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Spirituality and Social Justice 10 April 2006

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR, Politics, Spirituality, Theology.

Islam is the integrated, organic merger between religion and justice.  For so many people, the spiritual religions (i.e., Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) provide internal comfort, but do not provide for them social justice.  For so many people, the political religions (ie. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, etc.) provide social organization, but do not provide spiritual fulfillment.

That is not to say that the spiritual religions are void of justice.  Of course not.  Not only can we easily find many justice-oriented traditions in each of these religious outlooks, but each of these outlooks have also given birth to many justice-oriented movements throughout history.  And, from the Islamic perspective, all of the Prophets -p, came to reform their societies.

But, why is Islam different?  Justice is an obligation.  The Muslim does not have the privilege of tolerating injustice. 

You cannot divide the Prophet Muhammad's -p- work into two neat categories (of religion and justice).  Try.  You can't do it.

Consider this passage in the Qur'an:
يأيها الذين امنوا كونوا قوامين لله شهداء بالقسط ولا يجرمنكم شنان قوم علي الا تعدلوا اعدلوا هو اقرب للتقوي واتقوا الله ان الله خبير بما تعملون

<em>"O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do."
–al-Ma'idah 5:8, Pickthall translation</em>

So, is the above passage providing a comment on religion or a comment on justice?  The two are one.

Or, consider this passage:

واذا الموؤودة سئلت
باي ذنب قتلت

<em>"And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked
For what sin she was slain,"
–al-Takwir 81:8-9, Pickthall translation</em>

In this passage, the context among its neighboring passages is the Day of Judgment, being the ultimate day of repayment.  And, as we know from history, it was a practice of the pre-Islamic Arabs to bury their infant daughters.  What is the passage providing?  Social critique. 

Again, we see religion tied directly into social justice.

An honest Muslim cannot limit his/her Islam to private practice.  So long as there is hunger in his/her neighborhood.  So long as individuals are exploiting the needs of others, a Muslim cannot find complete serenity in prostration.

Rather, the prostration is fuel.  Prostration is foundation.  We stand in prayer as a source of strength for standing for justice. 

Now, let us look at the work of the Prophet Muhammad -p.  If we look at him as purely a religious leader, then his biography does not make sense.  If his sole goal was to develop a community of believers, he should have emigrated to Ethiopia and lived under the protective custody of the King. 

If we look at the Prophet Muhammad -p as purely a political leader, then his biography does not make sense.  If his sole goal was to obtain political authority for his newly founded community, then he should have accepted his Tribe's offers of leadership.

If, however, we look at the Prophet's -p- mission as a movement to reform society, to establish justice, to provide an environment conducive to service to God, the whole of his biography makes sense.  It is an organic whole, dedicated to establishing "Islam."

Muhammad's -p- calling was to invite each and every person to God.  In every phase of his movement, we see his connection with God tied directly to social critique and social justice.  These different facets are inseparable. 



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