.” (Al-Bukhari; Muslim; Abu Dawud) In another more detailed Tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), it has been said that those who accept the Oneness of Allah, believe in the Prophethood of His Messenger (peace be upon him), give up primitive prejudices and join the Muslim community and brotherhood, then they have the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.” (Bukhari)
Thus there is absolute equality between the new converts to Islam and the old followers of the faith. On an occasion, a woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with a theft. The case was brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it was recommended that she may be spared the punishment theft. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied : “The nations that lived before you were destroyed by Allah because they punished the common men for their offenses and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him (Allah) who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime then I would have amputated her hand.”
This religious brotherhood and the uniformity of their rights and obligations is the foundation of justice and equality in the Islamic society, the society in which the rights and obligations of any person are neither greater nor lesser in any way than the rights and obligations of other people.