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Islam: Justice or Caprice?

Justice is the application of accepted rules. Caprice is a violation of accepted rules.

Acceptance is the participation in the discussion and construction of rules. Without discussion, participation, and acceptance, justice is impossible. Imposing and dictating rules without discussion, participation, and acceptance is caprice, not justice.

Rules are not principles. Principles are general and global ideas like Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge. Rules are the particular and local applications of principles to particular persons, groups, places, times, cultures, circumstances. Principles are universal, eternal, and unchangeable, but rules are individual, personal, temporary, and changeable. For example, Quran contains principles that are eternal and unchangeable, namely, Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge, but Muslim jurisprudence (fiqh) is a set of rules and laws that are temporary and changeable depending on the circumstances and cultures.

This means French Muslim does not have to adopt Pakistani culture and customs, but French Muslim has to adapt Quranic principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, Knowledge to their own culture, history, geography, circumstances, and produce, invent, construct, devise her own French Muslim jurisprudence, her own French Muslim rules of conduct, and her own French Muslim culture. The application of locally produced rules to the globally diversified individuals and societies is neither viable nor valuable. Application of locally produced Arabic, Pakistani, Turkish, Iranian, Egyptian, etc., rules and cultures to the globally diversified Muslim individuals and Muslim groups is neither viable nor valuable, neither logical nor rational, neither introspective nor prospective.

The common point of French Muslim and Pakistani Muslim is their strict adherence to and devout acceptance of principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge, and that is it. That is it. In all other matters, they can differ, they should differ, and they must differ because mindsets, mentalities, cultures, histories, geographies, languages, cuisines, customs, and everything else are different. Being different in details and being united in principles is normal and natural. Trying to make everyone facsimile and photocopy of yourself is abnormal, unnatural, and ill-intentioned. Trying to blindly and bluntly impose and dictate rules that were devised a millennium ago, instead of constructing new rules by using principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge, is intellectual impotence, academic weakness, and cognitive impairment. That is why most religious scholars and most political leaders are impotent, weak, and impaired; most of them are mentally unfit.

What is the main goal and primary focus of rules and laws: prevention of crime or punishment of crime? Prevention or punishment? Is it easier and cheaper to prevent illness or treat it? Prevention is easy, cheap, and painless; treatments like surgery are difficult, costly, and painful. Similarly to this, the main goal and primary focus of the rules and laws are and must be prevention of crime, not punishment of crime. Prevention is primary, and it must come first.

Punishment is secondary, and it must come last.

The relation between prevention and punishment is shown clearly throughout the Quran. For example, verses 5:38, 5:39, and 5:40 mention amputation of the hand of the thief, and this order protects the basis and foundation of any society – the right to property.[i] Protection of the right to property in 5:38, 5:39, and 5:40 is the manifestation of the principle of Justice. However, Justice must always be balanced with Compassion. The word “Zakah” (alms) is mentioned in Quran about thirty times. When counted as percentages, amputation is 1/31=3%, and alms is 30/31=97%.

This means prevention is 97% of the system of justice, and punishment is 3% of the system of justice. There have to be thirty shares of prevention before one share of punishment. Amputation cannot be and should not be enacted unless and until alms are universal, global, and general habit, trait, attribute, and property of society. Instead of focusing on cutting hands, Muslims should concentrate on paying alms and sharing wealth, both financial-material wealth and moral-intellectual wealth.

Let us think from the point of view of a thief. The thief has two choices: the first one is dangerous and difficult, and the second choice is safe and easy. The first choice is to steal and risk her life, limbs, reputation, and freedom. The second choice is to ask her rightful, legitimate, and legal share of wealth from the alms-funds. The 1/40=2.5% is her rightful, legitimate, and legal share, and when people do not pay 2.5% alms (Zakah), then they are stealing her share, and they are violating her rights of human, citizen, and believer.

Only 39/40=97.5% of your possessions and property belong to you, and 2.5% is not your share, but 2.5% is the share of society; it is the legitimate and legal right of poor and needy people. Alms is not an option; alms are duty and right. Not giving alms increases the number of thieves, skyrockets crime levels, fractures and fragilizes society, hardens hearts, and petrifies souls.

A 2.5% share of alms is an investment in society. When something does not receive investments, it does not grow and develop; it withers and dies. The death and decay of a society depend on the 2.5% alms. Alms are an investment in social capital and interpersonal bonds.

Alms are bonds, threads, and bridges that prevent and repair the tears and ruptures in the fabric of society.

Alms are not taxes. Taxes are collected by force and threats, but alms are given by heart and soul. Taxes are the symptom of oppression and slavery, but alms are the symbol of freedom and choice. Taxes are obligatory, but alms are voluntary. Taxes are collected and concentrated in the state treasury, but alms are a form of peer-to-peer connection; there is no middle-man and mediator in alms. Taxes are global, but alms are local. Taxes are for the state, but alms are for the community. Taxes are payments for the past, but alms are investments in the future. The taxpayer is oppressed and constipated, but alms-giver is liberated and freed because freedom and choice are the pre-conditions of alms-giving.

Alms are prevention of crime. Alms are just and fair sharing and distribution of material wealth. A 97% of efforts and energy must be channelled and concentrated on alms, not amputation. Alms, not amputation. Prevention, not punishment.

Similar to the relationship between stealing, amputation, and alms, all other crimes must be analyzed through the tripartite lens crime-punishment-prevention. Analogous to the 3% of punishment and 97% of prevention in the crime of stealing, the crimes of killing, adultery, terrorism, etc., must be looked upon with a “prevention first, punishment last” mindset and mentality.

Prevention is better than punishment because prevention happens before the crime, but punishment happens after the crime. Prevention saves a person from committing a crime, but punishment is done to scare other people from committing a crime. Prevention saves, and punishment scares. Save people, do not scare people. Save, not scare.

Quran is not a book of punishment full of punishments. Those who see and show the Quran as the book of punishment are blind, deaf, dumb, and mindless because Quran is the book of prevention and promotion. Quran is mainly about the prevention of bad and promotion of good by positive actions. For example, positive prevention of stealing is done by giving 2.5% alms, and it accounts for 97% of societal actions. Negative prevention of stealing is done by a threat of amputation, and it accounts for 3% of societal actions, and it is done only when and after the positive prevention options are exhausted and give no effect.

For example, positive prevention of killing is done by learning and teaching to forgive, and the negative prevention of killing is done by a threat of reciprocal killing (5:45). Now, just count verses about reciprocal killing and forgiving. Verses about reciprocal killing might account for less than 5%, and verses about forgiving might account for more than 95%. This proves the point that prevention is the primary and major course of action, and punishment is a secondary and minor course of action.

Forgiveness and forgiving is a skill and mindset, and like any skill and mindset, it can be grown, developed, expanded, strengthened, intensified, trained, and practiced. The Glorious Quran teaches the skill of forgiving and the mindset of forgiveness (4:16, 5:45, 12:92). Those who were not taught to forgive and those who were taught to not forgive are going to kill; it is just a matter of time. There is an obvious and opposite relationship between forgiving and killing. The culture of forgiveness saves lives. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is the future. Forgiveness is the prevention and panacea of killing and many other ills.

For example, positive prevention of adultery is “doing good” to your partner and “doing good” with your partner in family, and this “doing good” (amilu salihat, 2:82) is mentioned and repeated numerous times, over and over again. Negative prevention of adultery is the threat of punishments described in 4:15, 4:16, 24:2, and 24:3. However, positive prevention has precedence and priority over negative prevention, and prevention has precedence and priority over punishment.

Positive prevention of the crime of adultery is education about the form, function, goals, aims, significance, importance, principles, processes, philosophy, practice, rights, and responsibilities in the family, of family, and about family. Adultery is a crime because it violates the rights of those who are least able to defend themselves – children (infants, toddlers, teens, adolescents). Adultery is the crime against all those children raised in single-parent families or raised without families at all and abandoned in orphanages and foster houses.

Every child has a right to be raised in a functional and happy family. Every child has a right to be parented, fathered, mothered, raised, and nurtured by two responsible, caring, concerned, and conscious adults. Every child has a right to have positive role models in front of her eyes, both male and female. Every child has a right to be happy, and adultery is the crime that robs children of happiness. Adultery puts children in the pain-wheel of divorce, separation, fights, screams, tears, betrayal, loneliness, and abandonment. Those, who see Quranic punishments for adultery as unjust and excessive, fail to feel the pain of these children; they are blind to the sufferings of these children; they are deaf to the cries and screams of these children.

If an infant, toddler, or teen does not speak of her pain, then it does not mean she does not feel the pain. If an infant, toddler, or teen cannot defend her rights, then it does not mean she does not have the rights. All-Just God voiced their rights and established principles and rules for the protection of their rights. Children do not have the obligation and duty to pay for the irresponsibility and mistakes of adults. Can you imagine the pain and destruction caused by the words “You are a mistake of my frivolous youth.”? I can’t.

Children are not mistakes. Children have rights, and God voiced and protected their rights by the Glorious Quran because children do not yet have abilities to defend their rights. Adultery is a crime against the rights of children. “Doing good” to and with the partner in the family (amilu salihat) is the positive prevention of this crime. When positive prevention is exhausted and does not produce results, the threat of punishment or enactment of punishment is needed to protect the rights of children.

Prevention is important, and punishment is the last resort. For example, positive prevention of terrorism is believing (amanu, 6:99) because terrorists do not believe in God defined and described by Quran; most probably, terrorists believe in the god defined and described by pseudo-religious quasi-scholars. Terrorists do not believe in God of the Quran because terrorism is against Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge, and these four principles are the basis and essence of the Quran.

Negative prevention of terrorism is described in 5:33. Terrorists deserve the threats, types, and gradations of punishments described in 5:33 because terrorism is despicable and disgusting. There is nothing holy or honest in terrorism. Terrorism and terrorists are unholy, dishonest, despicable, and disgusting.

Verses of the Quran are connected to each other like stars in the constellations. Therefore, they have to be analyzed in groups. For example, verse 5:38 mentions the amputation of the hand of the thief, but the next verse 5:39 mentions forgiveness, repentance, and improvement, and verse 5:40 tells us that punishment is the monopoly of God. This means there are options and choices.

Let us ask a question “Why do people steal?” One answer is “They do not know how to earn without stealing,” and another answer is “They know how to earn without stealing, but stealing provides them pleasure and excitement.” Amputation cannot be applied to the first answer. Instead of amputation, the words “taba” and “aslaha” from verse 5:39 must be applied.

The words “taba” and “aslaha” mean learning, education, and improvement. This means people must be taught how to earn without stealing.

Those who steal for pleasure and excitement; those who embezzle tax money and betray the trust of society; those who devise and apply schemes of financial scamming; those who steal by committing “white-collar,” do they deserve amputation mentioned in verse 5:38? It is a question that is open to debate and discussion because such “white-collar crimes” violate the rights of millions. Rich, famous, and influential are not above the law and exempt from the law, and their “white-collar crimes” must be prevented and punished.

The current penal and penitentiary systems do not prevent crime, but they promote and proliferate crime. The penitentiary system, its jails, and its prisons act as schools and universities of crime and criminals, and those who graduate from them become “Ph.D.’s of crime.” The penal system leaves a permanent record of the previously committed crimes, and this closes almost all doors of employment and integration; thus, pushing a person to repeat offenses. That is why, according to the Quranic principle of repentance, the inmate who served her time must be given a new identity similar to the witness protection program, or her civil record must be cleaned and erased of past crimes.

Also, penal punishments should not be viewed and shown as punishments, but penal actions must be viewed and shown as education, learning, and rehabilitation. This means quality reading, quality writing, and quality thinking must be the tools and processes of penal and penitentiary systems. Otherwise, they just contribute to crime because they allow a new influx of people into the networks and structures of crime.

Similar to Witness Protection Program, there must be Inmate Protection Program because inmates, after release from prison, do not have the skills, knowledge, and networks to integrate into society. That is why they fall again and again into the networks of crime. Inmates must have the option of starting all again from scratch and a new page – new identity, new name, new past, new documents, new place, new friends, etc. Inmates must have networks of people who do not ask about their past, who do not define and debilitate people by their past, who look forward to the future. Prisons must become rehabilitation centers that teach productive habits – cognitive, emotional, and behavioral habits. Prophet did not judge Ikrima by his past, by his last twenty years of enmity, but he invested hope and injected trust in the future of Ikrima. Ikrima had the right and opportunity to start a new life, and similarly, inmates must have the right and opportunity to start a new life.

Injustice and caprice are petrified in the architecture of buildings; they are solidified in the furniture of rooms. For example, let us think about schools because they shape the mentality and mindset of children. Let us assume that one room is fifty square meters. Twenty-five students and one school principal occupy the same two rooms. Each student uses two square meters (50/25=2), and each principal uses fifty square meters (50/1=50). Students sit on cheap plastic or wooden stools, and the principal sits on a comfortable and expensive leather chair. Thus, architecture and furniture of public institutions and private places teach injustice, inequality, inequity; it is architecture and furniture of oppression and manipulation. Then compare it with open architecture and equitable distribution of space in mosques.

Architecture and furniture have to be modified according to the principle of justice.

Architecture and furniture, in the current setting, are teaching injustice, indulgence, and iniquity. Just look consciously at the buildings, rooms, furniture, etc.

Everyone has to derive and define rules of conduct for themselves. Verses 5:48 and 5:105 tell about it. First of all, no person, group, place, time, geography, history, and culture are identical and alike; each of them must write their own rules by using principles (5:48). Secondly, copying and imitating others is not going to work and produce results (5:105). Therefore, devising flexible, modifiable, and changeable rules from fixed, eternal, and unchangeable principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge is the right and duty of each generation, society, nation, group, and individual. Relying on the works of previous generations is academic dishonesty, intellectual impotence, and cognitive impairment; it is like cheating during the test by copying the answers of the neighboring student. However, these neighboring students lived in a different era, and they had different questions, and copying their answers is stupid, futile, dishonest, and denigrating.

In order to build justice, Muslims have to think systematically and with systems theory, method, and mindset. Crime, punishment, and prevention are not separated and disconnected; they are parts of the same system; therefore, individuals and groups have to focus on the prevention of crimes, not punishment. The caprices of politicians and religious scholars are not justice; politicians and religious scholars do not bring justice. Politicians and religious scholars want to use the tool of punishment for their gains; they do not care about prevention.

A 95% prevention and 5% punishment is justice. A 5% prevention and 95% punishment is caprice.

I chose, and I am choosing justice, not caprice.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!” [ii]

25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.” [iii]

-İman arayan münafık

References

[i] United Nations General Assembly, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” December 10,

1948, https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.

[ii] Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d.,

www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

[iii] Ünal.


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