The Outcry of a Nun Regarding Justice and the Silence Against the Injustice

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The Consept of Justice in İslam

The first believers in Islam migrated to Abyssinia to escape the oppression, torture, persecution, and injustices inflicted upon them by the Meccans, depriving them of their basic rights and freedoms. Although some returned in between, the majority stayed there for fifteen years. In the seventh year of the migration, upon a letter sent by our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to Negus, they returned to Medina. They arrived just as the conquest of Khaybar was taking place and met with him.

Their arrival brought as much joy to the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) as the conquest itself. For fifteen years, there had been a mutual longing; they missed their beloved Habibullah (peace and blessings be upon him) more than life itself, and he, in turn, missed them dearly, especially his cousin the respected Ja’far and the others who, despite facing countless injustices, never wavered in their faith and commitment to Islam and the Qur’an, and had to leave their homeland to practice their religion.

The migrants of Medina and the migrants of Abyssinia, the migrants of the sea and the migrants of the land, came together, finally putting an end to fifteen years of yearning. It was time to share the bitter and sweet events that had taken place there, the important occurrences, with friends. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him), addressing the migrants present, said, ‘Would you not narrate the interesting things you witnessed in the land of Abyssinia?’ Fifteen years is a long time; what had not transpired during that time…

The Outcry of a Nun Regarding Justice

A group of young men among them began to narrate, saying, “Alright, O Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him)!” One day, we were sitting, and at that moment, an elderly Abyssinian nun, with a large water jug on her head, passed by us first and then by one of the Abyssinian youths. This youth placed one hand between the woman’s shoulders and pushed her. As a result, the elderly nun lost her balance and fell to her knees. At the same time, the water jug fell from her head and broke. The nun collected herself, stood up, turned to the youth, and said:

“O oppressor! When God sets up His throne and gathers all the past and present people, and they recount what they have done with their hands and feet, you will realize the enormity of your crime! Tomorrow, in the presence of God, you will learn how my situation compares to yours!” 1

Carefully listening to the incident, the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) firstly said twice, “The woman spoke the truth, the woman spoke the truth,” affirming the nun’s words as true. Then he turned to his companions and, based on the thoughts provoked by what he had heard, made this vital reminder:

“God does not purify a community or nation from sins and filth if it does not take the rights of the weak from the powerful/oppressors.” 2

In the benevolence and righteousness that God bestows upon a nation, the moral integrity, the sensitivity to rights, and the level of justice of that nation hold great significance. Indeed, many communities were destroyed in the past because they exceeded the limits in these matters, becoming excessively corrupt, ignoring divine warnings and prophetic admonitions: “We destroyed many cities that had become extremely advanced in injustice. Now, winds sweep over them; buildings have crumbled into ruins, wells lie abandoned, magnificent palaces have been reduced to rubble…” 3

Every nation can produce oppressive and tyrannical individuals and rulers. History is filled with examples of this. However, when an entire nation remains silent and passive in the face of the actions of these oppressors and tyrannical rulers, failing to stand up for the weak and oppressed, and failing to uphold justice, it indicates the decay of that nation from top to bottom. Just as decaying trees can be toppled by a gust of wind or crumbling buildings can collapse in an earthquake, so too can such a nation crumble and fall. “Indeed, We do not destroy any community unless its people have become accustomed to wrongdoing.” 4

Where there is no justice, social bonds are the first to break, followed by the disruption of societal balance, and ultimately, all human values are damaged. A nation that decays from within and becomes debased loses its worthiness for mercy, and God will not uplift that nation unless they rectify their ways: “… There is no good in a nation where rightful owners cannot easily obtain their rights, and such a nation will not prosper!”5

After the Hijra, the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) made some changes to the layout of Medina, allocating houses and land to people. During this time, members of the Abd branch of the Zuhra tribe, referring to Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, said, “Keep the son of Umm Abd away from us!” To this, the Messenger of God responded, “Why? Then why was I sent by God? A community where the rights of the weak are not upheld will not be honored or blessed by God.”6

In one of his sermons, the respected Abu Bakr said, “O people! You recite this verse and misunderstand it: ‘O you who believe, take care of your own selves. If you follow the right guidance, no harm can come to you from those who are misguided.’7

He continued his speech as follows: “We heard the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) say, ‘If people see an oppressor committing oppression and do not stop him, it is likely that God will send a general calamity upon all of them!’ I also heard him say, ‘When wicked deeds are done in a community, and the people there have the power to stop it but do not intervene, it is likely that God will send a general calamity upon all of them!’”8

“He who willingly subjects himself to harm deserves no mercy and is not worthy of it!” Being a bystander to oppression implies consent, as “Consent to oppression is itself oppression!” To enable and support a tyrant is to share in his tyranny. Expecting God to have mercy on those who are silent in the face of injustice is a grave delusion. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, you must enjoin good and forbid evil, or else it is likely that God will send a general calamity upon you. Then you will supplicate, but your supplications will not be answered.”9

If a nation wishes to rise in the sight of God and humanity and avoid ruin, it must uphold justice:

The Creator has countless names, the foremost being “Truth,” How great it is for a servant to uphold and elevate the truth! When the Noble Companions were about to part ways, they would always recite “Surah al-Asr.” Why is this? Because hidden within that great surah are the secrets of salvation, first comes true faith, then righteousness, then truth, then perseverance. My dear, this is humanity, when these four unite, there is no more ruin for you.10

Author: Yucel Men

Footnotes:

1.One of the Quranic verses conveying the same content is as follows: “We shall set up just scales on the Day of Resurrection, and no soul will be wronged in the least. Even if it be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant.” (Surah Al-Anbiya, 21:47)

2.Ibn Majah, Fitan 20; Ibn Hibban, Sahih 5058; Abu Ya’la, Musnad 2003; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 7/160

3.Surah Al-Hajj, 22:45

4.Surah Al-Qasas, 28:59

5.Ibn Majah, Sadaqat 17

6.Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat 3/112

7.Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:105

8.Abu Dawud, Fitan wa’l-Malahim 17; Tirmidhi, Fitan 8; Ibn Majah, Fitan 20

9.Tirmidhi, Fitan 9

10.Mehmet Akif Ersoy

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