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Justice: Global vs Individual Perspectives

Although some academics, such as F. A. Hayek, have denied the idea that distributive justice has meaning within states, no one would deny the existence of acts, which can be called "unjust". It has been argued, however, that the concepts of justice and injustice have no meaning outside of the nation-state, either because the lack of an international sovereign power precludes the establishment of justice, or because the state constitutes the maximal moral community. Both arguments are flawed. Any notion of fundamental human equality becomes incoherent if its application is limited by political boundaries. In either a utilitarian or Kantian form, or based on our theory, i. e. justice as commitment, belief in human equality generates extensive international obligations. An objection that is often made to this conclusion is that the obligations derived are so stringent that compliance cannot reasonably be demanded under current political conditions. 255 If true, this only demonstrates that current political conditions are incompatible with international justice, and that political moral values are totally ignored in the international arena. Imam Hassan (as), said:

Treat others similar to the way you would like them to treat you.256

Keeping just relationship within an international framework is much more vital and important for humanity than keeping just relationships between individuals. Even though many ahadeeth on this subject are narrated in such a way as to give the impression that they are only speaking about individual relations, one can most certainly extend the meaning of these ahadeeth to governments and organizations as well. Imam Ali (as) said:

May Allah have mercy upon the person who services a right and removes a wrong, or refutes an injustice and establishes justice.257

In this narration, the use of the word "establish" supports a wider interpretation, because "establishment" implies institutional struggle rather than individual action. We should also understand the appearance of the Mahdi, the second coming of Jesus Christ (as) and the divine preparation for global social changes in this wider context i. e. an international framework. The best statement in this regard is to be quoted from Al-Mahdi (as) himself. He said, describing this task:

I am Al-Mahdi and I am the living one who will establish Justice throughout the world the same as it has been filled with oppression. Surely the earth will never remain without a witness, and people will not live with lack of a leader.258

In another tradition Imam Baqir (as) shed light this global justice as if it were a dream of all humanity:

When our Qa'im rises, he will set his hand (authority) over the heads of the servants. He will give them intellectual development and complete their patience and insights. After that, Allah will extend their sights and their hearing so that there will be no barrier between them and the Qa'im when he decides to speak with them. They will hear, and they can watch him while he is in his place.259

255. Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, pp.429-430, Published by Routledge 2000

256. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol.78, p.116

257. Imam Ali, Ghurar-ul-Hikam, p.181

258. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, p.255, Tr.: Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library

259. Ibid: p.222

Adapted from the book: "The Awaited Saviour; Questions and Answers"

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