Justice — Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

“Be just; this is closest to being God-Conscious.”  ~ Qur’an 5:8

“Behold!  God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards one’s fellow beings.”  ~ Qur’an 16:90

“When an orphan cries, the throne of God shakes.”   ~ Hadith of Prophet Mohammad

God’s command for justice here on earth is no small matter.  Although God is the final judge of all affairs, we as human beings are also called to be just in our dealings with each other.  Inherent in this justice is not only the command to be equally honest and fair with each other in our everyday dealings, but also standing up for and protecting the rights of those who are disenfranchised, oppressed, marginalized, and those who have no one to protect them.  The Prophet Mohammad was adamant about the rights of orphans, widows, those who are poor, or enslaved.  “Freeing a slave from bondage,” is mentioned often in the Qur’an as an action of the highest merit.  

The Prophets and teachers of all religious faiths and in all times and places, lived the example of welcoming all people into their fold, regardless of race caste, gender, class or any other distinction.  All Prophets and Spiritual Guides have emphasized that human beings will be judged by God based on the content of their character and the good and righteous deeds they have performed throughout their lives.  Although no one is perfect, we are asked to continue to strive continually to improve ourselves, to ask forgiveness for our failings, and to ease the suffering of others at every opportunity.  The Prophet Micah said, “What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Jesus taught, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” And when he was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, the man who was a member of a rejected class himself, who rescued a stranger on the road who had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. The Dalai Lama says, “I try to treat whomever I meet as an old friend.  This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.  It is the practice of compassion.” The Prophet Mohammad said, “None of you will have faith until he wishes for his brother what he likes for himself.”  The Qur’an implores humankind to “quicken along the steep path,” which it defines as “…the freeing of one who is enslaved, or the giving of food in time of need to the orphan, or to the helpless, lowly one in the dust…”  (Qur’an 90:11-16).  This kind of justice requires us to go beyond mere charity, and to work towards structural changes in society. We have beautiful examples of this in so many great modern-day teachers as well, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Reverend Desmond Tutu. 

People in every corner of the world today are crying out for justice, equal treatment under the law, basic human rights, and dignity and respect for all people.  At times the problems of injustice in our world seem immense and insurmountable. Yet, in every family, every neighborhood, in our schools, workplaces and houses of worship, we can and must strive to reach these goals as individuals and as communities. 

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