Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 5, 2011

The Importance, Subtlety and Surprise of Justice

I’ve had a bit of a continuous hunch lately. I guess thats how knowledge can come sometimes, through hunches.

In light of world events I can’t help but think about social justice. Justice is very highly valued in the hierarchy of Islamic values. Firstly, we all know that all things in this world work towards the End, which will be our hisab and Reckoning of our deeds and lives before Allah. So all things, in this sense work towards justice, and justice therefore is a function of time.

Secondly, there is the hadith of the 3 duas that are mustajab (accepted) by Allah:

The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wasalam) said to Mua’ad Ibn Jabal (RA), ‘Beware of the supplication of the unjustly treated, because there is no shelter or veil between it (the supplication of the one who is suffering injustice) and Allah (SWT)’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) declared, ‘Three men whose dua is never rejected (by Allah) are: the fasting person until he breaks his fast (in another narration, when he breaks fast), the just ruler and the one who is oppressed.'[Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi]

Allah gives these duas acceptance. They are all related to justice- 1)The fasting person: how can Allah reject or delay the dua of a fasting person who has delayed his hunger for Allah’s sake? 2) How can Allah reject the dua of a just ruler, who has followed Allah’s Sunnah of justice, and then not receive the same from Allah? Furthermore, a just ruler is a sign of a just population and so the dua of a ruler is in a sense taken also on part of all the people he rules, especially in their righteousness. So if the dua of a just leader is rejected, then how can the dua of others amongst his subjects be accepted? 3) How can Allah not answer the dua of the oppressed when there is none else to answer it?  Of course, Allah is All-Powerful- but I’m just drawing attention to the Justice of Allah and its great importance.  Also the just ruler is one of the persons that will be shaded by Allah on Yawmul Qiyamah.* And some interpret this to mean, any person in a position of leadership- whether that be a father over the family or a mother over her children, or a big brother over the younger siblings or a community leader.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most thought-provoking, another hadith narrates that no babies spoke in the cradle except 3 (and some say 4). The hadith (see below)** mentions Isa alayhi salam, Juraij, and another mother from the Bani Israel, and others mention the story of Ashabul Ukduud where a baby speaking to the mother to become a martyr. What you will notice is that Allah made all the babies speak out of some impetus for justice. He made Isa alayhi salam speak to absolve his mother of charges of indecency, the baby in the story of Juraij spoke for a similar reason, the child of the Bani Israel mother spoke to differentiate a man that was a tyrant from a girl that was falsely accused. Allah made miracles speak to justice.

All three stories demonstrate the importance of speaking out, even as a child. If babies can speak out against injustice, then surely we can too! Also I believe there is something of a divine sign in the fact Allah made babies speak out for justice as a reminder to us that on Yawmul Qiyamah our limbs will speak to Allah about the injustice and good we did.  If He can make babies speak, (a little person incapable of speech) then surely He can make our limbs, (the constituent parts of a person with the gift of speech), speak as well. I think there is another important reminder in the story of Ashabul Ukhdud in that, Allah made the baby speak to its mother to give her courage, about the connection between the babies that spoke for justice, and a baby that spoke for courage- that courage is connected with justice. Or perhaps there is also a connection there to courage and youth, because another hadith mentions that children are a cause for cowardice in parents.

There are other examples of miracles occurring that relate to justice, like when a camel explained to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) the harm its owner was doing to it, or when Sulayman alayhi salam heard the words of the ants who were afraid of him and his army, or when the Hoopoo bird spoke to defend itself and save itself from Sulayman alayhi salam punishing it.

I think this is important to think about and how Allah can mobilize anything from birds, ants, camels, limbs, babies, to duas, to His shade all for justice in His universe. From the smallest, minutest and the most neglected of things there can come great justice. Justice can be surprising. There is no escape. That is a scary thought.


*Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears.” (Sahih Bukhari)

**Narrated Abû Huraira : The Prophet (saaws) said, “None spoke in the cradle but three: (The first was) Jesus, (the second child was): There was a man from Banî Israel called Juraij. While he was offering prayer, his mother came and called him. He said (to himself), “Shall I answer her or keep on praying?” (He went on praying and did not answer her).

His mother said, “O Allah! Do not let him die till he sees the faces of prostitutes.” So while he was in his hermitage, a lady came and sought to seduce him, but he refused. So she went to a shepherd and presented herself to him to commit illegal sexual intercourse with her, and then later she gave brith to a child and claimed that it belonged to Juraij. The people, therefore, came to him and dismantled his hermitage and expelled him out of it and abused him. Juraij performed ablution and offered prayer, and then came to the child and said: “O child! Who is your father?” The child replied, “The shepherd” (afteer hearing this) the people said, “We shall rebuild your hermitage of gold,” but he said: “No, of nothing but mud.”

(The third was the hero of the following story): A lady from Banî Israel was nursing her child at her breast when a handsome rider passed by her. She said, “O Allah! Make my child like him.” on that the child left her breast and, facing the rider said: “O Allah! Do not make me like him.” The child then started to suck her breast again. [(Abû Huraira further said, “As if I were now looking at theProphet sucking his finger (in way of demonstration.”)]. After a while they (some people) passed by, with a lady slave and she (i.e. the child’s mother) said, “O Allah! Do not make my child like this (slave girl)!” On that the child left her breast, and said, “O Allah! Make me like her.” When she asked why, the child replied, “The rider is one of the tyrants while this slave girl is falsely accused of theft and illegal sexual intercourse.”

Hadith – Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, No. 645

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. Wonderful perspective on social justice. Thank you very much for this article brother Dawud.

  2. thank you for this article… read it at an important time in my life where I am looking for answers and it really has helped…. thank you

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