Tuesday 8 December 2020

Allah Commands: Return the Trusts and Judge with Justice

Justice is one of the major hallmarks of teachings of Islam. The Qur'an is full of  Divine Commands asking the believers to ensure upholding of justice with complete disregard to status and position of the criminals. Those at the helm of the affairs of administering justice are duly cautioned to judge with justice when it comes to deciding a case between the people. Allah also commands those who have been entrusted with the trusts to deliver the same to those worthy of them, for He is All Hearing and All Seeing:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَاۡمُرُكُمۡ اَنۡ تُؤَدُّوا الۡاَمٰنٰتِ اِلٰٓى اَهۡلِهَا ۙ وَاِذَا حَكَمۡتُمۡ بَيۡنَ النَّاسِ اَنۡ تَحۡكُمُوۡا بِالۡعَدۡلِ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمۡ بِهٖ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ سَمِيۡعًۢا بَصِيۡرًا‏ 
Allah commands you to deliver trusts to those worthy of them; and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. Excellent is the admonition Allah gives you. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Surah 4 An Nisa: 58) 

In this verse, the Muslims are forewarned against the evils which had afflicted the Israelites. One of the fundamental mistakes committed by the Israelites was that in the time of their degeneration they had handed over positions of trust (i.e. religious and political leadership) to incompetent, mean, immoral, dishonest and corrupt people. The result was that corruption spread throughout the nation. The Muslims are directed to take heed of this, and to entrust positions of responsibility only to those who are capable of shouldering the burdens of such positions. The other major weakness of the Israelites was that they completely lost their sense of justice. In their pursuit of either personal or national interests, honesty and good faith were often sacrificed. The Muslims, in the time of the Prophet (peace be on him), were themselves subjected to gross injustice at their hands. On the one side were the Prophet (peace be on him) and his followers, to whose purity of life and conduct the Jews were themselves witnesses. On the other side were those who worshipped idols, buried their daughters alive, married their step-mothers and circumambulated the Ka'bah naked. Despite this, these so-called People of the Book felt no shame in declaring that the latter were closer to righteousness than the Muslims. After informing the Muslims of the iniquity of the Jews, God now warns them against committing similar injustices. They should rather declare what is right in the face of friend and foe alike, and judge between people with equity and justice.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: This ayat has two parts: (1) The Command to Return the Trusts to Whomever They Are Due, and (2) The order to be just.

Allah commands that the trusts be returned to their rightful owners. Al-Hasan narrated that Samurah said that the Messenger of Allah said, (Return the trust to those who entrusted you, and do not betray those who betrayed you.) Imam Ahmad and the collectors of Sunan recorded this Hadith. This command refers to all things that one is expected to look after, such as Allah's rights on His servants: praying, Zakah, fasting, penalties for sins, vows and so forth. The command also includes the rights of the servants on each other, such as what they entrust each other with, including the cases that are not recorded or documented. Allah commands that all types of trusts be fulfilled. Those who do not implement this command in this life, it will be extracted from them on the Day of Resurrection.

It is recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said, (The rights will be rendered back to those to whom they are due, and even the sheep that does not have horns will take revenge from the horned sheep.) Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Jurayj said about this Ayah, "It was revealed concerning `Uthman bin Talhah from whom the Messenger of Allah took the key of the Ka`bah and entered it on the Day of the victory of Makkah. When the Prophet went out, he was reciting this Ayah, (Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due). He then called `Uthman and gave the key back to him.'' Ibn Jarir also narrated that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "When the Messenger of Allah went out of the Ka`bah, he was reciting this Ayah,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤدُّواْ الاحَمَـنَـتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا
(Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due). May I sacrifice my father and mother for him, I never heard him recite this Ayah before that.'' It is popular that this is the reason behind revealing the Ayah (4:58). Yet, the application of the Ayah is general, and this is why Ibn `Abbas and Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah said, "This Ayah is for the righteous and wicked,'' meaning it is a command that encompasses everyone.

The second part of the ayat is the Divine Order to Be Just: Allah said,
وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُواْ بِالْعَدْلِ
(and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.) commanding justice when judging between people. Muhammad bin Ka`b, Zayd bin Aslam and Shahr bin Hawshab said; "This Ayah was revealed about those in authority'', meaning those who judge between people. 

A Hadith states, (Allah is with the judge as long as he does not commit injustice, for when he does, Allah will make him reliant on himself.) A statement goes, "One day of justice equals forty years of worship.'' Allah said, " إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ " (Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allah) gives you!) meaning, His commands to return the trusts to their owners, to judge between people with justice, and all of His complete, perfect and great commandments and laws. 

Allah's statement, " إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعاً بَصِيراً " (Truly, Allah is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer.) means, He hears your statements and knows your actions.

Explaining the ayat, Muhammad Asad notes:
(BEHOLD, God bids you to deliver all that you have been entrusted with unto those who are entitled thereto, and whenever you judge between people, to judge with justice.) I.e., in the judicial sense, as well as in the sense of judging other people's motives, attitudes and behaviour. - The term amanah denotes anything one has been entrusted with, be it in the physical or moral sense (Razi). If one reads this ordinance in the context of the verses that precede and follow it, it becomes obvious that it relates to the message or - in view of the plural form amanat - to the truths which have been conveyed to the believers by means of the divine writ, and which they must regard as a sacred trust, to be passed on to "those who are entitled thereto" - i.e., to all mankind, for whom the message of the Qur'an has been intended. This, of course, does not preclude the ordinance from having a wider scope as well - that is, from its being applied to any material object or moral responsibility which may have been entrusted to a believer - and, in particular, to the exercise of worldly power and political sovereignty by the Muslim community or a Muslim state, to which the next verse refers.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The word “trusts” is used for things which are entrusted to a person. Here they refer to the responsibilities and posts created in a collective system. The implication is that the people to whom this kingdom was granted before the Muslims had proved to be thieves; however, Muslims must not be like them. Their foremost responsibility is that after acquiring this great gift, they should hand over the trusts of the nation to people on the basis of merit and strive to establish justice in its ultimate form in every walk of life. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi comments on this verse in the following words: … This is a delineation of the most important aspect of the trust referred to as well as an explanation of the responsibility attached to political authority. The foremost responsibility of those who are blessed with political authority by the Almighty is that they should decide all disputes that arise among their people with justice and fairness. Justice means that there should be no discrimination in the eyes of the law between the various classes of society like the rich and the poor or the upper and the lower class. Justice should not be a commodity that can be bought or sold. Partiality and bias should not creep into it nor should indifference and apathy arise in dispensing it. No power or influence, greed or fear of any kind should affect justice in any manner.

Whoever is blessed with political authority by the Almighty in this world has been blessed so that he may discharge justice. Therefore, this is his primary responsibility. A just ruler will receive great reward from the Almighty, and an unjust one will be punished grievously [on the Day of Judgement]. Consequently, the verse says that this is an excellent admonition from the Almighty to the believers, who, therefore, must not show slackness in following it. The attributes of the Almighty mentioned at the end of the verse (one who hears and sees all things) caution us that even the most concealed injustice is in His knowledge. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 323)

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Qur'ān officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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