I chose to write about this topic at a pertinent time when we tend to blur the line between what government is and what government should be and where Islam stands in this issue. In many cases, what is portrayed (or even practiced by muslims) is far from what Islam preaches or is contained in the scriptures.
The establishment of justice between people on the individual, social and international levels is not voluntary matter that depends on the moods or whims and desires of the ruler or the government. Rather the establishment of the justice between people is a universal tenet and basic human principle. In Islam, it is regarded as one of the most sacred and important of duties in Islam. The ummah is unanimously agreed that justice is obligatory. Al-Fakhr ar-Razi said: “They (the scholars) are unanimously agreed that whoever is a ruler (or judge) must rule (or judge) with justice.”
One of the aims of Islamic government or administration is to set out the principles of the Islamic system for the purpose of establishing a prosperous and well-balanced society. Among the most important of these principles are justice and equality and these principles are evident in the administrations of the righteous caliphs.
I refer to the speeches which Saidina Umar gave to the people, he affirmed these principles, and his justice and sense of equality were manifested in the speech which he delivered to the people on the day when he became caliph. Undoubtedly justice, in Saidina Umar’s and all the Companion’s minds, meant the justice of Islam, which is the main pillar of Islamic society and Islamic rule. Islam cannot exist in a society where injustice prevails and justice is unknown.
This ruling is supported by the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. One of the goals of the Islamic state is to establish an Islamic state in which justice and equality prevail and injustice is eliminated and opposed in all its forms. There are 3 key principles that an Islamic administration must do to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done:
- The state should provide opportunities for each person who is seeking his right to attain them in the quickest and easiest manner possible without that costing him any effort or money.
- The state should prevent all means that put obstacles in the way of the one who is seeking his rights.
This is what `Umar did in his state. He opened the doors to enable all people to get what is their due and he himself checked on the people’s situation, protecting them from oppression and establishing justice between the governors and the people, not caring whether the one against whom judgement was passed was a relative or an enemy, rich or poor. Allah (SWT) says:
O’ you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witness; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just; that is nearer to piety; and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. (Qur’an 5:8)
We will dissect a few examples of justice during the time of Saidina Umar r.a. for better understanding in the next article.