Ethics In Islam

"ADL"- Justice & Equity (I)



       Justice is one of the most significant of all other ethical virtues moral qualities, Gracious God has blessed man with ‘Adl’ (Justice). ‘Adl’ really means to bisect anything accurately and apportion it precisely into two exact and equal parts, so as to hold the scales even, whether it be some substance to divide, some dispute to resolve, some opinion or advice to tender, some right to secure or some fact to disclose and affirm in evidence.


       Besides, ‘Adl’ is one of those Attributes of Allaah, on the dispensation of which subsists and endures the entire Universe – the Earth and the Heavens. It is also one of Allaah’s sacred Appellations, the meritorious excellence and beneficent virtue of which has been appreciated by the Kind Prophet in the following terms. Petitions to Allaah, if made by invoking all or any one of them, will almost certainly be conceded and granted; and if some one may commit all these attributive Names of Allaah to memory, he becomes eligible to a place in the Paradise.


       Significance of ‘Adl’ in variegated phases of life has been disclosed in the Qur’aan in different ways. Allaah has pronounced:


“Allaah will judge with (Justice and Truth:)” (S. 40: 20).


       In the words, Allaah’s dispensations always abide by justice and impartiality. All His creations in their existing mould and shape, all that has been conferred or bestowed upon any one, all that is suffered by any body and all that shall He award on the ‘Final Day’, shall be absolutely merited with justice and equity. Allaah has so proclaimed in His Book:


“…nor is thy Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His servants.” (S. 41: 46).


       The Kind Prophet, while himself imploring Allaah and making petitions to Him, would most often prelude them by acknowledging from the depth of his heart, the immaculateness of His Justice and equitableness of ‘His Verdicts’. The original words and expression that had prefaced his solicitations are:


“O God! I am the son of a father who is Thy servant and of a mother who is Thy maid. My reigns of liberty are in Thy firm grip and control. Thy Ordains govern me with full force and all Thy verdicts on my causes are absolutely just and what they ought to be” (Al-Hadeeth).



       After this affirmation has been made the kind Prophet would then submit his points of solicitations immediately in view.


       Besides, spoken revelations of Allaah are also exquisitely even and uniformly balanced. We find it affirmed in the Qur’aan:


“The Word of thy Lord does find its fulfillment in truth and in justice…” (S. VI: 155)


       In other words, in all His dispensations, Allaah is un-mistakably just and fair. He pronounces but what should and ought to be. He reigns supreme but in right and justice over the vast Kingdom He has created.


       With this peerless and characteristic Propriety prevailing in His Administration of the Entire Universe, He has exhorted ‘His servants’ and enjoined them to imbibe the same virtue themselves by practicing and maintaining honesty and fairplay in their conduct and behaviour.


       Right and Justice has been the cornerstone of the teachings of all the Prophets of Allaah, particularly the Last Hazrat Muhammad (sal-lal-la-hu alai-hi wa-sal-lam) who had not merely preached and advocated it, but translated the principles into his own individual and personal life and also established them in the collective life of the society he had forged on the basic concept of ‘Devotion and Surrender to (One) Allaah’. Qur’aan lays down a general rule for honesty and fair deal applicable universally to all the activities of man, whether they appertain to commerce and industry, trade and business, religion and politics or other social spheres. Yet Qur’aan has given special treatment particularly to those aspects of life where observance and maintenance of justice and equity is essentially necessary.


       One of them is the married state, i.e. relations between husband and wife, the happy regulation of which cannot be overemphasized. This situation becomes more complicated when a man chooses to take more wives than one. A husband may, by his indiscretion or inclinations of passions may not be equitable and just to all of them and so fail to discharge his conjugal and other obligations with equality. There are instances in which a husband takes a fancy for one of them and neglects the other or others or in order to please one, he creates distressing conditions for the other or others.


       Islam had to check and eradicate this excess, and in keeping with biological needs of man and his legitimate predilections, has on the one hand restricted the number of wives he can take and maintain at one time and imposed a duty on the husband to be equitable, just and fair to all of them and compels him to refrain from concentrating his attention and heaping his favours upon one of them or the other. This is a necessary and unavoidable condition in consequence of which it has been provided that if a husband finds himself unable to maintain equality amongst his wives, and fail to accomplish his responsibility to them evenhandedly, he must rest contented with one wife only. Necessary direction in this behalf is contained in the following passage of Qur’aan.:


“…….but if your fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one……” (S. 4: 3).


       The next important situation in which solicitude for honesty and conscionableness is most pressing, is the problem of dealing with the person and property of orphans. Their personal care and management of their property necessarily fall into the hands of some guardian or next friend. Islam has provided suitable measures against possible tendencies of waste and mis-appropriation of the orphan’s assets and neglect and disregard of their person.


       Qur’aan does appreciate services to orphans but at the same time warns the next friends against dangers of dereliction and willful indiscretion that nothing of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ could be concealed from God, as stated in the following verse of the Qur’aan:


“…….Say: “The best thing to do is what is for their good; if you mix their affairs with yours, they are your brethren; but Allaah knows the man who means mischief from the man who means good…” (S. II: 220)


       The next friend is also admonished to be vigilantly honest and fair in dealing with the interests of the orphans, and be sincere in the care of their persons.


“…….and you stand firm in justice to orphans……”


       There is yet another situation in which honesty and impartiality has its own importance. Contracts are negotiated and agreements are made and entered into by people very frequently. For instance, a person negotiates loan of money. God commands him to get the transaction reduced to writing as his responsibility. The scribe is also enjoined upon to be strictly honest in ‘showing the amount correctly’ and ‘reproducing the terms and conditions of agreement faithfully and ‘not to resort to prevarications’. Similarly if the person in whose interest loan is secured is feeble-minded or senile, unable to act judiciously and independently, his next friend has the same responsibility of being true to his charge. Relevant injunction of the Qur’aan is:


“…….If the party liable is mentally deficient or weak, or unable himself to dictate let his guardian dictate faithfully…” (S. II: 282)


       Property and fairness has no lesser significance in the field of trade and industry. The dealer and the customer both may be tempted to cheat each other, the former in squeezing a higher price and the latter in depriving the dealer of even a reasonable profit. Such attempts have been disapproved in the Qur’aan in the following terms.


“…….Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will…” (S. 4: 28)


       On the same point, the Kind Prophet has observed.


“Any one who cheats would not be of his (fraternal) order” (Al-Hadeeth).


Thus cheating, whether in price or material, is a ground for the Kind Prophet to disown the cheat.


       There are also orders that honesty and fair deal must prevail, whether the standard for the transaction of sale and purchase be by counting in numbers or measures of weight or that of length. In other words, it is imperative that measures and weights must conform to the standard and also that the sellers abstain from falsely showing it up by deceitful methods. This is contained in the following Verse of the Qur’aan.


“…….So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.” (S. 55: 9)


       There are other ways of cheating. One of them is that a dealer keeps double standards of weights and measures. One is used when he is himself the purchaser and the other when he is the seller. The former is so balanced as to show up quantity less than the actual and while the latter to indicate the reverse, i.e. more than it really weighs. Such a conduct has been severely reproved and lashed in the following terms.


“Woe to those that deal in fraud – those who, when they have to receive by measure from man, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.” (S. 83: 1-3).


      In addition to these citations in various perspectives of human conduct Allah has
      emphasized strict observance and maintenance of honesty and integrity in
      transactions generally in the following verses of the Qur’an:


“Give just measure, and cause no loss and weigh with scales true and upright, and withhold not things justly due to men …..” (26:181-3)



            (Continued).....       “ADL” – Justice & Equity (II).





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