According to Islam it is a great sin to kill an innocent person, and anyone who does so will suffer great torment in the hereafter:
...So We decreed for the tribe of Israel that if someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth. (Qur'an 5: 32)
As we can see from the above verse, killing one innocent person is regarded as equivalent to killing all of mankind. In another verse, the importance that the faithful attach to life is expressed in these terms:
"Those who do not call on any other god together with Allah and do not kill anyone God has made inviolate, except with the right to do so, and do not fornicate; anyone who does that will receive an evil punishment" (Qur'an 25: 68)
In yet another verse, God issues the following commandment:
Say: 'Come and I will recite to you what your Lord has made forbidden for you': that you do not associate anything with Him; that you are good to your parents; that you do not kill your children because of poverty - We will provide for you and them; that you do not approach indecency - outward or inward; that you do not kill any person God has made inviolate - except with the right to do so. That is what He instructs you to do so that hopefully you will use your intellect. (Qur'an 6: 151)
Any Muslim who believes in God with a sincere heart, who scrupulously abides by His words and fears suffering in the hereafter will avoid harming even one other person. That is because he knows that God is the Lord of Infinite Justice, and will suitably reward him for all his deeds. In one of the prophetic traditions, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) listed the kinds of people who are not pleasing to God.
'Those who act cruelly and unjustly in the sacred lands, those who yearn for the ways of the ignorant and those who wrongly shed human blood.' (Reported in Bukhari)
Islamic morality commands believers to behave justly when taking a decision, speaking or working, and in short in all areas of their lives. God's commandments in the Qur'an and the traditional ways of our Prophet describe that understanding of justice in great detail. All the messengers revealed to us in the Qur'an, brought peace and justice to all the communities they were sent to with their warnings and the prophets were a means whereby cruelty and despotism were lifted from the shoulders of the community of the faithful. As God has revealed in one verse;
Every nation has a Messenger and when their Messenger comes everything is decided between them justly. They are not wronged. (Qur'an 10: 47)
The most important feature of the Islamic understanding of justice is that it commands justice at all times, even if the person one is dealing with is very close to one. As God commands in another verse:
You who have faith! be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do. (Qur'an 4: 135)
God commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what God exhorts you to do! (Qur'an 4:58)
As this verse makes clear, the wealth or social status of the person he is dealing with is of no importance to a believer. The important thing is fairness, that nobody should be treated unjustly, and the scrupulous implementation of the words of God. This is how it is commanded in another verse:
You who have Faith! show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to taqwa (God consciousness). Have taqwa of God. God is aware of what you do. (Qur'an 5: 8)
In this verse, God orders the faithful always to act justly, even when it comes to their own enemies. No Muslim can make a spontaneous decision on the basis that the person he is dealing with once harmed him or left him in a difficult situation, or that he is a personal enemy. If the other side is genuinely in the wrong, the Muslim has a duty to respond with good and to display the morality commanded by God.
God has issued the following commandment to believers:
God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. (Qur'an 60: 8)
He has informed Muslims what the nature of their relationships with other communities should be. These verses are the very foundation of a believer's view of all other people. A Muslim's attitude towards others is formed not by the nature of the person he is dealing with, but rather by God's revelations in the Qur'an. That is why Muslims with pure hearts always support what is right. Their determination on this matter is revealed in these terms,
Among those We have created there is a community who guide by the Truth and act justly according to it. (Qur'an 7: 181)
Other verses on the subject of justice read:
God commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what God exhorts you to do! God is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Qur'an 4: 58)
Say: 'My Lord has commanded justice. Stand and face Him in every mosque and call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. As He originated you, so you will return.' (Qur'an 7: 29)
God commands justice and doing good and giving to relatives. And He forbids indecency and doing wrong and tyranny. He warns you so that hopefully you will pay heed. (Qur'an 16: 90)
According to the view of justice as set out in the Qur'an, the religion, race and gender of the person one is dealing with are of no importance. That is because Islam maintains that all races and genders are equal. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "All men come from the Prophet Adam, and the Prophet Adam comes from the earth,' there is no difference between people."(Reported by Ibn Majah) Features such as skin color, social status and wealth confer no superiority on anybody.
All over the world people are subjected to cruel treatment because of their race, language or skin color. Yet according to the Qur'an, one of the reasons for the creation of different tribes and peoples is that 'they should come to know one another.' All tribes and nations are the servants of God, and must come to know one another and learn their different cultures, languages, customs and abilities. One intention behind the existence of different nations and races is cultural wealth, not war and conflict. All true believers know very well that only godliness can impart superiority, in other words the fear of God and faith in Him. As God has revealed in the Qur'an:
Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's sight is the one with the most taqwa. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an 49: 13)
Elsewhere, He has revealed:
Among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and earth and the variety of your languages and colors. There are certainly Signs in that for every being. (Qur'an 30: 22)
When we look at the history of Islam we see many examples in which the faithful behaved with complete justice towards other races. Islam grew unbelievably quickly over a wide area, taking in Africa, Asia and Europe. The beauty of Islamic morality were thus spread by means of these conquests. Islam has spread to all races, nations, social structures and regions, and has brought millions of people together with a bond of brotherhood the like of which the world had never before seen.
Professor Hamilton Alexander Rossken Gibb in his book Whither Islam, describes the Islamic view of other races:
"No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavors so many and so various races of mankind . . . Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition." (H.A.R. Gibb, Whither Islam, London, 1932, p. 379)
Islamic morality aims at a society built on brotherhood, peace, freedom and security. That is why all communities that have come into contact with Islam have given up their oppressive, cruel and aggressive ways, and instead built a society built on peace. Many Western historians have expressed that fact in their works and stated how Islam had deep and positive effects on communities that came into contact with it. In his book The Making of Humanity, Professor Robert Briffault discusses the relationship between Western society and Islam:
"The ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights, that guided the framing of the American Constitution and inflamed that struggle for independence in the Latin American countries [and elsewhere] were not inventions of the West. They find their ultimate inspiration and source in the Holy Quran." (Prof. Robert Briffault, The Making of Humanity)
The truths in the above extracts are an indication of the way that Islamic morality has taught people about peace, tolerance and justice down the centuries. Nowadays, everybody is seeking just such a model, and there is no reason why such a culture should not once more come about. All that is necessary is for people to want to live by the morality of the Qur'an, beginning with themselves and later making efforts to spread it to other people. When the morality commanded in the Qur'an begins to be implemented everybody, from the very highest ranks to the very lowest, will be just, compassionate, tolerant, full of love, respectful and forgiving, and that will bring peace to the whole of society.