Religious Legislation and Social Justice

Since the human consciousness realized injustice, it searched for justice in several forms, putting its perceptions of justice and injustice at the centre of his view on gods, the universe and man. The search for justice and deliverance from evil and injustice continued to resonate between heaven and earth until the establishment of the “Magna Carta” and the concept of justice in the age of Enlightenment entered the world of philosophers and thinkers, looking for solutions to the problems of humans being unequal in nature, emerging towards providing equal opportunities to them and making justice a goal to be achieved through the social system. But this social system has remained practically and theoretically absent from the reality of the Arab countries, which are mired in many problems, values of social justice are denied at all levels, so that the peoples of the region live waiting for heaven’s justice instead of imposing its achievement on governments as a demanding goal.

Justice between earth and heaven

The absence of justice has led mankind to place his/her perceptions of justice as a value linked to the cosmic system, managed by deities controlling human destinies. The sense of injustice of all kinds led to the establishment of the equation justice – good versus evil – injustice, demanding a balance of justice in punishment and reward recorded in the panels of delayed punishments as an imagined system to stop injustice.

However, the divine law of justice was based on mankind’s pleasing the gods to be a favor that requires petition and supplication, not as a merit or in response to a need. Justice was only transformed into merit when it was transformed into canons by the agents of the gods, who found that a sense of injustice did not allow the establishment of a stable human order.

This is what was presented in the second millennium BC by Hammurabi, the Babylonian king (1792-1750) BC, who formulated justice as a law consistent with controlling the severity of the nobles’ oppression of slaves and preventing them from being harmed, controlling the rebellion of slaves against the nobles. Justice was in line with the division that prevailed in Babylon to organize social life according to three layers, and it was far from being (every law is just).

Religions and Heavenly Justice

The concept of justice for religions as a supreme legislative system based on the separation between absolute good as the opposite of evil and justice as the opposite of injustice has multiple faces and varied connotations. Which made the implementation of justice extend between earth and heaven, to urge justice and reward in the hereafter, between heaven and earth, urging good deeds and obedience to the Sharia to ensure the common good according to a specific system, which considers absolute justice a supreme issue (for God alone), and to achieve it is a deferred matter (punishment and reward in the Hereafter).

But what religions have provided has taken on different manifestations in line with the societies in which they were established. These societies are far from the ideal of ​​equality among all groups of society, such as women and slaves, so that their exclusion is a watershed in the view of justice. Especially with the transformation of religions into religious institutions, having their own legislative system, which is called binding law as a divine will. This concept, in its implementation, shifts away from the concept of justice based on human equality, opening the consolidation of social bonds in what resembles some general laws to regulate the relationship of individuals to each other within a legislative framework that simulates what religious books implanted in the conceptions of supreme justice and its conditions in obedience and retribution from a divine domain to a positive system of justice on earth. This system is based on transferring the condition of obedience from obedience to God to obedience to kings and those in authority, and transferring deferred retribution to dispositive retribution that has different origins among religions.

Religious Legislation and Social Justice

Since work began to define the competencies of the state and religion and the complementarity between them, complementarity has turned into a disturbing overlap that moves away from the goals of justice and the civil state. Subsequently, the implementation of human rights and justice in its comprehensive concept was moved away, narrowing the boundaries of justice in its meaning, based on the common good and good deeds as a goal for all human beings, sometimes within the same group.

Justice of compliance with the law in the social contract

Justice did not come to subjugate the individual and bind it to ends that make it a means; rather, the individual is an end in itself and justice is only a tool to protect individual freedom, in a way that makes the individual’s exercise of its own freedom not conflict with the freedom of others. The different propositions among thinkers made justice as a law different from the concept of every law is a priori just and based on a social contract that preserves rights and establishes a political system in which citizens are equal before the law, equal in enjoying political rights without discrimination based on religion, gender or social origin.

The problem of applying justice in the religious sense in the contemporary time

The development and change in the view of justice in reality has contributed to many problems, starting with the West, being forced to break out of the interdependence of religious and political tracks and separation between them, by demarcating the boundaries between religious thought and social reality, by rendering “unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”, then the implementation of the secularization of states and the separation of religion from the state. This was not underdone by Islamic countries, failing to achieve justice and being content with religious statements or texts, considering that “justice is the virtue and great value of Islam.” In addition that there are nearly three hundred verses of the Qur’an, evidence of the centrality of justice in Islam, and the verses that urged justice, warned against injustice and commanded the truth, amounted to nearly a thousand verses, as did Jamal al-Banna in his book on “Justice theory in European thought and Islamic Thought.”

The question of justice is not related to what religions have presented, but rather to the mechanism of applying justice and its legal comprehensiveness not excluding anyone. This requires an enlightening pause that takes into account the variables of the concept and the maintenance of balance of justice in order to neutralize religion from the forms of injustice that have been attached to it, as well as from the disturbing overlap in reconciling the will of God and the will of mankind. The victory of metaphysical justice and its existence as a religious virtue will only remain fraught with dangers resulting from the non-compliance of human beings to act in a just manner towards each other and captive to societal and political systems that stray from the goals of justice and the civil state, as they are not characterized by equality and do not have a precise legal formulation to achieve social justice.

Therefore, it is necessary to find a possibility to transfer perceptions from deferred justice to achievable justice, by working to save these abandoned societies of the natural inequality imposed by societal reality (heritage, traditions) or class that is produced by economic expediency or human interests and selfishness.

Conclusion

In the contemporary world, it is no longer possible to proceed with the implementation of justice on the basis of religious thinking and the religious community, nor on the foundations of authoritarian states that did not adopt the idea of ​​the social contract, as justice has become a human value that cannot be absent and is linked to human rights and the interest of humanity as a whole. And if it has not yet found its implementations at the global level, which is mired in the system of inequality between countries, and far from considering justice as a humane and applicable need, the achievement of social justice will remain the carrier of all the values ​​and ideals that regulate the relationship of the individual with society. Justice lies at the heart of the philosophy of morality and politics, and it is the virtue on which social institutions are founded and dreamed of by many peoples isolated from the growth possibility and governed by tyrannical ideas, in which values of justice ​​are neglected, as they are content to search for justice in the potential divine promise.

All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center.