Divine Justice (‘Adil)
Anyone who believes in Islamic monotheism must also believe in God's justice. God is just, and He never wrongs. Moreover, He does not have a cause for injustice toward His creatures, for an injustice is an immoral action; and God is incapable of evil. God is omniscient and never neglects any matter. God is self-sufficient, and He is not in need of the help of people. God is the possessor of everything, and His wisdom transcends the universe. For example, the Quran states:
“He is always standing firm on justice. There is no Allah but Him, the Mighty, the Wise” (3:18).
“And your Lord does not deal unjustly with anyone” (18:49).
“We1 did not wrong them, but they wronged themselves” (16:118).
Just as God encourages human beings to emulate some of His attributes, such as being patient and forgiving, God also requires humankind to follow the ways of justice. For example, the Quran states: “Say: 'My Lord has enjoined upon me justice'“ (7:29). Although people may falter in the way of justice, none of God's prophets or their successors have ever committed acts of injustice.
God's justice embraces the entire universe. Whoever ponders the existence of the universe and the order therein will not only observe the expansion of God's justice over His entire creation, but also each of the creations become apparent in all aspects of nature, from the physical world to the biological world, and from the microcosms to the macrocosms. The justice of God is particularly visible in the destiny and free-will of human beings.
Although God's justice encompasses everything people should invoke upon God to treat them not with His justice, but rather with His mercy. If God had punished people immediately for all their sins, then humanity would have perished long ago.
The question of man's predestination or freedom of choice has preoccupied humankind throughout the ages, and it continues to be discussed by Islamic philosophers and scholars. Ultimately, two schools of thought regarding this question have emerged. One, called the Compulsionist, holds that human beings do not have the freedom of choice. Every decision, utterance, and action people make has already been predestined since the time of creation. Compulsionists believe that the faithful have no choice in their faith. Likewise, the unfaithful also have no choice but to not believe in God. They maintain that everything is unalterable and predetermined.
The second school of thought, the Free Will, declares that human beings are masters of their own acts. This notion is in concordance with the Quran which states, “None will be wronged in anything, nor will you be requited anything except that which you used to do” (36:54). In addition to another verse from the Quran that states, “The truth is from your Lord. So whomever wills, let him believe, and whoever wills, let him disbelieve” (18:29).
From these two verses, it can be concluded that human beings have the freedom to act, but they must bear the moral responsibility and consequence of their actions. Furthermore, the acknowledgement of divine will itself makes people accept that their very actions are not predestined.
The beginning of spiritual guidance is always from God, but the beginning of man's destruction is one's erroneous choice. The Quran states, “Whatever good reaches you is from Allah, but whatever evil befalls you is from yourself” (4:79).
- 1. “We” refers to God. Sometimes “We” is used instead of “I” or “Allah” in the Quran to refer to God.