Shari'ah- The Law of Justice and Compassion

The revealed law of Islam is termed Sharī‘ah . The portion of the Islamic law which is not directly revealed but is derived from the revealed sources through analogical deduction (Ijtihad) is termed Fiqh. While Sharī‘ah is unchangeable like universal principles, Fiqh changes with the changing situations and needs. Hence Ijtihad serves as the principle of dynamism, in Islam.

The Sharī‘ah is universal in nature. It is meant for all. It addresses the whole mankind as all human beings have same parents — Ādam and Hawwa (Eve). That is why it sanctions the true morals which are common to all and discusses about the moral prohibitions against lewdness and all unseemly acts. Allāh ﷻ says:

“Say (O Muhammad) : “Come I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not near to Al-Fawāhish (Shameful sins, illegal sexual intercourse) whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom Allāh ﷻ  has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islāmic Law). This He has commanded you that you may understand. “And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice. We burden not any person, but that which he can bear. And whenever you give your word (i.e. judge between men or give evidence), say the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the covenant of Allāh ﷻ. This He commands you, that you may rember.”  (Al-Qur’ān, Al-An‘ām 6:151-152)

Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ has said:

“Avoid the seven great destructive sins.” The people enquired, “O Allāh’s Messenger! What are they?” He said, “ (1) To join others in worship along with Allāh, (2) to practise sorcery, (3) to kill a person which Allāh has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islāmic Law), (4) to eat up Ribā (usury), (5) to eat up an orphan’s wealth, (6) to show one’s back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting, (7) and to accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are true believers.”

The universal character of the Sharī‘ah is clearly brought to light in this Āyah :

“Verily! Allāh commands you that you should render back the trusts to those to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.”   (Al-Qur’ān, Al-Nisā 4:58)

In this Āyah the Muslims (especially the Muslim rulers) have been commanded to judge with justice when they judge between (not only the Muslims but) the whole mankind as the phrase used is  (between people) not  or  (between the Muslims). This indicates that in the sight of Sharī‘ah all humans are same whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, friends or foes, natives or “foreigners”; whichever language they speak and of whichever colour they may be, justice demands that judgment should be fair.[1]

Sharī‘ah is principally based upon the benefit of the beings. That is why it holds that originally and essentially all beneficial actions are legitimate, all harmful ones illegitimate. Justice being the fundamental principle existing in every commandment of the Sharī‘ah, its every rule bears witness to this generalization when it takes into consideration human nature and its general weaknesses and basic needs.

The divine attributes Rahmān (the Compassionate) and Rahīm (the Merciful) imply that Allāh is Oft Forgiving, protecting His creatures, “preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clear light and higher life.” (Abdullah Y. Ali) The word Rahmān expresses Allāh’s love to man. Therefore, Allāh’s relation to man is the relation par excellence of love, sympathy, concern, solicitude, compassion and mercy.” (Daryabadi)

Both the words Rahmān and Rahīm are derived from Rahmah ‘which signifies tenderness, requiring the exercise of beneficence and thus comprising the idea of love and mercy.’ While the Rahmān donotes Allāh’s tenderness towards all His creatures in general, Rahīm denotes His tenderness towards His believers and worshipers in particular. All this implies that the soul of Islam is two things: Respecting the Commandments (i.e. the Islāmic Sharī‘ah) of Allāh ﷻ and showing compassion towards His creatures.

Allāh ﷻ says:

Whoever honours the sacred rites of Allāh, for him it is good in the sight of his Lord.”  (Al-Qur’ān, Al-Hajj 22:30)

And Rasūlullāh ﷺ has said:

“Behave well towards people.” (Nawawi’s al-Arba‘in)

Allāh’s love for His creatures is so great that any harm done to any single creature amounts to Him as if whole of His creation has been harmed and similarly any good done to any single creature is as if the whole creature has been benefited. He says:

“If any one slew a person—unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land—it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” (Al-Qur’ān, al-Mā’idah 5:32)

The orphan and the beggar need love and mercy. We must perform our duties towards them. Allāh says:

“Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor repulse him who asks.” (Al-Qur’ān, Al-Duhā 93:9-10)

Love and mercy towards the orphan demands that he should never be subjected to any injustice:

(Al-Qur’ān, Al-Nisā’ 4:2)

“To orphans restore their property (when they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substances (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin.” (4:2)

Allāh’s Messenger being Mercy for all creatures (Al-Qur’ān, Al-Anbiyā’ 21:107) has laid tremendous stress on kind treatment of orphans, girls, the weak, the poor and lowly, women and mercy and affection upon them. He has also laid great stress that the virtuous, aged, and poor and needy should never be persecuted. Few of his Ahādīth are as under:

“By Allāh in whose hands is my life, you will not enter the Paradise unless you believe (in Islam), and you will not believe unless you love one another. May I tell you something so that you may love one another? Spread Salām (greeting with peace) between you.”

“I and one who takes care of an orphan, whether related to him or a stranger, will be like these two (like the forefinger and the middle finger of Allāh’s Messenger) in Paradise.”

“He who works hard on behalf of old women and the indigent, is like a Mujāhid in the cause of Allāh; and the narrator thinks, he added: “and like the person standing in prayer and who never tires, and like one who observes the fast and does not break it.”

“One who brings up two girls right from their childhood till their maturity, will appear on the Day of Judgment attached to me like two fingers of hand and he joined his fingers.”

‘Ā’ishah, mother of the believers, relates:

“A poor woman came to me with her two daughters. I gave her three dates. She gave one to each girl and wanted the third to eat herself. The two girls asked her for this also. So she divided it into two parts and gave one to each of the girls. I was much impressed by her action and mentioned all this to Allāh’s Messenger . He said: “Allāh has ordained Paradise for her in consequence of this action; or ‘Allāh freed her from the hell on account of this gesture.”

“Look for my pleasure among the weak ones, for you are helped (against our enemies) and provided (your sustenance) on account of the weak ones among you.”

In his farewell address on the eve of his last Pilgrimage, after glorifying and praising Allāh he cautioned his followers thus:

“Listen! Treat women with kindness….”

“The most perfect Muslims in the matter of faith is one who has an excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives.”

All the above quoted Ahādīth clearly show that love and mercy for all compels one to do justice to all. This in turn leaves every one satisfied and thus peace prevails in society.

Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar teaches at Central University, Kashmir.


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