Muslim Faith and Restorative Justice!

A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)

By Imam Zijad Delic

Day 269: Muslim Faith and Restorative Justice!

Anas ibn Malik (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “None of you has true faith until he/she loves for his/her brother/sister what he/she loves for himself/herself.”

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

Source: Bukhari

Transliteration: “La Yu’minu Ahadukum Hatta Yuhibba Li Akhihi Ma Yuhibbu Linafsih.”

Faith is all about hope, not fear; about assistance, not burdens; about healing, not punishment; about comfort, not trouble…

Faith is about guiding individuals to pathways of self-improvement, self-assessment, self-discipline and self-awareness, from which a sense of social responsibility can grow.

More than ever before in out human history, we are critically in need of a great renewal in faith, for with all our differences and challenges today, we live in a global village where interactions are regular and where relations could sour even further if we do not learn better how to interact, behave or heal our relationships.

Faith is also a support for developing ethics in our lives individually and globally for indeed, we will not survive the 21st century with the ethics of the 20th.

What does restorative justice mean to Muslims?

It is about sending a clear message to the individuals and the sociaty that certain behaviors, attitudes and manners are unacceptable and unwelcome.

For Muslims, our religious texts teach us not to exclude, marginalize, or ostracize others but to work towards justice with dignity for all in the community/society/humanity.

Restorative Justice, in fact, begins with oneself.

If I, as an individual, cannot comprehend and reconcile with the principles of accountability, justice, honesty, forgiveness and repentance, I cannot successfully participate in Restorative Justice, for I cannot give away what I do not have!

In the context of Islam (as well as in other major faiths), the ultimate goal of Restorative Justice is the prevention of injustice, whether in our families, neighborhoods, educational institutions, communities, or society at large.

We are all part of the global village (our humanity); thus, the global village benefits when both individuals and communities adhere to justice!

This notion springs from the Islamic formative principles namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

I am personally inspired by several verses from the Qur’an and from the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah).

As one example among many I could cite from the Qur’an, God Almighty has given us a model verse for human relations: ” But whoever pardons and seeks reconciliation, then their reward is with Allah.” (Qur’an 42:40).

فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ

The base of restorative Justice is in peace – peace with God, within oneself, with others and with the environment in which we live.

Where Justice is not firmly established, the blessings of God’s peace cannot happen.

There is no peace without Justice as there is no Justice without forgiveness, as the Pope John Paul II said.

Restorative Justice: Where and How?

We should never forget about the importance of faith when everything in our lives is going well, but we need faith even more when things are not well – when they are up-side-down.

  1. Family: an institution built on understanding, support, kindness, trust, honesty, respect, fairness, etc.

Wives and Husbands: If a disagreement occurs often, we need an awareness of God – that is, faith. We need a moral compass; we need discussion, talk, arbitration, a cooling period and more hope.

But where hope becomes exhausted, divorce is allowed.

Yet even though considered lawful, divorce is disliked in the eyes of God.

If divorce happens, it should be in an honorable manner, not as we see it today – through courts in an unethical fashion.

Children: The degree of love and mercy expressed within a family and the cooperation among parents, reflects on children.

We cannot blame the children for our mistakes, for the first school they attend is the one in our homes.

Today, no one wants to fulfil this vital responsibility: parents, school, community, society… seems too much.

Abu Huraira (r) narrated that Al-Aqra’ ibn Habis saw the Prophet (S) kissing his grandson Al-Hasan. He said, “I have ten children and I do not kiss any one of them.” The Prophet (S) said: “Verily, whoever does not show mercy will not receive mercy.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ الْأَقْرَعَ بْنَ حَابِسٍ أَبْصَرَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُقَبِّلُ الْحَسَنَ فَقَالَ إِنَّ لِي عَشْرَةً مِنْ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ وَاحِدًا مِنْهُمْ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّهُ مَنْ لَا يَرْحَمْ لَا يُرْحَمْ

In a similar narration, it was narrated by Aisha (r) that a badu (desert person) came to the Prophet Muhammad (S) one day, as he was playing with his grandchildren. The badu was shocked. “You play with them? We do not do that!” he exclaimed. But Muhammad said: What can I do for you, when there is no place for mercy in your heart (it was removed from your heart)? (Bukhari, Muslim)

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ جَاءَ أَعْرَابِيٌّ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ تُقَبِّلُونَ الصِّبْيَانَ فَمَا نُقَبِّلُهُمْ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَوَأَمْلِكُ لَكَ أَنْ نَزَعَ اللَّهُ مِنْ قَلْبِكَ الرَّحْمَةَ

An amazing revelation: What good is a heart without mercy in it???

Parents: God directs that we worship Him and be kind and obedient to our parents; after being thankful to God, we are to be thankful next to our parents.

The Hadith says the path to Paradise is under our parents’ feet, particularly the feet of our mothers.

Mu’awiyah ibn Jahima (r) narrated that Jahima (r) came to the Prophet (S) and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, I intend to join the expedition and I seek your counsel.” The Prophet (S) asked him: “Do you have a mother?” He said yes. The Prophet (S) said, “Stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.” (Sunan al-Nasa’i)

عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ جَاهِمَةَ السَّلَمِيِّ أَنَّ جَاهِمَةَ جَاءَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَغْزُوَ وَقَدْ جِئْتُ أَسْتَشِيرُكَ فَقَالَ هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ أُمٍّ قَالَ نَعَمْ قَالَ فَالْزَمْهَا فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ تَحْتَ رِجْلَيْهَا

Sisters/Women: Our inward maturity of faith is reflected in how we treat the women of our families and communities.

In marriage, our faith-in-action is demonstrated by how respectfully we treat our spouses, who are our life partners and equal in the sight of God.

God Almighty told us that spouses are like garments to each other: “Your spouses are a garment for you as you are garment for them.” (Qur’an 2:187)

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ

Elders: The Hadith tells us that those who do not know, or willfully ignore, the rights of the elderly (or senior citizens) among us do not belong in the fold of Islam.

Abdullah ibn Amr (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.” (Aḥmad)

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍقَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا وَيَعْرِفْ حَقَّ كَبِيرِنَا فَلَيْسَ مِنَّا

Subhanallah! Let us look at the humanity’s state in regards to their seniors and we will soon notice that we are not doing well!

And if we do not change this state of ours, our youth would treat us the same way!

  1. Neighborhood: One whose neighbors cannot feel safe from mischief is not a good believer … and will not enter Paradise, says the Hadith.

Abu Shurayh (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said three times: “By Allah, he/she does not have faith!” It was said, “Who is it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (S) said, “He/she whose neighbor is not safe from his/her harm.” (Bukhari)

عَنْ أَبِي شُرَيْحٍ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ وَاللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ وَاللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ وَاللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ قِيلَ وَمَنْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ الَّذِي لَا يَأْمَنُ جَارُهُ بَوَايِقَهُ

Additionally, we learn from the Hadith; even when you cook soup, add more water, remembering your neighbor who might come to you in need.

Abu Dharr (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “O Abu Dharr, when you cook a stew, put more water in the broth and take care your neighbors.” (Muslim)

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ قَالَ‏ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏ يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِذَا طَبَخْتَ مَرَقَةً فَأَكْثِرْ مَاءَ الْمَرَقَةِ وَتَعَاهَدْ جِيرَانَكَ

The angel Gabriel informed the Prophet (S) so often about the importance of one’s neighbors and their welfare that he (S) thought neighbors might get the inheritance of one another.

Abu Huraira (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “Angel Gabriel kept advising me to be good to neighbors until I thought he would make them my heirs.” (Ibn Majah)

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا زَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْجَارِ حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ سَيُوَرِّثُهُ

Good neighbors make for a good community, so we should always be mindful of who our neighbors are. Who is around us? The answer is: Our brothers and sisters.

  1. Educational institutions: Today, our children are given very sophisticated instruction and they absorb a great deal of information and data.

But – are they truly well-educated?

Will they become wise mature adults, or simply information- saturated beings?

Ethics and spirituality matter in Islam.

Do they matter to Muslims?

Do they matter in our children’s schooling?

  1. Community and Global Village (Humanity): It’s a simple but true equation – Better individuals make a better community.

Anas ibn Malik (r) narrated that the Prophet (S) said:

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

None of you has true faith until he/she loves for his/her brother/sister what he/she loves for himself/herself.” (Bukhari)

Many scholars interpreted “brother” in this and other traditions to mean universal brotherhood that includes all of humanity.

An-Nawawi comments on this tradition, saying: “This is interpreted as brotherhood in general, such that it includes the disbeliever and the Muslim. So, he should love for his brother, the disbeliever, what he loves for himself which is his entering Islam, just as he should love for his brother Muslim that he remains in Islam. For this reason, it is recommended to supplicate for the disbeliever to be guided. The meaning of love here is an intention for good and benefit, and this meaning is religious love, not human love.” (Sharḥ al Arba’in)

الأولى أن يحمل ذلك على عموم الأخوة حتى يشمل الكافر والمسلم فيحب لأخيه الكافر ما يحب لنفسه من دخوله في الإسلام كما يحب لأخيه المسلم دوامه على الإسلام ولهذا كان الدعاء بالهداية للكافر مستحبا والمراد بالمحبة إرادة الخير والمنفعة ثم المراد المحبة الدينية لا المحبة البشرية

And Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami writes: “What is apparent is that the use of the word brother is based upon its widest meaning, such that it is befitting for every Muslim to love for the unbeliever to have Islam and the virtues that derive from it… His saying to love for himself means of what is good, so that he will be together with them as if they were one person.” (al-Fatḥ al-Mubin)

والذي يظهر أن تعبيره بالأخ جري على الغالب لأنه ينبغي لكل مسلم أن يحب للكفار الإسلام وما يتفرع عليه من الكمالات … قوله يحب لنفسه أي من الخير فيكون معه كالنفس الواحدة

And Hamza Muhammad Qasim writes: “The Prophet’s saying to love for his brother what he loves for himself is interpreted as universal brotherhood, such that it includes the disbeliever and the Muslim, and he should love for his brother the disbeliever what he loves for himself which is his entering Islam. For this reason it is recommended to supplicate for their guidance. The Prophet invited the unbelievers of the Quraish to goodness and he loved good for them. He would say: O Allah, guide my people for they do not know. This confirms that the meaning is to love good for all people. There is no difference between a Muslim and a disbeliever in his saying that the best faith is to love for people what you love for yourself and to hate for people what you hate for yourself.” (Manar al-Qari)

الأولى أن يحمل قوله حتى يحب لأخيه على عموم الأخوة حتى يشمل الكافر و المسلم فيحب لأخيه الكافر ما يحب لنفسه من الدخول في الإسلام ولذلك ندب الدعاء له بالهداية وقد كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يدعو لكفار قريش بالخير و يحبه لهم و يقول اللهم اهد قومي فإنهم لا يعلمون ومما يؤكد أن المراد محبة الخير للناس جميعاً لا فرق بين مسلم وكافر قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أفضل الإيمان أن تحب للناس ما تحب لنفسك و تكره لهم ما تكره لنفسك

This is not rocket-science, but another eloquent expression of the Golden Rule, which all major faiths have taken to the heart of their belief systems.

In Islam, the wrong that we do toward God is wholly between us and God.

But the wrong that we do towards other people is two-dimensional: it comprises wrong-doing toward the commands of God, as well as wrong-doing toward our fellow human beings.

Thus, when repentance for the second type of wrongdoing requires forgiveness from both God and humanity.

In the first case, it is only God that we need to ask for forgiveness.

Ya Rabb! Guide us to be people of faith… individuals who will be on the pathways of self-improvement, self-assessment, self-discipline and self-awareness, from which a sense of social responsibility can grow!

Allahumma Amin!