Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our wealth and justice

Most people around the world have a dream, where you’ll be sufficient and happy by earning enough money to enjoy life and keep you financially secure for the rest of your life, very much influenced by the “American dream” really. This point of view affects almost every aspect of life, including how we comprehend justice. Although more and more people are beginning to be aware with our misperception of justice, let’s face it, most are seeing justice from the eyes of the powerful and rich (where the weak and poor are non-factors and dispensable).

As long as the rich are frightened to lose their wealth, and the poor struggle to stay alive, justice will always remain untrue and discriminative. At least that is what’s happening right now in my home country, Indonesia (and in many third world countries I believe). The corrupts run loose and enjoy their loot because they can afford to, while petty thieves (that often need to steal to stay alive) are often beaten to death. The rich become richer and more comfortable, while the poor become poorer and more miserable. No justice there I feel. And how often do we stand still when someone steps all over the justice we believe in?

True justice is somewhere hidden inside our hearts, covered by our interests, lust, and greed. We need to shred those individual interests, lust and greed away, in order to see and be brave to uphold true justice. For a Muslim, the best way to shred individual interest is to fully commit him/herself towards God’s sake. Unfortunately, although many people are said to be Muslims, they aren’t putting enough effort to understanding Islam and act upon the teachings.

Purifying our hearts
Islam teaches us NOT to put wealth in our heart, because wealth corrupts the heart, it will surely be exhausted (one way or another) and cannot be of any true help to us in the face of calamity, as presented in the holy Qur’an (Al Kahf verse 32-44). Wealth should not become an obsession or goal, yet should only be used as a tool to reach blessing (by helping the poor, supporting orphans, etc.). By not putting wealth in our heart, we will be able to have clearer perception on things, including our perception towards justice.

Muslims are explicitly ordered to uphold justice. If there are any Muslims doing the opposite, then they have deliberately disobeyed Allah. As said in the Quran in An-Nahl verse 90, the verse has approximate meaning:

“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.”

The verse is very clear, direct and easy to understand. Islam brings human beings back to fitrah, our natural state, so everything in Islam should be natural for us (=easy to do).

As I have mentioned, our incapability to see justice is because it is covered up by our interests, lust and greed to what is offered by this world of ours. Everybody, no matter how corrupt, are built by Allah to have justice in their hearts. I know I have simplified many things in this post, and the problem is probably more complex. But I believe that our lust and greed is one of the main culprits. And for a Muslim, the reasons above are more than enough reason to be brave in upholding justice.

Keywords: An Nahl verse 90, Al Kahf verse 32-44, justice