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 Social Justice in Islam    by Professor A. R. Momin

The institutionalisation of social justice

In Islamic society, social justice is institutionalised under the auspices of the state, an independent judiciary, and a comprehensive system of endowment (Waqf). The Islamic state, especially through the state treasury (Bayt al-mal), became a key instrument of social justice and public welfare. During the caliphate of Umar, the state treasury was greatly expanded and became a great source of sustenance and security for substantial numbers of poor and destitute people. The state treasury played a multiplicity of roles in Islamic society, including offering financial support to the needy, the disabled and the deprived sections of society, advancement of loans to the needy and the repayment of their debts, rehabilitation of victims of natural calamities, providing stipends to different categories of people, providing care and support to children who have no parents or relatives to take care of them, subsidies to peasants and cultivators to improve the means of cultivation, construction of canals, roads and bridges, and the management of public hospitals.

In Islamic society, the judiciary is independent of the ruling dispensation. The judge (qadi) is required to implement the provisions of Islamic law (shariah) without fear or favour and in the discharge of his obligations he is accountable, not to the powers that be, but only to God. An independent judiciary played a crucial role in ensuring compliance with Islamic law on the part of the ruling establishment as well as the general public.

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