Justice and Tolerance in Islam – On social and interfaith harmony

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SHAFAQNA - Amongst the verses that talk about justice, we have a verse that points out to how to deal with the peaceful disbelievers, because disbelievers are of two kinds. On the one hand, there are those disbelievers who wage wars on Muslims, displace them from their homes, and attack them with all means of aggression. On the other hand, there are those peaceful disbelievers who disagree with Muslims in the religious question; they simply do not believe in Islam, yet they coexist with Muslims just like all members of a society coexist together whether in dealings or relationships.

Concerning the peaceful category of disbelievers, the Holy Quran ordains us to treat them well and kindly, so as to offer them all means of kindness and good and to treat them justly in all our dealings and relationships with them. As for the other category, we ought to take up a stand from them, for they have declared enmity with Muslims, knowing that a Muslim does not declare enmity with others or assault others, for Allah has ordered us to act with all people in a way that transforms enemies into friends, instead of transforming friends or other people into enemies.

Allah says: [Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion] – those who did not declare war against your religion (Islam), which is unlike theirs, you ought to accept this religious difference between you and them objectively and peacefully, [and have not driven you forth from your homes], also because they did not plan to use their political or military strength to force you to leave your homes and drive you out of your lands, yet they had been peaceful, coexisting with you in one country or two neighboring countries, just like the peaceful individual coexists with another peaceful individual, as Allah says: [Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness]. Showing kindness is the act of being caring and concerned. This expression has a broader significance that covers all human relations based on cooperation, communication and giving.

[And deal with them justly], as previously mentioned, justice is the right of the human being, and to act justly is to give every person his right and share; therefore, you ought to treat those (peaceful believers) on the basis of justice. If they are entitled to a right from you, then you should not deprive them from their right, [Surely Allah loves the doers of justice], i.e. just people. Inspired by this, we understand that we should respect all the rights of those (peaceful believers) and their properties. Also, it is not permissible for a man to confiscate the money of a non-Muslim under the pretence that this man is a disbeliever, thus rendering the confiscation of his money permissible as in the cases of some legal opinions (fatwas) used by lots of people who have traveled to the West or the East, and even in Lebanon. During times of chaos, some people used to attack and rob this bank or another or this shop or another, under the pretence that their owners are disbelievers. As long as they are peaceful, it is not permissible for us to confiscate their money or violate their honor. We even used to and still issue legal opinions (fatwas) that deem some of the acts carried out by some of the immigrant youths haram, even if in America, Europe, Australia, Canada… etc

For example, when a person concludes a contract with an insurance company to insure his shop, and then he burns it to be re-compensated, or like the acts of many people who take advantage of some rules that make it easier for lots of people to confiscate money, so they go to the bank, borrow money, and then run away, or they enter a supermarket, pick up some things and leave without paying; such acts are not permissible as long as those people living in this society are peaceful and not fighters, for Allah says in His Holy Book:[Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion…] [Allah only forbids you respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion]; that is, those who declared war on you because you are Muslims, and [and drove you forth from your homes]; that is, they displaced you just like what the Jews have done by displacing the Palestinians, and [and support (others) in driving you out] (AL-MUMTAHINA:9) i.e. they helped in driving you out like some countries have done.

It should be noted that there is a difference between the state and the people. The American administration is now helping Israel and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the American people does not wholly approve of what its government is carrying out, even if some do, [Allah only forbids you respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends with them] – that you share with them loyalty, friendship, and alliance, [and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust] – those who wrong themselves and their peoples and their folks. So, we can conclude from these two verses that it is not permissible for us to offend the peaceful disbelievers, no matter of what religion they were.

Allah has dispraised the Jews for the way they confiscate the money of non-Jews, as came in His Glorious Book: [And among the followers of the Book there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a heap of wealth, he shall pay it back to you] – that is, trust has to be returned to its owner, [and among them there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a dinar he shall not pay it back to you except so long as you remain firm in demanding it] – that is, you should keep demanding that he returns your money to you, why? Because they do not apply the rule of trust with anyone but with the Jews, [this is because they say: There is not upon us in the matter of the unlearned people any way (to reproach)] (AL-E-IMRAN: 75). In the Jewish context, the unlearned people are those who are not Jews, especially Arabs, considering that ignorance prevailed at that time for there was no education or reading, so they used to say that they do not hold any responsibility towards the unlearned people, i.e. the non-Jews, deeming it permissible to confiscate their money.

If any of our brothers in the West holds this mentality, he would be making others believe that Muslims have the right to confiscate the money of non-Muslims. As a result, the Muslim would lose the trust of others in him, and no one would be ready to share him anything or lend him any money or cooperate with him. If we knew that someone has no problem in confiscating our money, would we share anything with him? Or would we even deal with him

These issues harm us and distort the image of Islam and Muslims. So, we have to treat people with what we would like them to treat us. If we expect to be treated by trust and honesty, then we should treat others likewise to be able to coexist.

We are in need of this world and it needs us in return – especially if we live in a country like Lebanon, for example, where sects and confessions diversify. So, if there is no trust within this community on the basis of mutual living, then no country could exist, and no progress or development could take place, neither on the economic nor the security level.

We should be aware of this issue to deliver the glorious image of Islam, because Islam is the religion of justice, since it serves everyone justly, whether a disbeliever or a believer, an enemy or a friend, a close person or a distant one. As we have mentioned in previous speeches, justice has no religion; it is a human state that obliges man to serve people justly. Likewise, injustice has no religion and man ought not to wrong anyone. There is a Hadith taken from Ahl El-Beit which says: {God revealed to a Prophet who lived in dictatorship to go to the tyrant ruler and tell him that God appointed him a ruler to address the grieves of the downtrodden, for Allah will not accept any injustice done to them even if they were disbelievers}. So, even if they were disbelievers, He will retrieve their right from those who have usurped it.

We conclude from this that it is not permissible to wrong disbelievers as it is not permissible to wrong believers; which grants Islam this glorious image. There is something we ought to keep in mind, especially us who belong to the Ja’afari sect (followers of the twelve Imams), which is that we are awaiting the appearance of Imam Al-Mahdi (may Allah hasten his return) whose message and missionary are represented by spreading justice and who will {fill the earth with justice and equity after it had been filled with injustice and oppression}. His message is to fill the entire world with comprehensive justice, so if we are not among those who serve justice, how could we be of his followers?! Someone might treat his wife or mother or father or son or neighbor unjustly, and yet he says that he will be a follower of the Imam when the day comes, but the truth is that, with such injustice, he would actually be on the opposite side.

Therefore, we ought to be the nation of justice, for our religion is the religion of justice that ordains us to practice justice and kindness whose results would be reflected this life and the afterlife. We ought to live justice and kindness within ourselves and to open up through them on the entire reality whether on the political, social, economic, security, or family level, as came in the Hadith: {Make of yourself a balance between yourself and others, so love to others what you love for yourself, and hate to others what you hate to yourself}.

 

Sources – Bayynat.org

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