Actually it is number plate; not ‘plate number’. But in the territory of the global village which I write from, it is commonly called ‘plate number’. It is ungrammatical and a serious breach of grammatical rule that would definitely nauseate a native speaker of English. It is a serious crime in language. It is like saying manpolice when you should say policeman. Keeper gate when you should say gatekeeper. Lord land when you should say landlord. LOL? I am also laughing! I tender my unreserved apology for the topic. I promise to use number plate in subsequent paragraphs. Just bear with me and be blessed. Thanks! Let’s turn to the real issue.
One of the most hallowed universal concepts is Justice. This has never been disputed and perhaps will remain so (indisputable) till the end of time. The point of dispute is in its conception. What follows is a conceptualization of Justice from Islamic hallowed perspective.
In every culture, clime and age, to be addressed as being just is admirable even if the addressee is known for injustice. Likewise, it is disgusting to a wrong doer to be identified with injustice and labelled unjust even if that perfectly qualifies him. In a nutshell, Justice is admirable and injustice is deplorable.
Islam conceptualizes Justice in a unique way that should baffle all right thinking people in the world. Its conceptualization makes a one-eighty degree turn from what is known to be Justice. A quick illustration: the Arabs before Islam held a common maxim which says ‘help your brother whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed’. This means you should help your brother ‘both in criminal acts or virtuous deeds. This is their sense of justice. And it is wrong to think it is peculiar to them. The maxim is practically manifested in the conducts of virtually all cultures and civilizations across the globe.
Yes! It is the reason why in Trump America, the whites must be loved and the blacks must be despised. It is the reason why in Nigeria when, and once, you migrate from an opposition party to a ruling party all your sins are forgiven ‘no matter how mountainous. It is also the reason why in Nigeria’s democracy the ethnic groups in the corridor of power dominate all parastatals and wield enormous influence. I do not need to narrow this to specifics. Your sense of justice will deluge you with many examples. Look at the national government, come down to the states, the local governments, the wards, and various institutions within them; the religion and ethnic of those leading them determine who gets what, when and how in the worst case; their families. They say it is politics! We retort (from Islamic point): it is injustice!
The Prophet (SAW) related differently with the maxim quoted above. The Prophet’s companions were initially confused. They marveled at the Prophet’s justification of a maxim which is apparently unjust. But the Prophet of mercy, with extraordinary sense of justice; endowed with words of wisdom said: ‘Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, O Allah’s messenger (SAW)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?! the Prophet (SAW) said,’By preventing him from oppressing others’ (Bukhari). JUSTICE becomes your NUMBER PLATE when you obey this Prophet’s instruction.
The Prophet’s explanation of the maxim implies: stand up for justice even if it were against yourselves; stand up in its support. If your espousal for Justice puts your parents in jeopardy; stand up for it. If it turns your relatives and friends against you; stand up for it. Being poor or rich, known or unknown, literate or illiterate, in authority or in obscurity; should never be reasons for travesty of Justice. In other words, tribalism, ethnicism, sectionalism, favoritism, cronyism, jingoism, nepotism, parochialism, ‘poorism’, ‘richism’, sadism, and what not; should never defeat our sense of Justice.
Even ‘poorism’ (favoring the poor)? Yes! Whether one is rich or poor, justice must be allowed to take its course. Islamic Justice does not have tribal mark. It has no respect for status. It has no sympathy for the poor when they conduct themselves immorally and criminally. Also, the rich are not spared from its sharp edges when they: ‘in respect to their responsibilities’ are found wanting.
Islamic justice according to the Qur’an is devoid of all forms of bias. Islam meticulously takes into consideration all the parasitic ‘isms’ that are capable of making a fertile land barren. These ‘isms’ thwart the germination of seeds of Justice anywhere and anytime they are sawn. The Qur’an addresses this ‘isms’ in a very clear term and in a single comprehensible verse. How great is Allah! He summarizes, in a single verse, what might require hundreds and thousands of PhD thesis pages to explain. It says: “O you who have believe! Stand out firm for justice, as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents or your relatives, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice. And if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do” (Q 4: 135).
This verse is pregnant with meanings but yet, easy to grasp (without explanation) by the weakest mind and the dullest brain. Every Muslim should make memorizing this verse (along with its meaning) a duty. I have instructed my students in Islaamiyah to do so, and I am also struggling to commit it to memory.
A practical demonstration of justice as espoused by Islam (and as read in the above verse) was recently seen in Zulum’s Borno Capital (Maiduguri) where/when a teacher of Igbo extraction and of Christian faith was graciously rewarded and triply promoted for punctuality and diligence in a near absolute Muslim dominated state (Borno). The Governor’s action explains how a Muslim in faith and practice behaves. I hope the Governor will continue to exhibit that glamorous Islam enshrined in the Qur’an and practiced by the Prophet. This is the Islam which many Muslims abandoned only to popularize an ‘Islam’ which promotes those destructive ‘isms’ and breeds serious misconceptions in the minds of non-Muslims. Islam is not only a peaceful religion, its justice, if understood, could attract the minds and souls of all non-Muslims to its fold.
This is where most of us failed. Failure to practice pristine Islam taught by the Prophet (SAW). If in this, you did not fail, give special thanks to Allah for not making you a failure. For acts of injustice, if they were deliberately committed against any human being, will surely be regretted on the day of resurrection. But what about the verse that says “Allah forgives all sins”? We shall turn to this next week Allah willing.
Nevertheless, before then, and right now, make a vow to Allah that you have desisted from acts of injustice. Promise Him that you are now an advocate of justice. Seek Him to help you in this noble path “path of justice”. And be informed that the dark spot on your forehead is not your only ID; this is apparent and could be misleading. Your real ID as a Muslim is when people (Muslims and non-Muslims) have sense of security when in contact with you because of your sense of justice. Therefore, let JUSTICE be written on your NUMBER PLATE. Let it be your watch word. Let it permeate all your conducts, activities, and engagements. We ask Allah to count us among the just ones.
Abdulkadir Salaudeen writes from Gashua
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