“It’s not fair!” the child pouts. “All the other girls have one!”
“Life isn’t fair,” Mom replies wearily.
Voila— a conversation repeated around the world ad infinitum. But the child isn’t buying it, and for good reason.
For one thing, life in general seems to her to be basically fair, and her parents have persuaded her that justice is important; she’s actually trying to hold Mom to the very values that Mom has taught her. The problem lies in her view of what constitutes justice.
Do We Really Know When Life is Being Unfair?
We may feel that life is unfair when we want something someone else has, especially when think we’re more deserving. In such instances we become like spoiled children, setting ourselves up as supreme court justices in the courts of our own lives.
Let’s have a look at what the true authority has to say.
What Does the Quran Say About Justice?
1. Justice is an Active Principle
According to the Quran, justice is an active principle, an activity that we should pursue with enthusiasm! It’s also a direction, a path, a way to travel. We may not know the answers now, but we will one day!
. . . so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. [Quran, 5:48]
2. Justice is the Path of the Worthy
And Allah presents an example of two men, one of them dumb and unable to do a thing, while he is a burden to his guardian. Wherever he directs him, he brings no good. Is he equal to one who commands justice, while he is on a straight path? [Quran, 16:76]
3. Justice is a Question of Limits and Balances
The Quran affirms the idea that justice means everyone getting their due— both what they need and what they deserve.
And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law]. [Quran, 17:33]
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice . . . [Quran, 57:25]
And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. [Quran, 4:3]
4. Allah (swt) Created the Universe in Justice
Yes, brothers and sisters, we’re living in a world that contains much injustice, but Allah (swt) assures us (and we clearly see) that just deeds are rewarded and evil deeds are punished.
And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. [Quran, 25:68]
5. Justice Acknowledges the Goodness of Allah
Justice is by definition an ackowledgement of the infinite goodness of our creator.
As for ‘Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, “Who is greater than us in strength?” Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? . . . [Quran, 41:15]
6. Justice Isn’t Black and White
It’s very difficult to lay down laws which apply equally in every case, which is why the Quran shows us that justice is a principle that can be utilised case-by-case. It’s a way of using wisdom to order the chaos of life!
And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him . . [Quran, 5:45]
Perhaps when our children whine, “Unfair!” we can, instead of repeating that life is unfair, take a moment to explain that although we can’t always expect the kind of justice we think we deserve, we’re living in a world ruled by a just creator, who asks us to uphold justice in all our actions.
The Quran tells us so.
May your hearts and minds be opened and guided,
The Understand Quran Academy Team