From an Islamic point of view, the Tai Ji Men case is further confirmation that there cannot be peace without justice.

by Davide S. Amore*

*A paper presented at the seminar “No Peace Without Justice: A New Look at the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on April 24, 2024, International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

An article already published in Bitter Winter on April 29th, 2024.

Justice administered by a qāḍī, or Islamic magistrate, 14th century miniature. Credits.
Justice administered by a qāḍī, or Islamic magistrate, 14th century miniature. Credits.

In Islam, the concept of justice holds profound significance, intricately woven into the fabric of the religion’s teachings and practices. Rooted deeply in the Qurʾān and the Aḥādīth (sing. ḥadīth, i.e. record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as transmitted through chains of narrators), justice is not only a moral virtue but also a fundamental principle governing societal harmony and individual conduct.

The Qurʾān (4:135) emphasizes justice as a divine imperative,

﴿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 خَبِيرًۭا﴾

(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).

This verse underscores the obligation to uphold justice impartially, even if it conflicts with personal interests or familial ties.

Furthermore, the Prophet (ﷺ) exemplified justice in his actions and decrees, setting a precedent for Muslims to emulate. His famous saying (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 13),

لا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

(None of you will have faith till he wishes for his brother what he likes for himself)

encapsulates the essence of justice, advocating for fairness and empathy in all dealings.

Ibn Khaldūn, the renowned Muslim historian and philosopher, expounded upon the nexus between justice and societal stability in his seminal work, the Muqaddimah. He astutely observed that “justice is the foundation of sovereignty” and posited that a society’s endurance hinges upon its adherence to equitable governance. Ibn Khaldūn’s assertion underscores the pivotal role of justice in fostering social cohesion and preventing discord.

Handwriting of Ibn Khaldūn certifying the authenticity of a manuscript copy of the Muqaddimah. Credits.
Handwriting of Ibn Khaldūn certifying the authenticity of a manuscript copy of the Muqaddimah. Credits.

Moreover, Ibn Khaldūn articulated the cyclical nature of civilizations, wherein the erosion of justice precipitates societal decline. He remarked, “In the beginning, the ruler has his share in the maintenance of justice… When the dynasty continues in power, the state of justice gives way to that of oppression.” This cyclical pattern underscores the indispensability of justice in sustaining peace and prosperity within societies.

Indeed, the correlation between justice and peace is unmistakable in Islamic thought. Without justice, societal discord festers, breeding resentment and instability. Conversely, when justice prevails, peace flourishes, fostering mutual respect and cooperation among individuals and communities.

In the Tai Ji Men case, a spiritual organization faced persecution and injustice at the hands of authorities. This situation underscores the importance of justice not only at the individual level but also within the structures of governance and societal institutions. The Qurʾānic injunction to “be upholders of justice” applies not only to individuals but also to those in positions of power, who bear the responsibility of upholding justice impartially.

Moreover, the teachings of Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ) regarding fairness and empathy resonate deeply in this context. The mistreatment of Tai Ji Men exemplifies a departure from these principles, as the organization faced discrimination and unjust treatment based on its spiritual beliefs.

Ibn Khaldūn’s insights further illuminate the Tai Ji Men case, particularly his observation regarding the cyclical nature of civilizations. The persecution faced by Tai Ji Men reflects a breakdown in the state’s duty to uphold justice, leading to societal discord and instability. As Ibn Khaldūn noted, when justice gives way to oppression, the fabric of society unravels, threatening peace and prosperity.

Tai Ji Men protests in Taiwan.
Tai Ji Men protests in Taiwan.

Therefore, the Tai Ji Men case serves as a stark reminder of the profound interconnection between justice and peace within Islamic thought. Without justice, as exemplified by the plight of Tai Ji Men, peace remains elusive, and societal harmony is compromised. Upholding justice, as mandated by Islam, is not only a moral imperative but also a prerequisite for cultivating a peaceful and equitable society.

In conclusion, Islam extols the virtue of justice as a cornerstone of righteous living and societal harmony. From the Qurʾānic injunctions to the teachings of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the insights of scholars like Ibn Khaldūn, the imperative of justice resonates throughout Islamic discourse. As Ibn Khaldūn aptly surmised, without justice, the path to peace remains elusive, underscoring the inseparable bond between justice and tranquillity in Islam. The Tai Ji Men case underscores the enduring relevance of Islamic principles of justice and their intrinsic link to peace. By examining this case through the lens of Islamic teachings and insights from scholars like Ibn Khaldūn, we gain a deeper understanding of the profound implications of justice for societal well-being and harmony. Well-being and harmony will not be fully affirmed in Taiwan unless and until the Tai Ji Men case is solved.