The Muslims Down Under Podcast

Social Justice - Whose Responsibility Is It?

January 27, 2023 Muslims Down Under Season 3 Episode 6
Social Justice - Whose Responsibility Is It?
The Muslims Down Under Podcast
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The Muslims Down Under Podcast
Social Justice - Whose Responsibility Is It?
Jan 27, 2023 Season 3 Episode 6
Muslims Down Under

In this episode of our podcast, we discuss social justice responsibility. Who is responsible for maintaining social justice to create a more harmonious and peaceful society?

We had the privilege to speak with Imam Hadi, who provides an insightful understanding of the answer to these questions and much more in light of the teachings of Islam. 

Muslims Down Under is a platform that aims to #ChangeTheNarrative one conversation at a time.
Join us, and help spread the word. Together we can do so much more!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of our podcast, we discuss social justice responsibility. Who is responsible for maintaining social justice to create a more harmonious and peaceful society?

We had the privilege to speak with Imam Hadi, who provides an insightful understanding of the answer to these questions and much more in light of the teachings of Islam. 

Muslims Down Under is a platform that aims to #ChangeTheNarrative one conversation at a time.
Join us, and help spread the word. Together we can do so much more!

Social Responsibility - Whose Responsibility Is It?

Muslims Down Under had the privilege of speaking with Imam Hadi, a central missionary for the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. This community is the only Muslim community in the world that has been led by a singular spiritual caliphate for more than a century. The current Khalifa or Caliph of the community is His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmed (May God be his Helper). Imam Hadi currently represents His Holiness in Queensland, Australia, by serving as the Minister of Religion for the state, supervising a community which spans across four chapters. He is also the Imam of two mosques, namely Masjid Mubarak in Brisbane and Masjid Baitul Masroor in Logan. In the past, he has worked in MTA International, the world's first Muslim television channel and Islamic Broadcasting service, as well as serving in Spain and Ghana. He is currently also the executive producer for the What is Islam? campaign as well as our very own Muslims Down Under platform. 


Bushra Nasir: Welcome back to another episode of the Muslims Down Under podcast. If you’ve been listening to our past few episodes, you’ll know that in this series we've been discussing various concepts of social justice and we've had the privilege to speak with many esteemed guests on our podcast, including Senator Fatma Payman most recently, and Senator Pat Dodson. Today we are now very privileged to have with us another knowledgeable guest, Imam Hadi. Peace be upon you and welcome to our podcast. 

Imam Hadi: Assalam-o-Alaikum, peace be upon you. Thank you for having me.

Bushra Nasir: So, let's get started. In today's episode, we wanted to discuss the concepts surrounding social justice and explore the aspect of responsibility. Whose responsibility is social justice? I believe social justice has become a very common concept and like many such concepts, it can be sometimes difficult to define, and when we do try to talk about it, we often articulate it in very broad terms such as fair or equal access to resources, wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. If you were to define the term social justice, how would you do so? 

Imam Hadi: Well, that's a really good question and yeah, you're right, absolutely. I think fundamentally, social justice or justice - the term is usually understood to mean giving everyone their fair due or giving everyone fair access and opportunity equitably, and ultimately being fair in all aspects of life. As a Muslim, we obviously refer to the Holy Quran for guidance and the Holy Quran actually describes justice to a great deal and there are two aspects of justice, which I think further refine this understanding that usually everyone would have, and that is that first and foremost in life there's always 2 aspects. You have chaos, you have order, you have good, you have evil, and it's the interplay between these two things which fundamentally gives life meaning right? It gives us purpose. It's a game that we all have to play and abide by. 

And Islam teaches that in terms of good in society, it should always be rewarded with good. In the Holy Quran God Almighty states:  “ جَزَآءُ الۡاِحۡسَانِ اِلَّا الۡاِحۡسَانُ”, Can the recompense or reward for good be anything but good? But, in particular, when it comes to good, God Almighty and the Holy Quran does not limit it to anything equal, as in reciprocation in an equal measure. God Almighty states that the reward for good can be limitless and you do not need to limit someone when it comes to rewarding someone for their good actions. Because by nature, goodness - it multiplies, it compounds over time and that's something that you can observe in the natural world, in the natural order (of things). Any good step or good investment ultimately multiplies many folds and has multiple good results which then factor into further good results. Whereas the idea of punishment in Islam, in terms of how evil needs to be dealt with in terms of justice, the Holy Qur’an presents the concept that: ‘ جَزَآءُ سَیِّئَۃٍۭ بِمِثۡلِہَا “...the punishment of an evil shall be the like thereof”, as in it has to be absolutely equal, for the punishment cannot be more severe than the bad action itself, and neither should it be something which is less than the evil deed that has been committed, right? It has to be absolutely equal. And fundamentally, the other thing that Islam espouses is that the fundamental intention behind providing a punishment should be for reformation, so even that then adds a few other factors into the decision-making that ultimately, well, the punishment could be equal, but it would only be considered equal if it's also bringing about reformation, right? And that can be brought about in several ways. 

So, Islam, quite beautifully, actually expounds on the concept of justice and doesn't just limit it to the idea of, well, you need to be fair, and you need to give everyone their due rights, which is obviously right. But, it also expands and explains that ultimately there are two factors in life. There's good, and then there's evil, and both of those aspects of life need to be dealt with justice and the way to deal with justice in terms of both of these factors in life is in this way, so if it's good, then you know the reward should be equal if not more and can be limitless. It doesn't need to be limited because goodness by nature multiplies, and if it's evil then to bring about fundamentally the intention should be to bring about reformation, but also that the punishment, and its severity should be according to the deed. It should not be more severe than the action, and neither should it be less. Ultimately reformation is the objective, so this is how Islam describes the two concepts and this is something I think we can observe in nature quite easily as well, it's something that you will readily observe in the laws of nature, which we obviously as Muslims believe is an expression of Divine attributes, which we can obviously talk about, maybe further in the conversation. 

Bushra Nasir: Yeah, I think these days you know the term social justice, it's become kind of like a buzzword and it's very hard (to understand), or I think it's like it has lost its meaning over time. What it really means, and the two practical ways of defining what social justice means are very, practical…, but also very understandable with meaning, and sometimes people might think that social justice and having that personal responsibility is like a utopian concept. It's impossible to achieve, and so we don't actually try to achieve it. Just exploring how you think, in Australia, there are a lot of gaps that we can bridge as a society towards more social justice and a more cohesive community and becoming a more productive community, expanding on those two points that you've just mentioned as described by Islam, what kind of proactive actions or practical steps can individuals take to seek social justice? 

Imam Hadi: Well, I think first and foremost it's important to diagnose the issue, isn't it? I think trying to go around with a remedy without really knowing what you're remedying isn't really smart. First and foremost, there has to be an issue in the first place, and I think sometimes it's equally wise. You know, the old saying that if it's not broken then you don’t need to fix it. So sometimes I think today, we have a number of issues in society, and it's something which you can observe quite clearly, especially through I would say social media, and you have this thing where you have a lot of activists or so-called activists or self-declared activists who are trying to jump behind some sort of cause to try and ultimately I think, psychologically speaking, what you're witnessing here is ultimately we as human beings, we would like to find purpose and meaning in life and you need to be driven by something and you need to feel like you're contributing towards society to feel like you have a place in the world and I think that's where you can see a rise in the desire to contribute to the social justice case can sometimes occur. That doesn't mean that there aren't people out there who are genuinely working toward social justice. Obviously, there are, but when you see that increase in society, of people talking more than actually acting it, I would say that fundamentally this could be one of the causes and I think behind it also, the most supreme cause I would say is the lack of understanding in relation to God. 

When you take God out of the equation, when you don't really have a meaningful understanding of who God is or what God's places in your life, then sometimes you tend to see a lot of confusion in society, unfortunately, because you don't have an objective moral standard that's provided on the basis of Divine attributes. So sometimes you'll get people there who are just looking to correct things, which might not necessarily need to be corrected. But as far as those things are concerned, which you know can be diagnosed, you can clearly see within society to be an issue, then I think, first and foremost, it's important to actively work against it. So what I mean by that is, there could be a number of issues in society that can be diagnosed, and sometimes it might not be something that is affecting the nation in general, because in general the nation might be good in terms of justice and I think that holds true for most Western countries, I think, generally speaking. I mean, it can be argued that maybe in more recent times slowly the fabric of society is being tarnished and there's a decay in the moral fiber of society, which naturally is going to have long-term effects which we might not be able to perceive straight away, and it's something that we will have inevitably have to deal with in the long run, particularly in the West. Just because of the idea that there's no commitment to one God, supreme Divinity, or supreme good as you would call it. 

But, fundamentally it's important that when an issue is diagnosed, so, for example, say at a local level, or even at a familial level, because ultimately society is made up of individuals, and the way we know this to be true that sometimes in a privileged society, it's very difficult to kind of tell how much of an effect individuals have on society, because of your privileges and you're not going through difficult times. Or maybe you're not really facing an injustice immediately, right? Or, a lack of justice isn't something that's perceived on a day-to-day basis. Then sometimes it's easy to kind of not really know the importance of how individuals contribute to society. But if you go to, for example, countries which I would say you can very comfortably declare to be failed states, for example, Pakistan. Anyone who's visited Pakistan or if you've done your research, you'll know that Pakistan in general, unfortunately, could quite comfortably be declared as a state which has either failed or it's definitely failing. And when you actually analyse the issues that are found in Pakistan or countries which could be similar, but I take the example of Pakistan in particular because unfortunately there you have an extreme case of you know religious fundamentalism which unfortunately, even affects the most educated people within society. You've got people there who are studying in universities, the lecturers, the professors in university, who you could argue are the most educated people within society, especially if you were to take them out from that society and maybe even bring them to the West purely on an academic standpoint. These highly educated individuals who could potentially contribute to academia to a great level, but there's this phenomenon taking place in Pakistan where these educated individuals, unfortunately, when it comes to the question of religion, and if you know many of our viewers might not be aware of the fact that Pakistan is the only country in the world which has quite literally legislated against a whole religious community, particularly speaking about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. And not only has it legislated, but it's something where if you would like to have a passport then you have to sign a declaration against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Fundamentally, what you see there is that despite there being a certain level of education provided, but because fundamentally and individually speaking, you've got people suffering with a great lack of justice or understanding of what justice is. You've got this whole society, which is just, unfortunately, failing on every level and I mean, that's just one really extreme example of how far the society has gone to curb the rights of their citizens, but then you know the other things that are quite openly apparent to people who visited the country or even come from that country unfortunately, like unfair dealing with one another, dishonesty, corruption, a lack of integrity. And all of these things, they unfortunately completely destroy the society from within and though you know on a superficial level, it seems like the society is moving, but the anxiety that's found within its citizens it's just immense, and sometimes people who are brought up in such an environment they can't think of anything better. 

And it's something that even affects households. And sometimes that's then exported and imported into Western society. Because when these people move to, unfortunately, the Western society they bring that culture with them sometimes. So for example, the culture of treating maybe the daughter-in-law, your wife unfairly and not treating her with respect and honour the way that Islam describes. You know it naturally does away with the very fabric of society, right? So fundamentally what I'm describing is that it's sometimes very difficult from a privileged standpoint to realise how much of an effect or how much an individual can contribute to society. If every individual were to have a correct moral compass based on an objective divine standard. And if every individual were to understand the importance of responsibility, sacrifice, and particularly trying their level best to do the right thing when they have the opportunity to do so. Then obviously, that multiplies. You know that question that idea that I was talking about how good, good multiplies and reciprocates, right? Naturally, that has a compounding effect, and you know from a local to a national level. You then see the effects of it where overall you'll have a greater level of peace and stability within society, right? 

So fundamentally, it's always going to come down to the individual. An individual would need to practically try and act upon the dictates of justice. So, now the question of what an individual can do? Well, again, as I said, I think it's always important to start at home. It's important to first get your own house in order. It's like throwing stones in a glass house, right? First and foremost, it's important to question as an individual within my own circle, how much am I actually behaving with justice? Am I treating my family members with justice? Am I just to my children? Am I just to my wife or as a wife am I just to my husband? If I'm doing that correctly, well, that's fine. Now let's take it one step further and am I just with my neighbours? Am I just with my community? OK, great when I'm at work. How am I dealing with people? Am I dealing with justice? And fundamentally, when you develop that ability to be just, which needs to come from the individual, then naturally, when you're in a situation that demands a greater sacrifice, a situation where there's greater peer pressure which sometimes can derail the best of us, then you can act with justice. But if you don't do the due diligence on the lower levels, you can say of society, or the more fundamental grassroots levels than to expect justice from that individual at a higher level, you know, is obviously nonsensical. 

Bushra Nasir: Absolutely, I agree, and I think you know, often we tend to think of social justice as like a responsibility, and we often try to scapegoat our responsibility onto these large institutions, as you said,  whether it's government or states, even things like public health and housing, resources that are fundamental human rights for individuals and we forget our own individual contribution and the impact that we can have towards our bigger society. Because, as you said, ultimately it does come down to the individual and society is only as strong as the individuals that it contains. Interestingly, recently I had a conversation with an individual and you know, the World Cup was going on and someone questioned why religion needed to be involved in sports. And, I think you're describing the characteristics of a just person as per the teachings of Islam, it describes that Islam is not a passive faith. It provides that opportunity for reformation, as you were just explaining and God consciousness in all our acts, no matter who we are, no matter what our lifestyle and we can apply these things in whatever situation we are in, even things like sports as well and I think the beauty of those practices and those principles is that they safeguard us from those wrongdoings and injustice. And they kind of provide us with a blueprint to living our best lives and they provide us guidance and instruction on how to be more just in all situations. And you know ultimately, then, Islam teaches us that the responsibility lies on each and every one of us, no matter who we are and what we do. And whatever situation we're in. But, sometimes in certain situations or if there's a conflict or misunderstanding that occurs, even if it's at home, it's natural to focus on what others have done and blame them for the problem or the issue, and we lose focus on the qualities that that person might have. And we tend to find it easy to blame others, as well, and put that responsibility on them and forget our own part in that situation, even if it's something very minor. Or sometimes we think that it's not our fault or that we had nothing to do with causing that conflict or misunderstanding. But in every situation, I think if we have that opportunity to reflect and develop that willingness to see how we can change things, we can contribute to eradicating injustice and resolving conflict so if you were to just expand on that individual responsibility, that impact on what one person can have on enabling justice within society. And what kind of ethical and moral ideals a person should have to be a more just person, how would you describe or define the ideal person? 

Imam Hadi: Well, I think it's a really good question because I think justice is where it all begins, isn't it? Justice, it's such an important ideal. Because what Islam presents is that justice is the first step to moral development, if not a spiritual level of development, right? So Islam is quite clear that first and foremost, you need to enter the moral paradigm before you can even consider the spiritual paradigm. For example, I was reflecting on one saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, and he particularly says that: “you cannot be grateful to God until you are grateful to His creation”.  Sometimes you think, well, what do you mean? Why? Why can't you be grateful to God? First and foremost why do you need to be grateful to His creation? I think the best way to look at this is, well, fundamentally the first step is your moral responsibility. How do you operate yourself in society? Until you're able to correct your moral characteristics, to then consider it would be immature to even consider spirituality. Because spirituality is something that comes much after. But sometimes, we don't realise that there is this progression that is required for a person's growth. And fundamentally, the way Islam presents that progression quite practically is that the first step to your moral progression and your growth -  I mean, ultimately, what is morality? Morality is, well, you have some natural qualities and you use your intellect and your reasoning to govern those natural qualities like love, and anger and you utilise those in the correct place and at the correct time. But they can only really be utilised in the context of a society. So, it means civility, it means civil behavior, working with others, and treating others correctly right? And all of that is dictated by justice, right? If you will have the fundamental quality of justice within your heart, it's only then you would be able to place things appropriately in its correct position, right?

So, for example in the Holy Quran Allah, God Almighty, He constantly addresses the issue of injustice. And He addresses it by using a particular word, which is called ‘zulum’, which is translated in English as injustice. And, “zalim”, one who commits injustice would be considered as someone known as a zalim, someone who transgresses and unjustly behaves. Now, if you actually look into that particular word in Arabic, the way we know it means injustice, is because literally the meaning of ‘zulum’ is to place something in a position that it should not be, and that's what's described as an injustice in the Holy Quran.

So, similarly, if you're talking about the moral framework of an individual - ensuring that you utilise your natural qualities in the correct place and time, which would make them into a moral quality, requires fundamentally the ability to be just. If you don't have the ability to be just if you don't know how to measure and reason appropriately, then obviously you're going to be all over the place, right? Because Islam fundamentally teaches that no natural quality is innately bad, it only becomes evil or bad with its incorrect usage, right? When you don't put something in its proper place? 

So, ultimately it's important to develop that ability to be just in every circumstance. And this is really important because sometimes we forget that and we forget it in the most convenient of situations. What do I mean by this? So, sometimes when the situation is quite severe, you can kind of immediately tell well, No, this is an injustice, right? So, I mean, there could be several examples of this. If someone openly starts to rage at someone who doesn't deserve that type of behaviour. And straight away as an individual and as a society you can straightaway call it out. OK, that's an injustice, right? I mean, he didn't deserve that. She didn't deserve that. What did she do to be shouted at in that way? But then sometimes in society today, what you have is a situation where we are unjust without even knowing it. And the reason why I particularly mention that is that you mentioned the concept of the situation with the World Cup, right? What does religion have to do with sports? 

I'll give you another similar situation. I often talk with religious leaders. And there's a lot of effort nowadays that religious leaders make in the world of interfaith, and it could be argued why they do that. I don't think that's a question or conversation that needs to be spoken about.  Fundamentally, in those efforts for religious interfaith work, one thing that I see being thrown around so easily is, well, we're not here to proselytise to one another, and to convert one another, and I ask the question, what on earth does that even mean? Right, how can I technically convert anyone? Conversion is something that is particularly to do with someone's own personal experience and their own personal journey, right? You cannot forcefully convert anyone in any way. It's not even possible even if you were to, for example, I mean, technically you could most probably get them to make an outward admission or an expression like, for example, what happened in the Middle Ages unfortunately under Christian rule in places like Spain, etc where people were either put to death or they were told that you expressed that you you've become a Christian right? I mean that's a completely different situation altogether, but even those individuals who would have openly expressed that they've become Christian in fear. Technically, have you really converted their hearts and minds? No, that's not possible. It's not possible to convert someone's heart and mind with the mere expression of your ideas, right? 

Whereas you know in this scenario we have people just to please those who you're working with or sometimes somehow pacify or create this false sense of peace, you have people saying that, well, we're not here to proselytise, and we're not here to convert, we will not be converting anyone. And within that whole thing, what happens is you have this superficial, unfortunate endeavour where you have faith communities coming together, but then the leaders of these faiths are so afraid to even express their own religious ideals. And you asked the question, what's the point? I mean, aren't you here? Express the beauty of your religion and share with us what your religion teaches. And why does that need to have anything to do with the idea of trying to convert someone? So, the same thing I would say in terms of this whole idea of what does religion have anything to do with sport? And that talk of religion should be kept out of the concept of sport. I think it is a similar injustice. I mean, if fundamentally religion is teaching us a moral way of life, how to be civilised, how to behave with one another, take it in the context of sport, you know, how to be a good sportsman? How? How do you not, you know, throw a tantrum if you're losing? Or how do you ensure that you're a good fan? 

I mean, one thing you know there, there are several good incidents that came out of the recent World Cup and one of the really good news headlines that I particularly liked was the way the Japanese behaved. It was something that not only did the fans display but even the players. You know, after they would clean up after themselves. And fundamentally, that's an Islamic and religious ideal and if for the sake of this false peace that you would like to create, you say that, well, we do not need to talk about any religious ideas when it comes to sport, then I think in itself it's kind of a superficial kind of a hidden form of injustice, and I think that's really dangerous in society today, where sometimes things are presented as a pretext. But fundamentally within it, if you actually observe the situation, it fundamentally is an injustice and I think it's absolutely right what you've said. Sometimes we present these big organisations or these big campaigns as a way to display our civility or our, you know, our sense of justice. So, but then when it comes to how much do we ourselves actually act on this on a daily basis? I mean sometimes we're not doing it at all. So yeah, I think ultimately it's very important to develop that fundamental ability for justice. Otherwise, you quite literally don't even have a foundation for a moral and civilised society, right? And, you know, ultimately, if you don't have the fundamental basis of justice within you, then it's very difficult to even establish peace because you'll never be able to establish the moral framework that's even required for a peaceful and stable society. 

Bushra Nasir: Yep, no that makes sense. And you mentioned you know how in these interfaith events, and other events and programs that you might have intended where people of faith are literally afraid to share what the teachings of their religion are about certain topics because they might be respectful of others, or they're, giving or doing themselves an injustice in educating others and taking that responsibility to do so. So, everyone has an innate quality, something that I guess we all have, where we have our own interests, but then also we understand the rights and interests of others. So, how do we find that balance between the two? And still, make sure that we're still trying to develop those moral qualities. As you've explained, how do we develop that just behaviour towards everyone, whether it's in our homes or broader within society with other people of faith or with other communities as well, while still maintaining our own beliefs and understandings that we have ourselves?

Imam Hadi: Yeah, well, I think that's really important because ultimately, it takes practice. Sometimes we don't consider our own moral behaviour and our own moral journey. Again, from an Islamic standpoint, spirituality comes much later. It's important first and foremost. Develop a moral framework within yourself and within your immediate society. What I mean by immediate society, I mean first and foremost, everyone has some sort of responsibility immediately, particularly within the nuclear family and the household, right? But all of that, it requires practice, and it requires a lot of thoughtful effort. You have to be consciously trying to develop that ability to be just and know that fundamentally everything requires its due right. The other way that Islam describes justice is balance. In the first chapter of the Holy Quran we are directed to seek a path known as الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ, the balanced path, the just path, the path in which you invest and you give time and attention to everything appropriately. And that's a quality that needs to be developed over time through a lot of prayer, and reflection, but then also through practical application, right? And until someone actually actively considers it as something that needs to be nurtured and developed, then it's not something that you would technically readily be developing over time, and sometimes it's even possible that if you don't give it due regard, then over time you would even lose the ability to be able to be just.

So fundamentally, what Islam describes, you know there's a beautiful saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he says that ‏ أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُول, that each and every one of you is a shepherd, and each and every one of you will be asked, or will be judged in regard to your responsibility as a shepherd. So fundamentally, each and every single one of us has some sort of responsibility that we need to attend to and that can be a plethora of things.

So, for example, there's another saying of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, in which he openly states that every aspect of your life has a right, you, yourself, and your being itself have a right over you. You should be dealing with yourself as though it's someone you need to take care of. Similarly, your wife or your spouse has a right over you. Your neighbour has a right over you etcetera, right? Everything has its due right. And everything that you are responsible for is required to be attended to. So now if you keep these two things in mind and then you begin with your own self, right? And I think that's the first place to begin. It's important to first and foremost begin with yourself before you start trying to apply that to those around you. Otherwise, it's nonsensical, isn't it?

(There is) another very profound verse of the Holy Quran, where God Almighty states to the believing people thatلِمَ تَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَا لَا تَفۡعَلُوۡنَ, “Why do you say, that which you yourself do not do?” کَبُرَ مَقۡتًا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا مَا لَا تَفۡعَلُوۡنَ  (“Most hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.”) That it is most distasteful, not even distasteful مَقۡتًا means it's a severe form of hate in the eyes of God. It is highly dislikeable in the eyes of God that you should say something which you yourself do not do, and ultimately what that means is that you cannot really have any impact on society unless you yourself are actually acting upon the very dictates that you believe society should also express and manifest.

So, it's important to first begin with yourself and then ask yourself, that, well, OK. What am I doing for my own morality and then ultimately spirituality right? How am I investing in myself to ensure that every day there's growth, right? Because ultimately Islam teaches us that if you would like to achieve purpose and meaning in life then it's important to try and imitate the Divine attributes of God Almighty, right? And so then you ask yourself, well, what am I doing to try and do that? And there's a number of things that can be done in that regard, and Islam obviously presents a quite detailed exposition on those things, and that would be a conversation in itself. 

But, just by example, we can even take the five fundamental principles of Islam, right? Such as not associating any partner with God. What does that even mean? It means fundamentally that in every decision that you make, you ensure that you make it, keeping in mind the will of God, not the will of society. So, you don't allow the mob or the masses to dictate your life for you, and neither do you behave in a way that seeks social validation, right? You behave in a way that is in accordance with the will of God because the will of God is according to the human psyche which is ultimately beneficial for your own moral growth. Secondly, you regulate your time and your day in accordance with the five daily prayers, right? So you have stepping stones throughout the day which regulate your time so that you utilise your time effectively but with every effective usage of your time, you then once again turn to God Almighty for reflection.

And people describe or people have their own way of doing this nowadays sometimes, which it could be argued, is not as effective as the Islamic prescription, which is known as Salat, of actually turning to God Almighty and reflecting, etc. But what you're doing there is ultimately you're giving you're administering and you're turning to the right of God, right? You're ensuring that the rights of God are looked after, and ultimately what you mean by looking after the right of God is that you're ultimately developing your morality. And you're also developing your spirituality in the long term. And then, for example, Islam prescribes fasting and there's a whole wisdom behind fasting and why that's required in the long run, particularly in the month of Ramadan. And then, Islam goes on to explain the importance of giving alms in the way of God. And looking after the needy and looking after the rights of those who are around you etc. I mean these are just a few examples, but I mean it's a good place to start in terms of ensuring that you yourself as a person are growing that ability and understanding of what is just and what is right etcetera, and doing justice to yourself right? And once you get that right, then you can start looking to society and ensuring that you're doing right by society. 

So for example, there's another saying of the Holy Prophet, where he says that, to the parents, and particularly to the fathers, that you should ensure that your daughters are married to men who have a very strong sense of justice. And he says that the reason being that if at any time during the marriage a time comes where, unfortunately, there's friction in the relationship and maybe your daughter behaves in a manner that makes the husband dislike her, even if he starts to dislike her for a limited time, he will still ensure that he does right by her and does not do anything which is unjust toward her. So, because ultimately the individual has the ability to sense what is right and what is just then, despite being in a situation that is highly volatile and emotional, the individual still tries to behave justly and ensures that no injustice is made and Islam then takes it even further, isn't it? I mean, this is we're talking about the marital home and the nuclear family, etcetera. 

And then you know Islam talks of how in terms of your children, you ensure that if you have daughters and you have sons, then you treat the daughter exactly like the way you should be treating the son. So if the son is being given an education, then the daughter should be given an education, and then even in a broader term, so for example, not just in relation to the son and the and the daughter, and ensuring that they're equally provided their fundamental human rights, but then even in terms of your children in general, sometimes some parents might favour one child over another, and that's a natural thing which Islam acknowledges. It’s absolutely natural to feel more love for one child than another just because of the way the child behaves and some children have this natural likability. But Islam teaches that despite the fact that you might be leaning towards one child because of his or her natural disposition, but when it comes to your practical application and the way you practically behave with them though, in your heart you might be feeling an inclination towards one, but justice dictates that despite that inclination, you still do not let them perceive an injustice and you deal with them equally.

And this is what the marital home, the nuclear family, then you take it as an overall society. If you have that fundamental idea of justice and that moral fabric is within you, and you've practiced it well, then what does Islam describe? So, for example Islam describes two occasions. One it states that you should stand for justice for the sake of God, and the emphasis on the sake of God, I mean, that's so important. We were talking about not associating partners with God. It's really important that you or we take decisions submitting to the will of God rather than the will of society. I mean, it's either or isn't it?  Either you submit to the will of God, or naturally as a human being, you're going to submit and worship a myriad of God's in a society. And God Almighty states that well, when you stand for justice, you do it purely for the sake of God. And how do you do it? Even if you have to give testimony against your own parents, even if you have to give testimony against your own kith and kin, right? You will still give testimony against them if it's required to do so. And for example, in another place Allah Almighty states that you should always behave with justice, He states, “Let not the enmity of a people inside you to act otherwise than with justice, always be just” meaning that even if you have an enemy, even then you should ensure that your behaviour towards them is just. And you're not putting down sanctions which are unjust, or in any way trying to stop that individual, or maybe society that you're dealing with, or a group of people from progressing and making the most of their lives. So, there's so many different levels. And ultimately, what I'm trying to explain is that all of those things ultimately will always come from that initial effort to develop justice within the individual. 

If the individual understands the responsibility and the importance of justice and fair dealing and in decision making, and in developing that moral framework and you actively try to research and develop that overtime, then of course, when it comes to society and dealing with others and making the best decision for yourself, you'll naturally be able to do so because it's not something that you've not attended to. You've carefully curated that behaviour within you which then enables you to take the correct decisions at the correct time. You know, when you need to stand up and when you do not need to stand up when it's appropriate to speak out when it's not appropriate to speak out etcetera, but all of that again, it all comes down to the individual out of it. 

Bushra Nasir: Yeah, and I think we could probably sit here and go through and share many such examples, but I think you've summed up the topic of our episode and this conversation here today very nicely and also very comprehensively giving us all very practical action items. Things that we can all enable within our lives, and take responsibility and positive action to enable social justice within our homes and societies. So, thank you so much for being a part of our episode today and sharing this insight with us. 

 Imam Hadi: No worries, it was a pleasure talking to you.