Justice is the second article of the Roots of Islam in Shi’a faith. The other articles are the Unity (Tauheed), the Prophet Hood (Nubuwwat), the Imamate (Imamat), and the Day of Resurrection (Qiyamat).
In order to fully understand justice, one needs to understand injustice. Causes of injustice are; ignorance, fear, wants, and meanness. Naturally these are not applicable to Allah (s.w.t.) Moreover, Allah says in Surah Ale-Imran Ayah 108: “Allah does not wish injustice for any of His creatures” Similarly, in Surah Al-Nahl Ayah 90: “Allah commands people to maintain justice, kindness and proper relations with their relatives.”
Shi’a believes that Justice is an integral part of the Divinity. The Divine Justice means Allah does no injustice and in both of His Creational and Lawmaking Systems, acts according to what are right and fair. The reason why the principle of justice became an article of faith among the Shi’a was that a section of the Muslims denied it in a way that was totally contrary to human freedom. They believed that Divine Destiny operated direct and not through the medium of “Cause and Effect”. They believed that man did not perform good or bad things; it was Allah who accomplished it through human beings.
Here an important question arises that if a system of “cause and effect” did not exist and man have no power of choice, then why man should be recompensed for evil or good deeds done by him? Why does Allah rewards some people and sends them to Paradise and why does He punish some other one and dispatches them to Hell, when He Himself performs good and bad deeds? If the human beings have no freedom and no choice of their own, it is unjust and contrary to the indisputable Principle of Divine Justice to punish them for the deeds over which they have no control.
Most of the Shi’a and a section of the Sunni Muslims, Mu’tazilah, reject the theory of human compulsion and direct operation of Divine destiny in the world. They consider this view to be contrary to the Principle of Justice, besides advancing arguments based on reason quote from the Glorious Qur’an and the Traditions in support of their belief.
The Principle of Justice is a Divine Principle and is related to one of Attributes of Allah, it is also a human principle because it concerns human freedom and power of choice. Generally, human beings like truth and love a truthful person and dislike lies and abhors a liar. A truthful person had exercised his option of telling the truth and is appreciated by all. And a liar is disliked by all because he made a wrong choice to tell lies.
These days, a question is frequently asked about the social inequalities existing in the world. For example why some people are healthy while others are sick, some are rich and others are poor. Is this inequality contrary to the Divine Justice? Does not Divine Justice demand that all individuals should be equal in regard to wealth, health, duration of life, number of children, social position etc. and there should be no disparity between them regarding these things.
The root of this question lies in not paying attention to the way the Divine destiny operates. The questioner thinks that Divine destiny works direct and not through the medium of causes, and that health, beauty, power, position and other bounties of Allah are distributed to the people at their doorsteps by a hidden hand direct from the Divine treasures.
No bounties, material or spiritual, are distributed direct. The Divine destiny has setup a system and appointed a number of norms and laws. Whosoever wants something, he should seek through that system and according to those laws. Moreover, attention is not paid to the position of man as a responsible being who struggles to improve the conditions of his life, combats the natural factors, and strives against social evils and human tyranny.
The responsibility for this inequality does not lie with the Divine destiny. Man, who is free is himself responsible for this inequality.
Sources used: Lessons from Qur’an by Muhsin Qaraati, Man and Universe by Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari