What does justice in ethics mean?

Islamic ethicists developed the issue of justice in ethics, in which Greek philosophers were also interested, by benefitting from the resources of the Quran and the Sunnah; thus, “the philosophy of Islamic ethics” emerged.

According to the explanations of Islamic ethicists, lust (desire), fury (anger) and intellect (understanding, knowing, thinking) are indispensable powers that Allah found appropriate for human beings. When those powers are used in compliance with the purpose of creation, they make people perfect and gain them high ethics (virtues). When they are used extremely in both ends, they harm the person and other people; they disgrace man, depriving him of virtues and values.

The extreme use of the power of intellect by intelligent people can occur in the form of deceiving people by misusing the intellect, driving them into difficult positions and reaching bad aims by making use of other people’s stupidity. The opposite extreme (minimum) use of the intellect is stupidity, that is, not to use the mind as it is necessary and to act like a stupid person. A person who keeps away from both extreme ends, who uses the intellect in accordance with its purpose of creation, who thinks, knows and reads truly has the attribute of wisdom. 

The extreme use of the power of fury (anger) makes man an oppressor, a despot, a person who uses his power beyond measure, who suppresses the weak and hence a person who lacks virtues. The opposite extreme (minimum) use of fury is cowardice. The moderate form of fury is bravery, which is in accordance with its creation. Those who have this attribute protect themselves and their own rights and try to prevent others from being oppressed, crushed and exploited by oppressors. Heroes of ethics are the people who are brave.

One aspect of the power of lust (desire) is related to sex and the other is related to nutrition. The extreme form of lust, which is sex and sexual desire, makes a person unchaste, dishonest, a rapist and a fornicator; the opposite extreme (minimum) use of lust causes this power to be ignored, not to use it when it is necessary and when it is legitimate and to deprive a person of a family. Those who use lust moderately are chaste people; the virtue obtained thanks to this is called chaste.

When the lust (desire) to eat and drink is used moderately, healthy nutrition occurs. Healthy nutrition causes man to be strong and healthy enough for the world life and enables him to fulfill his duties.

To use the powers of fury, lust and intellect moderately (without going to extremes) makes a person have three virtues: bravery, chastity and wisdom. These three virtues represent “justice in ethics”.

The harm caused by being deprived of bravery, chastity and wisdom or lack of these three virtues on the individual and the community was the biggest problem of humanity in history and it is still so today.  

The prerequisite for both “justice in law” and justice in community (social justice) is justice in ethics. If there is no justice in ethics, there will be no justice in law and in community.

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