Justice 2

Justice 2

Explaining Justice within the Realm of Human Powers

As was mentioned earlier, there are many things to say about right and justice. Some scholars have embarked upon describing corporeal qualities and human powers. Based on their experiences, observations, testate, and those of others, they have concluded that human powers may be classified under three categories. And although they are not unrelated to each other, the boundary of each one of them is separate from that of the other.

The first category is the intellectual and scientific power of man. The second category consists of the power of attraction. And the third category is the power of dispelling. Based on this division, the human powers do not go beyond these three categories for each one of the human behaviors is of two kinds; either they are associated with intellect and perception which is related to the first category or with conduct which belongs to the second and third categories.

Each one of these powers has three stages: moderateness (tafrit), middle or immoderacy. The intellect is sometimes within the realm of moderateness. In this state, the individual is slow. Sometimes, this power is in the stage of immoderacy, which renders one sharp. If this power is in the middle stage, it means that the individual has intellectual balance and understands each affair properly; neither does he delay in understanding nor does he go beyond what is necessary, that is he does not beat about the bush.

This state of immoderacy, that is precocious understanding and untimely wandering of the mind is called jurbuzah. As a slow person does not reach anywhere, the person with jurbuzah does not achieve success. However, the one whose intellectual power is balanced, merely accepts rational affairs, champions it and does not wash his hands off it so easily. The one who possesses such a power (and in this respect), he is in a state of justice and intermediacy is called a sage. And this central kernel is called theosophy which apart from absolute science is juxtaposed with theology an Gnosticism.

Now let us speak about the second category, that is attraction. This power can also have one of these three states. Sometimes man strives to achieve his aspiration and inclines towards it with greed. This state is called shirah. Sometimes he procrastinates in reaching his aspiration, which is called khumul. However, if the power of attraction is in a state of equity, it is called iffat (chastity.) Of course, this method of naming is of the instinctive affairs.

These three states are respectively called hirs (greed), tabdhir (extravagance), and sikhavat (generosity) in financial affairs. Thus, the central kernel of power of attraction is generosity and chastity. If someone achieves this central kernel, he may give away all his wealth, this act being called generosity, not extravagance.

To ascertain what is generosity or extravagance deserves special alertness. Especially to ascertain this, one has to accord special attention to the stages of this state and the relation of every individual to those states. For instance, there are many stages for generosity and each individual has one of these states. It is evident that ascertaining that central kernel plays an essential role in legal and moral perceptions.

In the third category, that is the power of dispelling, the case is the same. Sometimes an individual wishes to obliterate all the affairs he considers unpleasant. This state is called tahawwur (audacity). And sometimes he keeps silent in the face of tyranny and finds himself hand tied in dispelling the misfortunes of life. This state of moderateness is called jubn (cowardice). However, sometimes the individual adopts a middle manner and observes equity. This state is called shuja ‘at (courage). Here as in the second category, the states are different. Someone may have a lot of courage and some other person a little of it; at any rate, he is in the same central kernel of the power of dispelling.

It is good for the individual to be in these three central kernels, that is theosophy, generosity, chastity and courage as someone who walks on a straight path and avoids walking in the bypasses. When man is in the main path, he shall definitely have different speeds. The one who is in the path should have different speeds as his situation necessitates. Therefore, equity does not mean stability or equality, but on the same path, going with speed is like equity. In this way, our leaders are the innocent Imams who manifest real equity with their conducts. If someone wishes to distinguish between the boundary of immoderacy and middle and move with balance along the path, they have to walk in the ways of those eminent Imams.

In view of what was said, justice is the outcome of the balance of the three human powers and can never be counted as an independent identity. The one who walks in the main path, is called just. If someone is in the middle of two powers, this means what is used in philosophy and major jurisprudence.

However, in minor jurisprudence, this does not have the same meaning; the just one is he who puts aside the prohibited and does the obligatory affairs. For instance, a person may not be courageous but minor jurisprudence regards him as being just whereas philosophy and major jurisprudence do not consider him so. Therefore, it must be noted that what we stated concerning the meaning of justice, is derived from the sayings of the sages and is common among them.

Of course, there have been and are people who reject this categorization and gives such criticisms: it is not obvious that every affair may have middle or immoderacy. Also, extravagance cannot be beyond the realm of justice. However in view of what was stated, it became evident that what they criticize does not hold any similarity with sayings of the sages, but fabricated by their minds.

The great sages, those who lived before Islam or before it, were all the followers of the Abrahamic prophets and these criticisms are not true about their sayings. As you observed, in the eyes of the sages, as soon as man steps into the main path, speeding up or walking slowly does not oppose to justice. And sometimes walking with speed is good. Before stepping into this path, the rule of “the best of affairs is the middle” is prevalent. However, after it, sometimes:

“Hasten then to precede each other in everything good”(1)

appears. All these are conditional upon the fact that man gets lesson from the evidences of justices as manifested in the sayings and conducts of the innocent Imams and distinguish his way from them so he may not fall into the pitfall of miseries and substitute immoderacy and middle with justice.

Justice is All-Pervasive

All human beings, no matter what language, tradition or culture they have, long for and love justice. That is why the Holy Qur’an has introduced the essence of everyone as being truth and justice.
“The Lord created you and bade you to justice.(2)

This justice in creation manifested itself in the way that God bestowed upon the universe whatever it required for existence and gave it whatever it needed to achieve its end:

“Our Lord is He who created everything and then guided it.(3)

So, justice and equity are located within the existential structure of everything and all creations have the essence of justice. By essence, no one goes beyond the realm of justice unless they assist the anti-essence factors. The Lord, who is in control of everything, has placed the straight path before the Cosmos and all creatures by nature strive for this straight path.

“There is no living creature but He holdeth it in His control by its forelock. Verily my Lord is on the Right path.” (4)

By virtue of this reason, the Holy Qur'an bids everyone to uphold justice:

“O ye who believe! Do stand firmly with justice. Witnesses for God's sake.”(5)

Here, the Holy Qur’an talks about qawam not qaim. This indicates the difficulty of upholding justice. Man should uphold justice through experience so he may reach from qa’imiyyat to qawwamiyat. There is many a time when man is seized with doubts concerning upholding justice. If someone overcomes these doubts and upholds justice, then he shall be the upholder of justice. It is through this process which man becomes impelled to ignore his personal benefits and avoids kinship in the way of justice. Here, for the sake of kinship, man ignores the truth.

“When ye speak, be just, though it be against a kinsman.” (6)

Here is why revenge does not become an excuse for tyranny.

“And let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably.”(7)

Hence the Holy Qur’an enjoins man not to use friendship as a way of immoderacy and enemy as a way of ignoring. This is the best way possible to avoid blindness arising from greed and animosity.

As everyone strives for justice, the Holy Qur’an bids everyone to justice. In his letter to Malik, Imam ‘Ali (A.S.) wrote, “Do not tyrannize over people like a voracious wolf, for people are of two kinds: either they are your brethren or your equal in creation.”(8)

This command of Imam Ali (A.S.) embodies all the teachings of the Holy Qur’an which bids the holy Prophet to uphold justice towards the non­Muslims. For instance, every time the people of the book find legal differences, and step into a Muslim court, the Prophet is given authority to either solve their problem himself or send them to the court of the people of the book.

“If they come unto thee judge between them or turn aside from them: and if thou turneth aside from them, then never shall they harm thee in any way, if thou judge, judge thou between them with equity; verily God loveth those who deal equitable.” (9)

The very same Qur’anic principle is prevalent in our jurisprudence and well indicates that the Holy Qur'an values all-pervasive justice.

Continue in the next article: ( Justice 3 )



1. The Quran: Surah al-Baqarah 2:148; & Surah al-Maidah 5:48

2. The Quran: Surah al-Infitar 82:7

3. The Quran: Surah Taha 20:50

4. The Quran: Surah Hud 11:56

5. The Quran: Surah an-Nisa 4:135; Surah al-Maidah 5:8

6. The Quran: Surah al-An’am 6:152

7. The Quran: Surah al-Maidah 5:8 & 2

8. Nahj al-Balaghah, letter 53, p.137, part 8.

9. The Quran: Surah al-Maidah 5:42