When justice prevails in a society, most of its energies and efforts become directed toward constructive and fruitful work in a atmosphere of personal confidence and social security.
In pursuance of this principle, Islam grants every person the right to enjoy justice and the Qur’an has set down clearly defined guidelines for the fulfillment of justice. Considering the fact that the Qur’an is the word of God and that it defines justice and its application without bias toward either governor or subject, despotism or oppression can not co-exist with Islam since despotism arise only when the law depends on the fancy of the ruler. The Qur’an states:
“Lo! God wrongs not mankind in aught, but mankind wrong themselves.” (Surah Al-Yunus 10:44) The Qur’an orders Muslims to apply the laws justly even when dealing with parents and relatives, as well as with enemies and opponents and even with themselves. God says in the Qur’an:
“O you who believe, be you staunch in justice, witness for God, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for God is nearer unto both (than you are), so follow not passion lest you lapse (from truth) and if you lapse or fall away, then lo! God is ever informed of what you do.” (Surah Al-Nisa 4:135) The Qur’an also orders Muslims to deal justly with Hews in general and particular with Jews who live peacefully among Muslims. God says:
“If they (Jews) have recourse unto you (Muhammad), judge between them or disclaim jurisdiction. If you disclaim jurisdiction, then they cannot harm you at all. But, if you judge, judge between them with equity. Lo! God loves the equitable.” (Surah Al-Maidah 5:42)
As was previously stated, Islam orders that justice be applied equally with governor and subject. The second caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, once dispatched a circular in which he said, “ I have sent my governors neither to scourge your skins nor to take your money. If something of this ort has been done to anyone of you, he should inform me so that I can punish the perpetrator.” ‘Amr ibn al-As (governor of Egypt) asked him, “If one of your governors chastised some of his subjects, would you punish him?” ‘Umar replied, “Yes, by Him who has my soul in His hand, I saw the Prophet vengeance on himself20.”
Jablah ibn Al-Ayham was a noble prince who lived in the pre-Islamic period and was a Christian before he embraced Islam. One day while he going round the Ka'bah, and Arab commoner unintentionally tripped on the chieftain’s garment while they were making Tawaf21. The former chieftain fumed with anger and slapped the Arab on his face. The case was tried before ‘Umar, who pronounced retaliatory punishment on the former chieftain unless the Arab chose to forgive him. Jablah said, “How do you make this type of judgment when he is a commoner and I am a prince?” Umar said, “Islam considers you both equal.” The chieftain asked for a delay in the trial during which time he fled to Roma land (Byzantium) and reverted to Christianity.
Islam was able to obtain a degree of justice never achieved before in ma-made laws and which ill never be equaled in any other. Some jurist are reported to have said that if any enemy of Islam sends his slave on a trade mission to an Islamic country and the slave embraced Islam there, he would then ‘acquired’ and his price should be given to his previous master. In this way, the justice of Islam strikes a noble note wherein even its enemy keeps his right by taking the price of the slave who became a Muslim.
Similarly, Islam does not sanction the condemnation of any person until the evidence against the person is fully confirmed. According to Islamic law a couple cannot be considered guilty of adultery, for instance, unless four trustworthy people witness them. And if the number of witness falls below four, the prosecutor and witness will be considered sinners and the accused innocent.
In Islam, no authority is permitted to treat an accused person as a criminal before he has been proven guilty and the case against him confirmed. By giving the labourer the freedom to choose the kind of work that suits his skills and abilities. Islam does not obligate him to do a certain type of work or punish him if he leaves it unless his leaving causes public harm, disorder in society, or conflicts with the general welfare, this principle reflects the general rule in Islam which states, “Let there be no harm inflicted or received”. [Ibn Majah and Al-Daraqutni]. In this type of atmosphere no rights can be lost, nor can any case be considered in court without strict neutrality and a full investigation on the part of the judge. Islam also takes unto consideration the temperament and mood of the judge. Islamic law stipulates that a judge should not try a case while he is angry, hungry, restless or absorbed in another matter. Islam also strikes a just balance between the fear of God and the observation of His laws.
The Prophet (pbuh) once said, “When you bring your cases to me, some of you may be more eloquent in expressing their side than others. I will judge based upon what I hear and if I happen to give someone something belonging to his brother (fellow citizen), he should not take it, for (in this case) I would be giving him a piece of the fire.” [Malik, Ahmad & Al-Bukhari]. The Qur’an refers to the importance of this precise balance as follows:
“And eat not your property among yourselves in vanity, nor seek by it to gain the hearing of the judges that you may knowingly devour a portion of the property of others wrongfully...” (Al-Baqarah 2:188)
Personal ownership of property is an established right in Islam, as it an expression of the desire to possess which is innate in humans. Islam does not repress instincts, but rather refines them. Islam requires that man’s possessions of property should be legal and lawful. Thus property has the same status in Islam as honor which a man is urged to defend till the last breath of his life. One of the Prophetic traditions read as follows, “Fight in defence of your property” [Ahmad & Tabarani]. The Prophet (pbuh) also said, “It is unlawful for any person to take possession of his brother’s property unless it has been offered willingly” [Ibid].
Consequently, in Islam, private possession of property is not only lawful, but also desirable, for the possession of wealth does not in itself conflict with piety, fear of God or religious devotion. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “How fine a good property is to a good man!” The Prophet (pbuh) often prayed to God saying, “God, I ask thee guidance, piety, chastity and abundance.”
So Islam cannot possibly disparage that which kindles the very vitality of existence: wealth, the factor behind strife and success. Rather, Islam prohibits waste and condemns the handing over of wealth to the foolish. God says in Qur’an:
“Give not unto the foolish (what is in) your (keeping) of their wealth, which God has given you to maintain.” (Surah Al-Nisa 4:5) Many companions of the Prophet (pbuh) left an abundance of wealth behind after their death. Allah set down the laws of inheritance which are so wise, precise and far-sighted that it prevents any possible dispute and discord among the heirs. In Islam, every heir receives his or her rightful share, whereas, in non-Islamic systems the whole property may be given to one heir, or to non-relatives, organizations or even put in trust to maintain animals. Most jurist consider a property-owner’s will illegal, if he bequeaths all his wealth to specific heir. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “There should be no will written for an heir.” [Narrated by Abu Umanah & collected by Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Ahmad]. Islam also prohibits the owner from bequeathing more than one third of his property to those who are to his natural inheritors. This contrast greatly with that take place in most western legal systems which allow the owner to bequeath his property to whoever he wishes. This particular state of affairs lead to the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, causing an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and generating revolutions and violent coup d’etats, the like of which have spread over Europe in modern times. The respected positions conferred on property by Islam definitely highlights the religion’s great concern for the proper management property and the circulation of wealth in society. The right to individual ownership of property has such a high degree of respect because it forms the foundation for a sound economic system for any nation which wishes to follow the guidance of Islam.
Every property owner, according to Islamic law, is responsible for circulating his money according to the rules and instructions of the religion. That is he bears responsibility for way he has earned his money and the way that he spends it. He is responsible for each aspect of his behavior that does not conform with the goals or religion.
Due to the fact that so much respect and care have been conferred upon property, Islam prescribes very strict punishment for those who violate this right through bribery, gambling, interest, embezzlement, exploitation or robbery. Islam has legislated the cutting off of a robber’s hand. In the Qur’an Allah explicitly states:
“As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, and exemplary punishment from God. And God is Mighty, Wise.” (Surah Al-Maidah 5:38) Islam legislates capital punishment, banishment or the cutting off of hands and feet of armed robbers and bandits who terrorize people by violating their property, rights, honor and lives. Allah states in the Qur’an:
“The only reward of those who make war upon God and His messenger and seek corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or they will be expelled from the land. Such will be their degradation in this world and in the hereafter, theirs will be an awful doom.” (Surah Al-Maidah 5:33).