Islam and Just Society

Allāh being the Universal God and the Supreme Sovereign, the revealed Guidance from Him—al-Islam— is non-sectarian and non-racial
A Kashmiri Muslim man touches the chains to seek blessings at a shrine in Srinagar on the 11th day of Ramadhan. Mubashir Khan/GK
A Kashmiri Muslim man touches the chains to seek blessings at a shrine in Srinagar on the 11th day of Ramadhan. Mubashir Khan/GK

The ideals Islām puts forth for the establishment of a just and peaceful society are:

  1. Unity of God
  2. Unity of mankind
  3. Unity of life
  4. Unity of purpose

1. Unity of God

God is One and everything belongs to Him(3:109)

He is the Supreme Ruler (57:2)

He is the Creator, the Supreme Commander and the Lord of the universe (7:54)

His sovereignty over the universe is not shared by any authority and His writ alone runs throughout the realm(35:13)

Thus Allāh being the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of the things, cares for all. Therefore, submission to His Will brings peace and harmony to the whole world.

Unity of Allah's sovereignty provides the very basic source of peace and justice, for had there been more than one sovereign, there would be conflict and mischief in the world; the universe would cease to exist for a single moment (21:22)

Allāh  being the Universal God and the Supreme Sovereign, the revealed Guidance from Him—al-Islam— is, therefore, non-sectarian and non-racial.

This is also testified by the fact that the holy Qur'ān is addressed not to a particular people but to the whole mankind.

2. Unity of Mankind

One major hurdle in the way of peaceful co-existence is the false concept that one group or nation is superior to another group or nation. The Qur'ān demolishes all structures of social superiority by asserting common origin of all human beings. For the sake of universal peace and for the end of enmity and dangerous frictions existing among mankind, Islām stands for universal brotherhood and unity of mankind.

In order to make all nations and all human beings on earth a single fraternity, Islām lays down seven principles. These are:

  1. Nationality

The holy Qur'ān, after mentioning various Messengers, says:

"Verily this Ummah of yours is a Single Ummah and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore, Serve Me (and no other)."   (21:92)

This is the gist of Islām as the universal religion. "The word "Ummah" has a far higher and wider meaning than "nation" or "race" or "community". "This is best translated by Brotherhood here."

In this way Islām does not believe in dividing mankind into different nations based upon caste, colour, race, language, birth; all human beings are but one nation and their Creator is One. (2:213)

Truth is one; the source of Truth is One—Allāh. Therefore, all Prophets form one Brotherhood: their message is one, their religion is one and they all worship and invite mankind to One True God—Allāh. Then people began to trade on the names of the Prophets and cut off this unity and made sects instead of taking the universal teaching of unity from Allāh. But, to a Muslim, this sectarian division is man-made; the rays of Truth and Unity will finally dissipate it.

Thus nationality of man in Islām is not decided on the matters of land but it is decided on the basis of faith.

  1. Race

Social discrimination is a big obstacle in the way of justice. The holy Qur'ān puts an end to every kind of such discrimination among mankind as based upon caste, colour, genealogy etc. It recognizes righteousness as the sole basis of nobility and superiority (49:13)

Thus human beings are all one before Allah . Their tribes, races, and nations are convenient labels by which they recognize each other, and one who is most righteous and most pious is most honoured. This concept develops in man an optimistic attitude towards life by inspiring him to attain superiority through piety and good deeds. In this way arrogance caused due to artificial superiorities gets demolished and peaceful co-existence on the basis of harmonious mutual-relationship gets established in the society.

Once Rasūlullāh said to Abū Dhar: Remember that you don't have any superiority over a red or a black man. However, you are superior if you are more righteous.

It is in  Musnad of Ahmad that once a man asked Allāh's Messenger: O Messenger of Allāh! Who is the best (amongst us)? He replied: One who serves his guest the most, is the most righteous, invites to good the most and forbids from wrong the most, and fastens relation the most. This hadith lays down basic principles responsible for peace in the society i.e. respect for guest, doing good deeds and always reconciling with nears and dears.

  1. Unity of Religion

Allāh's Religion has always been one. He, being the Source of Truth, will not reveal different 'truths' as there cannot be "more than one" truth. Allāh  says:

"Mankind were one community and Allāh sent Prophets with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent down the scripture in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed. And only those to whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it after clear proofs had come unto them through hatred, one to another. Then Allāh by His leave guided those who believed to the truth of that wherein the differed. And Allāh guides whom He wills to the Straight Path."(2:213)

Abdullāh Yūsuf 'Alī, very beautifully, explains this Āyah  in these words:

"The Muslim position is clear. The Muslim does not claim to have a religion peculiar to himself. Islām is not a sect or an ethnic religion. In its view all Religion is one, for the Truth is one. It was the religion preached by all the earlier Prophets. It was the truth inspired by all the inspired Books. In essence it amounts to a consciousness of the Will and Plan of Allāh 8 and a joyful submission to that Will and Plan. If anyone wants a religion other than that, he is false to his own nature, as he is false to Allāh's Will and Plan. Such a one cannot expect guidance, for he has deliberately renounced guidance."

But Islām at the same time does not believe in compulsion in the matters of faith. It does not allow the Muslims to use force and compel people to except this reality, for that will kill the very essence of faith and will disturb the friendly relations among mankind. It rather says that the Muslims should present the Truth in its pure and pristine form, without any distortion, so that everyone who accepts, or rejects it does so out of his own will and volition. Allāh says:

"There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path." (2:256)

(iv)                  Legal Unity

Justice cannot prevail when there is one law for the ruler and another for the subjects. All human beings should be one before the law of Justice. "Muslims believe that the Shari'ah is same for the whole humanity, that everyone is entitled to adjudicate his disputes with his peers under its provisions. Nobody may be stopped from taking recourse to it if he so wishes, whether male or female, rich or poor, kind or tramp, black or white, Muslim or non-Muslim, resident or transient, citizen or non-citizen. Equally, no Muslim is immune from being charged under its provisions."

"And Allāh has created the heavens and the earth with truth, in order that each person may be recompensed what he has earned, and they will not be wronged."     (45:22)

(v)       Spiritual Unity

There is no difference among people of different colours, races, places etc as all are human beings. When they accept the Truth revealed by their Lord, they become all one. During congregational Prayer, they all stand in the same row; During the Hujj (pilgrimage to Ka'bah) they all assemble at the same place in 'Arafat wearing same clothes. They face the same Ka'bah in Salāh. Spiritually all believers are brothers:

(Al-Qur'ān, Al-Hujurāt 49:10)

"The believers are but a single brotherhood."   (49:10)

(vi)                  Political Unity

Islām holds that all individuals, governments and states that come under the Islamic Common Wealth have same political rights; they are all one with respect to mutual help and integrity of the Common Wealth.

(vii)    Justice

Islām has never allowed any discrimination among human beings in legal and juridical matters. Justice being the soul of Islāmic Monotheism and Allāhbeing the Universal God, the Muslims are commanded to act justly towards every creature. The Messenger has been commanded that if the non-Muslims came to him seeking judgment, he must judge between them with justice:

"If they do come to thee, either judge between them or decline to interfere. If thou decline

they cannot hurt thee in the least. If thou judge, judge in equity between them. For Allāh

loveth those who judge in equity." (5:42)

3. Unity of Life System

Islām is the only way of life; the complete code of conduct. It invites the whole mankind towards a system of life where all live together as members of one family with Allāh   as their Lord. In the Islamic system of life worship is due only to the True God–Allā ; good is always praised and glorified whereas wrong is always discouraged. The Islamic society is based on good wherein religion is not man's private affair. Allāh  says:

"Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) enjoin Iqamat-as-Salāt, pay the Zakat and they enjoin Al-Ma'rūf (i.e. Islāmic Monotheism and all that Islām orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar."  (22:11)

4. Unity of Purpose and goal

Allāh is the source and centre of all power and all good. Our progress depends upon how much we put ourselves into accord with His Will. Thus the object of our life on the whole is the worship of Allāh. Therefore, we must, necessarily, regard this life in its totality as one complex moral responsibility. In this way all the actions of man, if they are in accordance with Allāh's universal plan, are the acts of worship.

"And I (Allāh) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)." (51:56)

Thus man's creation is not for idle sport. It has a great purpose.

This concept will ultimately put an end to chaos and conflict that has eaten into the vitals of the contemporary materialistic society. Islām does not regard matter as the final goal of mankind, but to it God is our ultimate goal. It gives spiritual interpretation to life. Islām guides its followers towards such good acts that help peace prevail in society and that provide every possible opportunity for peaceful co-existence in the society.

Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar  teaches at CUK.

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