Globally, Muslims were outraged when the International Court of Justice cleared Serbia of genocide charges for their role in the Bosnian massacres.
In Canada, families victim to violent murderers are angry over light murder sentences.
As the human mind is weak, biased, and limited, the only way to dispense justice is for man to submit to Allah (swt) and refer to His Guidance when seeking to resolve societal disputes.
The ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case brought by Bosnia-Herzegovina against Serbia, delivered on February 26, 2007, is a compromise judgment, giving something to the Bosnian victims but largely denying the Bosnian genocide and exonerating the Serbian state of its role. The verdict sparked outrage amongst the victims and Muslims around the world.
Massacre of Muslims
The Bosnian genocide began in the spring of 1992 when Bosnian-Serbian nationalists, led by Radovan Karadzic (today a fugitive from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)), took over units and weapons from the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav national army. This army was backed by Milosevic (who was then president of Serbia), and supported by a murderous Milosevic-funded militia from Serbia proper. They launched their violent campaign against the non-Serb (primarily Muslim and Croat) populations. Serbian forces burned villages, killed community leaders, incarcerated and murdered men in concentration camps, and raped women and girls - thus terrorizing 90% of the non-Serb population into leaving the areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina which they controlled or conquered.
The International court exonerated the Serbian state of any responsibility in the genocide even though all the facts indicate that it was fully aware of the crimes being committed and was fully engaged in supporting them. The International court chose to ignore the facts for the sake of political calculations, and thus failed to deliver justice to the thousands of innocent Muslims and Croats made victim by an international conspiracy of silence and indifference led by the United Nations. Surely, the Muslim women victims of systematic rape do not feel that they have been given justice. As Allah (swt) has revealed:
“Those who persecute (or draw into temptation) the Believers, men and women, and do not turn in repentance, will have the Penalty of Hell: They will have the Penalty of the Burning Fire.” [TMQ 85:10]
Murders in Canada: “Slaps on the wrist”
The injury of injustice is not only felt by Muslims, but also non-Muslims. On March 10th 2007, the residents of Edmonton held a rally to express their outrage over the lack of punishment handed out to criminals who have been found guilty of murder. According to the CanWest News service, “The protesters said Saturday they want violent criminals to get far more lengthy prison sentences, even if they are young offenders when they commit the crimes. It shouldn’t be left up to judges to sentence young offenders convicted of violent crimes as adults, it should be mandatory, the family members argue.”
“Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind” [TMQ 5:32]
The protesters included, Grant McGillis, whose 20-year-old son Dylan was stabbed to death and Peacha Atkinson, whose 13-year-old daughter Nina Courtepatte was raped and beaten to death. According to Grant McGillis:
“Kids, when they’re growing up, they’re learning that it’s OK to do these things and get away with it. They’re getting slaps on the wrist and that is it.”
Justice of Allah (swt) versus the Injustice of Mankind Allah (swt) has ordered human beings to be just:
“O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is aware of what you do.” [TMQ 5:8] and “O you 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 you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is wellacquainted with all that you do.” [TMQ 4:135]
As demonstrated by these verses of the Glorious Quran, Allah (swt) expects the believers to be just – that is an essential component of being Muslims and carrying Islam to the rest of humanity. When the rational mind examines the concept of justice in man-made systems, such as in liberal democracies, the inevitable conclusion is that complete justice is unattainable. This is due to the fact that man made systems understand justice in human terms and from a human perspective, thus ultimately exposing this understanding to the biases, contradictions and limitations –inherently exhibited by the human mind. As a result, such legal systems are susceptible to the very same limitations. The human mind is incapable of understanding things in a comprehensive way. Take for example the McGillis family: they hold the Canadian courts responsible for being too light on murderers. Mr. McGillis believes that the judgment that these courts give out to murderers actually encourages the crime because the punishment delivered by the Canadian courts, in his opinion, are minimal. From the perspective of the judges, there is no way that they can anticipate how society will receive their judgment – whether the potential criminals will be encouraged to commit the crime or be deterred from engaging in it. This is due to the fact that all judges are limited in what they can sense; they cannot understand the long-term implications of their judgments as they do not completely comprehend the complexities of society or the nature of Man.
Mankind is also susceptible to bias. Regardless of where the judge or jury is presiding, their judgment will be skewed by their experiences in life. Take the Rodney King incident for instance. In 1992, four white Los Angeles police officers brutally beat this African-American man. The beating was caught on video tape which was distributed to the media. However, in 1992 the grand jury cleared the police officers of any wrong doing. This resulted in the infamous LA Riots, where approximately $1 billion worth of property was damaged. The rioters were incensed at the judgment delivered by the jury (which consisted of ten whites, one Hispanic, and one Filipino-American). They felt that the jurors were biased and that justice was not delivered, and therefore they reacted in a destructive manner In contrast to the weak, limited, and biased mind of man, Allah (swt) is free of need and is unbiased in His Judgment. Allah (swt) is the Creator of mankind and is the Knower of all things and therefore the court system and legal code – the Shariah – correctly addresses all the weaknesses of man as well as the complexities of society. When Allah (swt) revealed the Islamic ruling system and Islamic legal code, He (swt) was certainly not handicapped by human biases, limitations or contradictions, as He is the Wisest, Infinite in His Justice and Knower of all things.
Practical Application of Allah (swt)’s Justice Man must first submit to Allah (swt), only then can he embark on delivering justice. Man is endowed with reason. We come to the rational conclusion that the limited universe needs a creator, who is Allah (swt). Knowing that Allah (swt) exists, we need His Guidance to establish a relationship with Him – and to correctly organize and regulate our societies. Therefore, we need a message from Allah (swt). The last and final message was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw) in the Quran. We have absolute conviction that the Quran is from Allah (swt) as the style of the Quran is inimitable – no human can use the Quranic style to express an idea. With this foundation internalized, man can then embark on delivering justice to humanity. This is due to the fact that he understands what justice is and that the real Judgment is reserved for Allah (swt). Furthermore, a judge that fears Allah (swt) knows that there is a severe punishment waiting for them if they do not judge with justice. This paradigm is exemplified in the famous legal trial that took place between Caliph Ali (ra) and a Jewish citizen of the Caliphate. The Jew picked up a shield that had fallen from Ali (ra), and claimed it as his own. Ali (ra) took the matter to court and brought his son as a witness. The judge ruled against Ali (ra) even though he was the Head of State (Caliph), based on the hukm shari that a son cannot be a witness for a father in court. When the Jew witnessed such fairness, he voluntarily confessed that the shield is Ali’s and embraced Islam. From this incident we see how the Islamic court works in practice. The judge was solely motivated by his fear of Allah (swt) to ensure that he followed hukm shari. He was not swayed by the fact that Ali (ra) was the Head of State, while the defendant was non-Muslim. Nor was he swayed by the fact that Ali (ra) was the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Furthermore, he did not put aside the hukm shari because he knew that Ali (ra) was honest. He had to put aside his biases and stick to the hukm shari, because he would have to answer to Allah (swt) if he ruled in the incorrect manner.
The key idea is that justice begins with being just with Allah (swt). That is, one needs to establish a relationship with their Creator before they can proceed to tackle the immense responsibility of delivering justice to mankind.
Any legislative body or court system – be it the United Nations, United States, Pakistan, Turkey, or Canada –cannot deliver justice. Each of the legal systems in these countries is based on the fact that each deny the right of Allah (swt) to rule. As a result, until we build a system that is based on the concept that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Final and Last Messenger, we will never be able to dispense complete justice. As Allah (swt) revealed:
“Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction:
O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah; for false worship is indeed the highest injustice” [TMQ 31:13].
May Allah (swt) establish His rule on earth and may Allah (swt) bring peace and justice to the earth. Ameen.
The Politically Aware Muslim
26th of Safar, 1428 March 16th, 2007 Volume 2, Issue 37