Social justice is temporary, but moral justice is forever.
We all need a framework or belief system to guide our lives.
Surrounded by uncertainty and disarray, we need a value system to inform the way we see the world. And, more importantly, we need one to guide us to seek action to help others.
The solution is striving for something called moral justice.
What is moral justice?
Moral justice is a concept of equality based on strong principles. By striving for moral justice, we are looking to make the world fairer and more equitable, and in turn, create a more moral place.
Moral justice requires adherence to a powerful set of values which do not sway over time. By relying on morality as the anchor to justice, the values and principles that underpin our activism can be timeless.
Is it the same as social justice?
It is different from social justice. Social justice, defined as “fairness as it manifests in society”, inevitably centres around the values of society at that particular time.
That’s not good enough. Fairness should lead to the same result, regardless of what society it manifests in. We know that society’s values at any given point can be morally questionable. It was not long ago that apartheid was legalised in South Africa, for example. Or that women were denied the vote in Britain.
Individuals are flawed, so relying on their viewpoints as a route to justice is only going to lead to failure. We need something more.
Working within the confines of society also means that we cannot be as radical as we want to be. It’s only when we rely on a wider concept of morality, one that proposes an objective sense of right and wrong, that we can achieve true justice for all.
Social justice is temporary, but moral justice is forever.
How can we define morality?
The expression “moral justice” relies on the lofty and elusive concept of “morality”. It, therefore, requires a bit of unpacking.
Morality, as we often understand it, is subjective. It means different things to different people, and in different contexts.
This interpretation means that morality is merely just a set of rules determined by us and our life experiences. That means that it is shaped by powerful and toxic messaging of the political elite and the media. It is also compromised by human self-interest and weakness.
The result is a manifestation of morality that is woefully immoral. For example, nearly half of British people have little or no sympathy with migrants crossing the English channel. To not feel at least some compassion towards desperate refugees is surely a sign that modern morality is broken.
We cannot rely on a conception of morality that leads to such perverse results. We need morality to be foolproof, permanent and inspirational.
The solution is to outsource our inspiration for morality to somewhere outside of our biases and prejudices. It involves us rejecting individualistic and subjective morality, instead, submitting to a higher idea of what is right and what is wrong.
For many, this comes from spirituality or belief. The principles of Buddhism, for example, propose that one should learn morality by mastering one’s ego and desires. They reiterate the principle that morality has to come from outside our own prejudices, and that we must cultivate love and kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna).
Others look to the lessons of history to form a wider idea of what is moralistic. This allows us to take inspiration from a man who was born over a thousand years ago.
Hussain: A beacon of moral justice
Hussain is the archetype of what we mean by moral justice.
He lived by an unwavering set of principles and was unwilling to compromise on them. He developed his sense of right and wrong from the principles of Islam and his family, who were the relatives of the Prophet Muhammad.
He saw his values being tarnished under the leadership of Yazid, the Umayyad caliph at the time. Yazid was a corrupt and oppressive ruler. When he rose to power, he sought to obtain legitimacy through coercion and force, rather than through the love of his people.
Hussain, on the other hand, lived by pure values. He believed in compassion for human beings, justice and equality. He could not stand by while Yazid tore these principles apart, so he rebelled against his regime.
To force Hussain’s hand, Yazid delivered to him the ultimate ethical dilemma: either pledge allegiance to his tyrannical rule or refuse and be killed.
Husain refused. He took a stand for moral justice and was killed in the cruellest manner imaginable for doing so.
His example endures today as one of righteousness and pure morality. It is this spirit that we channel into Who is Hussain? as we fight for moral justice.
What things make up moral justice?
So far we have widened the scope of morality to be something greater than ourselves. We must now formulate what morality means so that we can begin to advocate for it.
One crucial component of it must be compassion for human beings. It’s a principle derived from almost every belief system and community in history, and from our innate humanity. Everything we do must, above all else, be for the good of other people.
This principle is ingrained in the work of Who is Hussain. From blood donations to providing meals to the hungry, we believe in compassionately serving those who need our help.
We also believe in standing up for those who are powerless or oppressed. This is a fundamental principle present in every political or civil rights movement, as well as many religions and belief systems.
We, therefore, believe strongly in political justice and empowering communities. That’s why we passionately support movements which seek to correct systemic injustice, such as the Black Lives Matter project.
We also consider that we have a moral duty to be stewards of the world. Civilisation after civilisation has impressed upon us the importance of taking care of our home; unfortunately, we have not always listened.
We are committed to correcting this course. At Who is Hussain, fighting for environmental justice is fighting for moral justice.
These are some of the core tenets of what we understand to be moral justice, and through our work in over 90 cities around the world, we will continue to take action to achieve it every day.
How can you take action for moral justice?
Ultimately, we have learned that moral justice is about humility. It’s about submitting to a greater idea of morality, one that is beyond our own limited life experience. It’s about battling for the good of every human, and standing up for our principles, no matter the consequences.
To take action in service of it, we must be loud in our activism and diligent in our work. We must be brave in our advocacy and endlessly kind in our charity.
Above all, we must be powerfully and unashamedly committed to the cause of moral justice.
Find out how you can get involved with Who is Hussain? here.