One of the five ‘Usul al-Din (foundations of the faith) is the concept of al-Adl (The Justice of God). Shia theologians differ from their Sunni counterparts in holding that this belief is a pillar of the faith and a crucial element of monotheism. The Sunni theological schools have generally argued that it impossible to assign certain aspects to the nature of God, and therefore it is not compulsory that God necessarily acts justly.
The Realm of God’s Justice
God acts justly, and this behavior is described in the Qur’an verse cited below:
Our Lord is He who gave unto everything its nature, then guided it aright” (Chapter 20:50)
This verse clarifies that God does not jest but rather creates everything in nature in the form in which He intended for it. This means that any deficiencies within a person’s character are due to the mistake of that individual and not due to an inherent fault created by God within the individual.
Justice in the Legislative Realm
God can also be observed as being just within the realm of religious legislation where He advises mankind in how they should conduct themselves in life. He has done so through the sending of Prophets, Imams and revelation. God also legislates divine law which does not overburden the believer with obligations which are difficult to follow, nor impossible for the believer to implement in his daily life. As God states in the Qur’an:
We task not any soul beyond its capability” (Chapter 23:62)
Justice in the Realm of Recompense
God likewise acts in accordance with divine justice and judges each individual in accordance with their circumstances and deeds. He does not judge them randomly, or in accordance with favoritism, but rather rewards or punishes each individual in a manner which is just.
We set a just balance for the day of resurrection so that no soul is wronged in anything.” (Chapter 21:47)
God has made clear that even in the realm of reward and punishment, those who have not been fortunate enough to receive divine guidance, through being taught a religious moral code through a Prophet, shall be exempted from punishment:
We never punish until we have sent a Messenger.” (Chapter 17:15)