Justice and Equality in Islam (Islam 6.1)

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­­Introduction: Justice and Equality (Islam 6.1)

Objectives: Understand what is meant by justice and equality and know some key teachings.

Justice in Islam is bringing about what is right, fair, according to God’s (Allah’s) law or making up for a wrong that is committed.

Equality means that people should be given the same rights and opportunities regardless of sex, religion, race, etc. In the context of Islam, equality is related to one’s role and responsibility. Equality in Western thought is not always in agreement with Islam, so Muslims are obligated to act upon Islamic values as much as they are able, and stay away from contradicting the Quran and Sunnah. In Islam, for example, the husband and wife do not equally contribute to the running of the house as we discussed in an earlier lesson. The man has to provide housing, clothing and food for his wife and children – and the woman is not obligated with that responsibility. The wife, however, is expected to serve her husband, raise the children and she is the primary carer and nurturer wherever possible. There are certain jobs that Islam does not permit for women such as being a soldier in battle, or leader of nations – and certain roles are not permitted for men, such as midwifery (i.e., delivering babies in a hospital). After a family member dies, each person receives in inheritance what Allah has entitled them to, and this is not necessarily equal amounts. Women are expected to wear the Hijab, men are not. Nevertheless, equality in terms of basic human rights such as the right to life and safety from harm, the right to a fair trial, suitable employment, suitable education, fair wages, etc., is upheld by the Sharīʿah.

What is Justice? Justice is an ideal that every Muslim aims to achieve. Justice basically means fairness as ordained by the Lord. Muslims believe that justice is one of the supreme values of Islam, and that one of the main purposes of the Prophets was to bring justice to the earth by calling mankind to the worship of only One God (Allah), the sole Lord and Creator. One of the names of God is The Judge (Al-Hakam) which in part means: ‘The One who treats everyone in a just manner in a way they have the right to be treated, and in the way they deserve.’ Every Muslim should develop this quality of being just, and make sure everyone gets what they are entitled to. Allah (the Most High) stated:

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (Qur’an 16:90)

He also said: “The blame is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel in the earth, for such there will be a painful torment.” (Qur’an 42:42) Allah commands that Muslims should treat everyone fairly and show justice even to those they hate. This governs the way that Muslims treat prisoners as well as those who attack Islam and Islamic values: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you unjust. Be just! That is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (Qur’an 5:8)

The opposite of justice is injustice (or oppression). The greatest oppression in Islam is to associate partners with Allah in worship, such as the worship of idols, prophets, jinn, angels, the dead, etc. It also means not giving people what they are entitled to, placing affairs in other than their rightful place, and not treating people fairly. Almost every day there are stories of how people are treated unfairly because of their nationality, skin colour, race, sex, or religion. Muslims are the most targeted group in terms of mistreatment, unfairness and injustice in Western societies – this mistreatment is referred to as Islamophobia. This has led some Muslims to return back to their Muslim heritage countries.

Muslims are taught by the Quran and Sunnah to be just in how they behave with Muslims and non-Muslims, oppression is forbidden against any of creation. In recent years, however, in the West, Muslims have become victims of injustice – they are vilified in the mainstream media, and unfair judgements are made against whole communities which has led to a massive rise in Islamophobia. The term Islamophobia means the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.

Muslims believe that the only religion acceptable to God (Allāh) is Islam and that God will not accept any other faith on the Day of Judgement. This is an added encouragement for Muslims to invite people to Islam, and invite them to worship none except the one True God, Allah.

What is equality in Islam? Islam is committed to the belief that people have worth and must be treated fairly regardless of their background. Everyone is encouraged to perform righteous deeds, be truthful and lead a life of obedience to Allah, and behave with good morals so that everyone is rewarded by Allah in accordance with their piety and righteousness regardless of sex (gender), race, nationality, outward form or disability. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah does not look at your forms or your wealth, but He looks to your hearts and deeds.” Those who commit crimes, disobedience and sinful acts are threatened by Allah’s punishment regardless of their status in society.

Muslims are commanded to look at a person’s piety, goodness and kindness, and treat them accordingly. The more righteous a person is, the greater is our love, affection and nearness to him or her. Sinful and disobedient people are not treated the same as the righteous and pious. People should be judged according to how well they have lived a life of obedience to God (Allah) and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities to the rest of creation according to God’s Laws.

People should not confuse the different duties that Allah has allocated to various people in society as a sign of injustice or ‘inequality’, rather it is from His all-encompassing knowledge and wisdom that Allah gives each person his duty: the mother, the father, the husband, the wife, the ruler, the subjects, the teacher, the student, the son, the daughter, and so on. Likewise, the convicted criminal is not given the same rights accorded to the law-abiding citizen. This is the justice of Allah.

Justice in the Qur’an:

“O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13)

“Verily, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard themselves against fornication and the women who guard themselves, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35)


You should now understand what is meant by justice and equality in Islam and know some key teachings about justice and equality in the sight of Allah. Muslims believe they are both important. Having different roles in life does not mean there is any injustice from Allah. Equality in the Western world is not necessarily equality in Islam, so Muslims are obligated to look at Islamic values since they are revelation from Allah whereas Western concepts of equality and justice are quite often driven by street protests, identity politics, lobbying from pressure groups, political expediency (to win votes), peer pressure, and mass media – so values and concepts of equality are open to constant change in these countries. That is not the case in Islam. And all praise is for Allah.


  1. Explain what Muslims understand by justice.
  2. Explain what Muslims understand by equality.
  3. Explain what Muslims understand by injustice.
  4. What does Islam say about racism?
  5. How does Islam treat women? Do you believe that having different roles in life means that women are treated unjustly?
  6. Explain some roles that Muslim men are expected to do, and some that Muslim women are expected to do.
  7. Do men have a greater right to Allah’s pleasure and Paradise than women? Explain your answer using some Qur’anic verses.
  8. Does your race or skin colour make any difference in Islam? Explain your answer using the Qur’an.

Abu Khadeejah (2015)

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