Friday Sermon: Maintain Justice and Believe

by Majeed Ali

27 October 1989 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore UK)

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Narrated by: Dr. M Saeed (The text of the sermon below was read out at the Friday sermon dated 1st March 2024)

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُوۡنُوۡا قَوّٰمِیۡنَ بِالۡقِسۡطِ شُہَدَآءَ لِلّٰہِ وَ لَوۡ عَلٰۤی اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ اَوِ الۡوَالِدَیۡنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبِیۡنَ ۚ اِنۡ یَّکُنۡ غَنِیًّا اَوۡ فَقِیۡرًا فَاللّٰہُ اَوۡلٰی بِہِمَا ۟ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الۡہَوٰۤی اَنۡ تَعۡدِلُوۡا ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَلۡوٗۤا اَوۡ تُعۡرِضُوۡا فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ کَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ خَبِیۡرًا ﴿۱۳۵﴾ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اٰمِنُوۡا بِاللّٰہِ وَ رَسُوۡلِہٖ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ الَّذِیۡ نَزَّلَ عَلٰی رَسُوۡلِہٖ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ الَّذِیۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّکۡفُرۡ بِاللّٰہِ وَ مَلٰٓئِکَتِہٖ وَ کُتُبِہٖ وَ رُسُلِہٖ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلٰلًۢا بَعِیۡدًا ﴿۱۳۶﴾ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ثُمَّ کَفَرُوۡا ثُمَّ اٰمَنُوۡا ثُمَّ کَفَرُوۡا ثُمَّ ازۡدَادُوۡا کُفۡرًا لَّمۡ یَکُنِ اللّٰہُ لِیَغۡفِرَ لَہُمۡ وَ لَا لِیَہۡدِیَہُمۡ سَبِیۡلًا ﴿۱۳۷﴾ؕ

“O you who believe, be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah, even if it is against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives — whether he is rich or poor, Allah has a better right over them both. So do not follow (your) low desires, that you deviate. And if you distort (the truth) or turn away (from it), surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do. O you who believe, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger and the Book which He revealed before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Books and His messengers and the Last Day, he indeed strays far away. Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor guide them in the (right) way” (The Holy Quran, 4:135–137).

In the first verse (4:135), Allah has enunciated a cardinal principle of administering justice. History tells us that the guiding principles of justice in different countries under different circumstances have never been uniform. In Indian society, in ancient times, Shudras (or Untouchables, as they were called and are still being termed) could never expect justice in its natural sense against an upper-class Hindu on the only plea that they belonged to the lowest strata [class or caste] of the Indian population and their religious injunctions did not allow a shudra to be equated with an upper-class citizen, much less a Brahmin, who was above the law.

After India, Egypt is the only country whose history is alive to a certain extent, whether through scriptures or through historical monuments. We see that [Prophet] Joseph [AS], who refused to be a party to an act of moral turpitude [a corrupt practice], was imprisoned although circumstantial evidence favoured him against the evasive assertions of an upper-class lady. Thus, justice was deliberately denied to Joseph simply because the real culprit belonged to a privileged class.

In Islam, the faithful is enjoined to maintain justice even if a person has to bear witness against himself or against his parents or siblings. The hands of a thief were cut off during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)], while someone had earlier pleaded for forgiveness for that person because he belonged to an influential family. The Holy Prophet flatly refused to listen to the intercessor, saying that:

“Had Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, committed this crime, her hands would have been chopped off.”

No consideration of the position of the culprit or a person against whom one has to bear witness must stand in the way of telling the truth, nor should the poverty of a person become a cause for a compassionate attitude. If the person so affected is poor, help him financially if he is hit hard, but in no case should a witness or statement be twisted or distorted.

You are not to follow your own whims. If justice is denied or is allowed to take a different turn, bear in mind that Allah is ever Aware of what you do, and you will have to account for your misdeeds.

In the second verse, believers are reminded to:

اٰمِنُوۡا بِاللّٰہِ وَ رَسُوۡلِہٖ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ الَّذِیۡ نَزَّلَ عَلٰی رَسُوۡلِہٖ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ الَّذِیۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ؕ

“believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger and the Book which He revealed before” (The Holy Quran, 4:136).

Stress on the believers (those who already believe) to believe means that mere lip confession is not sufficient unless substantiated by deeds. Faith must be translated into action, otherwise that is tantamount to disbelieving in Allah, His Messenger, and the Holy Quran. Believing includes a firm belief in the Last Day. That will be the day of accountability. Absence of the sense of accountability takes man far away from righteousness.

The third verse touches upon a notion wrongly attributed to Islam. In spreading the misgiving, some Muslims have also their contribution. It was said that whoever went outside the fold of Islam should be punished with death. In this respect, the Quran is absolutely clear. At one place, it says:

لَاۤ اِکۡرَاہَ فِی الدِّیۡنِ ۟ۙ قَدۡ تَّبَیَّنَ الرُّشۡدُ مِنَ الۡغَیِّ ۚ فَمَنۡ یَّکۡفُرۡ بِالطَّاغُوۡتِ وَ یُؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰہِ فَقَدِ اسۡتَمۡسَکَ بِالۡعُرۡوَۃِ الۡوُثۡقٰی ٭ لَا انۡفِصَامَ لَہَا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۵۶﴾

“There is no compulsion in religion — the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error. So whoever disbelieves in the devil and believes in Allah, he indeed lays hold on the firmest handle which shall never break. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing” (The Holy Quran, 2:256).

Despite clearly making distinct the right and the wrong, there is no compulsion whether one adopts Islam or another faith as his religion, although it leaves no doubt that the shunning of inordinacy is the firmest noose to lay hands on. In other words, submission to Allah (to become a Muslim) is the best way of life. Leaving it entirely to the free will of man, the Holy Quran has thrown open both ways to him, by saying:

وَ قُلِ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۟ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیُؤۡمِنۡ وَّ مَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیَکۡفُرۡ ۙ اِنَّاۤ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلظّٰلِمِیۡنَ نَارًا ۙ اَحَاطَ بِہِمۡ سُرَادِقُہَا ؕ

“And say: The Truth is from your Lord; so whoever wishes, let him believe, and whoever wishes, let him disbelieve. Surely We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire, an enclosure of which will encompass them” (The Holy Quran, 18:29).

Keeping up the same line of openness, the Holy Quran says on another occasion:

وَ مَنۡ یَّرۡتَدِدۡ مِنۡکُمۡ عَنۡ دِیۡنِہٖ فَیَمُتۡ وَ ہُوَ کَافِرٌ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ حَبِطَتۡ اَعۡمَالُہُمۡ فِی الدُّنۡیَا وَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ۚ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ اَصۡحٰبُ النَّارِ ۚ ہُمۡ فِیۡہَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱۷﴾

“And whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever — these it is whose deeds are fruitless in this world and the Hereafter. And they are the companions of the Fire: in it they will abide” (The Holy Quran, 2:217).

On no occasion has the punishment of turning away from Islam been prescribed to be death. The chastisement in the life hereafter has nothing to do with beheading one in this world. Adopting a certain faith as his religion has been left to the free will of a person. The earlier the wrong impression of putting to death of an apostate is removed, the better. As a matter of fact, whoever studies Islam thoroughly and follows the Islamic way of life, he cannot adopt any other life or course. When Islam has strong argument to offer, it does not stand in need of coercion. Compulsion is a sign of weakness.

بَارَکَ اللّٰهُ لَنَا وَلَکُمْ فِي الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِیْم،  وَنَفَعَنَا وَاِیَّاکُمْ بِالْآیَاتِ وَالذِّکْرِ الْحَکِیْم۔ اِنَّہٗ تَعَالیٰ جَوَادٌ کَرِیْمٌ مَلِکٌ بَرَّ رَوُوفُ رَّحَیْمٌ۔

“May Allah bless us all in the glorious Quran and may He let us benefit by His signs and wise remembrance. Verily Allah the Almighty is Generous, Affectionate, King, Most Kind, Compassionate and Merciful.”