Difference between Adl and Ihsan(DW#803)
Sep 23, 2020
To summarize our discussions over the last couple of days, while Adl(justice) is the foundation of social interaction, Ihsan means to go above and beyond the basic requirements of justice and to act with beauty, kindness, virtue and grace towards other beings.
In a social context, we know that we deal with imperfect human beings. People that we interact with have flaws and they make mistakes . . . and if we dealt with everyone only on the basis of justice, things would become quite difficult for everyone. We would be forever demanding rights and making sure that things are exactly fair.
So Allah orders us to deal with grace, to overlook and forgive, and to resist retaliating with an eye for an eye.
In a tradition, Ali (as) says: "Justice is achieved once you provide people with their due rights, and kindness is applied when you go beyond this and do them a favour."
Let us use examples of two professions which are currently going above and beyond their obligations and acting with Ihsan:
A doctor or a health care professional has committed to serving his patients with due care and doing everything they can to cure and heal the patient. S/he is obligated to attend to the needs of the patients while they are working and while the patient is under their care. This is justice: doing what you are obligated to do and giving people their due rights.
What we see today all over the world is that many doctors and health care professionals are going above and beyond this to give it their all during the pandemic. We see them sleeping away from home so that they can attend to their patients and keep their families safe. We see them working while they are themselves sick so that those under their care continue to get the best treatment. This is Ihsan.
Similarly, teachers are paid to teach while they are at work. We expect that they will not be distracted and attend to student needs during their working hours. What we notice today is that teachers are learning new skills and platforms on their own time. We hear stories where teachers have set up camps inside trucks and gone to villages to teach children when children could not come to them to learn. We hear stories of teachers staying up all nights to ensure that students are well equipped to ease into virtual learning. This are above and beyond what they are paid and obligated to do for their students. This is Ihsan.
While we can fight for our rights and insist we get them, Ihsanis what is freely given beyond our rights, expectations and entitlements. Ihsanwins the hearts of people and ties them closely together. It is what restores our faith in humanity and inspires us to do better and be fully human.
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