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Quranic Perspectives on Social Justice


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Concept of Social Justice in Islamic Perspective

In Islamic tradition, social justice is rooted in the concept of Tawhid, or the oneness of God. This belief encompasses an intrinsic responsibility towards others, demonstrating that injustice and oppression go against the beliefs espoused by Islam. Islamic history has seen great scholars and religious leaders who have given an outstanding insight into social justice, merely by playing their part in society. This approach, rather than promoting social justice through political action or legislation, underlines an emphasis on the individual’s responsibility towards society. Therefore, in Islamic perspective, social justice does not merely refer to meeting the necessities of life, but it goes above and beyond to encompass the broader concept of human dignity, equality, and solidarity.

Rights of the Poor and Needy in Islam

Islam has placed great emphasis on the rights of the poor and needy. The Quran asserts that “Believe in Allah and His messenger and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees (in a Cause of His)” (Q57:7). This verse declares that wealth held by an individual is not permanently theirs, but they are an agent through which Allah’s wealth passes. Hence, the Islamic concept behind this is known as “Zakat,” which is akin to the practice of charitable giving in a way that makes it mandatory. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is due to be paid once a year. Zakat can take many forms, including monetary and non-monetary offerings. It aims to address inequality and provide for the underprivileged individuals in society.

Duties of Wealthy Muslims Towards the Poor

As mentioned earlier, the Islamic concept behind the obligation to give goes beyond the concept of charity. Muslim scholars, too, have given their vision towards wealth, its acquisition, and its responsibilities. Imam Al-Ghazali discusses the concept of wealth in his work “Sights” under the heading “perfecting faith through good conduct with wealth.” According to Al-Ghazali, one’s wealth- whether it be material or spiritual- must be used to help others who are in need. This duty underlines any wealth possessed by individuals, be it much or little. Hence, the concept of helping the poor is not only restricted to millionaires or billionaires but extends to all sections of society. According to the Islamic perspective, every member of society must contribute to uplifting the societal standard. This emphasis underscores the individual’s responsibility rather than shy away from personal wealth.

Insights into Injustice and Oppression in Islam

In Islam, oppression isn’t merely psychological or emotional, but encompasses social, economic, and physical oppression as well. In the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declares that “Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, who according to the Law, are entitled to it, and when you judge between men, that you judge justly. Verily, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Q4:58). Here, Allah emphasizes fairness and the implementation of justice in human affairs, depicting a call for disavowing injustice and oppression.

Justice and Human Rights in the Islamic Paradigm

In the Muslim world, matters of justice and human rights shifted from being a religious disciple to a more political and legalized aspect. But in the Islamic paradigm, the constantly evolving human rights discourse merges with the fundamental principles of faith, driving the dynamics forward. Islam never solely emphasized human rights; instead, it placed emphasis on the broader concept of human dignity, equality, and solidarity, which are the hallmark paperweight to the human rights principle.

In conclusion, social justice in Islamic perspective reflects its centuries-old responsibility towards the poor and needy via zakat (charity), its dedication towards ending injustice and oppression, and its focus on the individual’s responsibility, which underlines every person’s involvement required to uplift society. Human rights, intrinsically bound within these principles, highlight the broader concept of dignity and equality, which stand firm in their values amid an ever-evolving human rights discourse.

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Ramadan Kareem

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