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Khutba  #17

Justice and Fairness

 

May we all hold to Taq’wa, which means piety and righteousness, and obey Allah’s Divine Commands!  Let us choose wisely in this life and heed the consequences of our choices for the hereafter.  May Allah provide us all with the spirit of righteousness and obedience as best means for our salvation.

 

It is essential that Taq’wa is mentioned in the Khutba of each Friday Prayer.  Taq’wa means piety, righteousness, and self-purity.  Like many topics, to talk about Taq’wa is easy but to practice it can be difficult, may be very difficult.  To be a Muttaqi (meaning a pious person), the person:

  1. Must strictly observe his duties towards God (to obey God completely), and

  2. In the mean time to safeguard himself from sins, evilness, and appalling deeds.

We ask Allah to help us be familiar with the straight path, protect ourselves from evilness, and carry out Allah’s Guidance, since this is the way for salvation.

 

Our subject is justice and fairness.  Simply said, justice and fairness mean all people are basically equal in their rights before the Almighty.  Human rights are sacred and they should be treasured; Islam does not admit any individual to have a special position or privilege, not on account of inheritance, color, affluence, or other parameters. 

 

A Muslim has a moral responsibility to be just and fair in all actions toward others, be they Muslims or non-Muslims: in his dealings with them they are alike.  In everything a Muslim does, he should make certain that his decision is just and fair, and equally impartial for everyone involved.

 

As a community the Muslim Ummah has a unique responsibility to be just and fair. The Quran in Surah 2 (al-Baqarah), Ayah 143 reminds us:

 

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ

وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا

“And thus, We Willed that you be a justly balanced Ummah,

to be witness [to the Truth] over mankind,

and so the Messenger be witness over you.”

For a person to be a witness over the actions of others requires (to begin with) that he be just, upright, and an upstanding citizen himself.

In Rasool Allah (Allah’s messenger) we have the unsurpassed model and the best example of how a just person ought to be.  The Holy Quran describes the Prophet (pbuh) in Surah 33 (al-Ahzaab), Ayah 21 in this graceful manner:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ

لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً

“Verily in the Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] you have the good model for those who look forward to God [Allah] and the Last Day, and remember Allah much.”

Even the Prophet’s worst enemies acknowledged Muhammad as the most honest, just, truthful and trustworthy person.  They knew fully that he maintained the highest standard of integrity and dealt with everyone on equal footing.  Many Jews of Medina brought their affairs and problems to him, knowing that he would always be fair.  Since the Prophet (pbuh) is our luminous example, a Muslim should follow this example as best as he can, thus he would be the example to others, especially in matters of fairness and justice.

 

After Muhammad (pbuh), another unique example is Imam Ali (a.s.).  To illustrate, we bring the story of Aqeel, Imam Ali’s brother.  When Imam Ali said: “By God, since I possess even a single palm tree in Medina, I will not take anything from Bait al-Maal (Islamic treasury)”.  His older brother Aqeel stood up and said, “Do you then take me equal to a black-skinned person in Medina (Do you mean that my payment from the treasury will be as that of a black man?)?”  Ali answered back, correcting his brother Aqeel, “Brother remember that you have no superiority over a black man except through Taq’wa (faith and piety).”  In this manner Ali gives us an example for a strict sense of justice and fairness to others, even if his brother objects.  In this way Ali shows us how Islam treats people’s rights equally, in the strictest manner.

               

One summer night Ali’s brother Aqeel invited him to dinner at his modest house.  The aim was for Ali to see the meager [financial] condition Aqeel was in.  Aqeel had the expectation for higher salary from the Islamic Treasury (bait al-mal).[1]  Ali asked Aqeel after having eaten, “Brother, from which source did you provide this dinner.”  Aqeel replied with some hesitation, “For a few days I and my wife made sure to spend less to save for this invitation, to make a suitable dinner for you.”  Ali answered with resolve, “From now on I will order to decrease your monthly salary in the amount equal to what you have saved.”  Aqeel became upset, and being infuriated he protested.  Calmly Imam Ali picked up a piece of iron, heated it up, and took it to burn Aqeel’s hand.  Being too hot, Aqeel was taken aback screaming, “Watch it! I’ll be hurt!” Ali retorted in a brotherly but correcting manner, “What a surprise, brother, you are afraid of this heat, a heat provided by me.  Tell me, are you prepared to get burned in Allah’s fire?  Don’t you see, the money and remuneration you are after belong solely to the general public and I am their Trustee.”[2]

 

Pertaining to this matter Imam Ali has said: 

 

   ما رأیت نعمة موفورة  إلاّ وإلی جانبها حقٌ مضیّع

I have not seen hoarding wealth without

rights of others being battered by it

 

 

He has also said:

I have not seen any hoarding wealth without the rights of other people wasted.

No one would remain hungry were it not for rich men getting hold of the poor men’s wealth.

This teaches us by way of advice that we should deal in justice and equity, for Allah is watching over us every moment.  A Muslim in the true sense isn’t a threat to others, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, no matter where he is or whatever the circumstance is, for the true Muslim has to deal in fairness and justice.

 

Before closing we shall quote a paragraph from the recommendations that Imam Ali gave Muhammad son of Abu Bakr as he appointed him as the Governor of Egypt:[3] 

 

    فاخفض لهم جناحک    

وألن لهم جانبک   

وابسط لهم وجهک   

وآس بینهم فی اللحظة  النظرة

حتی لا یطمع العظماء فی حیفک لهم   

ولا ییأس الضعفاء من عدلک علیهم

فانّ الله تعالی یسائلکم  معشر عباده عن الصغیرة من اعمالکم

والکبیرة  والظاهرة والمستورة

فان یعذب فانتم اظلم   وان یعف فهو اکرم

    [As their governor]… Treat the Public with respect.

    Be kind and considerate with them.

    Meet them cheerfully.

    Be fair, just and impartial in your dealings:  in such a way that even the influential persons dare not take undue advantage of your leniency, and the common man and the poor may not be disappointed in your justice and fair dealings.

    O’ Servant of Allah!  Remember that the Almighty Lord will take account of all your misdeeds be they major or minor,

    whether you commit them openly or in secret. 

    If He [Allah] punishes you for your misdeeds, it will not be because of tyranny on His part,

    and if He forgives you it is because He is the Lord of Mercy and the Lord of Grace.

 

 For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.

 

Taq’wa or Piety is a state of God-fearing, or constant God consciousness, and a means to ward off evilness.  We must advise ourselves toward piety and pay heed to our eventuality to the hereafter.  Avoid sin and strive hard to carry out Allah’s orders.

 

Preceding each Friday prayer Imam al-Jama’ah must give a short talk called Khutba. This is a sermon often based on verses from the Quran and Hadith, the Traditions about the Prophet (pbuh) and Ahlul-Bayt.  This also deals with daily issues of importance to the people.  Thus religious belief, moral virtues, and the practical laws governing various aspects of man’s behavior may be discussed.  Sometimes the sermon can be political, especially in times of persecution or suffering from tyranny.

 

We have a lot of verses in the Quran and from the Prophet (pbuh) and the Imams, that emphasize the correct education of the youth.  Allah says in Surah 66 (al-Tahreem), Ayah 6 the following:

 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families the Fire whose fuel shall be men and stones….”

Many parents make the mistake to leave their children’s Islamic teaching to someone else.  Rather, parents must be the first adviser and guider for their children.  A beautiful example of this is in the story of Luqman, Surah 31: Ayah 13:

 

وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ  ِلإبْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ

“And lo, Luqman spoke thus unto his son, admonishing him:  My son! Join none in worship other than Allah.  Verily, to associate others with Allah is mighty wrong.”

Whatever their age children should have good education including religious, ethical and moral guidance to prepare them for the future.  Students have to understand the Islamic values to be able to differentiate the right from the wrong, the true from the false, the correct from incorrect and so forth and so on. In addition, the level of scientific teaching should be improved to an appropriate level.  Without this, the students cannot continue their education in the university and obtain high scientific level, and if so they can’t play a significant role in society.

 

We pray as Muslims in sympathy with those suffering harm at the hands of the tyrannical powers, and ask Allah to grant the martyrs great reward, and to grant patience for their families.  There is no doubt that Allah gives victory to Muslims and believers as Allah says in the Quran Surah 17 (al-Israa), Ayah 81:

 

وَقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا

“Declare that the Truth has come and the Falsehood has vanished. 

Surely Falsehood is bound to vanish ”

Allah says in several verses of the Quran that injustice is the main ingredient in destroying societies, and it is not possible to have and continue a society with injustice, tyranny, repression, and oppression.

 

 Let us quote some of the sayings of Imam A-Saadiq about Justice:[4]

The person who:

    treats others and does not wrong them,

    speaks without telling lies, and

    promises without breaking his promise: 

Then:

    this person’s backbiting is forgiven,

    his manhood is outstanding,

    his justice is valued, and

    whose company is a must.

The best of kings is the one who has three traits: Mercy, Generosity, and Justice.

 

Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.

 
 

[1] Bihaar Al-Anwaar, Vol. 67, Page 338, Hadith 38.

[2] Same as above: Bihaar Al-Anwaar, Vol. 67, Page 338, Hadith 38.

[3]  Nahjul Balaaghah, Imam Ali (a.s.), Section of Letters, Letter to Muhammad son of Abu Bakr, Letter #27.

[4] A-Saadiq, Section of Sayings, Saying #72 and #129 respectively. Published by Islamic reference CD.

 

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