Justice In the Life of Messenger of Allah (Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him), By Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Brothers and Sisters! Allah says regarding Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):
“You are surely of a sublime character, and do act by a sublime pattern of conduct.” [Quran, 68:4]
“We have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” [Quran, 33:21]
Servants of Allah! Before the duty of apostleship was entrusted to him (Peace be upon him), justice, with all its fine points, was instilled in him as a nucleus as a result of divine training. As a result, from the time of his childhood, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) remained outside the moral degeneration of the societies in the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah period). He opposed oppression and injustice in his youth, and he joined the Hilful Fudul association which was formed for this purpose. As in the case of his acting as referee regarding the Ka’abah, people of that time took refuge in his sense of justice during times of dissention. Those who had made business partnership or traveled with him in the period before Islam affirmed the following on his behalf:
“He neither violated other’s rights nor did he allow his rights to be violated. On the subject of rights, he did not listen to his own or others feelings.” [Ibn Hisham]
My people! Justice is expressed as “Adl, Qist” and “Mizan” in the Quran. In the following Qur’anic verses:
“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin.” [Quran, 16:90]
“We sent… that men may stand forth in justice.” [Quran, 57:25]
And justice was placed on the shoulders of believers as a mandatory command. Also, it is indicated that justice is the common characteristic of Angels and Scholars in the following verse:
“His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice.” [Quran, 3:18]
The Quran also reminds:
“As to those who … slay (kill) those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous penalty.” [Quran, 3:21]
Brothers and Sisters! Justice is a noble moral and a magnificent characteristic which is attractive to people, infuses hope in the hearts of the wronged, and the unjust pay utmost concern for it. By virtue of justice, matters return to their normal and right path; rights are returned to their owners, people are happy and life is rectified. Welfare and peace are present as long as there is justice, if justice is absent people will be miserable.
Justice is a moral of those who are great, a feature of those who are pious; it is the hope of the righteous and the way to success for the believers in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. Justice was constituent in the character of the Prophets, the Messengers, the righteous, the leaders, the mentors, and above all, the seal of the Messengers, the master of humans, Muhammad enjoyed the greatest share of it.
Justice was an aspect of the great character of the Prophet. He practiced it before Allah, the Almighty, in his dealings with others, with his relatives and with others, his friends, his associates, his antagonists and even his stubborn enemies. Allah ordered him to be just; Allah Says:
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” [Quran, 5:8]
Therefore, the Prophet obeyed the Orders of Allah in all his affairs, adopting justice with his Companions and enemies.
He would never deny anyone justice, even with those who objected to him and showed an unfavourable attitude towards him. He would rather forgive them, as in this story. Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“While he was in Yemen, Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, sent a gold-nugget to the Prophet who consequently divided it among four persons: Al-Aqra Ibn Habis Al-Hanthali, Uyaynah Ibn Badr Al-Fazari, Alqamah Ibn Ulathah Al-Amiri (a man from Banu Kilab), and Zaydul-Khayr At-Ta’i, who was a man from Banu Nabhan, may Allah be pleased with him. Thereupon, the Quraysh got angry because the Prophet bestowed gifts on the chiefs of Najd and ignored them. The Prophet justified this action by saying that he favoured them to soften their hearts. Afterwards, a man with a thick beard, prominent cheekbones, hollow eyes, a domed forehead and a shaved head came to the Prophet telling him to fear Allah. Thereupon, the Prophet said:
“Who then would obey Allah if I disobeyed Him? Does Allah the Almighty entrust me with your affairs on earth while you do not?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Servants of Allah! Such great character is clearly highlighted in a most beautiful manner when the Prophet asked a person to seek retaliation from himself. Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
“While the Prophet was dividing something among people, a man came and attached himself to him. The Prophet slapped him with a date stalk. The man went out and the Prophet called him to retaliate. However, he told the Prophet that he had forgiven him.” [An-Nasa’i]
Moreover the Prophet always showed justice and hated to be distinguished from his Companions. Instead he loved equality and endured difficulties from them. Ibn Mas‘ud, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
“On the day of the battle of Badr, every three persons would ride on one camel in turns. The Prophet had to do so with his two Companions: Abu Lubabah and Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. When it was the turn of the Prophet to walk, the two Companions offered to walk instead of him. However he refused and said that they were not stronger than him, and he was in need of Allah’s reward just as they were in need of it.” [Ahmad]
Brothers and Sisters! Practicing justice within the context of his family was not brought to a halt when the Prophet was occupied with directing the affairs of the state or being engaged in battles. He used to apportion among his wives, invoking Allah, The Almighty, not to blame him for his special love or affection paid to certain wives; as reported in a Hadith narrated by At-Tirmithi, but it was classified as weak.
Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet said:
“If the Prophet wanted to set out on a journey, he would draw lots among his wives so that one of them would accompany him.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
“A wife of the Prophet sent to him food in a bowl as a gift. However Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, hit the bowl so the food fell out and the bowl broke. Therefore, the Prophet said: “The spilled food has to be compensated for by other [food], and the broken bowl has to be compensated by another.” [At-Tirmithi – (Hasan) and Al-Bukhari (with different wording)]
In passing judgment among quarrelling persons, the Prophet was perfectly fair and never committed any injustice. Haram Ibn Muhayyisah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated on the authority of his father that a female-camel belonged to Al-Bara’ Ibn Azib, may Allah be pleased with him, entered a garden belonging to a man and caused damage there. Thus, the Prophet judged that protection of property was the responsibility of its owners during the daytime and the owners of cattle had to keep them during night. This is according to a Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad.
The Prophet did not approve suspension of the prescribed punishment set by Allah, The Almighty, to administer justice among people, even if the criminal was his relative or favourite. When a woman from Banu Makhzum tribe committed theft, the Prophet rejected the intercession of Usamah, may Allah be pleased with him, for her and said his famous words:
“O people, what led to the destruction of the nations preceding you was their acquittal of the noble person if he committed theft and infliction of the punishment on the weak if he committed theft. By Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, committed theft I would cut her hand off.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Also the Prophet used to order his Companions to administer justice in all matters and to achieve balance. Addressing Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn Al-As, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet said:
“O Abdullah Ibn Amr, I have been informed that you observe daily fasting and perform voluntary night prayers the whole night. Do not do so, for your body, your eyes and your wife have due rights upon you.” [Muslim]
Through this noble character, the Prophet could draw people’s attention to him, stimulate their feelings towards his sublime principles and set a unique method for the best nation – the Muslims – who guide all humanity to observe justice and obliterate oppression and injustice.
My Respected Brothers and Sisters! The Prophet asked people to be just and kind. As the supreme judge and arbiter, as the leader of Muslims, as generalissimo of a rising power, as a reformer and apostle, he had always to deal with people and their affairs. He had often to deal with mutually inimical and warring tribes when showing justice to one carried the danger of antagonising the other, and yet he never deviated from the path of justice. In administering justice, he made no distinction between believers and nonbelievers, friends and foes, high and low. From numerous instances reported in the Hadiths, a few are given below:
“Sakhr, a chief of a tribe, had helped the Prophet greatly in the siege of Ta’if, for which he was naturally obliged to him. Soon after, two charges were brought against Sakhr: one by Mughirah, may Allah be pleased with him, of illegal confinement of his (Mughirah’s) aunt and the other by Banu Salim of forcible occupation of his spring by Sakhr. In both cases, he decided against Sakhr and made him undo the wrong.” [Abu Dawud]
“Abdullah Ibn Sahl, may Allah be pleased with him, was deputed to collect rent from Jews of Khaybar. His cousin Mahisah, may Allah be pleased with him, accompanied him but, on reaching Khaybar, they had separated. Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, was waylaid and done to death. Mahisah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported this tragedy to the Prophet but as there were no eye witnesses to identify the guilty, he did not say anything to the Jews and paid the blood-money out of the state revenues.” [Al-Bukhari]
As mentioned earlier:
“A woman of the Makhzum family with good connections, the daughter of big men was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraysh, some prominent people including Usamah Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying: “Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the elite and exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad’s (My) daughter Fatimah would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed.” [Al-Bukhari]
“The Jews, in spite of their hostility to the Prophet were so impressed by his impartiality and sense of justice that they used to bring their cases to him and he decided them according to Jewish law.” [Abu Dawud]
“Once, while he was distributing the spoils of war, people flocked around him and one man almost fell upon him. He pushed the man with a stick causing a slight abrasion. He was so sorry about this that he told the man that he could have his revenge, but the man said: “O messenger of Allah, I forgive you.” [Abu Dawud]
“In his fatal illness, the Prophet proclaimed in a concourse assembled at his house that if he owed anything to anyone the person concerned could claim it; if he had ever hurt anyone’s person, honour or property, he could have his price while he was yet in this world. A hush fell on the crowd. One man came forward to claim a few Dirhams which were paid at once.” [Ibn Hisham]
Servants of Allah! Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) asked people to shun notions of racial, tribal, family, regional or any other form of superiority based on mundane things and said that righteousness alone was the criterion of one’s superiority over another. It has already been shown how he mixed with everyone on equal terms, how he ate with slaves, servants and the poorest on the same sheet (a practice that is still followed in Arabia), how he refused all privileges and worked like any ordinary labourer. Two instances may, however, be quoted here:
“Once the Prophet visited Sa’ad Ibn Ubadah, may Allah be pleased with him. While returning, Sa’ad sent his son Qays with him. The Prophet asked Qays to mount his camel with him. Qays hesitated out of respect but the Prophet insisted: “Either mount the camel or go back.” Qays decided to go back.” [Abu Dawud]
“On another occasion he was traveling on his camel over hilly terrain with a Companion, Uqbah Ibn Amir, may Allah be pleased with him. After going some distance, he asked Uqbah, may Allah be pleased with him, to ride the camel, but Uqbah thought this would be showing disrespect to the Prophet. But the Prophet insisted and he had to comply. The Prophet himself walked on foot as he did not want to put too much load on the animal.” [An-Nasa’i]
“The prisoners of war of Badr included Al-Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet. Some people were prepared to forgo their shares and remit the Prophet’s ransom but he declined saying that he could make no distinctions.” [Al-Bukhari]
“During a halt on a journey, the Companions apportioned work among themselves for preparing food. The Prophet took upon himself the task of collecting firewood. His Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, pleaded that they would do it and that he need not take the trouble, but he replied: “It is true, but I do not like to attribute any distinction to myself. Allah does not like the man who considers himself superior to his Companions.” [Az-Zarqani]
Respected Brothers and Sisters! With all the Islamic teachings above on justice and the command from Allah to be just, some people want us to follow their own opinions and their desires blindly. They want us to just keep quite on the mistakes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. They want us to becomes sycophants and praised-singers. They want us to say all is right with this government. They want us to support this administration because the President is a northerner or a Muslim. Is this the teaching of Islam? Is this how the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) supported his people, his tribe and his followers blindly, even if they are in the wrong path? Where are the good teachings of Islam we are proud of? Wallahi the way we criticized the past governments when they are wrong, when they do bad, when they misbehave, we will continue to talk till the present political leaders change their habits. Till they bring the change they promised to the people.
The masses are suffering, blood is been spilled here and there. No good roads, no good education, no good hospitals, no good drinking water, no stable electricity, fuel scarcity and hike in transport fare, ethno-religious crisis everywhere, cattle-rustling, banditry, kidnapping, armed-robbery, drug abuse among our people (with married women involved). Hunger, poverty, inflation are rampant everywhere. Civil servants are dying, and they are killing themselves because of salary’s problem, unemployment among our youth etc; to the extent that the National Bureau of Statistics said 7.9 million Nigerians lost their jobs between January 2016 and September 2017. And people are still loosing their jobs from federal, states, local governments levels; and in private sectors. This is against President Buhari’s campaign promises which included massive job opportunities to stymie alarming youth unemployment and underemployment levels. And sadly, with all these problems and because of their insensitivity, now we understand that 2019 election is what’s only in their mind. Allah is our witness, we are tired with false promises and insincere propagandas. You can call us with any name you wish, you can accuse us with any accusation you like, Allah will judge between us, but truth must be told. Let’s fear Allah and be just, let’s fear Allah and imitate our beloved leader, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in his dealing with the masses.
And unfortunately if you can observe, our people are careless about security, besides most people today worry only on how to feed their family, governments and politicians has impoverished them, they do not care about who comes in or who goes out, because of poverty they will receive any little amount to assist the terrorists and criminals. May Allah (SWT) bring an end to this fitnah. Ameen Yaa Rabb!
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us Ya Rabb!
My Respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rabi’ul-Thani 24, 1439 AH (January 12, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.