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Justice and Equity


By Sheikh Khalid al-Ghamdi – 14 Rabiul Awwal 1437

His Eminence Sheikh Khalid al-Ghamdi –May Allah protect him– delivered this Friday khutbah titled “Justice and Equity” in which he talked about the noble traits of character which Prophet Muhammad ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him‒ was sent to perfect. Asserting that this was the behaviour of the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him‒ and his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all), Sheikh al-Ghamdi made it clear that Muslims nowadays are in a dire need to observe justice and equity in words and in deeds with relatives and strangers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Praise be to Allah! We re-iterate His praise as many times as the number of His creatures and to His Own Satisfaction. We praise Him as much as the weightiness of His Own Throne and the ink needed to write His Words! We praise Him in a way that befits His Glory, Greatness and Pride. I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah with no associate, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May Allah send His profuse Salat (Graces, Honours, Mercy) and Peace upon him, his family, Companions and their righteous tabi’in (the contemporaries of the Prophet’s Companions after his death) till the Day of Judgement!

Now then,

I exhort you –O servants of Allah‒ to observe taqwa (fear of disobeying Allah) and to obey His commands in private and in public. If you can meet your Lord with backs free from the burden of people’s blood, stomachs void of illegal fills, tongues free from calumniation, and if you can adhere to the jama’ah (Muslim congregation), then do it. I swear to Allah, the One and the Only Deity, that this is the Great Success:

“And whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger (SAW), fears Allâh, and keeps his duty (to Him), such are the successful ones.” [Al-Nur: 52]

O Muslims!

In today’s world, forms of injustice, oppression, and aggression have become only too rampant. Racial, sectarian and aberrant ideological motivations have spawned a host of human rights abuses and injustices, which confirms the pressing need for the reformation and correction of souls and minds through the noble traits of character which the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ was sent to perfect and observe, and which are meant to edify people’s behaviour and set right their hearts.

One of the greatest noble traits of character that embraces all walks of life is the principle of justice and equity –a great and sublime Islamic human value and one of the fundamental aims of Sharia.

Justice and equity have been the purpose for which Allah sent down messengers and (holy) books:

“Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance (justice) that mankind may keep up justice.” [Al-Hadid: 25]

Allah, the Almighty, ordered the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ and his Ummah to observe justice and equity in their words and their deeds and when they adjudicate among people. In many places in the Holy Qur’an, Allah says:

“… and I am commanded to do justice among you,” [Al-Shura:15 ]

“… And whenever you give your word (i.e. judge between men or give evidence, etc.), say the truth even if a near relative is concerned” [Al-An’am: 152]

“… and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.” [Al-Nisa: 58]

The Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ obeyed the commands of his Lord and observed justice and equity in all situations and at all times. In addition to teaching his Companions to stringently observe justice and equity both with the well-behaved and the offenders, his flawless Sunnah ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ truly attests to his strong adherence thereto. Examples are countless.

O Muslim Ummah!

When Omar ibn al-Khattab –May Allah be pleased with him and please him– passed by a poor old non-Muslim subject begging; he stopped him and said his famous saying: “We have not done you justice if we have exacted jiziyah from you as a youngman and neglected you as an old man.” He then ordered that he be given a regular old-age pension. It is the kind of justice and equity that knows no traditions or limits, but embraces relatives and strangers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

This very justice and equity made the Sheikh of Islam, ibn Taymiyyah –May Allah bless his soul– insist that the Tatars free all captives, Muslims and non-Muslims. Negotiating with the Tatar leader, and with a superb spiritual sublimity and an unparalleled equity, he told him: “… but all the captives you have taken, including the Jews and the Christians who are under our protection. We set them all free; we abandon neither a Muslim nor a non-Muslim.”

O Muslims!

Equity is the jewel of Sharia and the adornment of religion. It is the corner stone of reform, the morality of prophets and nobilities and the center gem of the necklace of happiness and prosperity. It is an indication of good will, pure heart and sound mind. Loss of equity leads to egotism, selfishness and consequently to injustice. It makes people undervalue each other’s property, which in turn slackens honesty and quality. The hard working, the successful and the sincere will suffer from ingratitude and denial, concealing the good side and exposing the bad –the sort of behaviour that debilitates society, creativity, innovation and constructive, fruitful work.

Equity is the beautiful and bright outcome of justice. Man may not benefit from his knowledge of truth until he has established justice and equity. In many places in the Holy Qur’an, Allah says:

“And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith.” [Al-A’raf: 181]

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allâh, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin” [Al-Nisa’: 135]

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allâh and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety” [Al-Ma’idah:8]

“… and reduce not the things that are due to the people,” [Hud: 85]

The Qur’an did the people of the book justice when it said that:

“Not all of them are alike” [Al Imran: 113], and said “among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Al-Fâsiqûn (disobedient to Allâh – and rebellious against Allâh’s Command).” [Al Imran: 110]

Therefore, in order to lead a peaceful and happy life, one has to weigh things with the fulcrum of justice and equity. Equity means that one should do justice to all those who deserve it: his Lord, his parents, his family, his rulers, and brothers. Those who gave just rulings, and did their family and dependants justice are on pulpits of light sitting to the right of the Merciful, and both of His hands are right hands.

O Muslim Ummah!

At a time when understanding and heeding the true meaning of equity has become a necessity, it is not fair to observe it only when relatives or friends are involved and ignore it elsewhere. It is not fair to sour family and social relations on account of a slight mistake or a simple oversight. It is always better to find excuses, let good deeds outweigh the bad ones, and respond positively to apologies:

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don’t punish them).” [Al-A’raf: 199]

Establishing one great rule of equity, the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ said, “No male believer (husband) shall hate a female believer (his wife): If he hated some ill character in her, he would be pleased with some other of her good characters.” [Narrated by Imam Muslim and other narrators]

Saeed ibn al-Musayyab ‒May Allah bless his soul‒ said: “No man of nobility, scholarship, or authority is infallible. But the flaws of some must not be exposed. If the merits outweigh the demerits, the latter are overlooked.”

This well-balanced and wise view must be applied when dealing with all people: rulers, those invested with authority over us, scholars, luminaries and everybody, even with opponents. They should all be treated with this Prophetic balance which gurantees their rights and gives them credit for their merits, while trying at the same time to reform (their ways), redress and offer advice.

A bright and shining side of equity preaches against spoiling one’s relations with Muslims on account of difference of opinion –a case that must not spoil love and understanding when fairly considered. Do not take them on their word, because their word is not binding to them. Take them on their face value, and always think of them positively unless you have sound proof to the contrary. Beware of thinking ill of your Muslim brother (or sister) because of a word he said while you can give it a positive interpretation.
O Muslim Ummah!

Among other things, what does abrase equity and cause it damage is to be imlicated in spreading the mistakes and errors of a Muslim with a good reputation and an honorouble record while concealing his good deeds and merits. This Muslim might have already landed in heaven though the calumniator is uncognizant.

According to Hatib ibn Abi Balta’ah ‒May Allah be pleased with him‒ the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ was reported to have said: “Allah may have looked into the Badr1 people (in a special way) and said: Do whatever you like. I have forgiven you your sins.”

A fair person should level his criticism at what is said, not at who said it. His criticism of the words and actions would then be purposeful, constructive, good-willed and polite, not with the aim of nullifying, invalidating, reprimanding, or being judgemental of others’ intentions.

In the Qur’an, criticism is levelled at the words and deeds, without naming the people who said those words or performed those deeds; so we read: “… and among them”, “…and among them” and “…and among them”, etc.

The Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him and his family‒ who emulated this, used to say: “Why do some people do such and such.”

One of the greatest features of justice is to observe prudence as to believing the news and making provisions accordingly. If a Muslim is firmly known by evidence as a person of integrity and merits, then these qualities cannot be negated or denied except by similar or stronger evidence, not merely by suspicions, doubts, or by allegations such as ‘It is believed that …’ or ‘It is said that …’; for the worst practice is to found one’s judgement on: ‘It is said that ’

“…indeed some suspicions are sins.” [Al-Hujurat: 12]

O people!

Real equity and eminence is to judge people by what we manifestly know about them and to leave their secrets (their hidden thoughts, beliefs and actions) to their Lord ‒Exalted be He‒ and to accept the truth from friend or foe, admit one’s faults, and to keep secret rather than spread conversations among friends.

Some of the most important bases on which justice and equity are built include: the acceptance of differences among Muslim scholars of various mainstream denominations and their justified ijtihad2, finding excuses for them, not blaming or humiliating them; making the effort to rally the people around their leaders; rejecting disunity and abhorrent differences and disagreements. All of this would help spread security and stability in societies, inspire tranquillity and peace, and prepare spirits and minds to engage in constructive and fruitful work and production.

Equity is a balanced inborn divine quality and a prophetic moral value. Whoever practices it will be happy, successful, high in rank, socially and morally; for Allah loves those who are just.

Anyone who does not comply and follows the way of al-Mutaffifeen (the stingy), that is those who take what is theirs in full and reduce the rights they owe to others. This is a practice far from justice, and they deserve what Allah, the Almighty, says about them:

“Woe to Al-Mutaffifin [those who give less in measure and weight (decrease the rights of others)],” [Al-Mutaffifeen: 1]

May Allah bless you and me by the Great Qur’an, and may He grant us benefit from the verses and the wise remembrance it contains! This being said, I ask Allah ‒the Almighty, the Exalted‒ to forgive my sins, yours, and those of all Muslims; so ask Him for forgiveness, for He is truly Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.



Prime Spot!!!


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