The Theory of Justice in the Islamic Government and Governance of the Jurist

14 July 2024



Summary :
The discussion about legitimacy[1] or necessity of Islamic government under the leadership of a qualified jurist can take place from various angles.
Some Shia scholars have substantiated Islamic government and governance of the jurist through non-litigious (Hisbah) issue or under "spreading virtue" (because an Islamic government is the highest and loftiest form of virtue). Some others have proved it by way of reason or a combination of reason and narration in the sense that maintenance of the system and living of people need a ruler. What is certain is that the ruler must be aware and acquainted with the rules and various aspect of Islam.
نشست های علمی


This treatise was written for and presented in the congress on "Imam Khomeini and the Thought of Islamic Government".


Sheikh Muhammad Jawad Fazel (may Allah grant him long life)



Translated from the Persian by Javed Akbari





The discussion about legitimacy[1] or necessity of Islamic government under the leadership of a qualified jurist can take place from various angles.

Some Shia scholars have substantiated Islamic government and governance of the jurist through non-litigious (Hisbah) issue or under "spreading virtue" (because an Islamic government is the highest and loftiest form of virtue). Some others have proved it by way of reason or a combination of reason and narration in the sense that maintenance of the system and living of people need a ruler. What is certain is that the ruler must be aware and acquainted with the rules and various aspect of Islam.


In this treatise, we shall to study, in brief, the necessity of Islamic government and governance of the jurist from another angle. In other words, another way of the legitimacy and necessity of governance of the jurist will be studied and analyzed. Although a careful and inclusive study of the jurisprudential aspect of the issue requires further opportunity and consideration, this method has been cursorily referred to in late Imam Khomeini's words.

In order to legitimize governance of the jurist by this way, there would be no need for the arguments about non-litigious affairs or "spreading virtue and preventing vice" or the narrations about governance of the jurist such as: «العلماء ورثة الانبياء»   (The religious scholars are the inheritors of the prophets) or«العلماء امنا الرسل»  (The religious scholars are the trustees of the prophets). 

Also, to prove governance through this method it is not necessary to make use of Umar bin Hanzala's accepted (maqbula) tradition and the saying of the Imam of Time (a.s.)[2] because this method is based on many conspicuous and clear verses of the Quran as well as reliable traditions which we will mention in the following paragraphs.

In this method, people's vowing allegiance to the jurist is of little importance or no effect whereas allegiance has been regarded instrumental, to some extent, in substantiating the governance of the jurist.

A brief introduction of this method is as follows:

A) The main purpose of legislating laws, creating religions, sending prophets and divine books is to establish justice in its broad sense as shall be explained later. Executing justice is obligatory according to the Quran, reason and traditions.

B) The authority of guardianship (wilayat) given to prophets is not meant to give them apparent power rather; it is to execute justice among people in its broad sense. Almighty God ordained guardianship for prophets especially the holy Prophet of Islam because of their communion with the source of revelation and their being truly reliable to receive and carry the divine message; otherwise no other valid reason could be illustrated.

C) It can be deduced from the narrations, which consider the religious scholars as successors of the prophets, that the religious scholars have been granted the same authority because executing justice is not particular to prophets and the infallible Imams (a.s.). Thus, those who due to their knowledge of the Quran and tradition are deeply acquainted with the concept of justice are bound to execute justice. This meaning of justice implies that this group of people has guardianship over people. Further explanation will follow later on.

A qualified jurist can create justice in a true sense in society because, in our view, the people who are most acquainted with the true essence of justice, its aspects and details are the scholars of the religion, those who are familiar with God's book and the Prophet's tradition.

In his speech delivered on 23rd of August 1986 on the occasion of Ghadir Khum festivity, late Imam Khomeini (may Allah bless him) said: 

"God, the Exalted observed that since there was no one among the human beings after the Prophet of God (pbuh) to execute justice in a desirable manner, He ordered the Prophet of God (pbuh) to appoint someone who had the power to execute justice in the society in a complete manner; one who should run a divine government. He ordered him to appoint such a person."

It is easily understandable from this saying of Imam Khomeini that the philosophy and purpose of Ghadir was to appoint a vicegerent and establish justice.

The thing that has made leadership necessary in Islam is that the one who executes justice and the only person who can truly create justice in the society is the Imam because justice has been defined as "everything to be in its right place".  Justice in its broad meaning (which includes man's entire aspects, all affairs existing in the world and man's relation with respect to other beings) is understood by no one other than the Imam.

The Infallible Imam (a.s.) having extensive divine knowledge can explain justice for the human society and execute it thereupon.


Meaning of Justice


The meaning of justice is not the state of the mind; it is the most perfect of virtues.  It is also not what is meant by Muslim scholars in their jurisprudential discussions (on qualifications of a prayer leader or witness etc.) and it is not also one of the attributes of the Almighty God (Who never commits injustice to anyone under any condition, and He rewards every individual proportionate to his deeds).

Justice here is in the third sense which can be interpreted as "social justice" as shall be explained later.

Perhaps, a limited meaning might come to one's mind in the beginning. That is, economic justice should be established in the society; the leader or ruler should distribute the existing resources and facilities among individuals in the society in a proper and logical proportion. Therefore, he should not give out the existing wealth to a certain group or individual.

We can broaden, after precise contemplation, the meaning of justice in such a way that it would not only include economic and social issues but also a wide range of other issues including the relation between human individuals and between human beings and non-human beings because «بالعدل قامت السموات والارض» the heaven and the earth have stood with justice.

Social justice in this broad sense includes all individual, social and legal rights. Thus, the rights of religions, nations, ethnicities and all divine rights and also generally the entire affairs related to human being including devotional, political, economic and social affairs are taken into consideration.  

In short, social justice in its broad sense includes all dos and don'ts with respect to all dimensions of man's life, society and even man's creator. With the establishment and prevalence of justice, all human beings are led in the right ideological and practical path in such a way that no being would be denied what is considered to be instrumental for its perfection. While explaining the meaning of the verse (إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَ اْلإِحْسانِ)[3] (God commands justice and kindness) the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.) said that justice is to render each person his due and kindness to deal fairly. [4]

"Aristotle, the First Philosopher, has used and divided justice in three senses:

1) Distributive Justice for him is a relative mean; i.e., it is a relative distribution of property, wealth, honor, disgrace, etc., between two or more persons which results in an equality of ratios.  If possessions are to be distributed between two unequals, the ratio of the distribution must equal the ratio of the merits of the two unequals.  This is a just equality.  In other words, it is relative to the persons involved; and the objects to be distributed are divided proportionately to the merits of each person.

2) Corrective Justice is the second type which Aristotle investigates and which he calls "rectificatory."  Unlike distributive justice, corrective justice is the direct equality, that is one to one, of exchange between two parties.  Merits are irrelevant and the law is concerned only with the "distinctive character of the injury, and treats the parties as equal, if one is in the wrong and the other is being wronged."  The judge must eliminate this injustice.  It is the function of the judge, then, to equalize the defect and the excess, or the gain and loss, by determining the intermediate between them.

3) Equitable Justice is that kind of justice which Aristotle postulated as being a form of justice superior to legal justice.  Realizing that the "universality" (generality) of the law sometimes gave rise to injustices, Aristotle postulated equity, which was to function, though the judge, as a "correction of the law where it is defective owing to its universality."  But Aristotle maintained that it, i.e., the law, "is nonetheless correct; for the error is not in the law nor in the legislator but in the nature of the thing." [5]


The so-called proponents of human rights might perceive and understand social justice in its limited meaning and they may, after understanding and explaining it correctly, execute it in human society but they can never have a correct and clear perception of social justice in its broad sense. Definitely, having such a perception of social justice depends on divine revelation and correction understanding of Quranic teachings and the commands of the Wise God. Social justice in its broad meaning is intelligible only with the help of divine revelation.

The question is, can we understand or know the rights of God on man without revelation and divine commands? Is it possible to know the rights of religions and religious minorities without benefiting from divine revelation? Can we explain penalties and punishments for human offenses without seeking help from the Quran and Sunnah. More importantly, can we explain the limits of man's authority and his freedom without the help of the divine sources?  Can man's deficient mind and intellect perceive men's rights on one another? Today's human being is unable even to explain the primary rights of parents on their children.

Therefore, it is very clear that the explainer and introducer of such a social justice is nothing other than revelation. The exponents of justice are those who are in communion with revelation or have precise information about it such as the prophets (peace be upon them) and infallible Imams (a.s.).


The Necessity of Establishing Justice


Having clarified the meaning of justice, the first question that arises here and which engages our mind is: What is the reason for fulfillment of such a justice?  Is it mandatory to execute justice in this broad sense in the society?  In other words, some individuals may think that justice in its broad meaning is simply idealistic because it is not possible to implement justice in society, or in case of possibility, if there are people who implement justice within their own limits, it would be good and favorable but we have no proof to show that such a justice be executed in society especially during the period of occultation in which the society is deprived of the presence of the Infallible Imam (one who is truly acquainted with revelation).


Arguments for the Necessity of Establishing Justice


It is necessary to state and take into consideration the arguments that substantiate the necessity of establishing and executing justice in its broad meaning.


First argument: Reason


The common sense, if referred to, considers implementation of such a justice as necessary on the condition that all the preliminaries and conditions of establishing justice are available. Offending it, as per the foregoing explanations, is regarded as injustice, and injustice is rationally despicable.


Second argument: Quran


The Holy Quran has emphasized highly on establishing justice and it is inferred from some verses that the purpose of appointing a vicegerent and sending prophets is establishment of justice. In this regard, we draw your attention to a few verses from the Holy Quran:

1 – (إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَ اْلإِحْسانِ)[6]   (Surely, Allah enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good).

In this case, God, the Exalted has enjoined the doing of justice in an absolute and general manner. Obviously, justice in this verse does not refer to economic and financial matters; rather justice is intended in all matters. Justice in its broad meaning is intended by Almighty God. The word "ya'mor" (enjoins) clearly and explicitly indicates the necessity of doing and establishing justice.

Some commentators have interpreted "adl" in this verse as the fulfillment of obligatory duties and "Ihsan" as the fulfillment of recommended acts. Some others have interpreted "adl" as monotheism and "Ihsan" as the fulfillment of obligatory and recommended acts. And a third group of people have said that justice means harmony between exterior and the interior (inward and outward of a person) and Ihsan (doing of good) means that the interior of a person be better than his exterior.

Since the above verse is not restricted to any of the above concepts and justice is intended in its broad and extensive meaning, as was explained earlier, the question is whether the word "ya'mor", which is an imperative statement, implies wojub "Taklifi" (defining obligation) or wojub "Irshadi" (guiding obligation).

In other words, some may think that the verse contains a guiding instruction especially when the word "Adl" is interpreted as fulfillment of obligatory acts. Obviously, such an instruction about obligatory duties is guiding rather than defining.

In answer to this interpretation we can say that precision and contemplation would enable and demand us to infer  taklifi (defining) obligation from the word "ya'mor" or at least a combination of both defining and guiding (irshadi) obligations. That is, one of the divine obligations is to create and establish justice in human society and those who have the power to execute justice and refrains from doing so, are held responsible in the Hereafter.  The intellect's perception of the necessity of establishing justice does not necessarily mean that the command is guiding as there is no concomitance between them.  Another point about this verse is that the verse holds an important obligation for people and society and it is not meant to report something; rather it is dictating. Of course, the probability that exists with hadith-e saltanat (authority tradition) and the passage "الناس مسلطون علی أموالهم"   (People have authority over their properties) as a reportive statement which has been stripped of its instructional implication does not exist with this verse.

2 – يا داوُدُ إِنّا جَعَلْناكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي اْلأَرْضِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَ النّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ ("David, We have appointed you as Our deputy on earth so judge among the people with truth.) [7]

One of the effects of deputyship is judgment with truth as it can be understood through the letter "fa" (so) in the verse. Obviously, judgment with truth does not include only the quarrels and disputes but also guidance of human society and humanity towards truth and perfection, paving grounds for man's moral and spiritual progress, albeit with the help of God's commands, and explaining all the rights that may possibly exist.

3إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا اْلأَماناتِ إِلى أَهْلِها وَ إِذا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ (God commands you to return that which had been entrusted to you to the rightful owners. Be just when passing judgment among people.) [8]

It is clearly understood from the verse that as returning an entrusted thing to its owner is obligatory, in the same manner, passing judgment with justice among people is also mandatory.

Someone may object to this by saying that passing judgment may be confined to settling disputes and quarrels; it is not general and absolute.

The answer to this objection is: The statement "judge with justice" is absolute as it includes the judgment of both judges as well as rulers as stated by some commentators of the Holy Quran.  Therefore, passing judgment with justice is not confined to settling disputes; rather it is general by which the divine legislator means judging with justice in the Islamic society among people.  In other words, judgment with justice has been used in the meaning of the previous verse as judging with truth.

4يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَداءَ لِلّهِ وَ لَوْ عَلى أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوالِدَيْنِ وَ اْلأَقْرَبِينَ

(Believers, be the supporters of justice and testify to what you may have witnessed, for the sake of God, even against yourselves, parents, and relatives.)[9]

The word "qawwamin" in the verse is the plural form of "qawwam" which implies emphasis and stress on supporting justice under all circumstances and at any time and conditions.

Therefore, the holy verse of the Quran pretty well indicates that establishing justice and equality is obligatory but the question, whether the first supporters of justice be the public, or prophets or Imams, will be answered later as it is an independent discussion.


Third argument: Narratives


Justice in the sense explained earlier has been clearly and greatly emphasized upon by the Infallible Imams (a.s.). We can deduce the following titles from the narratives by making a quick glance at them.

A) Justice is the pillar of religion and it is next to oneness of God. There are several traditions referring to this meaning:

«إن أساس الدين التوحيد والعدل»

Oneness and justice are the pillars of the religion. [10]

Therefore, if justice is not upheld and established in the society, there would be no religion. Religion would be implemented and exercised in the society only when it is based on monotheism and justice.

If religious government succeeds in the establishment of justice, it can then claim that religion has been acted upon in the society.

B) Justice is the basic reason for wilayat and Imamat. There is a tradition which says:

«إنما يراد من الإمام قسطه وعدله»[11]

This hadith considers equity and justice as the main and exclusive purpose of Imamat and Wilayat and it is clear that justice is intended in all dimensions, or else the implementation of justice in limited and obvious cases can be done by people other than the Imam (a.s.). The thing which a non-infallible Imam is not able to do is establishing justice in its broad meaning as we explained before.

C) In the governance of a just governor, the thing which is highly important is reviving justice and wiping out falsehood. We read in some traditions as such:

«إن في ولاية والى العدل... إحياء كلّ حق وكلّ عدل»[12]

What is worth attention in this tradition is the passage "reviving justice" which has been stated as a general premise. That is, justice can be revived only by just governance.

It might be assumed that the word "fi" (in) in this tradition clearly indicates that one of the aspects of governance (wilayat) and leadership (Imamat) is the establishment of justice and restoration of rights, therefore, it is not a full cause of the implementation and legitimacy of Imamat.

It should be said in answer to the said assumption that, firstly, there is a strong likelihood that the word "fi" in this tradition could have been used in the sense of "ba" which implies causality.  That is, through the governance of a just governor, such a thing can take place. Secondly, even if the word presumably means "in" it does not necessarily mean that the implementation of justice is an essential effect of Imamat; rather it is the ultimate cause for Imamat.

D) The main difference between forbidden and permissible forms of governance lies in this matter. We see that some narratives say:

«فوجه الحلال من الولاية، ولاية الوالى العادل»

The only form of halal wilayah (governance) is the governance of a just governor. [13]

E) God likes a justice-based society.

«علامة رضى الله... عدل سلطانهم»[14]

F) One hour of justice is better than seventy years of worshipping God.

«عدل ساعة خير من عبادة سبعين سنة»[15]

It is necessary to note why an hour of justice is better than seventy years of worship. Although it is clear that the word "seventy" does not have any special characteristic; rather it is to show emphasis and the importance of justice, the reality lies in the fact that worship is not accepted without wilayat because it has been explicitly stated that nothing has been emphasized upon as much as wilayat [16](ولم يناد بشىء كما نودى بالولاية).

Among the narratives available, there are references made to some other aspects of justice which we will mention as below:

«إنّ لمحمّد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اثنى عشر اماماً عدلاً»

According to the above narration, the successors of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) have been described as just. Obviously, the purpose of their deputyship is establishing and maintaining justice. In other words, it is clear that describing the Imams as being just is not meant to inform us of the Imams bearing such a characteristic; because in the existence of infallibility, such a concept has no sense. Therefore, the above description is meant to tell that the Imams' successorship is intended to establish justice in its broad sense, and that the establishment of justice in that sense is possible only by this group of people.

There are many traditions about the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) and these traditions are considered to be mutawatir and they can be useful for our discussion.

«يملأ به الأرض قسطاً وعدلاً بعد ما ملئت ظلماً وجوراً»

The most important aspect of the global government of Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) is the establishment of justice and equality in the society. Conclusively, according to reason, Quran and narration, justice and its executions are necessary.  It is inferred from the entire narrations that Imamat is based on justice in the society not creating love among Imams and human beings, although it is favorable in Shari'ah.

Belief in Imamat – in its precise meaning – is belief in the existence of a person who can establish justice and clean the society from all sorts of impurities. Belief in Imamat – in its correct meaning – is belief in the vicegerency of the holy Prophet (pbuh), his successorship, love of him and disavowal from his enemies.

In many narrations in which the word "Adam" has been mentioned, the word "'adl" (justice) has been mentioned beside it which means that establishing justice is the main particular and one of sole purposes of Imamat. Imam Khomeini (may Allah bless him) says:  "The ultimate purpose of Imamat is justice."


The executors of justice in society


It is understandable from the previous discussions that it is mandatory on the Prophet and his successor to execute justice, and Imamat without implementation of justice is not intended by the divine legislator.

The discussion which is raised here and which perhaps makes a major part of the discussion  is whether the incumbency of executing justice is particular to the Prophet and his successors or it includes a qualified jurist also. The question will be dealt here.

It has become clear from the verses mentioned before that the incumbency of establishing and executing justice is not exclusively for the Prophet or his successors; rather it includes others also.  Those individuals – as was mentioned earlier – are the qualified jurisprudents, because they are the ones who are familiar with the Quran and the injunctions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Imams (a.s.). It is necessary to pay attention to some of the narrations which state that the religious scholars are the successors of the Imams and prophets.

The traditions such as «العلماء ورثة الأنبياء»  the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets) or   «العلماء أمنا الرسل»(the scholars are the trustees of prophets) or other traditions clearly mention that (religious) scholars are the successors of the Infallibles (a.s.) and the prophets. The important point to be taken into consideration is the point of substitution. What is the aspect in the religious scholars that makes them entitles them to be the successors of the prophets and Imams (a.s.)? Is it because the scholars have been appointed to preach the religion or is it owing to their aspect of inheritance and trusteeship. Obviously the first possibility is not acceptable because, if it were only preaching, people other than the religious scholars could also do it to some extent. This feature cannot serve as a point of substitution.

Therefore, the second possibility is fixed and substitution is in line with the purpose of scholars and prophets and that is establishing justice in its broad and precise sense.

There is another tradition from the holy Prophet (pbuh) in this regard:

«اللهم ارحم خلفائى (ثلاث مرّات) فقيل له: يا رسول الله من خلفاؤك؟ قال: الذين يأتى بعدى ويروون عنّى احاديثى وسنّتى فيعلمونها الناس من بعدى»[17]

"O God, bestow your blessing upon my successors (three times). Then the Prophet was asked: "O Messenger of Allah, who are your successors?" The Prophet answered: "Those who come after me, narrate my sayings and traditions and preach them among the people after me."

Obviously, the "Prophet's successors" does not include the Infallible Imams (a.s.) only because their position is higher than to be described with "narrate my sayings".  Therefore, it is clearly understandable through the narration that the jurisprudents are the substitutes and successors of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). It should not be assumed that the scholars and jurisprudents are the Prophet's successors only because they narrate his traditions (so it does not imply guardianship), because the statement "they narrate my sayings and traditions" serves as a reason for successorship not as a definition. The confusion between these two aspects has resulted in such an assumption. In other words, the origin of this interpretation goes to the Umar bin Hanzala's interpretation: «نظر فى حلالنا وحرامنا وعرف احكامنا» (One looks into haram and halal and knows the laws".

The fact is that those who know the entire laws of Islam and those who can be considered as the exponents of divine laws are none other than the infallible Imams. They are intended by the narration not the jurisprudents. There are two things that can serve as evidences to this:

A)    The word "Anni" (from me) denotes that the successors are those who narrate the Ahadith (traditions) from the Holy Prophet himself whereas it is clear that jurisprudents do not have such a feature.

B)     Considering some of the narratives that have been reported with the following concepts from the Infallible Imams (a.s.): "that whatever we narrate, we narrate them from our fathers, and they narrated from the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and he narrated from the Holy Prophet (pbuh)", it becomes clear that this saying of the Holy Prophet is not particular to the Infallible Imams (a.s.).  In this regard, we can make use of the following narrative from Usul-e Kafi:


«عن هشام بن سالم وحماد بن عثمان وغيره قالوا سمعنا اباعبدالله (عليه السلام) يقول: حديثى، حديث ابى وحديث ابى، حديث جدى و حديث جدى، حديث الحسين(عليه السلام) وحديث الحسين، حديث الحسن(عليه السلام) وحديث الحسن حديث امير المؤمنين (عليه السلام) وحديث امير المؤمنين حديث رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) وحديث رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) قول الله عزوجل».


Conclusively, this tradition which Imam Khomeini (may Allah bless him)[18] believes to include jurisprudents also, in my view the tradition does not include the jurisprudents at all and it includes the Infallibles exclusively.

In this specific discussion, there is no need to resort to the absoluteness of the narrative so that someone may say that the verse includes a qualified jurist also. We can use this narration just to prove the principle of substitution.

It is clearly understood from these traditions that religious scholars and jurisprudents are the successors of prophets and Imams in terms of their knowledge of the religion and divine laws.  This is enough for us to conclude that a qualified jurist, because of his knowledge of Quran, tradition and justice – in its precise meaning – is the successor of the Imam (a.s.).  Therefore, if a qualified jurist can execute justice by way of establishing a government, he must take action to establish the government, and he must spread justice and equality among people as far as it can.


Answer to three problems


First Problem


If it is said that the Quranic verse "يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ [19]" (O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice) denotes that justice is not maintained by particular group of people such as the prophets or the infallible Imams or jurists; rather all believers should maintain and establish justice. Therefore, those of the believers who can establish government and maintain justice, not only is their government not undivine but it would also be valid and legitimate. Therefore, government and governance are not exclusively to jurisprudents during the period of occultation. It should be said in answer to the above that:

Firstly, maintenance of justice by people is possible only when the limits and nature of justice are completely explained and elucidated. In other words, after the meaning of justice has been clarified to people, then it would be obligatory on them to establish and maintain it.

Secondly, we know that majority of people are not able to maintain justice in its real sense; they may be able to do it to a limited degree. Therefore, in this verse the divine legislator has asked the people to maintain justice to the possible degree. This is not contradictory to the incumbency of maintaining justice in its broad meaning upon those who have real knowledge of it. In other words, if justice can be maintained by majority of people, it does not mean that the prophets and their successors are not bound to maintain it.


Second problem


(لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنا رُسُلَنا بِالْبَيِّناتِ وَ أَنْزَلْنا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتابَ وَ الْمِيزانَ لِيَقُومَ النّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ).[20]

Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that men may conduct themselves with equity.

 It is understood from this holy verse that those who conduct equity or justice are people themselves. Late Dr Mahdi Haeri says under the foregoing verse as such:

"Establishing and maintaining justice and disciplinary work are people's duty and it is not the duty of divine prophets because it is below their dignity and lofty position."[21]

It should be said in answer to the above statement:

Surprisingly this great thinker has made notice of the words (men may conduct) but he has not paid attention to the first part of the verse which includes sending messengers and book to maintain justice and equity.

Can people establish justice without the help of divine prophets and without relying on the divine books?

This learned man claims that the people themselves should establish government and maintain justice whereas according to this verse the people cannot maintain justice without the help of prophets and divine books. The verse implies that prophets and Gods' saints are in the forefront of establishing justice and equity.

To further explain this answer, it is not correct to consider the status of supervision and explanation exclusive to the jurisprudent and the status of on governing and administering exclusive to a non-jurist. This dichotomy is not acceptable as we have no rational or textual proof for it.

We cannot consider the jurist as a mere ideologue or supervisor with the government being run and handled by others.  The jurist must be at the top of the Islamic government and he should take control of the affairs of society as he is the sole maintainer of justice. This is utterly compliant with the position of the jurist and denying him of this authority would be a way of degrading him. We should note the difference between maintainer of justice and who is directly involved in establishing justice. We should not mix up between them.


Third problem


If it is asked what concomitance is between maintaining justice and the issue of wilayat, can't we say that he who has the power to establish justice, it is obligatory upon him to do such an act whereas he may have no wilayat (authority), it is necessary to sort out (in answer to the question) the kinds of justice and cases where justice may be established:

a)      Maintaining justice in matrimonial matters:  If a man has many wives, he must maintain justice among them but maintaining justice is not in any way concomitant with wilayat (guardianship) and it cannot be said that the husband has guardianship over his spouses.

b)      Obviously the necessity of maintaining justice by parents among their children is not concomitant with wilayat, although irrespective of justice, the father has authority over his child.

c)      The necessity of maintaining justice in terms of distributing facilities; in this connection also there is no concomitance between maintaining justice and wilayat.

d)     The fourth type of maintaining justice which involves the execution of Islamic laws and implementation of the religion in the society has a clear concomitance with wilayat because this kind of maintaining justice has something to do with giving the rights of individuals to them which is subject to accepting to the view of Islamic ruler and obedience to him which accounts to wilayat because wilayat, in reality, does not have a meaning other than the necessity of following. In other words, wilayat is a composite of two things: 1 – the validity of ruling of Islamic ruler, 2 – the necessity of following him. These two components are obviously available with respect to maintaining justice.


Justice and its Relation with Rational Good and Rational Evil


In regard to this discussion, it may be said that in view of the principle of rational good and evil and that the goodness of justice can be discovered independently of religion, there would be no need for discussion about its nature, limits and its implementation with the help of the Prophet and Imams or others because the premise " justice is good" is a famous proposition. As stated by Avicenna, since it is in the interest of the general public, everyone accepts it.

Therefore, regardless of religion and Shari'ah and its owners, one can discover justice in this manner also.

In answer to this, the following should be taken into consideration:

1) Although according to Imamiyah school of thought, the reason is capable of perceiving the goodness and badness of things it does not mean that reason is sufficient for explaining justice in its broad meaning.

It has been made clean in the discussions relating to good and bad that reason is not independent of the religion in all acts and matters. Of course, as termed by late Akhund Khurasani (the author of Kifayatul Usul),  the perfect minds which are aware of all the aspects of acts, perceives all the good and bad; nothing falls out of its perception, however it is clear that these minds cannot be perfect without establishing communication with a divine source.

2) What is meant by establishing and maintaining justice is its implementation in the society through a correct and legal way whereas the rational good or bad does not lead one to do an act or refrain from doing it. Other motives are needed and these motives are possible only through sending of prophets and precise explanation of the meaning of justice by the divine legislator and the Islamic Shari'ah.

3) Although the proposition "justice is good" is a famous proposition what is needed in the society is appreciate and depreciate such conducts or give judgment for entitlement of reward or punishment whereas the right of punishment or reward is not from the famous (mashhoor) propositions because famous propositions are from the category of demonstrative proposition which manifests in the form of one of the six premises namely: primaries, the sensual (hissiyat), the natural (fitriyat), the experimental (tajrobiyat), the frequently reported (mutawaterat), the surmised (hadsiyat).

What is necessary for maintaining justice in human society, after perceiving the limits and nature of justice, is to distinguish between justice and injustice. It has been proved in its place that the human intellect only discerns that justice is good but its task is not to distinguish and conform[22] it to the manifestation. In particular cases, it cannot pass judgment whether an act is just or unjust.


Humans' Need to a Guardian and Exclusiveness of Guardianship to God


It is widely known among researchers and theorists that human beings and human society are in need of a ruler to organize their social affairs and have a clear rule for management of the society.

Human beings need a guardian and it is intellectually perceivable and understandable. The human race is under the guardianship of Almighty God; basically, it is not possible for a creature to be out of the precincts of God's guardianship.

In this connection, it can be claimed that the human race should always be under the guardianship of the Truth, even though it may be through some individuals on behalf of God and at His behest. In other words, since the human beings are in need of the guardianship of God, they should be unavoidably under the guardianship of God's appointed deputies on earth such as the prophets and the infallible Imams (a.s.). In connection with this, it can be said that those who are closely acquainted with the teachings, aims and objectives of the prophets and Imams have the same guardianship in the absence of the Imams.  That is, in case of not having access to the Infallible, the human beings need a guardian and guardianship issue can be solved in this manner.

Thus we can say as such: Almighty God created the human race and human society in such a way that they need guardianship and leadership. This is not particular to society; it is said in a tradition that if there are only two people left in the world, one of them would be the leader.

The human beings have been created in such a way that, under the shadow of God's guardianship, they need another guardian of their own kind to guide them with God's permission and consent.

Guardianship, in principle, is for God; he as the Creator of human beings has guardianship over them and the realm of His guardianship is so expansive that He can grant the same authority to others and make them guardians over them.  If guardianship does not end up in God, it would carry no value and credit even though the people may have adopted it with their own choice. For example, if the people consent to having a guardian of their own, there is no reason to prove that it is a legitimate decision because the people cannot choose a guardian on themselves simply because they are unanimous about it. The misconception has led to a lot of useless and clashing views. In other views, the people can choose someone as their own representatives but they cannot choose him as their guardians. Choosing a guardian should be ascribed to God only.

As per the above explanation, the term demo-Theo legitimacy seen in the sayings of some scholars who have legitimized the governance of the jurist on this basis is careless and invalid. Political legitimacy in matters of governance is exclusively for Almighty God and people have no influence in regard to political legitimacy in its truth-based meaning, although they play a very important role in its implementation and enforcement.


Justice and Man's Vicegerency


It has been mentioned in the Quran that God appointed man His successor on earth. Perhaps, some may think of vicegerency as such that man being God's vicegerent has been handed over with the responsibility of managing and supervising the human society, so he as the successor of God has enjoys control over all matters related to humanity. In other words, vicegerency is a cause of his control over maintenance of justice and equity in the society.

This is sort of belief seems to be inaccurate and imprecise because the Quranic verses never seek to explain man's destiny and his authority to manage the affairs of the society; rather they seek to tell that man manifests in himself God's attributes as opposed to other living beings who do not have such a manifestation. Even if God did not create more than one man in the world, he would have carried the title "God's successor" without having to consider whether or not he has the authority to handle or direct the affairs. Moreover, these verses seek to explain human being's actual and intrinsic dignity regardless of whether he/she is young or old, Muslim or non-Muslim, man or woman.  In this respect, all of them are equal including those who have just been born. His mere existence is enough to be addressed as successor to God whereas no one presumes that a new-born child could be the guardian of himself or others.

As a result, the holy verses which refer to man's vicegerency and successorship to God do not imply that he is the guardian or himself or others in social matters.


Justice and Council



[1]  -  Legitimacy here has been used in its particular meaning (righteousness) not general meaning which includes "righteousness and non-righteousness".


[2]  -   «أما الحوادث الواقعة فارجعوا فيها إلى رواة أحاديثنا»

[3]  - Quran 16:90

[4]  -  Nahjul Balagha, Sayings, h.231

[5]  - Vide: Khaja Nasiruddin Tusi, Akhlaq Naseri, p.137

[6]  - Quran 16:90

[7]  - Saad (38): 26

[8]  - Al-Nisa (4): 58

[9]  - Ibid, 135

[10]  - Allamah Majlisi, Behār al-Anwār, vol.4, p.264

[11]  - Ibid, vol.10, p.351

[12]  - Ibid, vol.75, p.347

[13]  -  Ibid, p.347

[14]  - Ibid, p.347

[15]  -  Ibid, p.352

[16]  - Hurr Ameli, Wasail Al-Shia, vol.1, Abwab Muqaddemat al-Ebadat, Chapter 1, h.10


[17]  -  Hurr Ameli, Ibid, vol.18, Abwab Sefat Qazi, ch.8, p. 66, h.53

[18]  - Imam Khomeini, Kitab Al-Bay'a, vol.2, p.462

[19]  - Quran: Al-Nisa (4), 135

[20]  - Al-Hadid (57): 25

[21]  -  Hikmat wa Hokomat (Wisdom and Government), p.140

[22]  -  This is late Akhud Khurasani's view mentioned in Kifayatul Usul. Also, some of his students hold the same opinion. However, Imam Khomeini (may his soul rest in peace) has opposed his this view in his discussion in Usul books. He is of the view that the reason has a role to play in corresponding justice to its manifestations in the concrete external world.

Tags :