Justice is the bedrock of society. It ensures peace, due opportunity, prosperity and smooth functioning of society. This is why Islam gives much importance to justice. The Qur’ān repeatedly enjoins us to uphold justice and stand firm in the face of conflict, oppression and injustice. The Qur’ān (16:90) says: “God commands justice and fair dealing….”
In our increasingly polarised world, we see most often the demands of justice being eroded. People are becoming self-centred, if not selfish. They do not take interest in the happenings taking place around them. This attitude of keeping aloof ultimately harms the person who practises it. Islam wants to put an end to this attitude. The Qur’ān (4:135) says: “Believers! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kin. 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. If you distort (the truth) or decline to do justice, then (know that) God is indeed aware of all that you do.”
In a society which rejects Divine laws, people link justice with equality. With equality they mean all people are equal in basic rights, duties and dignity. They demand equal rights and equal opportunities for all. There is no doubt that people are equal so far as their right to life, property, and human dignity is concerned, regardless of their religion, race, gender, or ethnicity. What is important here is that too much focus on equality to the exclusion of other concepts related to justice obscures the truth of the matter. And it causes social conflicts, group and gender clashes, suicides, etc. and ultimately leads to chaos and anarchy. This is why the Lord Almighty, who knows best the very nature of man as He is the Creator, enjoins us to uphold equity rather than equality. The Qur’ān (5:8) is emphatic here: “Believers, be steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity. Never allow your hatred of any people to lead you away from justice. Be just, this is closer to righteousness. And remain Godfearing. Surely, God is aware of all that you do.” Maintaining justice and equity in the day to day matters helps us in enjoying social equilibrium.
What we should ensure in society is that our standards of justice should be the same for everyone, regardless of social and financial status, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and so on. We should administer justice without nurturing bias toward any group, or even our own selves or those of our relations and friends.