Oppression, its Kinds and Prohibition in Islam

oppression in Islam

We should not behave unjustly, nor should we be dealt unjustly. We must not be the cause of oppression for others, nor do we accept being oppressed by anyone. In fact all types and forms of oppression are prohibited and condemned in our religion (Islam). It is misconception that many of us think that Islam is an oppressive religion, rather Islam itself has clearly forbidden all kinds of oppression.

Prohibition of oppression in the light of Quran and Sunnah:

Oppression is forbidden according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Allah (SWT) says:

“Deal not unjustly, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (Al-Baqarah 2:279).

He says in another verse:

“And whoever among you does wrong, We shall make him taste a great torment.” (Al-Furqan 25:19).

The Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) also emphasized on prohibition of the oppression. There are countless narrations, which confirm the prohibition of such bad manner and urge us not to be unjust to others and even to our own self too. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said that Allah the Gracious and the Merciful Himself said in a hadith Qudsi:

“O My slaves, I have forbidden oppression to Myself, and I have made it unlawful among you, so do not wrong one another.” (Muslim 2577).

And he (PBUH) said in another narration:

“Beware of oppression, for oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim 2578).

Allah (SWT) inflicts punishment on the nations and towns because of their wrongdoing, oppression and rebellion. He (SWT) never oppresses anyone; people call for their own destruction through various means by disobeying the commandments of Allah and His Messenger and by treating one another unjustly. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, grants respite to the wrongdoing, but when He seizes him He will not leave him be.” Then he (PBUH) recited: “Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the (population of) towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His Seizure is painful, and severe.” (Hud 11:102) [Muslim 2583].

Kinds of oppression and injustice:

There are, in general three kinds and types of oppression and injustice, which are forbidden according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

  1. Dealing and treating unjustly with the Supreme Lord, Allah. This takes place when one disbelieves in Allah or denies Him. Allah, the Almighty says: “And it is the disbelievers who are the Zalimun (wrongdoers, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:254). This verse indicates that no injustice is worse than meeting Allah on the Day of Resurrection while a disbeliever.

It also takes place when one ascribes partners to Allah in His worship by rendering some of his acts of worship to other than Him. Allah (SWT) states in Holy Quran: “Verily! Joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.” (Luqman 31:13). And He says: “It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah),” (Al-Anam 6:82).

  1. Treating or dealing others unjustly. This takes place by abusing and harming them, either in matters and concerns related to their honour and dignity, or physically, or their wealth and property without any right. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever has wronged his brother, should ask for his pardon (before his death), as (in the Hereafter) there will be neither a Dinar nor a Dirham. (He should secure pardon in this life) before some of his good deeds are taken and paid to his brother, or, if he has done no good deeds, some of the bad deeds of his brother are taken to be loaded on him (in the Hereafter).” (Al-Bukhari 6534).

The Prophet (PBUH) also said: “Whoever swears an oath in order to unlawfully take the right of another Muslim, Allah will decree the Fire for him and forbid Paradise to him.” A man said: “Even if it is something insignificant, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Even if it is a twig from an Arak tree.” (Muslim 137).

  1. Committing injustice against our own self. This can occur by committing many wrongs against ourselves, various evils, crimes and sins, as well as numerous Satanic practices and acts of disobedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH). Allah (SWT) says: “And they did not wrong Us but they wronged themselves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:57).

It is clear from above-mentioned Verses of the Holy Quran and Ahadith that the real bankrupt person is the one who has done many virtuous deeds in the world, but at the same time has trample over the rights of others, and perpetrated all sorts of wrongs over them. The result will be that all his virtuous acts shall be taken away from him, and distributed among the aggrieved parties, and he shall be stripped of all his good deeds. If his good deeds are finished then the he will be burdened with the sins of the aggrieved and oppressed ones. In fact, there can be no greater misfortune for a person, than losing all his virtuous deeds at a time of his most pressing need.

Here are some very interesting books by Darussalam which will enlighten this topic: Do not Become Angry, On the Mountain Peak and Guarding the Tongue.