The unanimous verdict of mankind is that justice is a virtue. To uphold it is praiseworthy and to contravene it is sinful in the eyes of men as well as the Almighty. As such, it can well be construed that justice is not a mere compliance with a compelling need of nature; rather it is a task which, of our own free volition, is carried out and consequently acclaimed. On the other hand, this also shows that the concept of justice is a common legacy of mankind that calls for spontaneous appreciation.

An inquiry into the concept of justice would however reveal that while mankind has always appreciated it, they have differed about what engenders an irresistible urge for it and also about its application in practical affairs. The former difference arises mainly because of the blatant error of applying the evolutionary approach to the moral aspect of human life much like the way it has been vigorously applied to their so-called physical evolution. It is contended that man developed the notion of justice because he faced the problem of survival of his race. It is clear that this contention is worthy of no consideration since man feels this urge from within much before he has to listen to any call from his surroundings; moreover, he is convinced that he ought to uphold justice contrary to his own interests which he reflexively thinks about and wants to secure first. The fact that justice is a universally acknowledged virtue and that man feels the urge to comply with it from within is sufficient evidence that it is ingrained in his nature – the nature fashioned by the Almighty. The differences insofar as they are concerned with practical application are indicative of the stark truth that man is burdened with the fresh application of the concept of justice – a task which is termed, the trial of life, by the Qur’an.

Despite the utmost desirability of justice, it seems almost impossible to define what exactly justice is in a few words, which is perhaps one strong reason for differences that arise in practical applications. The clarity of the concept of justice is evident yet when it is clothed in words, reinforcement of one point is achieved at the expense of many ultimate corollaries. Much unlike the all encompassing nature of the concept, the definition of justice can never be comprehensive. This of necessity calls for a fresh consideration of justice vigilantly in each and every circumstance. With a sense of responsibility, when we approach a novel situation we are very likely to arrive at the right decision.  

The Holy Qur’an also praises those who uphold justice and direct their affairs in compliance with this virtue. Salvation in the Hereafter is thus dependant on whether we lead a life in consonance with the concept of justice. We also find that the Holy Qur’an exhorts its addressees to justice as a known virtue, which they can only evade through lame excuses. For the correct application of justice, the Holy Qur’an proposes that it should be done with a view to earning the pleasure of God. When we rid ourselves of meanness and self-interest, and seek only the pleasure of God, we are likely to reach a correct decision.

 

O you who believe! Be you of those who maintain adherence to justice, being witnesses to it for the sake of Allah, even though this goes against yourselves or your parents or your kindred. Be it a rich man or a poor man, Allah should be the top priority for both. (4:135)

(Jhangeer Hanif)

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