Reflection No. 5:18 on Q 6:82 – Covering faith with injustice

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُمْ بِظُلْمٍ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ
Alladhīna āmanū walam yalbisū īmānahum bi-zulmin ulā’ika lahumul-amnu wahum muhtadūn
Those who believe and do not taint their faith with injustice, for such [people]
there shall be safety and they are the rightly guided
(Sūratul An‘ām, No. 6, Āyat 82)

This verse comes at the end of a conversation of Nabī Ibrāhīm with the idol worshippers of his time. In the verse before this one he asks them which group is more worthy of having peace and security and of not being afraid? Then he answers his question by saying that the group that believes and does not cover their faith with injustice is more worthy of that peace. Injustice is a veil that covers faith and does not let the light shine through. Thus the verse refers to injustice as a ‘clothing’ over faith.

Nabī Ibrāhīm (Abraham) mentions two qualities necessary for this group: faith and not covering the faith with zulm. What does the word zulm exactly mean here? What form of injustice is being referred to here? According to a narration from Ibn Mas‘ūd, the Muslims were distressed when this verse was revealed. They asked the Holy Prophet (s) what God meant by injustice here. They were afraid that everyone was guilty of some form of injustice, at least against their own selves. Would that mean they were all not part of the group mentioned in the verse? The Prophet reassured them saying that injustice here meant shirk, or associating a partner with Allah. He asked them if they had not heard the words of Luqmān mentioned in the Quran where he told his son not to associate anyone with Allah:   And when Luqman said to his son while he admonished him: O my son! Do not associate anyone with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous injustice. (Q 31:13)

According to Tafsīr Namūne the injustice here is a comprehensive term that encompasses all forms of injustice. It also refers to social injustice, or injustice to the self. Faith in Allah should create a sense of responsibility, both towards God and towards His creatures and should make the believer shun all types of injustice. Aghā Mahdi Pūya says, “Zulm means (any) evil or transgression in thought or action.” S. V. Mir Ahmed Ali when commenting on this and previous verses in the sūrah said, “Those who believe and do not inter-mix belief with iniquity (zulm) are the rightly guided.”

The peace and security that is the result of faith not darkened by injustice includes:
1) Safety from the displeasure and wrath of God.
2) Safety from the social repercussions of injustice; poverty, war, fear, insecurity, and many more ills that can be seen in society today.
3) Safety from inner unrest and emotional turmoil that comes through injustice to the self, and through not recognizing the true nature of the self.

Let us recite this verse to remind ourselves to keep our faith pure. It is not just enough to have faith. That faith must not be mixed with any form of injustice, not against God, not against others, and not even against the self. Only then will true peace prevail.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atiī Kāshānī, Tafsīr Nūr; http://quran.al-islam.org/ Footnote to Sūra 6, v. 74.