The Qur’an

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” [Qur’an; 5:8]

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” [Qur’an; 16:90]

“…And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” [Qur’an; 28:77]


“Beware of the curse of the oppressed, for there is no curtain between it and Allah.” [Abu Dawud]

Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who adopts a kind attitude when he sells, buys and demands for the repayment of loans.” [Bukhari]

It is unlawful to trouble people through unjust dealings, oppression, deceit, etc. One kind of loss through deceit and fraud is for the general public and the other is for special people.

One of the types of public loss, for instance, is the hoarding of foodstuffs until their prices rise or the use of counterfeit coins. These are forms of oppression.

It was narrated that Umar bin Khattab said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, ‘Whoever hoards food (and keeps it from) the Muslims, Allah will afflict him with leprosy and bankruptcy.”‘ [Ibn Majah]

It is injustice for a merchant to cause loss. The general rule is to love for others what one loves for himself. This can be observed in four ways:

  • not to praise one’s goods
  • not to conceal the defects of the commodities
  • not to conceal the weights and measures of the commodities
  • to be honest

Imam Al-Ghazali narrates in in book Ihya Ulum Al-Din:

A pious merchant sent foodstuffs by sea to his agent in Basrah with the instruction that he should sell it as soon as they reached him. When the commodities reached Basrah, the merchants there told the agent to hoard them for a week and then sell, as this would bring greater profit. His agent did accordingly and sold them after a week for a higher price and informed his master. His master wrote to him, “You have acted contrary to my wish. It was not my wish to incur a loss in religion and profit from commodities. I have committed a sin for hoarding, so distribute all the proceeds to the poor and destitute. Perhaps I may expiate my sin of hoarding.”

Current circumstances are different from pre-modern circumstances. We now have international treaties between countries. Many small countries are protected by these so that the would not be destroyed by stronger countries.

At the same time, compared to the weapons of the past, nations now possess weapons of complete annihilation.  Trying to seek justice through war in these times only engenders more wrong. Justice must be sought through peace. When there is peace, justice is more likely to be implemented without generating more harm.

Islam is not a religion of nihilism. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said there are four foundational pillars of every aspect of Islam; namely the maslaha (benefit), hikmah (wisdom), rahmah (mercy), and adalah (justice). In our approach to removing injustice, we should not create situations of greater injustice, more pain, and suffering. Our approach should mitigate the negatives rather than accentuate.

Inviting people to our way should be done in a noble manner. It is unsound to engage in violence that does not distinguish between innocents and the criminals. To apply jihad in our times and our countries, we must engage in the jihad of being good to people, taking care of parents, service to society, and being productive.

Further Information

Divine Duty:  Islam and Social Justice

Collection:  Justice in Islam