Muhammad's Justice


Friday, March 5, 2010

Muhammad's Justice

In the Quran, God says regarding Muhammad (pbuh): "You are surely of a sublime character, and do act by a sublime pattern of conduct." (1) and "We have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of God." (2) Before the duty of apostleship was entrusted to him, justice, with all its fine points, was instilled in him as a nucleus as a result of divine training. As a result, from the time of his childhood, the Prophet Muhammad remained outside the moral degeneration of the societies in the Age of Ignorance. He opposed oppression and injustice in his youth, and he joined the Hilfu'l Fudul association which was formed for this purpose. As in the case of his acting as referee regarding the Kaaba, people of that time took refuge in his sense of justice during times of dissention. Those who had made business partnership or traveled with him in the period before Islam affirmed the following on his behalf: "He neither violated others' rights nor did he allow his rights to be violated. On the subject of rights, he did not listen to his own or others feelings." (3)

Justice is expressed as "adl, qist" and "mizan" in the Quran. In the verses, "God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin" (4) and "We sent... that men may stand forth in justice," (5) justice was placed on the shoulders of believers as a mandatory command. Also, it is indicated that justice is the common characteristic of angels and scholars in the verse, "His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice." (6) The Quran also reminds: "As to those who ... slay those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous penalty." (7)

Justice in Speech: In the Quran it is stated, "Whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned (Al-Anam: 152)." In addition to this general command in the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also subject to the order, "Therefore stand for, (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded." In reality throughout his life he never swerved in the least from righteousness. In the legal text of the "as-Sahife" or "al-kitap," which is described as the first constitution of the City of Medina's government which was founded by the Prophet in the first year of the Migration, he laid down this principle: "Pious believers will oppose any aggressor or anyone who intentionally plans an unjust action or crime or a violation of rights or anyone who has intention to create conflict among the believers. Even if this person is one of their children, all their hands will be raised against him." Also there is this event: Once a woman from the Mahzumis made a theft. She was a member of an elite family. For this reason, the Quraish did not want her to be punished. They sent Usame to the Prophet for mediation, because the Prophet loved Usame dearly. At that point Muhammad spoke as follows: "The Jews, who have no remains from their former civilizations, were destroyed because of siding with one party like this. They would implement the most violent punishment on the poor, but leave the powerful and rich unpunished. If my daughter Fatima had done the same crime, I would give her the necessary punishment." (8) As can be seen, the Prophet gained such righteousness for the individuals of societies he established that even if it meant speaking against oneself or one's child, the person acquired the trait of speaking the truth and walking on a straight path.

Justice in Judgment: God says in the Quran: "God doth command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice." (9)

Before Islam the administration of judicial work was not based on a sound foundation among the Arabs. Because there was no written law to be taken as a basis for implementation, resolving problems was left to judges. However, the decision was not absolute, because the powerful might not conform to judgments against them. For this reason, the weak were usually found guilty. Islam brought basic reforms in this area. The principle of the state administering judicial matters and the principle of rights for the one who is right rather than powerful were adopted. As a necessity of the verse, "judge among them with what God sent down," the Prophet undertook the administration of judicial work, set up and administered a judicial organization as judge, and determined the rules of judicial method to be adhered to in the future. During Muhammad's time a cottage was built on a piece of land belonging to two brothers. The heirs disputed regarding which brother the cottage belonged to. They went to the Prophet to resolve the issue. He assigned Huzayfa b. Yemin to handle the case. Huzayfa went to the cottage for discovery and investigation, took statements from various people, applied to witnesses and presented his decision to the Prophet for his approval. He considered the decision and approved it. In the institution of justice established by the Prophet, the judge makes a decision according to evidence; thus, a wrong cannot be made right with his decision. For this reason, false witnessing and the presentation of unfounded evidence were emphatically forbidden. Gains made by deceiving a judge and getting a positive decision although it is not one's right is referred to as "A piece of fire" by the Prophet. (10)

Justice in Behavior (Like Buying/Selling, Measuring): In regard to debt, God commands that witnesses be made and records kept (Al-Baqara: 282); that the property of orphans be handled in the best way until they are of age, that measurements and weights be correct, that speech be just even if it is with relatives, and that promises to God be kept (Al-Anam: 152). In like manner, He commands that the correctness of measurements and scales be monitored (Bani Israil: 35. Al-Rahman:7-8). In these verses and others not mentioned, Prophet Muhammad carries over to social life the same principles regarding buying/selling and similar behavior. After the migration to Medina he facilitated the formation of a private buying/selling center with Islamic economic rules in force, and he would frequently visit it for inspection. While inspecting someone who was selling some food produce by putting the wet part of it underneath, he said the famous words, "Anyone who deceives is not from us." (11) It is possible to list some of the behavior the Prophet put forth especially to achieve justice in business transactions as follows: A Muslim should not make a bargain on top of another bargain; (12) instigating customers should be avoided; (13) producer goods should not be bought at cheap prices before they reach the market; (14) business ethics should be observed; (15) gains made from individual work and effort should be given importance; (16) defects in goods should not be hidden, false information should not be given, and mutual trust should be established in business relations; (17) rich traders should not abandon piety and religious, social and financial obligations should be fulfilled when necessary; (18) debt should be made to meet a need and should be paid on time; (19) time should be given to a good-intentioned debtor who is in a bind; (20) an attempt to increase sales by lying or swearing oaths should not be made; (21) the halal path should not be abandoned; (22) a worker should be paid his due immediately; (23) deceitful tradesmen will be with sinners in the next life (24) and honest tradesmen will be with the prophets, the truthful and martyrs in the next life; (25) weighing lightly and measuring wrongly will lead to the destruction of societies; and speculation is prohibited. (26)

Justice in the Family and Close Circles: In the Quran we are asked to show respect towards parents, especially to support them in their old age, not even to say "Oof" to them, and not to frown at them. (27) Justice and kindness are mentioned together with "giving goodness to those close to you." (28) The Prophet Muhammad indicates that pleasing one's parents is a vehicle for attaining God's approval and reaching heaven. Just as he complimented Ummu Ayman Baraqa, a slave who had helped take care of him, by saying, "You are like a second mother to me," he also sent gifts throughout her lifetime to Suwayba, a woman he learned had nursed him for only a week around the time of his birth. He also visited his mother Amina's grave and cried when he remembered the compassion she had for him when he was young. Throughout their lives he showed love and respect to his wet nurse Halima and her daughter Shayma and helped them in their times of need. He never neglected to show respect and help to his aunt (Abu Bakr's wife) Fatima and Ummu Ruman, his mother-in-law through Aisha. Thus, he bequeathed an immortal heritage of justice to his followers in respect to parents.

The Prophet Muhammad treated both his grandchildren Hassan and Husayn and the other children of the Sahaba with compassion and mercy. He went down to their level, entered their world, cheered them up and, without hurting them or making them sad, he trained them. This event related to Fatima is very interesting in relation to his consideration for his children: One day Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar went to Abu Ayyub's date orchard in Medina. His wife greeted them with joy saying, "Hello, O Messenger of God and those who come with him!" A little later Abu Ayyub came. He immediately broke off a branch of dates and offered it to his guests, and then he slaughtered a sheep and prepared kebab.  Before eating the kebab, the Prophet took some of it and wrapped it in some flat bread. He said, "Hey Abu Ayyub, send this to my daughter Fatima immediately! For she hasn't tasted such a thing in days." Abu Ayyub immediately sent it to Fatima. (This incident has another subtle point. Justice is a concept intertwined with responsibility. A just person is one who is aware of his responsibility. Consequently, the Prophet reminded those with him that they would be asked about cooling off in the shade, the things they ate and drank, and having a generous friend like this.) (This event can be mentioned among the reasons for descent of the 8th verse of Takasur Sura, "later you will be questioned about every blessing given to you." (29)

Muhammad was the best example in regard to getting along well with neighbors, doing good to them, being at their side in sorrow and joy, and trusting each other in every respect. Regarding this he said: "In God's eyes the best neighbor is the one who behaves best to his neighbors." (30) The Prophet wanted us to wear a smile on our faces in relations with those close to us, to be helpful, givers of good tidings, (31) compassionate to the young, and respectful to the elderly. (32) This hadith carries a very strong message in this respect: "If a youth shows respect to someone because of his age, God will definitely give him generous people when he grows old." (33) While our Prophet taught that it is a requirement of faith to want for our believing brothers what we like and want for ourselves, (34) on the other hand, he said: "If someone relieves someone's difficulty in this world, God will relieve his difficulty on Doomsday. God will give worldly and other-worldly ease to someone who gives ease to someone in trouble. Whoever covers the fault of a Muslim, God will cover his faults in this world and the next." (35)

Justice Towards Foreigners: In the Quran, God indicates that justice should be kept in view in relation to judgments regarding the People of the Book (Al-Maida: 42), and that it is not forbidden to do good and act justly towards foreigners who do not fight with Muslims and do not prevent the call of Islam (Al-Mumtahina: 7). Forced to go to war to obtain justice in international relations, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as a necessity of being fair,  mentioned with gratitude even pagans who had done him some good and he showed an example of fine loyalty. For example, one of these was Mutim b. Adiy who, arming his sons, took the Prophet under his protection and enabled him to enter the city on his return from Taif. While discussing what was to be done with captives during the Badr war, the Prophet indicated that if Mutim had been alive and had wanted the captives, he would have set them all free without ransom for his sake. Also he did not prevent the poet Hassan from writing an elegy for him upon his death. When it is remembered that in the Badr war Mutim was found among those killed in the ranks of the pagans opposed to the Muslims, we can better appreciate the degree of the Prophet's refined sense of loyalty, which had developed from his indescribable sense of justice.

1) Qalam, 68 / 4.

2) Ahzab, 33/21

3) Ibn Hisam, es-Sire, II, 369; Halebi. Insanu´l-Uyun, 1,136 vd.

4) Nahl, 16/90.

5) Hadid, 57/25

6) Al-i Imran, 3/18.

7) Al-i Imran, 3/21.

8) Ibn Mace, Hudud,6/2547.

9) Nisa, 4 / 58.

10) Tirmidhi, Ahkam, 2 / 1339.

11) Muslim, Iman, 102.

12) Muslim. Buyu´ 9, 11

13) Muslim, Buyu´, 9.

14) Bukhari, Buyu´. 72; Muslim, Buyu´, 7.

15) Bukhari, Iman. 24; Muslim, Iman, 106

16) Bukhari, Buyu´, 15

17) Bukhari, Buyu´,10; Muslim, Buyu´ 51. 

18) Muslim, Zuhd, 11

19) Bukhari, Zeka, 18

20) Bukhari, Buyu´ 18:Tirmidhi, Buyu´ 65. 

21) Ahmed b. Hanbal, Musned, II, 235.

22) Ibn Mace, Ticarat, 2.

23) Ibn Mace, Ruhun, 4.

24) Tirmidhi, Buyu´, 4.

25) Tirmidhi, Buyu´, 4; Ibn Mace, Ticari, 1.

26) Ibn Mace, Ticarat,6.

27) Bk. Isra, 17 / 23,24.

28) Nahl, 16 / 90.

29) Elmalili Hamdi Yazir, Hak Dini Kur'an Dili, X, 6063. 

30) Tirmizî, Birr, 28. 

31) Buharî, İlim, 1. 

32) Tirmizî, Birr, 5,75.

33) Tirmizî, Birr, 75.

34) Buharî, îman, 7.

35) Müslim, Zikir ve Dua, 38.

عَنْ أَبِي مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ يَحْتَسِبُهَا فَهُوَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ‏"
Narrated Abu Mas'ud: The Prophet said, "If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah's sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Belief, 41)

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