References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
Al-Inṣāf (Arabic:الإنصاف) or Equity is among moral virtues and means to practice justice and observing even-handedness and egalitarianism in dealing with others and observing people's rights without partiality. The word "insaf" is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but exegetes have deduced the concept of equity in social relations from several verses. Observing equity is introduced in hadiths as the best of values, the master of actions and the most onerous among obligations.
Insaf is divided to three types of equity in "speech", equity in "action" and equity in "judgment"; and some fruits are mentioned for it, including comfort, attracting love and friendship of others, increasing daily sustenance, postponing the death and gaining social position.
Insaf has been interpreted as observing and implementing justice, proper behavior in conformity with justice, observing the truth and against injustice. Equity is considered among moral virtues which is about observing even-handedness and egalitarianism in dealing with others and observing people's rights without partiality.
Insaf has been considered against bigotry, noting that an equitable person is he who avoids prejudice in his behaviors and judgments towards himself, relatives and friends and does not violate others' rights. The concept of equity has been considered related with the golden rule that "what you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself"; therefore, they have considered insaf, a social issue which finds its truth in social relations.
In law, equity is considered a collection of rules and principles relying on great moral principles included among the primary rules of law and can specify and condition legal rules; for example, if justice requires that a person should pay his debt, observing insaf about those who have difficulties, requires giving time or paying the debt in several parts.
Difference between Justice (Adl) and Insaf
They have considered some similarities between the two words of "adala" (عدالة) (justice) and insaf; however, they have also considered some differences between them. About the difference between the two words, Abu Hilal al-Askari, the lexicologist, believes that insaf mostly refers to equal division in physical issues and "adala" means to observe the rights of everyone in physical and spiritual issues; for example, about a person who has received the punishment for theft, they say that justice has been carried about him, but they do not use the word "insaf" about it.
About the difference between the two words of "adl" and "insaf", they consider "adl" (justice) giving the rights according to the laws and legal standards; even though in some cases, it may be harsh and inflexible; while in insaf, there is less harshness and intensity and they speak of mercy and leniency. In a hadith from the Prophet (s), it is mentioned that people who judge based on justice and are merciful to those who request it, will not perish.
Position and Importance
As a moral virtue, insaf is emphasized in many verses and hadiths. This word itself is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but exegetes have deduced observing insaf from the meaning of some verses. In Tafsir Majma' al-bayan, Tabrisi interprets the word "al-mizan" (balance) in the Qur'an 42:17  and Qur'an 55:9  to insaf and observing equity among people. Under his comments for the Qur'an 2:282,  he considered insaf as the condition required for the writer of economic contracts.
Under the Qur'an 16:90,  exegetes considered the word "adl" to mean observing insaf in social relations and interpreted the word "qist" in several verses in the Qur'an as equitable justice which is insaf.
In hadiths, observing insaf is considered as the best of values, among the armies of intellect, best of beliefs, master of actions, the most onerous duty and among the signs of a believer. It was an advice of Imam Ali (a) to Malik al-Ashtar upon sending him as the governor of Egypt.
Observing insaf about oneself, God, enemies, companions, fellow travelers and the weak, and observing insaf by rulers toward citizens, toward the oppressed and insaf in supplications are among the examples emphasized in hadiths.
Insaf is divided to three types of insaf in speech, in action and in judgment.
Insaf in speech: Expressing and also accepting the truth, even if it is against the interests of the person, his relatives or his friend. In Qur'an 6:152, God advises on observing insaf in speaking. Exegetes have considered this verse including the messages about different types of testimonies, wills, fatwas, confessions and enjoining to the good and forbidding the evil.
Insaf in action: Observing insaf in mutual social behaviors is introduced among the factors of decreasing social damages and development of a good environment for living. Imam Ali (a) asked Malik al-Ashtar to observe insaf toward God, people, relatives and his inferiors.
Insaf in judgment: observing insaf regarding legal issues and between two sides of a claim is emphasized among the most important religious and moral orders. In several verses, the Qur'an advises those who judge among people to observe justice and equity and has warned them about the consequences of distraction from the path of truth and equity.
Different individual and social fruits and blessings in this world and in the hereafter are mentioned for insaf. Comfort, increasing daily sustenance, wisdom, postponing the death, the paradise, releasing from the punishment in this world, developing friendship and resolving conflicts, love, gaining God-given dignity and social position are counted among the fruits of observing insaf.
- It is Allah who has sent down the Book with the truth and [He has sent down] the Balance. What do you know—maybe the Hour is near!
- Maintain the weights with justice, and do not shorten the balance!’
- O you who have faith! When you contract a loan for a specified term, write it down. Let a writer write with honesty between you
- Indeed Allah enjoins justice and kindness
- ‘And when you speak, be fair, even if it were a relative
- The material for this article is mainly taken from انصاف in Farsi WikiShia.