Reciprocity between Divine and Human Justice
Divine Justice and human justice have a dynamic and reciprocal relationship with each other. A Muslim cannot accept human justice without accepting Divine Justice, and vice versa. Human justice is almost meaningless outside of the concept of Divine Justice.
Speaking about "the most Beautiful Names" [al-assma al-hussnah] we see that in mystical philosophy the name of as-salaam cannot be separated from the other Divine Names. Ayatullah Khomeini in his book "Misbah Al-Hidayyah ila Al-Khilafah was Wilayyah":
The Divine judgement requires justice amongst the Divine names, while each name is reflected according to justice, and so the name "Allah" is reflected as the absolute name above all names by these two main names "al-Hakam al-'Adil", and so very thing is ruled by the Divine justice, and the divine institutions are all based on justice.241
Elsewhere in "Al-Misbah" he writes:
It is clear that the Prophet's duty in all aspects and all worlds is to preserve the Divine institutions, so that they would never be altered to the extreme. He should also maintain nature from its absolute destruction, because every thing must be ruled and managed based upon justice ... thus the Prophet is a crystallization of the Divine attribute of "al-Hakam al-A'del" to encourage justice and to bring it into being, and a Divine successor is a crystallization and the perfect example of the reflection of these divine attributes. This is one of the potential meanings of the narrated saying from Imam Ali (as): Know Allah by knowing Allah, and know the messenger by knowing the message, and the leaders "Ouli-Amr" by their preservation of right, justice and charity.242
The leader of an ideal society is obliged to encourage peace and tolerance amongst the society's members. The Qur'an explicitly declares that Allah (swt) commands us to maintain justice. In many verses Allah (swt) commands the ruler to give a decision based on justice. In many other verses in the narration it is commanded that we should do justice both by words and deeds and in most of the verses of the Holy Qur'an tyrants have been condemned. Imam Sadiq (as) said that the Messenger of Allah (saws) gathered the children of Abd al-Muttallib and said:
O, children of 'Abd-il-Muttallib! Initiate greetings, have regard for kinship, perform the night prayers while people are asleep, feed others, and speak solely good things, and thereby you will enter paradise in peace.243
If one deals with people with Divine Justice, one is naturally led to human justice. If a leader is not acting with justice, then his authority has no legitimacy under Islamic law. Those who give such a ruler any kind of legitimacy are considered to be as bad as the oppressor himself. The Holy Prophet (saws) has said:
On the Day of Resurrection a caller will announce: "Where are the oppressors and their assistants and those who prepared an inkwell for them or fastened a bag for them or supplied the ink of a pen (for them)? Then, gather these (people) with them!"244
In a more explicit tradition, it is revealed that even those who sympathize with the oppressors are considered guilty from an ethical point of view, and they are responsible for their association with they tyrants. Imam Baqir (as), has said:
Allah, Almighty and Glorious, revealed to Prophet Jethro (as) (Shu'ayb): I will punish one hundred thousand people of your folk. Forty thousand people are from their vicious ones but sixty thousand of them are from their good-doers. Jethro (as) inquired: "These are the vicious (who deserve punishment), but what about the good-doers?"
Then, Allah, Almighty and Glorioud, revealed to him:
They (the good-doers) associated with the sinners and did not become angry because of My wrath."245
Oppression is something that cannot be ignored by Allah (swt). Imam Baqir (as) said:
There are three types of transgressions: the one which Allah, the Exalted, forgives, the one He does not forgive, and that one which He does not ignore. Thus, the transgression that He does not forgive is infidelity unto Allah, the Almighty, and Glorious. And, the transgression, which Allah forgives, is the one that a person commits (against) himself between him and Allah, to whom belong Might and Majesty. But the transgression which He does not ignore is the one committed against the rights of men.246
This third transgression is a person infringing upon the rights of others. For this sin, one can only earn forgiveness from Allah (swt) if one makes amends to the wronged party. If that person forgives, then the transgression becomes one that the person has committed against himself, and only then may the sinner seek forgiveness from Allah. The philosophy behind this is clear. If one were not required to make such amends, then it would be very easy for people to run amok and then claim forgivenss from their Lord. Imam Ali (as) has described how the evil act of oppression will affect the future of its prepetrator, along with the whole of society:
Transgression causes the foot to go astray, takes the blessings, and kills the nations.247
Imam Ali (as) has also said:
... Nothing is more conducive to the reversal of Allah's bounty or for hastening of His retribution that continuance in oppression, because Allah hears the prayer of the oppressed and is on the look-out for the oppressors.248
Christian sources have also emphasized this vital point and stated that the aim of any ruler should be to secure the well-being of his people, just as it is the task of the helmsman to steer the ship through the perilous seas to a safe harbourage. But the welfare and prosperity of a community lies in the perservation of its unity; or, more simply, in peace. Without peace a community is unable to achieve any positive gain, and society becomes a burden upon its members. The most important task for the ruler of any community is the establishment of peace and unity. The ruler has no choice in this regard, and it is not permissible for him to shirk the duty of promoting social peace, any more than a doctor has the right to question whether he will cure the sick. No one ought to deliberate about the ends for each act he must perform, but only about the means to those ends. We see in Paul's letter to the Ephesians that he says:
Be ye solicitous for the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.249
The worth of a government is measured by its ability to establish peace and unity within its society.250 Aquinas defines tyranny as an unjustly government led by one man who seeks personal profit from his position, instead of the good of the community subject to him, such a ruler is called a tyrant. This concept of tyranny is derived from the idea of force, as a tyrant forcibly oppresses the people instead of ruling justly.
Aquinas divides government into various kinds, based on the source and method of rule. If an unjust government is exercised not by one man alone, but by several banded together in a clique, such a state of affairs is called an oligarchy, or rule by the few. This can happen when a small group of wealthy individuals take advantage of their wealth to oppress the rest of the people; and such a government differs from tyranny only in the number of oppressors.
Similarly, it is possible for an unjust government to be exercized by the masses. This is the classical definition of democracy, where the mob uses its numbers to oppress the rich.
We find other categories of injustice, which are based on the method of rule. An administration carried out by some large section of the community is called in Aquina's categories, a polity. An example would be army rule in a province or a city. If the administration falls to a small group of virtuous men, it is called an aristocracy, rule by the best. Finally, if a just government is execized by one man alone, such a person is called a king. We read in the Old Testament:
My servant David shall be king over all; he shall be the sole shepherd of them all.251
We see the difference between tyranny and kingship. Both governments are a form of autocracy, but the king pay attention to the needs of his people, while the tyrant does not.252
241. Ayatollah Khomayni, Misbah Al-Hidayah ila Al-Khalifah wa Wilayyah. Misbah 53,41, with comments of Sayyid J.D. Ashtiani. B.N.A.I. Tehran
242. Ibid. Misbah 53,41.
243. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, Tr. by Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library
244. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, p.91, Tr.: by Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library
245. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, pp.106-107, Tr.: by Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library
246. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, p.92, Tr.: Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library
247. Sharah Ghurar-ul-Hikam, Vol.2, p.36
248. Celeste Smith, Ed. A Bundle of Flowers from the Garden of Traditions of the Prophet & Ahlul-Bayt, p.93, Tr.: Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli. Isfahan: Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali Library
249. Ephesians 4:3
250. Thomas Aquinas on Princely Government, The Just Ruler, Qouted from "Western Philosophy: An Anthology", p.480, edited By John Cottingham. Blackwell Publisher Ltd 1996
251. Ezekiel 37:24
252. Thomas Aquinas on Princely Government, The Just Ruler, Qouted from "Western Philosophy: An Anthology", p.479, edited By John Cottingham. Blackwell Publisher Ltd 1996
Adapted from the book: "The Awaited Saviour; Questions and Answers"
Share this article