In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Abdullah ibn Amr, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
الْمُقْسِطِينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَلَى مَنَابِرَ مِنْ نُورٍ عَنْ يَمِينِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكِلْتَا يَدَيْهِ يَمِينٌ الَّذِينَ يَعْدِلُونَ فِي حُكْمِهِمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ وَمَا وَلُوا
Verily, those who were fair will be in the presence of Allah upon pulpits of light, near the right hand of the Merciful, the Exalted, and both of His sides are right (being equal in honor); those who practiced justice in their rulings and with their families and in all that they did.
Source: Sahih Muslim 4493, Grade: Sahih
True righteousness is, in fact, to fulfill the rights of Allah and the rights of people. Just as we must fulfill our duties to our Creator, we must also fulfill our duties to the creation.
Ibn Taymiyyah reported that the scholars of Islam would say:
الصَّالِحُ الْقَائِمُ بِحُقُوقِ اللَّهِ وَحُقُوقِ عِبَادِهِ
The righteous person is one who fulfills the rights of Allah and His servants.
Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 7/57
In contrast, oppression is the violation of the rights of people. Islam has forbidden all forms of oppression great and small.
Abu Dharr, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
عَنْ اللَّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى أَنَّهُ قَالَ يَا عِبَادِي إِنِّي حَرَّمْتُ الظُّلْمَ عَلَى نَفْسِي وَجَعَلْتُهُ بَيْنَكُمْ مُحَرَّمًا فَلَا تَظَالَمُوا
Allah the Exalted said: O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself and have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2577, Grade: Sahih
Oppression will come on the Day of Judgment in the form of darkness and punishment.
Jabir ibn Abdullah, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
اتَّقُوا الظُّلْمَ فَإِنَّ الظُّلْمَ ظُلُمَاتٌ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَاتَّقُوا الشُّحَّ فَإِنَّ الشُّحَّ أَهْلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ حَمَلَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْ سَفَكُوا دِمَاءَهُمْ وَاسْتَحَلُّوا مَحَارِمَهُمْ
Guard yourself from oppression, for oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection. Guard yourself from greed, for greed destroyed those before you. It caused them to shed blood and to make lawful what was unlawful.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2578, Grade: Sahih
The Prophet, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, warned us about the supplications of the oppressed, even from unbelievers, because Allah always responds to them.
Anas ibn Malik, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
اتَّقُوا دَعْوَةَ الْمَظْلُومِ وَإِنْ كَانَ كَافِرًا فَإِنَّهُ لَيْسَ دُونَهَا حِجَابٌ
Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, even if he is an unbeliever, for there is no screen between it and Allah.
Source: Musnad Ahmad 12140, Grade: Sahih
Oppression is often the result of tribalism (al-asabiyyah), a major sin in which people support their tribe or country when they are committing injustice. It is typified in modern times by the slogan, “My country right or wrong.”
Wathilah ibn al-Asqa, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: I asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is tribalism?” The Prophet, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
أَنْ تُعِينَ قَوْمَكَ عَلَى الظُّلْمِ
It is that you help your people in wrongdoing.
Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 5100, Grade: Hasan
Islam has forbidden all forms of tribalism in the strongest terms and equated such thinking with the pre-Islamic ignorance of idol worship.
Ibn Abdullah al-Bajali, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
مَنْ قُتِلَ تَحْتَ رَايَةٍ عِمِّيَّةٍ يَدْعُو عَصَبِيَّةً أَوْ يَنْصُرُ عَصَبِيَّةً فَقِتْلَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ
Whoever is killed under the banner of blind following, who calls to tribalism or supports tribalism, then he has died upon ignorance.
Source: Sahih Muslim 1850, Grade: Sahih
Muslims should never be blind followers of any leader who commits injustice, but rather should stand for justice even when it is difficult.
Hudhaifa, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
لَا تَكُونُوا إِمَّعَةً تَقُولُونَ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَحْسَنَّا وَإِنْ ظَلَمُوا ظَلَمْنَا وَلَكِنْ وَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَنْ تُحْسِنُوا وَإِنْ أَسَاءُوا فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا
Do not let yourselves become blind followers, saying that if the people are good then we will be good, and if they are unjust then we will be unjust. Rather, make up your own minds. If the people are good then be good, but if they are evil then do not be unjust.
Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2007, Grade: Hasan
Despite the emphasis of Islam on justice, it is recommended for Muslims to be merciful and forgiving when injustice is committed against them. For example, Islamic law gives the murder victim’s family the right to seek legal retaliation. However, it is better to remit this right by way of charity and mercy.
وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَا أَنَّ النَّفْسَ بِالنَّفْسِ وَالْعَيْنَ بِالْعَيْنِ وَالْأَنفَ بِالْأَنفِ وَالْأُذُنَ بِالْأُذُنِ وَالسِّنَّ بِالسِّنِّ وَالْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌ فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِ فَهُوَ كَفَّارَةٌ لَّهُ
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 expiation for him.
Surat Al-Mai’dah 5:45
Whenever a case involving legal retaliation was referred to the Prophet, he would always recommend being patient and forbearing.
Anas ibn Malik, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported:
مَا رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رُفِعَ إِلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ فِيهِ قِصَاصٌ إِلَّا أَمَرَ فِيهِ بِالْعَفْوِ
I never saw a case involving legal retaliation being referred to the Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, except that he would command pardoning the criminal.
Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4497, Source: Sahih
This is because all human beings are flawed and in need of Allah’s mercy. If Allah sought complete justice for all of our sins, we would be punished severely. Rather, Allah has written in creation the principle that mercy should overcome wrath.
Abu Huraira, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:
لَمَّا قَضَى اللَّهُ الْخَلْقَ كَتَبَ فِي كِتَابِهِ فَهُوَ عِنْدَهُ فَوْقَ الْعَرْشِ إِنَّ رَحْمَتِي غَلَبَتْ غَضَبِي
When Allah decreed the creation, He wrote in His Book which is with Him on His Throne: My mercy prevails over My wrath.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 3022, Grade: Sahih
Therefore, we must stand for justice for all people and the fulfillment of their rights, but we should stand for mercy when injustice is committed against us and our rights are violated.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.