إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ
Innahū lā yuflihuz-zālimūn
Indeed the unjust will not be successful.
(Sūrat al-An‘ām, No.6, Āyat 135)
Those who do ‘zulm’ will never prosper. This is a promise from Allah ‘azza wa-jall. It means that they will not achieve success in the world in the true meaning of success. They will also face its consequences in the Hereafter. Thus there is defeat in both the worlds.
The word ‘zulm’ means injustice. It refers to not putting something in its right place. Zulm is anything that is done against the laws for the perfection of the soul, as well as that which is done against others to take away their rights. This includes obscene words, violent actions, cheating and misappropriation of others’ funds, abuse, and all that inflicts harm on others. A zālim is one who is not grateful for the blessings received from Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘ālā and does not consider himself responsible towards anyone.
The Holy Prophet (s) has said: O son of Adam! Do what is good and give up what is evil! Injustice is of three kinds; first, the injustice which is not forgiven, like associating anything with God. In this relation, God has said, ‘Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him (Q 4:48).’ Second, the injustice which is forgiven is like the injustice that one does against himself. Third, it is the injustice which is not forgiven like the injustice which one does to another one. (Bihārul Anwār, 72:321)
Zulm or injustice destroys the individual as well as society. It brings havoc to the system that should prevail in the world. Almighty Allah created a system and laws so that virtue and peace would prevail. Human being violate those laws and their uncontrolled vices make a mess of society.
Injustice has huge repercussions for society. Humans are deprived of making the most of their potential because of the injustice leashed upon them by others. Zulm also spread corruption on earth. Thus it is strongly condemned in Islam. Many verses of Quran talk in severe tones about the unjust. Allah says: Do not suppose that Allah is oblivious of what the wrongdoers are doing. He is only granting them respite until the day when the eyes will be glazed. (Q 14:42). He also says: And the wrongdoers will soon know at what goal they will end up (Q 26:227). Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says: By Allah, I would rather spend the night in wakefulness on the thorns of al-sa’dan (a plant having sharp prickles) than to meet Allah and His Messenger on the Day of Judgment as an oppressor against any one or a usurper of anything out of the worldly wealth…. By Allah, even if I am given all the seven districts (or continents) with all there is under their skies that I may disobey Allah in extorting a crust of a barley grain from an ant, I would never do so. (Nahjul Balāgha, Sermon 215).
Injustice stems from a lack of belief in God and the Hereafter. There is no fear of accountability. And there is also lack of control over the impulses of the nafs. Greed for wealth and power dominate the soul and restrictions to the achievement of desires are brushed aside. Such a person becomes more like a wild beast running amok. The story of Karbala shows an unparalleled example of rising against injustice. It also shows how those who are unjust will never succeed. Eventually it is the small determined group of people who stand for justice that will succeed.
There is a lot of injustice in the world today. Let this verse remind you of the promise of Almighty Allah that the unjust ones will never be successful.