Upholding Justice: A Command that Requires a Heart

[The following is a transcript of a lecture by Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui, where he reflects on the Qur'anic recitation during the nights of Ramadan. It contains minor modifications from the spoken word for the purposes of readability.]

A reminder to myself and to all of us inshallah ta’ala, for reminders and admonitions do benefit those who have faith [Surat az-Zariyat 51:55]. May Allah help us to be of those who benefit.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala towards the end of Surat an-Nisaa again reminds us that we have to uphold fairness, equity, and justice under all circumstances::

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
[Surat an-Nisaa 4:135]

Allah says, you have to uphold fairness and justice and equity and balance even if it were against your own selves or against your own parents or against your own relatives. And to be witnesses to Allah subḥanahu wa ta’ala in the same way.

And in the beginning of Surat al-Ma’idah Allah says to us,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَوْفُواْ بِالْعُقُودِ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُم بَهِيمَةُ الأَنْعَامِ إِلاَّ مَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ غَيْرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيْدِ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ إِنَّ اللّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ
[Surat al-Ma’idah 5:1]

O you who have attained faith, fulfill your words, fulfill your contracts, fulfill your agreements. It is ḥarām to agree with another party to do something or to say something or to deliver something (as long as that something is not evil and ḥarām and wrong and prohibited), and then we don’t.

And the meaning of [what] Rasulullah says [is] that the believers are always upholders of their words, contracts, and agreements. And when or if we don’t – and truly many people don’t – that’s a sign of characteristics of hypocrisy (nifāq) or kufr, and refuge is with Allah.

Let Not the Injustice of Others Make You Also Unjust

Then it is in the same sūrah, just a few lines after in the same context, that Allah ‘azza wa jalla then says

وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ أَن صَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ أَن تَعْتَدُواْ وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
[Surat al-Ma’idah 5:2]

In other words, don’t let the fact that for example, during the time of Rasulullah , those who were tyrannical, oppressive, aggressive, disputing tormentors and killers amongst the pagans and Qurashites, (as you all know in the seerah) – even though they did that to all of you and even though they prevented you from entering al-Masjid al-Ḥarām peacefully, that should not be a reason for you to do aggression against them and to do wrong to them. In other words, [don’t let the fact that they did that to you cause you] to do anything that is unjust to them.

Instead, “t’āwanū ‘alal-birr” – help each other and do participate in all that is mutual and all that is good, virtuous, and righteous. Anything that is virtuous, anything that is righteous that is done by other parties – do take part in it. Help in it. But do not help and do not take part in that which is transgression and injustice and aggression and immorality and so on. And refuge is with Allah.

And “la t’āwanū ‘alal-ithmi wal-‘udwān” – do not take part in any activity, agreement, work, actions that are transgression, injustice, or that do harm and wrong.

Be Conscious of God and His Punishment

Wat-taqullah, inn Allaha shadīd ul-‘iqāb” – He says, “Fear Allah. Be conscious of Allah. Verily Allah is severe in His punishment.” In other words, if you don’t apply this – and many of us human beings and perhaps many Muslims [unfortunately] don’t, and refuge is with Allah – if we ignore this in our lives (personal lives, family lives, community lives, societal lives, national and international lives), if we don’t take this into consideration then Allah says, “Allah is severe in punishment.” Allah punishes in so many ways. Ways that sometimes many of us do not relate [or connect] to the anger of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala against us when we do wrong and we don’t rectify our wrong.

O Allah! Help us Uphold What You Love

Just a little bit later Allah ’azza wa jalla emphasizes that in a different way again when He tells us [to] be upholders and steadfast for Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala and witnesses for justice. And do not let the injustices of others to you cause you to do injustices to them [see 4:135 above].

Do justice. Justice is a sign, is evidence to piety and it will bring us closer and nearer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala indeed to let us be of those who hear His words and understand the meanings of His words and help us and make us be of those who internalize them and actualize them and practice them in our lives, in every aspect of our lives. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala to forgive us in that which we don’t know and that which we forget and to help us, teach us, remind us and give us the energy and strength to do and act upon that which we know is right, which we know He loves subḥānahu wa ta’ala.

And may He give us strength inside of us, especially in the moments of weaknesses when we need it most. Unfortunately I have to remind myself and all of our brothers and sisters [that] we hear the Quran, we hear the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala, we repeat them, we teach them, we share them in da’wa and so on. And then when there are conflicts, misunderstandings, or disagreements in communities you have people who turn suddenly against one another and against each other in ways that are ugly – in ways that are not even compassionate, not just! And each side pulls to his own side or her own side. There is no forgiveness. There is no patience. There is no ‘adl [justice]. There is no iḥsān [benevolent beauty]. It happens all the time. It happens all the time, in communities. And this happens also all the time at our individual level and I’m sure at the family levels and so on and so forth.

To Know Is Not Enough: What Counts Is Internal Practice

Let us ask Allah subḥānau wa ta’ala to help us internalize this principle and to actualize it, at the moment that we need it most. It’s easy to say. It’s easy to memorize it. But when it comes to applying it – each one would say, “No! You don’t understand! No, no! You don’t understand. No, no, no!” And each one will be defending their own wrongfulness. Arbitrators come to help the parties; if the arbitrator doesn’t do what one likes, then “I” don’t accept it. And so on.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta’ala help us internalize. Because when we don’t internalize [meanings], when we [just] know them, memorize them, read them – that’s good, but it’s not enough. When they’re not internalized and we don’t work on internalizing them, we just take it for granted. It’s a mental exercise only. And most of us it seems don’t learn how to internalize khair [goodness]. Then when we don’t internalize it, it’s not in the qalb [spiritual heart]. Then when we’re faced with the real situation, we react the way we are inside and inside we have not internalized it, which means that which we learned and memorized and shared is not in our qalb, readily available. And thus we won’t then actualize it.

May Allah guide us. May Allah help us all. And may Allah send his prayers and peace and blessings upon our Master Muḥammad and upon all his family and companions.