“O you who believe, be upright for God, and (be) bearers of witness with justice!…” (Quran 5:8)
“Islam” comes from the Arabic root, “Salema” which means peace, purity, submission and obedience. In a religious sense, this is submission to the will of God and obedience to His law. However, as in many religions, men seek their own understanding of the implementation of Islam, and subsequently don’t practice the true Islam as taught in the Qu’ran by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to a Quranic description of “Justice” (Justice in Islam):
“We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Measure in order to establish justice among the people…” (Quran 57:25)
“The phrase ‘Our Messengers’ shows that justice has been the goal of all revelation and scriptures sent to humanity. The verse also shows that justice must be measured and implemented by the standards and guidelines set by revelation. Islam’s approach to justice is comprehensive and all-embracing. Any path that leads to justice is deemed to be in harmony with Islamic Law. God has demanded justice and, although He has not prescribed a specific route, has provided general guidelines, on how to achieve it. He has neither prescribed a fixed means by which it can be obtained, nor has He declared invalid any particular means or methods that can lead to justice. Therefore, all means, procedures, and methods that facilitate, refine, and advance the cause of justice, and do not violate the Islamic Law are valid.”
What is “justice” exactly? The dictionary defines “justice” as, “The quality of being just, impartial, or fair. (1): The principle or ideal of just dealing or right action. (2) Conforming to the principle or ideal: righteousness.” The Quran states that justice is a significant element in all spiritual revelation, and should be practiced by every believer. What is the importance of justice as it pertains to relating to those within Islam and non-Muslims? There is insightful teaching about Shariah law from The Islamic Supreme Council Of America regarding Islam’s place in the world:
“As one looks from a satellite at this planet, the Shariah conceives of the earth as a single ‘city’ with diverse inhabitants – in modern parlance, a ‘global village.’ Islam looks to the benefit of the society as a whole from a general perspective and presents a theoretical model that if followed provides safety and protection for society. Shariah literally means ‘a well-trodden path to water,’ the source of all life, representing the Path to Allah, as given by Allah, the Originator of all life.“
Also, according to Shariah, mercy is the primary foundation for justice in Muslim’s moral behavior. Subsequently, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught kindness towards others, and exemplified following the path to peace by making violence the last and most difficult resort to aggression.
You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Holy Quran: 2, 208)
“God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just.” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8) According to CPS International, Centre for Peace and Spirituality:
“Muslims who share these basic values believe in the need to act together with Christians and Jews. They therefore strive to eliminate prejudices stemming from provocations by unbelievers and fanatics. Jews, Christians and Muslims should strive together to spread moral virtues across the world.
God explicitly states that the existence of people from different faiths and opinions is something that we have to acknowledge and welcome heartily, for this is how He created and predestined humankind in this world:
“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 48)
Also, “The values of the Qur’an hold a Muslim responsible for treating all people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, kindly and justly, protecting the needy and the innocent and “preventing the dissemination of mischief”. Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror that remove security, comfort and peace.”
And CPS on when Muslims should engage in war:
“The Quran, avers that, ‘reconciliation is best’ (4:128), and judging by the consequences, the way of peace is far better than that of confrontation. By the law of Nature, God has decreed that success will be met with only on a reconciliatory path, and not on a confrontational or a violent course of action.
Whenever the Prophet had an option between two courses of action, he always chose the easier (non-confrontational) one. (Bukhari)
This means that, violent activism should not be indulged in if peaceful activism is an option. For, peace is the easier course as compared to violence.
Going to war in confrontational situations is a hard option while following a conciliatory course in dealing with one’s rival is easier. Countering aggression with aggression is a hard option, while countering aggression with patience and forbearance is an easier option. An agitational course of action is harder than employing quiet strategy. Adopting a radical method of reformation is harder than that of following a gradual method. Taking emotional, extreme steps without a thought for their consequences creates difficulties. While a well-considered method, keeping an eye on the consequences, gives much better results. The policy of confrontation with a ruler is a harder option, while initiating one’s action; by sidestepping the ruler in the sphere of education and learning is an easier option. These instances show us the easier and harder options, as demonstrated by the Hadith.
The truth is that peace in Islam is the ‘rule’, while war is the ‘exception’. This is borne out by all the teachings of Islam and the practical life of the Prophet of Islam.
The mission of Islam is based on monotheism, its goal being to make people realize the existence of the one and only God and to strive to bring about a revolution in their hearts and minds of individuals in order that they may love God as is His due. And the greatest concern of man should be to fear and worship his Creator (2:165).
Such a mission cannot afford wars and violent confrontations. When a state of war and violence prevails, the normal atmosphere is vitiated and such circumstances as would foster intellectual movements and spiritual reformation cannot be effectively created. It cannot be denied that peaceful circumstances produce a propitious environment for Islam, while violent circumstances inevitably result in antagonism towards Islam.”
“And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:33-34)
Islam as a religion of peace can’t hold one hand out in peace, and the other hand with a weapon, whether that weapon is a weapon of aggressive words, aggressive ideology, anger against people who are prejudiced against them, or anger against people of other races or religions. This goes against the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is even more important in today’s atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding of Islam for Muslims to stand together in unity and consistency of behavior. Muslims must set an example of peace in defense of Islam. Watch your words and your behaviors, my Muslim brothers, because others are watching. Including your own children.