Forgiving, the Most Merciful

Oppression Prohibition in Islam

Islam was revealed to protect the natural rights of all human beings, their inalienable rights to life, property, and freedom. Violating these rights for any reason without a just cause is a major sin and it is a betrayal of Islam if Muslims claim such injustice is legislated by the Quran and Sunnah. Forgiving is a high rank which the callers to Islam should possess as it is a rank that only those with a high status attain. Allah says:

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer, we will surely cause him to live a good life. And we will surely give such individuals their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” (Sūrah al-Naḥl, 16:97)

Of the great sins which Allah forbade His Servants to do and fixed a certain punishment for them in this world and in the Hereafter is oppression. One reason we should be fearful of committing oppression is that Allah will always answer the supplication of an oppressed person. If we commit an act of oppression against someone, that person has a free supplication they can use against us. Allah says:

وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنَ الْعَذَابِ الأَدْنَى دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.” (Surah Al-Sajdah, 32:21)

The supplication of an oppressed person is always answered even if that person is an unbeliever or a sinner. Justice and the fulfilment of human rights are to be enjoyed by all people regardless of their religion. A person’s religion, then, is absolutely no excuse to harm them in any way. Islam exalts justice as a universal value through which human beings must relate to one another and forbids the oppression of all people. Allah says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

“Verily, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and He forbids immorality and bad conduct and transgression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (Surat An-Nahl 16:90)

Allah praises the believers in the abovementioned verses for having the strength and power to avenge in a just manner, for restoring their rights, and for not allowing aggressors to take advantage of them. They are by no means incapable, weak or humiliated, and they are quite capable of exacting revenge, yet they forgive and forget.

Practical Steps to Help the Oppressed

In view of the foregoing, we may outline the ways in which we can respond to the present scenario:

  1. We  should avoid oppression, which is the cause of many vices
  2. We must stop that support the tyrants and oppressors
  3. We should demand the basis of justice and fairness
  4. We are committed welfare of the Muslim Ummah
  5. We must persuade the United Nations
  6. We must urge our Muslim rulers
  7. We should use the media
  8. We should rise in restoring Muslims rights
  9. We should raise funds to help our Muslims
  10. We should not supplicate against the one who wronged
  11. We need to highlight the ruthless demolition of civilians’ homes
  12. We bring before the world’s eye the sufferings of oppressed Muslims

رَبَّنَا لاَ تَجْعَلْنَا فِتْنَةً لِلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

“Our Lord! make us not a trial for those who practice oppression.” (Surah Yunus; 10: 85)

We need to highlight the blatant deprivation of basic needs inflicted on the innocent and the defenceless people by the tyrants. With the help and cooperation of our religious leaders, as well as fearless journalists and activists, we should wage a relentless intellectual jihad for the liberation of the oppressed. Allah says:

مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ
“What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil is from yourself.” (Surah al-Nisā, 4:79)

We should indeed adopt all possible measures to effectively resist all forms of oppression, exploitation, aggression, and occupation. Indeed, we should relearn the very purpose and meaning of “striving with might and main” in the way of Allah. Also, through constant and sincere prayers to Allah Almighty, we need to lend moral and emotional support to those oppressed people who are deprived of their means of livelihood and their very human dignity.

وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُ وَأَوْرَثَنَا الْأَرْضَ نَتَبَوَّأُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ نَشَاءُ.
“And they will say, “Praise to Allah who has fulfilled his promise to us and has made us inherit the earth (so) we may settle in Paradise wherever we will.” (Surah al-Zumar, 39:74)

The strength of the Muslim community is in its care for the natural rights of everyone including the weak, the wicked, and the hated. Justice is the true metric by which Allah supports or rejects a community. If our community is weak, then we must critically examine our failure to fulfil justice.

وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَذْهَبَ عَنَّا الْحَزَنَ إِنَّ رَبَّنَا لَغَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ الَّذِي أَحَلَّنَا دَارَ الْمُقَامَةِ مِن فَضْلِهِ لا يَمَسُّنَا فِيهَا نَصَبٌ وَلا يَمَسُّنَا فِيهَا لُغُوبٌ
“And they will say, “Praise to Allah who has removed from our sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is forgiving and appreciative – he who has settled us in the home of duration out of His bounty. There touches us therein no fatigue, and there touches us therein no weariness (of mind).”  (Surah al-Fāṭir, 35:34-35)

On the other hand, if the oppressed insists on revenge then this is his right and it is perfectly permissible to do so, but the revenge must be strictly limited to the extent that he was wronged. Allah will support the just state even if it is led by unbelievers, but Allah will not support the oppressive state even if it is led by believers.

Allah, the Exalted, says in the Quran:

  • “And whoever earns a fault or a sin and then throws it on to someone innocent, he has indeed burdened himself with falsehood and a manifest sin.” (Surat An-Nisa’: 112)
  • “Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the (population of) the towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His Seizure is painful, (and) severe.” (Surat Hud: 102)
  • “So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him [i.e., those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious)].” (Quran 53:32)
  • “The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel in the earth without justification; for such there will be a painful torment.” (Quran 42:42)
  • “These are the ones who lied against their Lord! No doubt! the curse of Allâh is on the Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers, oppressors).” (Surat Hud: 18)
  • “These are their houses in utter ruin, for they did wrong. Verily, in this is indeed an Ayâh (a lesson or a sign) for a people who know.” (Surat An-Naml: 52)
  • “My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Surat Al Qasas: 16)
  • “O, my son! Join not in worship others with Allâh. Verily joining others in worship with Allâh is a great Zûlm (wrong) indeed.” (Surat Luqman: 13)
  • “Hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves.”  (Quran 3:103)

The displacement and violation of sanctity which the Jews practice against our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine is the greatest proof of oppression, no wonder because they are the killers of the Prophets (peace be upon them). Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“O you who believe, be persistently standing firm for Allah as witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, for that is nearer to righteousness. Fear Allah, for Allah, is aware of what you do.” (Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

Exert yourself in doing good deeds. They will blame and reproach themselves when they reach Hell. When the angels of punishment embrace them and stand between them and what they desire, when their hopes are cut off, and when mercy is withheld from them, every one of them will begin blaming and reproaching his own soul. Allah says:

رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ

“Our Lord, remove us; we will do righteousness other than what we used to do.” (Sūrah Fāṭir, 35:37)

Allah will always answer the supplication of the oppressed even if the oppressed person is an unbeliever or sinner. Justice is a universal right for all people in Islam. People have the right to be protected in their lives, wealth, and freedom. If we fail to fulfil their rights, then we have surrendered our fate to their supplication. May Allah ease the travails of our people, and guide all Muslims, especially our rulers and leaders, to uphold justice and truth.