Friday Sermon: Of Justice, Equity and Fairness

Justice, Equity and Fairness are three interrelated concepts that coalesce to make a spiritual whole. Justice is the sum-total, in a sense, of all recognised rights and duties, as it often consists of nothing more than a balanced implementation of rights and duties, and of due regard for equality and fairness.

The Quran is emphatic on the objectivity of justice, so much so that it defies any level of relativity and compromise in its basic conception. A perusal of the Quranic evidence on justice leaves one in no doubt that justice is integral to the basic outlook and philosophy of Islam. Allah (SWT) said in the Holy Quran, Chapter 57, Surah Al-Hadid:

“We sent aforetime our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of right and wrong), that men may stand forth in justice.” (Quran 57:25).

The major themes of the Qur’an include God-consciousness, fairness, equity, justice, equality and balance in all our dealings. These concepts are drummed into the believers every Juma’at service in the form of admonitions where we are enjoined to heed the words of Allah in Surah Al-Nahl:

God commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition. (Quran 16:90)
It stresses the doing of what is right because it is the truth. As a reflection of Allah’s attributes of Al-’Adl (The Just One) and Al-Muqsit (The Upholder of Equity), we are urged to establish justice and deal with all in a manner that assures equity, fairness and balance and safeguards the rights, property, honour and dignity of all people. God assures us that even though He is All-Powerful and none can challenge His Authority, He deals with all with truth, kindness, justice, and the rights of none will be transgressed on the Day of Judgment. See Surah Al-Anbia’ (Quran 21:47)

The narrow etymological equivalents for Justice and Equity are the words Insaaf, ‘Adl and Qist. They are however, more comprehensive in their meaning and application. The root meanings of the word ‘Adl include the sense of Justice, Equity, Fairness, Non- Discrimination, Counter-Balance, to Rectify, Put in Order, Evenness, Proportion and the like. When Prophet Muhammad said “help the oppressor and the oppressed”, he was stressing this same concept. The Companions responded that they understood what “helping the oppressed” meant, but what did he mean by “helping the oppressor”? He replied, “By preventing the oppressor from oppressing others”. The root meanings of the word Qist include Equity, Fairness, Justice, Fair Distribution, Correctness, Balance, and Scale.

In Surah Al Ma’idah, Ayah 9, it is said that we should stand firmly for Allah as witness to fairness:

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just; that is next to piety; and fear God. For God is well acquainted with all that ye do. (Quran 5:9)

See also Surah Al Nisa’, Ayah 135: O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, . . . . .(Quran 4:135). Prophet Shu’aib in Surah As- Shu’ara’ said: Give just measure, and cause no loss (to others by fraud). And weigh with scales true and upright. And withhold not things justly due to men, nor do evil in the land, working mischief. And fear Him Who created you and (Who created) the generations before (you). (Quran 26:181-184)
Surah Al Nahl, Ayah 90 says: God commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition. (Quran 16:90) See also Surah Al Shurah, Ayah 15: (Quran 42:15), Surah Al Hadeed, Ayah 25, Quran 57:25. Other aspects of justice referred in the Quran are the following: Quran 4:58; Quran 5:8; Quran 6:151-152; Quran 11:85;
Finally Allah says: BEHOLD, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one’s] fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy; [and] He exhorts you [repeatedly] so that you might bear [all this] in mind. (Quran 16:90)

Concerning Equity, Allah says:

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do! (Quran 4:135) See also Quran 6:152 and Quran 10:4

A person’s faith does not become perfect until he observes fairness with respect to himself and others. In exchange, God shall increase his honour and glory. Man, by nature, prefers his own self and loves everything that is associated with him.

He also possesses a dislike for everything bad and evil. Similarly, (justice demands that) if he does not desire anything bad and evil for himself, he should not desire it for the others too. The Quran says:

And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry from among [other] women such as are lawful to you [even] two, or three, or four: but if you have reason to fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then [only] one – or [from among] those whom you rightfully possess. This will make it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course. (Quran 4:3), see also Quran 4:129.

In one way or the other we are all guilty of some of the injunctions in these ayat, particularly our leaders. It however, applies to all of us. It was once said, that the issues of injustice, unfairness and inequitable dispensation of resources is an all pervasive malaise. From the flinching tramp on the roadside, the woman who digs for gold, the rich with their insatiable thirst for more, to the legislator, who is the sole beneficiary of his legislations and the executive who corners the people’s commonwealth to feather their own nests, including the ex-this and ex-that who award satanic- pensions for themselves, we are all guilty.

When justice, equity and fairness depart from a society, that society is finished. In the end we are reminded always by Allah’s injunctions where he said:
Hence, O my people, [always] give full measure and weight, with equity, and do not deprive people of what is rightfully theirs, and do not act wickedly on earth by spreading corruption. (Quran 11:85)

“Partake of the good things which We have provided for you as sustenance, but do not transgress therein the bounds of equity lest My condemnation fall upon you: for, he upon whom My condemnation falls has indeed thrown himself into utter ruin!” (Quran 20:81)
May Allah’s condemnation never fall on us, Amin!

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

Congratulations to our amiable sister, Lateefa Abimbola Kuru who added another milestone yesterday. May Allah preserve her and may her minutes, hours and days be long. May Allah prosper her in very good health. Ameen

2. Congratulations to our sister and wife Dr Olurinu Jose wife of our brother Abubakar Jose. She was conferred he Doctorate degree in Business Administration at the University of Liverpool last Tuesday in the presence of her husband and their two children. We also learnt that a World Bank position is awaiting her. Alhamdulillah.

Finally, it is 2 Weeks to the Unveiling of our book: Reflections on Juma’at Greetings, Venue is Sir Adetokunbo Ademola Hall, Law School, Victoria Island. Date remains 19th December 2019 at 11 AM. May Allah preserve us past that date.

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