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This article is about a fiqh terminology. For other content named as Justice, see Justice (disambiguation).

Justice (Arabic: عدالة, 'Adala) is a term in fiqh referring to a quality in a person by which he refrains from committing sins. This quality has been mentioned in many practical rulings. In fiqh, a person's justice can be approved through his personal understanding, approval of two just persons or being famous for his justice. Most scholars in fiqh believe that apparent goodness (i.e. apparent adherence to practical rulings) is enough for approval of one's justice.

The issue has been mentioned in different fields of fiqh including Ijtihad (deducing the rules of Sharia), emulation, prayer (congregational prayer and proxyship for the prayers of the dead), Zakat (financial obligation), Khums (one fifth), Hajj, Jihad, enjoining to the good and forbidding evil, hijr (wardship), waqf (religious endowment), will, divorce, found property and testimonies.


Literal and Idiomatic Meanings

The word "'Adl" (عدل) is opposite to "jawr" (جَور; injustice) and refers to "observation of equity between two things and placing everything in its position." A person who observes justice in all times is called "'Adil" (عادل; just). It is also among the attributes of God, because He rules based on the Truth and His ruling contains neither injustice nor oppression. In the hadith known as Intellect and Ignorance, justice is considered in the army of intellect while injustice is considered in the army of ignorance. In the realm of fiqh, justice is a spiritual quality which helps abandoning sins.

Justice in Fiqh

In the views of fiqh (Jurisprudence) scholars, justice has sometimes been used in its literal meaning such as in the issue of the husband's justice among his wives. But in other cases, it has been used idiomatically, for example in cases when justice is the requirement for some positions such as leading the Friday prayer or Wilayat al-Faqih.

The view common among late fiqh scholars is that justice is a spiritual quality in human being which forces him toward taqwa [God-wariness] (or taqwa and fairness). Justice in fiqh dissolves due to committing great sins or insisting on committing minor sins; unless, the person repents and the mentioned quality develops in him again. Some even consider committing minor sins, even if not insisting on them, leading to dissolution of justice.

Relation between Justice and Muruwwa [Fairness]

Literally, Muruwwa means fair-mindedness and honorability or its perfection and in fiqh, refers to having good qualities and avoiding permissible, yet low, ignoble and repelling habits and actions which would reflect lowliness of the person or his disrespect of religion like: urinating in public sidewalks or wearing inappropriate outfits. Understanding levels of inappropriateness and dishonorableness of a behavior is complicated by aspects like time, place and the individual.

Most recent fiqh scholars consider muruwwa valid in justice (or in goodness resulted from justice). It is said that early scholars did not consider muruwwa influential in justice.

Issues in Fiqh Requiring Justice

Many issues in rulings have been conditioned to justice, some of which are:

  • Wilayah of faqih
  • Emulation from Religious Authorities
  • Judging
  • Testimony
  • Leadership of Friday and congregational prayer
  • Proxyship in performing abandoned prayers of the dead or for hajj period

Requirement of justice in authenticity of the transmitters hadiths is reported as a common view; however, many people have not accepted it and have considered it enough to be certain about truthfulness of the person.

There is a disagreement among fiqh scholars whether the person who is going to receive khums and zakat needs to be just or not.

Ways to Prove One's Justice

A person's justice can be learned through:

  • Testimony of two just persons: two just persons can prove the justice of a third person providing that two other people do not give testimony for his corruption. In the opinion of some scholars, in fiqh, practical testimony of two just people for the justice of another serves adequate; like following him in congregational prayer.
  • Personal knowledge: through associating with the person long enough to learn or gain certainty that he is just.
  • Being famous to have justice: that his justice would be famous among people so that we also gain knowledge about his justice.
  • Goodness of appearance: Most scholars in fiqh consider goodness of appearance a way to prove justice; i.e. that the person respects apparent adherence to religious rulings and those who associate with him do not see him commit any great sin or insistence on committing minor sins and if he has done any, he has repented for it. Some others believe that one's justice can be proved only if strong conjecture or certainty is gained.

It is acceptable if a person's justice is proved through any of the above ways, but some fiqh scholars have said that it needs to be supported by people of wisdom and insight and knowledgeable in religious rulings. Some others believe that a person's justice can be proved by testimony of a just or a trustworthy person.

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