[No misfortune can happen on earth or in yourselves but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah. In order that you may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favors bestowed upon you. For Allah loves not any vainglorious boaster.] (Al-Hadid 57:22-23)

The Qur’an tells us very clearly that Allah is in control of human destiny and history. The process of history is not neutral. Allah blesses those who do good and He punishes those who do wrong. Although there will be a Day of Judgment for every one, nations generally rise and fall in this world according to Allah’s laws of justice.

[And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), in order that ye may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.] (Ar-Rahman 55:7-9)

[O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

Justice (`adl and qist) is an absolute requirement of Allah. Allah wants all human beings to observe justice in their individual life as well as in their collective life. Individuals and nations both must be just and recognize the rights of others. The opposite of justice is oppression. When justice is not done, sooner or later oppression begins.

We read again and again in the Qur’an that when people turn away from the path of justice Allah gives them some chances to repent and to correct their ways. However, when people become arrogant and reminders after reminders do not change their behavior, then Allah’s wrath and anger descends upon them. Nations were destroyed in the past because of their injustice and iniquities. Allah says:

[Your Lord is Most Forgiving, Full of Mercy. If He were to call them (at once) to account for what they have earned, then surely He would have hastened their Punishment: but they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no refuge. Such were the populations We destroyed when they committed iniquities; but We fixed an appointed time for their destruction.] (Al-Kahf 18:58-59)

In the Bible it is said that Prophet Jeremiah told his people:

O house of David! Thus says the LORD: “Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil doings.’”

“Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, O rock of the plain, says the LORD; you who say, ‘Who shall come down against us, or who shall enter our habitations?’ I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says theLORD; I will kindle a fire in her forest, and it shall devour all that is round about her.” (Jeremiah 21:12-14)

Allah says in the Qur’an:

[Such is the chastisement of your Lord when He chastises communities in the midst of their injustice. Grievous, indeed, and severe is His chastisement.] (Hud 11:102)

[How many were the populations We utterly destroyed because of their injustice and oppression, setting up in their places other peoples? Yet, when they felt Our Punishment (coming), behold, they (tried to) flee from it. Flee not, but return to the good things of this life which were given you, and to your homes, in order that you may be called to account. They said: “Ah! Woe to us! we were indeed wrong-doers!” And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is mown, as ashes silent and quenched.] (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:11-15)

It is the duty of the people to choose the right leaders. People should respect and honor their leaders, but they should also carefully observe them and should correct them or replace them when they do wrong. Otherwise, wrong leaders become a curse for their people. Allah says:

[Have you not considered those who changed the favor of Allah with ingratitude and caused their people to descend to the House of Perdition, the Hell? Therein they shall burn; and it is an evil place to stay in.] (Ibrahim 14:28-29)

When Allah wants to punish some people, He may choose any method. Sometimes He may punish one group of wrongdoers by another group of wrongdoers. When Bani Israel did wrong Allah sent against them Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian hordes. They were not any better people, but they became Allah’s instrument through whom he poured His wrath upon Bani Israel.

[When the first of the warnings came to pass, We sent against you Our servants given to terrible warfare. They entered the very inmost parts of your homes; and it was a warning (completely) fulfilled.] (Al-Israa’ 17:5)

[Thus do We make the wrongdoers turn to each other, because of what they earn.] (Al-An`am 6:129)

What is happening now has many lessons for us as Muslims

1. Justice is very important. Justice brings safety, security and prosperity. We must never do injustice or allow injustice against anyone. Injustice kindles the anger of Allah.

2. The rulers must behave in a responsible way. What is happening today in Iraq should be a good reminder for all rulers in the Muslim world and everywhere in the world.

3. Muslims are suffering in the world today because of wrong leaders and because as people we do not work together. Unity under right leadership brings strength and success.

4. We must also keep in mind that self-righteousness is neither good for individuals nor for nations. We must be humble and should always try to improve ourselves spiritually and morally.

5. Those who have power must keep in mind that power is a double-edged sword. If it is not used properly and with restraint it may turn against the powerful also.

6. We must all sincerely repent to Allah for our negligence and mistakes and ask Him to guide us and help us to bring justice and peace in this world.

By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi