1887
Volume 2012, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2218-7480
  • E-ISSN:

Abstract

Justice is an essential dimension of religious teachings and religious consciousness. In fact it could be argued that religion, in its central inspiration, is nothing else than the realization of justice. The Gospel of Matthew teaches “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6 :33). This is an unambiguous indication that justice is primary in the religious search since it flows, or should flow, from the search for God. The Greek word used for justice is in this passage dikaiosyne, which is akin to righteousness and, through its connection to dike, the human reality of law and justice that is born from divine justice.

In Islam, justice stems from the discernment of the shahādah, and the consequent ability to give all realities, all human and non-human beings, their respective due, and sometimes more, in mercy and love. The just are both wise and generous, they embrace both intelligence and love. Their justice is first of all objectivity, or the ability to make abstraction of one's interests, and consequently charity vis-à-vis others that stems from our unity in humanness through the divine “imprint” of our theomorphic nature, and manifests itself in the forms that are most consonant with our respective vocations, destinies and circumstances. The Quran beautifully expresses this conjunction of objectivity and love in one of its most poignant calls for justice: “O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity (qawwāmīn li-llāh shuhudāha bi-l-qist), and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly (allā; ta'dalū). Deal justly (a'dilū), that is nearer to your duty (li-l-taqwa). Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is informed of what ye do”.

Justice is truth in action. It presupposes an ability to be objective about oneself, and objective about others. It therefore presupposes a degree of command over one's egocentric impulses, as well as, by extension, over one's sentimental identification with a particular group, culture or nation. Justice is an ability to transcend oneself to recognize the right of others. To the extent that religion teaches the ways of transcending oneself it is also all about justice.

Today justice is almost entirely identified with social justice, which is only one of its manifestations. Religions preach justice for all, and particularly for the weak, but they also stress – and that is what distinguishes them most clearly from merely humanistic ethics, that social forms of injustice do not only nor primarily result from external factors, or structures, but from the fundamental inner injustice that gives rise to, and sustains, these very structures and factors. Justice starts at home, in the heart that chooses and loves the true.

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2012-12-01
2019-10-16
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  • Article Type: Editorial
Keyword(s): Justice
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