In this post I shall discuss about the remarks on the principle of justice by some of the greatest and noblest Muslims. Their views on this topic will help us to understand how important the virtue of justice is in Islam and also how significant is the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Islam.
Imam ar-Rida (ra) has remarked, ‘The application of justice and charity is a mark of continuation of graces’.
Imam as-Sadiq (ra) has remarked, ‘Justice is more delicious than honey, softer than butter and more fragrant than musk’.
Imam al-Qurtubi (ra) has remarked, ‘Justice is the basis of all human relationships and a foundation of Islamic rule’.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) said, ‘In the matter of justice all should be equal in your eyes’.
Imam al-Mawardi (ra) said, ‘One of the things which reforms worldly matters is the principle of distributive justice. It brings about friendly relations between the people, obedience to the Divine Law and prosperity to a country. Justice forms the basis of thriving economies, strong families and stable government. Nothing ruins the land nor corrupts the mind faster than despotism. This is because there are no acceptable limits (to regulate despotism)’.
Prophet Mohammad (Saw) has been an epitome of justice and fair play throughout his lifetime. His successors had also ascertained that the independence and impartiality of the judiciary was maintained.
Hazrat Ali (ra), the fourth Caliph of Islam, was a great jurist and scholar. His lectures and treatises are greatly valued for their contents and have become the subject of study in the Islamic learning centers. Hazrat Ali (ra) had written a letter to the Egyptian Governor which has been regarded as a basic guide in Islamic government. Hazrat Ali (ra)’s letter emphasizes the importance of justice in Islam and also highlights the impartiality of the judiciary in Islam.
Here is a part of the translated version of Hazrat Ali (ra)’s letter to the Egyptian Governor:
“Maintain justice in administration and impose it on your own self and seek the consent of the people, for the discontent of the masses underlines the contentment of the privileged few and the discontent of the few loses itself in the contentment of the many. Remember, the privileged few will not rally around you in the moments of trouble, they will try to side-track justice, they will ask for more than they deserve and will show no gratitude for the favors done to them. They will feel uneasy in the face of trials and they will not regret their weaknesses. It is the common man who is the real strength for the State and the Religion. It is he who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be mindful of their welfare. Select for your chief judge the person who is the best amongst your people- the one who is not obsessed with domestic tensions, one who cannot be intimidated; one who does not make mistakes often, one who does not deviate from the right path after he discovers it, one who is not greedy or selfish, one who does not take a decision hastily before knowing all the facts, one who will carefully consider every attendant doubt, and will pronounce a verdict after taking everything into consideration; one who will not become restless due to the arguments of the advocates and who will examine patiently every new disclosure of facts and who will be strictly impartial in his decision, one who will not be mislead through flattery and one who does not exalt himself for his position. But it is not easy to find such men. Once you have chosen the right men for the office then pay him handsomely enough so that he may live in comfort and in keeping with his position, enough to keep him above temptations. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it and so high that neither back-biting nor intrigue can affect him’.
The instructions given by Hazrat Ali (ra) to the then Egyptian Governor, Malik Ashtar, are the need of the hour also. In these modern times, we need to practically implement the guidelines laid down by Hazrat Ali (ra) in his famous letter so that every judge, lawyer or attorney who practices in an Islamic court can uphold the noble Islamic tradition of maintaining a fair and independent judicial system.