The Islamic view of society emphasizes communal obligations, but Muslims and Tai Ji Men dizi both emphasize the connection between fraternity and justice.
by Davide Suleyman Amore*
*A paper presented at the seminar “Tai Ji Men: No Fraternity Without Justice,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers at Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, Pasadena, California, on February 4, 2023, International Day of Human Fraternity.
An article already published in Bitter Winter on February 21st, 2023.
In Islam, justice is considered a cornerstone of a just and equitable society, and is seen as necessary for the realization of fraternity. The Qur’an emphasizes the importance of justice, by stating:
﴿يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًۭا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُوا۟ ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓا۟ أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ.
[You who believe! Be upholders of Justice, bearing witness for Allah alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, Allah is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do. (Qur’an 4:135)].
As stated by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), “The most just of the people is the one who is most beneficial to the people” (Hadith reported by at-Tirmidhī). This means that a just person not only treats others fairly and equitably, but also works for the betterment of society as a whole.
Justice is necessary to ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly, regardless of their social or economic status. It creates a level-playing field and ensures that everyone has equal opportunities and rights. This is essential for the development of fraternity, as people can only feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with one another if they are treated justly.
Moreover, justice is also necessary to address and rectify social and economic injustices, which can erode trust and stability in a society. Inequality, poverty, and exploitation can create resentment and conflict, and without justice, these issues cannot be resolved. It is an indispensable component of fraternity according to an Islamic point of view. Without justice, society will be plagued by inequality, conflict, and instability, and it will be impossible to create a sense of unity and belonging among its members.
Justice is necessary to eliminate discrimination and oppression, and to protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances. This includes protecting the rights of the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable, who are often the most affected by social and economic injustice, and is also necessary for maintaining peace and stability in society. Conflicts and disputes can arise when people feel that they have been treated unjustly, and without justice, these conflicts may escalate and lead to greater social unrest.
In its connection with fraternity, justice is seen as a prerequisite for building strong relationships and promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie among people. Fraternity cannot be achieved in a society that is characterized by inequality, poverty, and oppression. Instead, a just society, where everyone is treated fairly and has equal opportunities, is necessary to foster a sense of unity and mutual support among its members.
Ibn Khaldūn, the famous 14th-century Islamic historian and philosopher, also emphasized the importance of justice for the realization of fraternity. He believed that justice was essential for promoting social harmony and cooperation, and for maintaining stability in society.
In his famous work “The Muqaddimah,” Ibn Khaldūn argued that justice was the cornerstone of social cohesion and the key to establishing a just and equitable society. He believed that a society could only thrive if its members were treated justly, and that injustice and oppression were major factors that led to the decline and collapse of civilizations.
Ibn Khaldūn also emphasized the role of justice in promoting fraternity, stating that people would only feel a sense of belonging and unity if they were treated justly and equitably. He believed that a society that was based on justice and fairness would foster a sense of trust and cooperation among its members, which was essential for promoting social cohesion and stability.
In Tai Ji Men, justice and fraternity are also seen as important components of a harmonious and just society, but its perspectives may differ somewhat from those of Islam. Tai Ji Men emphasizes personal cultivation and teachings and practices based on Taoism as the means to achieve the goal of inner peace and balance, known as the “Tai Ji state.”
Justice is understood as a matter of personal responsibility, where individuals are encouraged to act with integrity and fairness in all their relationships and dealings. Fraternity is also emphasized, with a focus on promoting unity, cooperation, and mutual support among individuals and communities. In Islam, justice is seen as a communal obligation, where society as a whole is responsible for ensuring that its members are treated justly and equitably. Justice is considered a cornerstone of a just and equitable society, and is seen as necessary for the realization of fraternity.
In conclusion, both Tai Ji Men and Islam place a strong emphasis on justice and fraternity, but together with similarities there are also differences in their perspectives and approaches. Tai Ji Men emphasizes personal cultivation and balance, while Islam emphasizes communal obligation and distributive justice for promoting a just and equitable society.
Justice and fraternity are intertwined in an Islamic perspective. Justice creates the conditions for fraternity to flourish, and without justice, fraternity cannot be achieved.
Tai Ji Men and Islam, on the other hand, agree in their belief that a just and equitable society is essential for promoting peace, stability, and a sense of belonging among its members. They both denounce injustice and corruption. The Tai Ji Men case and the wounds it inflicted not only on Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) but on Taiwanese society as a whole, is an instance of injustice threatening societal harmony and destroying fraternity—according to a standard of fairness and the duty of behaving according to conscience that different religious and spiritual traditions may all recognize.