4. The Enemies of Justice

By , April 26, 2011 12:53 am

From the Sunday Symposium held in the Ihsan Mosque.

4. THE ENEMIES OF JUSTICE

If justice is symbolised by the scales, an unjust social transaction is when the scales are uneven. However, the enemies of justice are the third party who tamper with the scales. This tampering occurs in business by the imposition of a valueless medium of exchange, in the rule of law by the commercialisation of the legal process resulting in the exemption of élites, and in the family by the obliteration of meaningful distinctions between the man, woman and child.

The Enemies of Justice

Delving into this vast topic, we are necessarily turning to consider injustice, and it is vital that while we do so we do not forget that Allah’s justice is absolute and that we know as much of the workings of all the interconnected destinies as an ant knows of the pattern of a Persian carpet as it struggles through its fibres, or perhaps even less.

Lest we treat this matter too abstractly and philosophically, it is well to remember that daily we read of terrible injustices in the media, one of the worst being those very media’s connivance at injustice and selling it to us as perfectly normal everyday occurrences. So this matter has a great deal of urgency. However, if we were to concern ourselves with injustice itself, we would get nowhere and be dead before we had got there. The unjust person hurts the person towards whom he is unjust and, in the short and long-term, himself. There is something more pernicious and infinitely more dangerous, more fundamental than injustice, and that we have characterised as enmity to justice.

If we think of one dimension of justice we can use the image of the scales, its universal symbol. It indicates a transaction, an exchange in which equivalent values are exchanged. Injustice is represented by one of the two pans outweighing the other because one party takes a more for himself rather than tending to the fairness of the exchange. In this image, we characterise enmity to justice as the act of the person who changes the nature of the scales themselves so that they never give a just transaction. He moves the fulcrum or in some other way determines that justice is never done. This is the issue that we have to spot and be alert to, for from this simple act a million injustices spring, and by addressing it a million are solved.

Trade

An example of that is in the realm of trade. All trade is intrinsically barter, but we have a medium of exchange to facilitate trade. This medium of exchange acts as the fulcrum of our scales for it comes in between the two parties to the transaction. Debase it, and every transaction is debased. The medium of exchange ought itself to be something of value and thus a store for value. Change that, and issue a paper currency, and you will have what we have just experienced: a bank that one day was worth $174 a share being sold for $2 a share. And that is only the tip of an iceberg. Thus we would characterise this currency of paper as an enemy of justice, just as are those who institute it, support it, enforce it, and use it to benefit themselves and their coterie. Thus scholars define usury as any transaction in which one of the two parties stipulates an excess for himself without any corresponding value given. Note that every word we have for this, from usury to interest is a euphemism.

Equality

An example that touches on a great deal of our transactions and our lives is in the basic concept that we handle daily: equality. When I heard Barack Obama evoke this concept in what was a widely admired speech, then I knew that he is one of the enemies of justice. And yet equality has come to be regarded as an unquestionable synonym for justice itself, but there is nothing in existence that is equal to anything else. That only occurs in mathematics, in the realm of number. Are all people equal? Certainly not. Are any two people equal? Absolutely not. To assert so, is to do both of them an injustice. Does any of the power élite really believe in equality? Clearly not. Do the masses believe in it? No, neither do they. Are men and women equal? Thankfully not. There is a complementarity that is destroyed if they are made equal. We need in reality to seek out all the inequalities that we can, for to to realise the inequalities will be to do justice to each individual, whereas to assert equality reduces them all to masses that have to be manipulated, coerced and deceived.

How does this concept of equality, substituted for justice, interfere even in our personal relations as families and communities.

The poor

There is an aspect of justice which is not transactional based, for transactions happen between peers, but there are, always have been and probably always will be the poor. Therefore justice in transacting with them is not going to be in the exchange of goods with them, and indeed including them in an exclusively transaction-based society has degraded them utterly. What is the nature of justice to the poor? An open question.

Deen

All of this we recognise as being deen, the concern of deen. Deen encompasses the transactions between us and the Divine and between us as human beings. In the transactions between us and Allah, He has created us from nothing when we were previously nothing and sustains us in every conceivable way. How does one know the balance point in this transaction, for human beings vary between utterly ignoring the debt due the Creator and total asceticism and dedication? In other words, where is the fulcrum that establishes the point of balance? That is the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Concerned as we are for establishing who are the enemies of justice, then we recognise that generally it involves the act of replacing the fulcrum. And this fulcrum in reality determines all the other fulcrums we have considered.

What are the ways in which, in the age in which we live, that fulcrum has been replaced and with what consequences?

 

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