Posted by Falak Rahman
“Blessed is He (Allah) Who has sent down the Discrimination (the Quran) to His servant (Muhammad), that he may be a Warner to all the worlds.” (Al Quran 25:2)
John W. Weeks Bridge and clock tower over Charles River in Harvard University campus in Boston with trees, boat and blue sky
The US Harvard University has posted a verse of the Holy Quran at the entrance of its faculty of law, describing the verse as one of the greatest expressions for justice in history.
Verse 136 of Sura Al Nisa (women chapter) has been posted at a wall facing the faculty’s main entrance, dedicated to the best phrases said about justice.
A Saudi student who studies at Harvard published a picture of the poster in his Twitter page, according to the Saudi Arabic language daily Ajel.
“I noticed that the verse was posted by the faculty of law, which described it as one of the greatest expressions for justice in history,” Abdullah Jumma said.
Harvard University was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1636 as the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
There are two dozen quotations on display, in the art installation, created by the Harvard University. The three, most prominently displayed, at the entrance of the art installation, are quotes from St. Augustine, the Holy Quran and Magna Carta. According to the Harvard Law School Faculty:
These quotations illustrate the universality of the concept of justice throughout time and across many cultures.
After the quotations were selected from a pool of over 150 contributions from law school faculty, staff and students, the librarians at the Harvard Law School Library researched the historical context and authenticity of each quotation and developed this website to share this research with visitors to this art installation.
Now, I reproduce the description of the Entrance wall from the website created by the Harvard Law School Library, except for the pictures. The entrance wall covers three landmarks in human history, in the history of Law and Judiciary, firstly St. Augustine, as a representative of Judaism leading into Christianity, secondly, the Holy Quran and thirdly Magna Carta, representing the climax of human wisdom and experience, developing in the light of revelation of scriptures and human struggle in history, until the 13th century:
Saint Augustine (Augustine of Hippo) (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)
“An unjust law is no law at all.”
Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) is considered one of the most influential writers of the early Church. He was raised and educated in the classical Roman tradition in Thagaste, part of the Roman province of Numidia in North Africa. As a young man, he was a dedicated student of Latin literature and rhetoric, and he traveled to Carthage and later Rome to continue his studies. Although Augustine did not initially follow his mother’s Christian faith, while in Rome he converted to Christianity in 387 CE. Later, he returned to North Africa and devoted his life to the Church. There he founded an ascetic community, was ordained and eventually rose to be bishop of the city of Hippo. It is not surprising that Augustine is traditionally represented holding a book, since he was a prolific writer of theological works and pastoral letters. Augustine wrote in an era when many Catholic rites and doctrines were still unsettled, and the Church was confronted by a number of schismatic movements. Many of his writings directly challenge these movements. De Libero Arbitrio (On Free Will), the source of the quote, is one of Augustine’s earliest Christian writings. In it he addresses free will, grace and divine foreknowledge—themes he would revisit in his writings throughout his life.
Qur’an (622 CE)
“O ye who believe!
Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses
To Allah, even as against Yourselves, or your parents,
Or your kin, and whether
It be (against) rich or poor:
For Allah can best protect both.”
According to Islamic tradition, this surah (chapter), was revealed in Medina after the Prophet’s hijra (migration) from Mecca in 622 CE. As the name of this surah implies, An-Nisa’ mainly deals with the obligations and responsibilities of women in Islamic society, but it also touches on inheritance and family law along with slavery and temporary marriage. In this verse, the Qur’an is addressing the importance of truthfulness in testimony.
Magna Carta of King John, A.D. 1215
“To no one will We sell, to none will We deny or defer, right or justice.”
King John agreed to the terms of Magna Carta in a field at Runnymede in June of 1215. John’s reign had been an unhappy one, marred by wars in France, ongoing financial difficulties, friction with the Church and conflict with his subjects. Many of his barons resented his heavy-handed attempts to assert royal authority and extract funds to support his military campaigns. By late 1214, the barons rose against King John’s arbitrary rule, and after months of negotiation and armed rebellion, the barons took the city of London, drastically weakening John’s position. Under duress, John agreed to negotiate the settlement that led to the Magna Carta. Today, many of the claims set forth in Magna Carta seem modest in scope. They address grievances against the king’s abuse of his powers over inheritance, fines and legal procedure. Over time, however, these specific claims became less important than the underlying principles that recognized that royal power should be limited by the law. By 1765, the great English jurist Sir William Blackstone cited “the emphatical words of the Magna Carta” to support his statement that “the law is in England the supreme arbiter of every man’s life, liberty and property. ” (Commentaries on the Law of England, I.137-138). The Magna Carta’s simple statement quoted here is now considered a founding principle in English constitutional law.
Here is the link to the Harvard website, detailing this, click here.