the 25th call: obligation of maintaining justice in testimony
almighty allah says (what can be translated as): "o you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. whether one is rich or poor, allah is more worthy of both. so follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. and if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted." (an-nisa': 135)
justice is the system of existence. this is why; almighty allah commands the believers to establish justice in a correct way as it should be the constant and firm character in their hearts (be persistently standing firm in justice).
just as justice is required in judging between people, it is also required in any activity such as being fair with one's wives and the children in terms of expenditure and equality among them. almighty allah commands the believers to be witnesses for allah, i.e. to seek righteousness which pleases allah and obligated by him without any consideration or favoritism for anybody. they should be righteous and fair even if being a witness on the self by affirming his obligation to fulfill a certain right (who admits his obligation to fulfill a right has actually witnessed on himself). they should be also righteous and fair even it means being a witness on the parents or the closest people to him. it is not kindness to the parents or goodness to the relatives if they (the witnesses) let them eat up something that they don't have right for. kindness and goodness have to be fulfilled according righteousness and fairness not against them.
almighty allah directs the believers to stand firm in justice and testimony, even if the one they witness against is a relative whether he is poor or rich. allah is more worthy of both and his sharia has to be followed. so, be careful not to favor a rich man hoping for his charity or fearing his authority. be careful not to favor a poor man as a kind of sympathy or compassion. pleasing the one you give testimony about is not better to you or to him than pleasing allah almighty, so don't follow your inclinations lest you drift away from the truth towards falsehood.
almighty allah commands the believers not to distort the testimony, commit perjury or refuse to give it if they are called to testify. almighty allah tells them that he is the all-knowing, not a single act of allah's servants is hidden from him. their intentions are not also hidden from him; he will reward them for what they do.
it is a call for those who believe, a call addressed to them with their new character. it is a new character based on which they were restructured and reborn. their souls, visions, principals, aims were reborn. the new mission and great responsibility which they are assigned are also reborn with them, namely the responsibility of trusteeship on humanity and judging between people with fairness. this is why the call with this character has its value and meaning: "o you who have believed…" the assignment of fulfilling this great responsibility comes from having this character. due to having this character, they are prepared and trained to carry such great responsibility. this is just one touch by the wise and educational method which precedes the heavy difficult assignment:
"…be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. whether one is rich or poor, allah is more worthy of both."
it is the responsibility of standing firm in justice, the absolute justice in every state or field. it is justice that bans oppression and tyranny from happening on earth and guarantees fairness among the people. it is the justice that gives each person his right whether muslims or non-muslims. in this kind of righteousness, believers and non-believers are equals as we have seen in the story of the jew. relatives and strangers are equals, friends and enemies are equals and rich and poor have to be treated equally when it comes to justice.
"…be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for allah…"
only for the sake of allah almighty, adhering to justice for him alone, it is not for anyone else such as those we witness for or against, not for the benefit of an individual, group or even a nation. adherence to justice is not for the sake of any element or individual in the case. it is a testimony for allah which means being steadfast to allah and abandoning any inclination, desire, interest or consideration.
"…even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives…"
here the method tries to recruit the spirit to face its entity and emotions, first towards the self and then towards the parents and relatives. it is a difficult trial, it is far difficult than uttering it with the tongue and realizing its meaning and significance with the mind. appling such obligation practically is another thing than realizing it mentally. none of use knows what we are saying now unless we try to practice this experience in reality. yet, the method recruits the believing spirit for this difficult trial because it has to exist. this rule has to exist on earth and some of the humans have to apply it.
then, the method recruits the spirit to face its natural and social feelings when the person it testifies for or against is poor. may be the spirit sympathizes with the poor if it has to testify against him so it might want to testify for him because of his weakness. or may be being poor is the reason to testify against him according the psychological and social conditions which exist in the jahiliah societies. also, when the spirit is to testify for or against a rich person, the social conditions might require paying him a compliment or may be his wealth irritates the spirit so it tries to testify against him. these are natural feelings and social requirements; they are heavy when people have to face them in reality. the method recruits the self against these feelings exactly like it recruited the spirit against the love (favoritism) of the self, parents and relatives at the expense of justice.
"whether one is rich or poor, allah is more worthy of both."
it is a difficult trial and we will keep repeating that it is a really difficult trial. when islam pushes the spirits of believers in the real world to this peak, which is confirmed by the trials of reality mentioned in history, it was establishing a real miracle in the world of humanity. islam established a miracle that can only happen under this divine straight and great method.
"so follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just."
there are countless kinds of inclinations; some of them were mentioned such as love of the self and love of family and relatives. other kinds of inclinations also include sympathy for the poor in the situation of testimony and judgment, patronizing the rich or committing prejudice against them. favoritism of one's clan, tribe, nation, country or nation, in the situation of testimony and judgment, is also an inclination. hating enemies even if they were the enemies of religion, in the situation of testimony and judgment, is also an inclination. so, there are many kinds of inclinations, allah almighty bans the believers to be affected by them by disclaiming the truth. instead, they have to be truthful even if they face all these inclinations.
finally, the threat and warning against distortion of the testimony and refusal of giving it come in the verse:
"and if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted."
it is enough for the believer to remember that allah is the ever-acquainted with what the believer does. so, the believer feels what is behind this great threat and it makes his whole being shiver for almighty allah is addressing the believers with this qur'an.
it was narrated that when abdullah ibn rawaha was sent by the messenger of allah (peace be upon him) to the jews of khaybar to estimate their crop output. he would then make them pay half the amount (according to the agreement they made with the messenger (pbuh) after the conquest of khaybar). the jews tried to bribe abdullah ibn rawah to be more lenient with them. he however said to them, "by allah, i have come to you from someone whom i love most of all people while i detest each of you people more than apes and pigs among you. however, my hatred for you and my love for him will not prompt me to be unjust towards you." the jews then said, "it is because of this (such justice) that the skies and the earth remain in existence."!
abdullah ibn rawaha (may allah be pleased with him) graduated from the school of the messenger (peace be upon him), he was taught to follow the unique divine method.
he was a human who went through this difficult trial and he succeeded. many people other than abdullah ibn rawaha also achieved the same under this method; they achieved the miracle that can only take place under the direction of this method.
centuries after centuries passed after this amazing period. the libraries have become rich with the books of jurisprudence and law. life has become crowded with the organizations, legal formations, set of procedures and regulations. the heads are filled with words about justice and the mouths are full of speeches about its long procedures. diverse theories, institutions and formations were established to adjust all of the above.
yet, the real taste of the meaning of justice, the application of this meaning in people's consciences and lives and the arrival at this illuminative peak did not happen except under this divine method. at this amazing period, the peak of justice was achieved. it also occurred at the time when islam was established on earth over history and in the hearts which was raised on this belief. it was achieved among groups and individuals who studied this unique method and graduated based on it.
this is a fact that has to be realized by those who take the legal formations, procedures, regulations, systems and situations which were put and formatted by man. they reckon that all those growing and complicated legal concepts are more capable to achieve justice. they think these concepts guarantee the application of justice more than the simple procedures that were followed in this unique period of time that occurred centuries ago. they think that things are now more adjusted and measured than how they were when they were simpler.
this is an illusion founded by the shapes and sizes in the imagination of those who do not realize the facts of things and situations. only the divine method can take people to the highest level of justice despite the simplicity of types and situations. it can take people to such high status regardless of the manmade types and situations.
this does not mean we should cancel the new legal regulations. it means that we have to know that the value does not lie in the regulations; it rather lies in the soul behind despite its type, size, time or place. the virtue has to be credited to the best regardless of the time and place!