The Importance Of Justice*

The Importance Of Justice*

The fact that man transcends himself and makes decisions against himself is not something that happens in any other culture. The judge condemns himself; this is not something that occurs in any other culture. Whether it is against yourself, if it is against your parents. A judge who condemns his parents, a judge who condemns his relatives, to be an implementer of justice is an honor unique to our culture, an honor that is apparent in our culture.

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Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Cosan
(May Allah have mercy on him)

I consider law to be a very important branch. My mindset has led me to this conclusion because of my religious culture. As they say “al-adli esasu'l-mulk.” Al-Adl is justice; esas is basis; and mulk is "sovereignty"; "sovereignty, means to own, to possess the rule over a society.” The basis of sovereignty, domination, and administration is justice. Two verses from Qur’an advise1 Muslims not to abandon justice, even if it is against them, even if it is against their parents and relatives.

The fact that man transcends himself and makes decisions against himself is not something that happens in any other culture. The judge condemns himself; this is not something that occurs in any other culture. Whether it is against yourself, if it is against your parents. A judge who condemns his parents, a judge who condemns his relatives, to be an implementer of justice is an honor unique to our culture, an honor that is apparent in our culture.

We know that Judge Hızır Celebi sentenced Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Sultan Mehmed, who conquered Istanbul and a Greek architect from the former rule, and defeater of Istanbul, are the defendant and claimant and Judge Hizir Celebi sentences Sultan Mehmed. Were there really jurists who were so noble, who were capable of giving such a courageous decision, a judge who could condemn a ruler to whom he was so devoted and loved so much? If such judges existed, then perhaps they too obtained enlightenment from a divine religion, people who acknowledge that they will be accountable before Allah, this is the only way this is possible. If there is such a possibility, he could only be a person who believed in the hereafter, who believed in the Divine Court, who knows that they will come before Allah, the Owner of the Day of Judgement.

As clearly seen in our religion, "Justice is the foundation of social life," and beginning with the life of the Prophet (pbuh), there were magnificent examples of delivering justice and abiding by the law, even if the enemy was in the right.

During the conquest of Mecca-i Mukarrama, the key of the Kaaba was possessed by a family, and the family did not want submit the key. They said; "I will not give it to anyone, I don't believe you're a prophet". Then Imam Ali took the key by force; they opened the door and prayed inside the Kaaba. Then a verse of Qur’an was revealed. The Prophet's uncle asked the Prophet, "Can I have the honor of keeping the key of Kaaba." He wanted this duty to be passed onto his own family. Then the verse has revealed, "Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice.” Upon this revelation, Prophet Muhammad ordered Imam Ali , "Take this key, return it back to the man who refused to give the key, and from whom you took the key with force." He didn't give the key to his own uncle. The man was surprised to see the key again, he said, what is this? When Imam Ali said: Although you are doing injustice, you refuse to accept his prophecy, even though Muhammad is Prophet. I have no respect for you because of this. And I'm the victorious one, I conquered Mecca and took the key from you. –I believe that normally the law of victory is the same even between states. But then Allah ordered for the key to be given to its rightful owner, as this had been the right of this family since way back in the past. This is why I'm giving you the key, the man realized that this religion is the religion of truth that reveals justice, manifests the level of morality to be able to return and ask forgiveness, to do whatever Allah commands, even if it is against him, he believed in our Prophet, became a Muslim and took the side of Muslims.

While the armies of conquests, the armies that participated in the conquests were passing by Rumeli, they picked grapes from grape vines of the locals and tied the money for the grapes on the trees, and therefore gave the owner his right. They received the reward from Allah for as long as this continued.

Our Prophet said; "We do not appoint to this position one who asks for it nor anyone who is covetous for the same. " When justice began to falter, and when appointments were issued by nepotism, the society began to degenerate, and began to collapse. Therefore, the success of people, success of the society, their progress, the goal to be a favored servant of Allah, to be worthy of Allah's grace, to be granted His rewards, to earn his acceptance are all achieved with justice. Allah depriving people of His help, a person getting himself into trouble, getting himself into difficult situations are all due to injustice. In that respect, I hope that you will seek the pleasure of Allah, consider whether Allah would approve or not when making a decision throughout your lives. I hope you will never abandon the truth, even if it may cost you your life.

You are studying a secular law in Turkey. Mevlânâ Celaleddini Rûmî says; “Suz nihâni hikmeti Yunaniyan Hikmeti imaniyan ra bemidan.” This means, "If you study the Greek philosophy, then also study the philosophy of Islam, study the philosophy of faith.” This means "You study Aristo, Plato etc., if you study them with such respect, then also study the topics of faith, don’t be single-sided. This means, you must learn Islamic Law because of your profession. Unfortunately, Islamic law is disregarded in Turkey.

Islamic law is a great law. It is a legal system in itself. It is a legal system that is worth analyzing. There are platforms for this even in West, but it has been eliminated, abolished particularly in Turkey. Therefore we have to study Islamic law very well. We must learn the principles of law and the main principles of Islamic law very well. We must learn the literature and terminology of Islamic law. In the same way that we have learned many words in Latin, how we studied Roman law as a compulsory subject and memorize words, if we have learned Latin to a certain degree like Italian, then we must make a greater effort to study, to learn the Islamic Law.

An American professor said “Your culture has produced many great geniuses, I recommend you investigate them.” He says there are great, masterful talents in your culture, I recommend that you know them, read them, investigate them. He said "I am studying Imam Shatibi at the moment." I do not know if any of you knows Imam Shatibi? His book al-Muwafaqat was published. A great scholar who studied in Andalusia. He gives knowledge on the legal methodology of law and is an extremely original figure. So they did not teach you Islamic law, then you have to learn. They denigrated it, but from behind the clouds of that defamation, we must seek its gleaming excellence, we must understand and absorb those principles.


* This speech was compiled from Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es’ad Cosan's conference that was given to law students on 19.06.1992.

1. The meaning of the verses stated is given below:

  • Nisa135. O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kindred.
  • Al-An'âm 152. And if you give your word, do justice thereunto, even though it be (against) a kinsman.
Article “Adaletin Önemi*” Prof. Dr. M. Es'ad Coşan (Rh.a.)