A General Look into the Theory of Justice in Ancient Times & Modern West Part 2

An excerpt from Theory of Justice

by Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini

‘Idalah in Zoroastrianism and ancient Iran

In Zoroastrianism, the question of ‘idalah and its realization in the land is propounded, perhaps for the first time, in the frame of an integrated theory regarding past history. Based on this religion, Ahura Mazda is the One God, Creator of the world of existence and its Sustainer, and is absolutely ‘adil (just) and Righteous. ‘Idalah is both His Attributes and His Action. Ahura Mazda is just in the essence of creation and has created the world based on ‘idalah. He is just in both the administration of the world and in sending Zoroaster10 and revealing His injunctions and instructions, in the next world and in rewarding the deeds of men. Above all, Ahura’s ‘idalah is the origin of the ‘idalah pleaded by His servants. Therefore, His ‘idalah (justice) is regarded as a pattern for Zoroastrian servants.

The Gats or Gahans, which are, in one version, the most authentic and intact religious text of Zoroastrianism, attaches noticeable significance to the issue of ‘idalah and uprightness. The law of Ashah11 – as the path leading to the Truth or the law of uprightness and ‘idalah and the abstract of Zoroastrianism and will of Ahura Mazda12-for implementation of ‘idalah on the land states: “Ashah is a manifestation of Ahura’s ‘idalah. Ahura Mazda has granted people free will to select his path in consultation with wisdom and conscience and has warned that every thought, word and deed is liable to reward or punishment in accordance with the law of Ashah.”13

There are few paragraphs in Gutian in which no hint has been made of Ashah.14 In the rivalry between good and evil, the forces of good seek to give reality to ‘idalah and righteousness and the earthly world is the arena of the struggle between right and wrong, ‘idalah
and the absence of ‘idalah, good and evil. The term Arta,15 which some people have taken as Ashah, is expressive of existence of moderation and perseverance or movement in the course of the temperance in individual and social life and has been regarded as equivalent to ‘idalah, uprightness, order, truthfulness and virtue: In the viewpoint of Iranians, righteousness, Arta,16 whose meaning is closer to ‘idalah than to the true word, has been defined as harmony with moral and social order, and oppression and lie as breaking and disturbing this religion.17

Cornford in his valuable book entitled “From Religion to Philosophy”, has defined Arta or Arshah in the following words: “The principle of a sublime orderly life and maintaining ‘idalah as a prerequisite for its attainment, because creation and attainment to ‘idalah is the ultimate goal of the evolution of the world.”18

Also in this school of thought, the materialization of ‘idalah by the chosen servants of Ahura Mazda, who enjoy Divine Light, is accomplished and they attempt to give reality to ‘idalah by correcting the affairs and placing everything under the laws of Ashah and on this basis the value and superiority of the servants of Ahura Mazda depend on their plea for ‘idalah, generosity and righteousness:

The Farrokh Fereydun was not an angel
Nor did he wear goatskin and ambergris
He obtained goodness by ‘idalah and generosity
Mete ‘idalah and be generous, then you are Fereydun.19

Also in the tablets of ancient Iran, particularly in the Achaemenian20 era, ‘idalah was defined as putting everything in its proper place. The realization of truth and righteousness has been raised time and again. For instance, in one of the inscriptions of Darius the First, we read: “It was by the will of Ahura Mazda that I subdued all. One man beat the other. It was by the will of Ahura Mazda that I decreed that no one should hit the other. Everyone should take his own place. They are scared of my law. The powerful cannot oppress the weak and vanquish him.”21

In this writing putting everyone in his own place and the fact that no one can domineer and tyrannize the other signifies the realization of ‘idalah; the duty of the king is to give expression to ‘idalah and order and provide security under the shadow of ‘idalah.

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