Justice – the foundation of peace

March 16th, 2012 @   -  No Comments

Peace and justice go hand in hand. History taught us that the absence of justice often leads to oppression, corruption and crimes. An Arab writer once said: “If the minister and his delegates rule despotically, and the judge on earth is unjust in his judgments, then woe, followed by woe after woe.”

Perceived injustice can lead to crime even within the family. This is illustrated in the story of Yusuf (AS) where his brothers perceived their father’s love for Yusuf (AS) and their youngest brother to be greater than his love for them. They said, “Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we.” From their point of view, their father was unjust. What was their reaction? They plotted to get rid of their own brother and these are the sons of a prophet. Consider what happens in ordinary families, organizations or societies when injustice is perceived?

So what stands in the way of justice? Here are two reasons and how we can deal with them.

1. Personal inclination – Greed and Favoritism

Suppose you submitted a proposal for a project and knowing that the committee was busy evaluating competing offers, you sent a small gift to the person in charge. This small gift might influence the decision maker to look more favorably at your proposal and may even cause you to win the bid. Such practices result in injustice towards other bidders. Despite that, they remain legal in some countries. What’s more, they can corrupt the employee who will expect gifts or ask for them from other suppliers and clients. This is how corruption starts to take root and spread in many organizations and societies.

Now suppose you are the decision maker; you could be a judge, a policeman, a civil servant, a project manager, a teacher, etc. If accepting gifts from clients or suppliers could influence your decision making process, then you have to reject it. If the aim of this gift is tobuy a decision directly from you or speeds up a service, then it is a bribe.  If left unchecked this practice could spread like cancer. What’s more, the cronies and the more powerful would be served first while the poor and weak would be passed over. In some countries,bribery is expected in every interaction with government officials; people have to bribe to obtain their driving licence or even a birth certificate. It makes life hard for everyone. For this reason, the prophet (PBUH) cursed the one who offers the bribe, the one who receives it, and the one who arranges it.

“And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly, nor seek access to judges by means of it in order that you may sinfully consume a portion of peoples’ wealth, while you know.” (Quran 2:188)

 

If I work in an organization or live in a country where corruption is the norm, what can I do? Some people in India came up with an innovative idea to fight corruption; they developed a website to expose it. Bribery has become commonplace in India; those who partake in it see its high rewards and low risk. By making these practices public, corruption becomes a lot riskier.

http://www.ipaidabribe.com/

This initiative empowers individuals. It shows that anyone can be turned from a victim of corruption and a part of the problem into a catalyst of change and a part of the solution. Similar websites have been set up in other countries.

2. Failing to obtain all the facts leads to injustice  

Two men came to Dawood (AS) to resolve their dispute. The first complainant said: “This is my brother; he has ninety nine ewes and I have one ewe; and he now says ‘Give that one also to me’ – and he is very demanding in speech.”

Dawood (AS) decided that the brother’s demand for the one ewe was unjust. Suddenly the two men vanished and Dawood (AS) realized that it was a test from Allah (SWT). He had made a decision without hearing the other side of the story.

Sometimes, media or ”spin doctors” use highly manipulative tactics that can distort information and influence our opinions and judgement about an individual or a certain group of people.

Similarly, a person or an employee can accuse or make a false claim about another person or co-worker by eloquently presenting their case like the man who complained to Dawood (AS).

When we fail to get all the facts and jump to conclusions, we may say the wrong thing or act unjustly towards the other party. Justice dictates that instead of reacting and making emotional decisions, we need to listen to the other side, investigate and hold off on making a judgment until we have all the facts.

“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Quran 49:6)

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