Balance and
Justice on Earth

The Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research

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A System of Social Relations
that liberates Man from Idolatry

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Al-Shari'a, as a source of legal systems was not concerned about imposing a closed frame on the existing society; rather, it introduced principles that can improve the status quo of any given society in different times and in different places. The implementation of Al-Shari’a in The Prophet's time dealt with the existing problems in a realistic way. For example, Islamic principles are against slavery, yet there was no way to ban that system at that time for many reasons. Instead, there was encouragement to liberate slaves by different means.

The oneness of God is the core around which the Islamic system builds its call. The oneness of God is expressed in the oneness of life and oneness of man. Still, we have to face the fact that within each human being, there is a hidden idol. The individual human being discovers those hidden idols in dealing with her/his fellow humans. One is vulnerable to be trapped as a result of worldly attraction. S/he can easily make a god of her/himself if s/he has the power of money or authority. S/he would transgress her/his limits if s/he thinks of her/himself as a perfect being, or when s/he confuses between dealing with assigned tasks out of responsibilities, and dominating or controlling out of vanity and pride. On the other hand, the less privileged in a given society are vulnerable to forget that the Supreme can defend them against exploiters. They deviate from the righteous path when they think that human beings like her/himself can control her/his destiny.

The political and economic system in an Islamic oriented society should support man overcome this tendency. The economic system in an Islamic oriented society should protect marginal people and exert all required efforts to satisfy their needs, and liberate them from any exploiting power. Alternatively, it should also protect powerful people from their tendency to transgress.



Economic System That Aims for Liberty and Prosperity for All

 


By emphasizing the spiritual value of working, the Islamic teachings eliminate the tendency to accumulate money. Earning one's living through working is the most respected and spiritually rewarded.

The basic idea of dealing with money is that human beings, transcendentally speaking, do not own, but they are given the responsibilities to invest. What they have is a lawn from Allah. The way that they deal with that lawn describes what resides in their hearts; whether they surrender to Allah, or they are deceived by the temporary power they have, thinking that they have a free hand to do what their lower selves tell them to do. From this perspective wealth is considered a trap and should be dealt with carefully. In the Holy Qur’an (Suratul' Kahf) there is a parable of two persons, one of them possessed two gardens, and had children, and the other one did not own any thing. The rich person was deceived of what he had, thought that it would be eternal. His colleague reminded him that by such a feeling, he was losing faith in the One that gives life to all. The parable is as follows:

Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields. Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow (Abundant) was the produce this man had: he said to his companion, in the course of a mutual argument: "More wealth have I than you, and more honor and power in (my following of) men." He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust to his soul: he said, "I deem not that this will ever perish, "Nor do I deem that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come: even if I am brought back to my Lord, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange." His companion said to him, in the course of the argument with him: "Dost thou deny Him Who created thee out of the dust, then out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned thee into a man? "But (I think) for my part that He is Allah, my Lord, and none shall I associate with my Lord (HQ: 18: 32-38).

This relationship between vanity and ungratefulness to Allah characterizes the most common symptom of imbalance that human beings have been suffering through the ages.

Al Shari’a did not put limits to what can fall under a person's responsibilities and commonly known as her/his properties. The individual human being is not controlled by the power of the legal system alone, but should take her/his decisions out of complete free will. The legal system is designed to stop aggression and violence, but not to limit her/his choices. Unlike the communist system where individuals do not have access to private property, there are no instructions in Al Shari’a that ban private property. Yet there is a continuous reminder that one should see the deep meaning of life, where s/he will leave everything behind and all what remains for her/him is her/his good deeds.

..those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of Allah
(HQ: 9: 34).

Remembering that death is the very fact that humans are going to face, gives life a meaningful dimension. Those who frequently remind themselves of that fact are likely to see what is good for the whole community, being well aware that they don't own, but are given responsibilities:

And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people's property (HQ: 2: 188).

Unlike the capitalist system, accumulation of wealth is of no use in a society that does not encourage superfluous style of life, and guides to modesty. While it is true that an individual human being is left free to expand her/his wealth with no limits, s/he is asked not to frozen her/his money, so that s/he will be using it either for investment or spending it on her/his expenditure. At the same time, the individual person is asked to be modest and humble. If s/he abides to this guidance, a person would use her/his money in channels that are of benefit to her/his community.

Guided by the main principles, economic regulations could interfere for the benefit of all and to eradicate poverty.

By establishing a system for inheritance, Al Shari’a handles the responsibility of the property to the community, which is supposed to follow Al Shari’a's instructions of how to distribute the available fortune of a diseased person. As long as s/he lives, man is free to give from her/his fortune to any one. When s/he passes away, s/he has no right to dictate how her/his fortune is distributed except in one third of that fortune. S/he can write a will, showing how s/he likes this one third of her/his fortune be used. The wisdom behind that teaching is to strike a balance between man’s right to feel free in shouldering the responsibility about her/his property, and at the same time to keep a reminder that s/he is not to extend her/his authority over that property after s/he passes away since it goes back to the real Owner, and some other humans would take the responsibility over. If a believer is aware of that truth, s/he will think deeply of her/his motivations when s/he writes a will, or distributes her/his fortunate while s/he is alive. Namely s/he would ask her/himself if s/he is motivated by certain unfair or personal preferences or s/he is trying to deal with Allah when carrying the responsibility of that property.



System of Retribution: Justice for All

 


Human beings are responsible for investing or wasting their wealth, their time and their work. Revelations give them general principles and teachings to guide their way. They can either abide to those teachings or ignore them. No social control can regulate peoples’ commitment to those teachings, simply because they are related to the inner spiritual development. Everyone is rewarded according to her/his intention and sincerity.

People, who are deceived by illusion of that mundane world, are vulnerable to the temptation to do injustice to themselves by harming other people. When it comes to aggression, sabotage, using violence, stealing or attacking others, then legal institutions interfere to ensure the safety of the members of the society, and to deal with those who violate the legal system and help them to correct their way and liberated them from false deities.

It is commonly known that any legal system for punishment meant to protect people from criminals. Added to that goal, Islamic philosophy considers the criminal as a victim of her/his bad deeds. Out of mercy s/he should take her/his punishment, and not to be left to the Divine one. It is one of the basic beliefs in Islam's teachings that every thing that man does is counted and rewarded:

Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it
(HQ: 99: 7, 8)

Based on that belief in the divine justice, the punishment on earth aims at helping and supporting the individual person who committed a crime, by giving her/him the chance to be punished here instead of after life where s/he will have no chance to modify he/his attitude. Again, it is her/his deviation from the righteous path that empowers her/his evil side. S/he falls under the trap of worshiping false idols that take different shapes.

One of the prime objectives of Al Shari’a is to awaken the individual conscience, by relating between the earthly punishment and the Divine punishment. The law of justice in Al Shari’a focuses on how to make those criminals and other members of the society aware of the Divine justice.

For example, cutting a thief's hand might look as a severe punishment, but it conveys a message to the whole society that our hands are created to work for honest purposes, and if it does not do its work properly, then there is no need for a person to have it. This deep philosophy of the punishment should be observed in the light of how the implementation of such a law takes lots of procedures to prove Theft.

For instance, a “thief” is not the one that picks up a fruit from a tree within her/his reach to eat because s/he is hungry. The “thief” is not the one who finds something thrown in her/his way and takes it because s/he fails to recognize its owner(s). Unless Theft is done as an aggression act against other people's right without any justified excuse, this sever punishment of cutting the hand should not take place. The Prophet (PBUH) advised that punishment should only be implemented when there is obvious proof that a person committed a crime. If the judge is confused, cutting the hand in the case of theft should not be implemented. The Prophet (PBUH) guides his followers,

“Hold implementation of legal punishments until you have sent away all doubts” (about whether or not the alleged person is the one on whom the legal punishment is fully applicable)(PH).

Narrated by Ibn Magah.

Namely, according to Islamic retribution system embedded in Al Shari’a, to consider an offender as a perfect subject on whom legal punishments (Hudud) mentioned in the Holy Qur’an fully applicable is a very complicated process that needs many investigations. Judges, therefore, are commanded to study all surroundings, social, economic, political and psychological, that have led someone to commit any offense before blaming her/him for it. Prophetic teachings, for that reason, command those who are responsible for keeping justice and security in a society to be motivated by mercy when considering a case. In this respect The Prophet (PBUH) says,

“It is better that a judge mistakenly declares someone as innocent, than misguidedly implements a legal punishment on an innocent one (PH).

Narrated by Al Tirmidhi.

This is not a call for looseness that might encourage people to commit unlawful deeds. The idea is that retribution should be respected, and the one who transgresses should be stopped. But in certain circumstances, these legal punishments may be unacceptable because a society suffers some kind of problems that make some people more prone to commit some offenses. So other forms of minor punishments can replace the original ones. For instance, the second well guided Caliphate, Omar Ibn El-Khattab did not allow the punishment of cutting a thief’s hand valid during famines. Here is where al Ijtihad takes place to see what is the most convenient way to preserve the principle even with different ways of punishment.

The capital punishment raises controversial debates in our modern time. The subject is touched from humane perspective where some people are inclined to give a criminal the chance to live after imprisoning her/him for appropriate length of time. From the Islamic perspective the person who kills another, for no rightful reason, is considered a killer of the whole humanity. Her/his punishment in the after life will be so severe. To put him/her face to face with what he did, may awaken her/his conscience to see the gravity of her/his crime. S/he may regret her/his doing and repent. This will open a door of mercy for him.

All sorts of punishment are meant to awaken man to her/his mission on earth as God's vicegerent and to liberate her/him from false goals.



óA Political System: Shared Responsibility and Freedom for all

 


According to the Islamic teachings, every human being, in her/his position has a duty to fulfill and a right to enjoy. When rights and duties are well balanced, people are given good chance to lead a dignified and secure life. The leader/ ruler of a community is no exception. S/he is hired by the community to serve them, and s/he should not take her/his position to dominate them.

Because in Islam, as in other revelations, our life in this world is evaluated from a spiritual perspective where we see beyond the physical death to the eternal life, to rule or to lead a community is a work that should be accomplished from this perspective. The ruler's work affects, not only a small circle of people, but also includes the whole community and its future. That great responsibility has a great impact on the spiritual future of a leader.

Generally, deceived by the temporary power s/he has, a leader is vulnerable to consider her/himself a Lord that should be obeyed blindly. If s/he dominates, dictates, uses and oppresses people, s/he is actually committing the gravest sin of taking her/himself as god with Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) warns against that tendency. S/he would regret it on the Doomsday.

To be a ruler (of a nation) is as receiving a trust. On the Doomsday, it might cause a big sense of shame and guilt, except for those who handle it truthfully, and fulfilled their duties properly" (PH).

Narrated by Moslem and Abu Dawoud.

On the other hand, if s/he fulfills her/his duties out of piousness, sets of her/himself an exemplar of how to serve people, seeking nothing but to get closer to Allah and to purify her/himself from the illusion of power, spreads spiritual awareness, and guides people to the righteous way, her/his reward will be so great.

Al Imam (the ruler) is a source of test (to the subjects); they follow him in wars, and they take him as an exemplar. If he guided them to the way of Allah, he will be rewarded for it, if not, he will reap what he had sown. (PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari and Moslem.

To keep up justice for one day is more rewarding (spiritually) than sixty years worship (PH)

Narrated by Al Siuty.

Within this context, The Prophet (PBUH) assured that

"the most beloved person to Allah, the closest to Him on the Day of Doom is a just leader Imam, while the most remote and cursed is the unjust leader" (PH).

Narrated by Al Tirmidhi.

"A person who governs Muslims and cheats them, s/he will be forbidden to go to Heaven"(PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari and Moslem.

“Seven types of people will enjoy being in the Shade of Alallah on a Day that no other shades exist, (among them is) a ruler who adhered to justice” (PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari, Moslem, and Al Tirmidhi.

The Prophet (PBUH) sat a good example of how to lead a community with justice and out of piousness. He was tolerant with people from different creeds and as such founded a basic principle that should be granted in any society, that is, its members should be free to choose their beliefs and express their ideas.

He used the Islamic Legislation for her/his followers alone, and asked Jewish and Christians to use their own legal systems. As such, he avoided imposing on them a legal system that they might not accept. He admitted the right of ethnic groups within larger community to have their autonomy.

It was We who revealed the Law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by The Prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's Will, by the Rabbis and the Doctors of Law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's Book, and they were witnesses thereto: (HQ: 5: 44)

Let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein
(HQ: 5: 47).

While The Prophet (PBUH) was responsible for taking the decisions in the fatal issues, he did not stop consulting his companions and taking their suggestions in consideration. He made use of Persians' experience in wars through a Persian Muslim. He was also ready to admit his mistakes, just to give humankind an example. That meant that the political leader should not hold the authority alone:

Consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him) (HQ: 3: 159).

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation (HQ: 42: 38)

A Companion of The Prophet’s, Abu Houraira said,

“I have never seen a person who is keener to consult his fellows, than The Prophet ”

Narrated by Al Tirmidhi.

The leader has the responsibility also to choose good consultants. They can share with her/him the great responsibilities and together they realize good life for the citizens of a given community.

“If a ruler were on a righteous path (supported by God’s grace) he would be keen to choose a good minister; if the ruler forgot (a good thing) he would remind him. And when the ruler wants to do goodness, he would support him fulfill it. If the ruler were not on the righteous path, he would choose a corrupted minister; if the ruler forgot, he would not remind him. And if ever the ruler remembered (a good thing to be done), he would not support him put it into practice” (PH).

Narrated by Abu Dawoud and Al Nisa’i.

In an Islamic society, the community should correct their leader if they found that s/he has deviated from the principles that they set together. Fears should not enter the heart of a believer who does not lean to any power but the Supreme. The courage to stand in the way of an unjust leader is considered a divine struggle.

“The best of struggles is declaring a word of truth before a despotic leader” (PH)

Narrated by Ahmad.

A person who fears the power of the leader, or supports her/him in order to gain a position or to serve personal interests, is a loser in the hereafter. It is going to be her/his responsibility if the community suffers from the unjust rule. Therefore, if there is an unjust ruler, it is the community to be blamed. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gives a parable of:

“three persons God would not talk to on Doomsday: he who gives her/his vote to a nominated ruler for the mere interest in the mundane life. If the ruler gave her/him what he elected him for, s/he would keep on being loyal to him, if not, s/he would end her/his fidelity” (PH).

Narrated by Al Bukhari, Moslem, Abu Dawoud and others.

The role of The Prophet (PBUH) as a ruler and political leader was a mundane one. People of Madina could have taken him as a prophet and would have not elected him as ruler. That would not have changed his power as a Prophet. He could have advised whoever took the leadership as any citizen in the community. As a prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) was inspired and asked to lead his community spiritually, which in turn affected their orientations to life and also their style.

As far as the spiritual leadership is concerned, people could not interfere with The Prophet's decisions. When it comes to the political leadership, members of the community are responsible for choosing the ruler and have to observe her/his decision, her/his style, her/his deeds, and criticize or praise her/him according to public not private interests.

Knowing what kind of burden is awaiting a ruler, a wise person would not seek such a great responsibility where s/he should take spiritual dimensions in consideration when s/he makes decisions, and act accordingly. S/he is vulnerable to take gods with God, by being attracted to the power and the prestigious position that s/he enjoys naturally as a head of a community. The person, who is truly pious, would refrain from competing for such a position. That is perhaps the reason why The Prophet (PBUH) , when he was also a head of state, said that he would not put a person as a governor of a community who was looking for leadership for the sake of it.

“We do not give authority (of government) to someone who asks for it, and/or someone who seeks it earnestly”(PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari, Moslem and Abu Dawoud.

In an Islamic society, each individual is responsible for the whole community and should participate in the decision making process. S/he has the right to choose her/his political leader and to participate in founding a system that supports her/him in realizing her/his dreams. Every person should be granted a decent life in which her/his basic needs are satisfied. As much as the ruler is responsible for leading her/his community toward a balanced life where each enjoys good living and encouraged to getting spiritually mature, each individual person is responsible to observe, sponsor and correct the direction of the political leadership. The responsibility of advising one another in a Muslims society is a task, not a choice. The Prophet (PBUH) advised his followers to consult one another and to take the advise from others as well as the necessity to direct and offer one's advise to her/his brother or sister, but not imposing or dictating her/his view.

That mutual share of responsibility may be realized through different political models. Each community may create the convenient model. They develop it according to their needs, their aspirations and their creativity. Therefore, there can be various models of political systems that follow the Islamic principles as set by Al Shari’a.

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