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Social Justice in Islam


Did you know Islam embraces Social Justice and teaches the importance of implementing it in our daily lives? Social justice is the equal distribution of resources and opportunities, with no prejudice as pertains to gender, race, social class, religion, etc. Muslim Women enjoy privileges only given to women in modern times. Islam does not look down on any race or belittle its’ status. There is no upper hand of a rich Muslim over a poor Muslim except in terms of righteousness. Islam calls for social justice for non-Muslims as well in terms of treatment and rights.

Social Justice to Muslim Women

In the Quran, God promises men and women equal reward if they have belief and are righteous:

“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” [Noble Quran 16:97]

Muslim Women had the right to inherit, study, and work when most of the world civilizations were still questioning the status of women. Khadijah, Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) wife was a very successful tradeswoman. Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya is credited for founding the oldest existing, continually operating and first degree-awarding educational institution in the world. The University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco was established in 859 CE! And the list goes on.

Social Justice to All Races in Islam

Islam teaches the importance of equality and gradually abolished slavery. Only belief and obedience to God is taken into account, not race, social classes, etc. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

“O mankind, your Lord is One and your father is one. You all descended from Adam, and Adam was created from earth. He is most honored among you in the sight of God who is most upright. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, no colored person to a white person, or a white person to a colored person except by Taqwa (piety).”

Good conduct is what elevates a person in Islam. Bilal, who was taken out of slavehood by a Muslim, was elevated so much he became the first caller to Islamic Prayer (Muezzin). He was also promised Paradise by God.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Noble Quran 49:13]

This is what attracted Malcolm X to Islam. The equality among people, no matter their skin color or wealth or social ranking. He experienced true social justice. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

“Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.”

Social Justice to Non-Muslims

Islam clearly mandates non-Muslims should enjoy fair rights as well. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated,

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad ﷺ) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”

It’s encouraged to be kind, compassionate and helpful to all people, not just those with similar beliefs, race, social status or wealth. Just like God created you, He also created your neighbors, your co-workers, and everyone you encounter in your daily life. Treat them with respect and courtesy. Next time you’re out, help a mother struggling to balance children and shopping bags. Make a little extra food and share with your neighbor. Ask a colleague if they need help on a project or with an upcoming deadline. These small gestures are also important in maintaining and spreading social justice. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

“A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.”

Social Justice And Human Rights in Sharia

The purpose of Sharia is social justice and the cohesion of society. It is not made as a punishment but rather as a deterrent from ill acts. Carrying out the punishment has such a strict procedure making it almost impossible to implement. Moreover, Human Rights is part and parcel of Sharia. Rights for Protecting Faith, Life, Posterity, Property and Reason.

  • 90% of Shariah is way of life
  • 8% is rules and regulations
  • ONLY 2% of Sharia is law!

Social Justice in Jihad

Jihad is mistakenly translated as Holy War. However, Jihad actually means “strife” or “struggle”. It denotes any struggle made by a person to live by the commandments of God, such as the service of parents or striving to be of a better moral conduct, etc.

Treatment of non-Muslims should be right and just:

“God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, God loves those who act justly.” [Noble Quran 60:8]

In war, Jihad is only to be carried out when there is oppression e.g. if Muslims are denied their right to practice their religion or denied their birthright to their homeland. Jihad is allowed if Muslims are oppressed or attacked.

There are ethical codes in war. Prophet Muhammad followed Islam’s teachings by instructing his soldiers not to kill infants, children, elders, women, or anyone not fighting them. Islam forbids destruction of places of worship, buildings, and cutting down trees. Prisoners of war are to be treated well and it is prohibited to mutilate bodies. There is no compulsion in Islam, so no one can be forced into the religion. All promises of treaties must be upheld.

The Standards of Social Justice in Islam

Although God has presented us with methods of how to lead our lives in a way that does good to us and the society in whole; there is still a lot of injustice due to bad choices made by those who choose to remain ignorant.

However, finally on the day of Judgment, justice will prevail. God promises us that everyone will be dealt with justly and nothing – not even the weight of a mustard seed- shall be forgotten:

“And We shall setup Balances of Justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We to take account.” [Noble Quran 21:47]

Islam is not only a religion, but a system of social justice pertaining to the needs of everyone. The goal is to bring harmony and cohesion in each and every society. Inspired by faith and submission to the One and Only God, we all strive to be just and ensure each person is receiving their rights as God intended.

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