It is known that each and every one in the society would like to pursue justice and they would like to be treated in a just way all the time. However, various people find that they actually live in a society which is unjust and they are unknown about how they can act or behave in this unjust society as a person who wants justice. Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz is right one work that talks about the implementation of justice in an unjust society and the justice theme has played a crucial role in it. According to Arabian Nights and Days, the implementation of justice in an unjust society should involve in the supernatural forces, which will be elaborated on through the below three aspects: the human justice’s being too imperfect and weak to be implemented in the real world, the lack of an effective system of justice in the medieval Arab world and the prevention of injustice.
Implement Justice in an Unjust Society
First and foremost, the human justice is too imperfect and weak to be implemented in the real world, which is right why supernatural forces have to be introduced to carry out the justice. On the one hand, justice should deal with the punishment of the criminals and the example of appointing the merchant to kill the governor can be deemed as an example of the punishment of the criminals. Here the governor should be punished out of his corruption. When Gamasa al-Bulti assassinates the governor of the quarter, he tells “himself that he was now practicing a form of worship whose purity would wash clean the filth of long years of dissipation” (47) instead of feeling remorse for the murder, which shows the power of worship in such assassination. On the other hand, justice is a broader concept that includes the just reward for good deeds, honest and honorable behavior, the virtuous lifestyle and so on. Supernatural forces, like genie, can help execute the justice and they can play the role as the supreme judge. In this sense, a fair knowledge can be obtained that the supernatural forces can help eliminate the corruption in that they can exercise their power even in a corrupted environment which is not enjoyed by the police.
Moreover, the lack of an effective system of justice in the medieval Arab world also suggests the necessity of the supernatural forces in implementing justice in an unjust world. The system of justice in the medieval Arab world is made up of a group of ruling elites who are inclined to make decisions which can meet their own personal interests while they take not any regard to legal norms and rules. As a result, the decisions made by the ruling elite, including court decisions may be distinct from principles of justice so that the whole society is unhappy, which can be used to justify for why the vast majority of citizens live in poverty and suffer from injustice. But in the opposite, the ruling elite takes brides and they benefit from the unjust decisions made. In this situation, to engage in the supernatural forces can enable the citizens to protect their own interests because the supernatural forces can help reestablish justice in this world. And the author does not trust the official justice system and he would like to trust the supernatural forces. Right before Fadil is executed, he says to Sahloul “I want justice” (193) and Sahloul responds to this by simply saying “God does what He wishes” (193), which can clearly show that god definitely plays an important role in being the supreme judge.
Last but not the least, supernatural forces are needed for the prevention of injustice. The existence of injustice in the medieval society can be readily detected from Sultan Shahriyar, who is described as an unjust ruler and a tyrant. To put it more specifically, the Sultan would like to stop the bloodshed and give up virgins’ massacre while the author is unsure about the ability of the Sultan to stop the torrent of the blood, which is right why the daughter of Vizier Dandan chooses to stay with the Sultan in order to control his actions so as to prevent virgins’ massacre. In so doing, the author successfully depicts the ruler as a despotic one who actions seem to be unpredictable. And it is obvious that he is unable to control the country’s judicial power because his tyrannical and unlimited power is a threat to all the citizens if his power is not controlled by Shahrzad. He leaves “throne and glory, woman and child” because of his desire for complete salvation, enters into a dream-like reality where he marries a queen and lives peacefully until his curiosity gets the better of him (222), which is a turning point of Sultan’s changing from evil to good. Based on this, it can be readily detected that the corruption and the unlimited power of the ruler can well show the negative attitude the author has toward this despotic ruler to be a fair and just judge.
To sum up, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that the implementation of justice in an unjust society really calls for the participation of the supernatural forces as long as the below three aspects are taken into account: the human justice’s being too imperfect and weak to be implemented in the real world, the lack of an effective system of justice in the medieval Arab world and the prevention of injustice. However, what cannot be neglected is that there are many other aspects as can be used to justify for the idea that the implementation of justice in an unjust society requires the supernatural forces as have not been mentioned in the above, which calls for further efforts in the future.
Naguib Mahfouz. Arabian Nights and Days. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Co. 1863.