God commands you to hand back trusts
to their rightful owners and to always pass judgement upon men with fairness.
Verily this is from God an excellent admonition. For God is He who hears and
sees all things. (4:58)
A look at the context of the above
mentioned verse shows that it is related to the state. It says that the real
responsibility of an Islamic State is to strive to establish justice in its
ultimate form at every level. My mentor Amīn Ahsān Islāhī comments on this verse
in the following words:
This is a delineation of the most
important aspect of the trust referred to as well as an explanation of the
responsibility attached to political authority. The foremost responsibility of
the people who are blessed with political authority by the Almighty is that they
should decide all disputes that arise among their people with justice and
fairness. There should be no difference in the eyes of the law between the
various classes of the society like the rich and the poor, the high and the low.
Justice should not become a commodity that can be bought or sold. Partiality and
bias should not creep into it nor should indifference and apathy arise in
dispensing it. No power or influence, greed or fear of any kind should affect it
in any way.
Whoever in this world are blessed
with political authority by the Almighty are done so that they may discharge
justice. Therefore, this is the primary responsibility. A just ruler will
receive great reward from the Almighty, and an unjust will be punished
grievously [on the Day of Judgement]. Consequently, the verse says that this is
an excellent admonition from the Almighty to the believers, who, therefore, must
not show slackness in following it. The attributes of the Almighty mentioned at
the end of the verse caution us that even the most concealed injustice is in His
knowledge. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 5th ed., vol. 2, [Lahore:
Faran Foundation, 1994], p. 323)
It is to this responsibility that the
Companions of the Prophet (sws) referred to when they launched an offensive on
the Roman and the Persian empires. They proclaimed to the world that whoever
among the people wanted, he could leave the servitude of man by entering into
the servitude of Allah, and whoever among them wanted he could leave the
narrowness of this world and enter into its vastness and whoever among them
wanted he could leave the oppression of various religions and enter into the
folds of Islam to get justice.
The Prophet (sws) on this very basis
insisted that a person who has greed for a public office should never be
considered eligible for it, since justice cannot be expected from such a person.
He is reported to have said:
By God! we shall not grant any person
a post in this system who asks for it and has greed for it. (Muslim,
The Prophet (sws) also warned his
companions to fear Allah in such matters and never ask for a public office:
Do not seek a post. If it is granted
to you because of your desire you shall [find yourself] being handed over to it,
and if it is granted to you without your desire, the Almighty shall help you.
Consequently, history bears witness that
in order to establish justice, the Rightly Guided Caliphs always kept their
doors open for criticism and for petitions and appeals from the public, adopted
the lifestyle of the destitute to the extent that they even wore patched-up
clothes and administered their realms with utmost simplicity and austerity. In
short, the heavens and the earth bore witness that they lived among the masses
like the masses and for the masses: they were like kings even in indigence and
princes even in poverty.