By Kumar Sajad Ahmed
The great evil that has always been causing universal disruption in the world is the prejudice of race, color, language, country or the nationality. On account of these prejudices, man in every age has generally been discarding humanity and drawing around himself some small circles and regarding those born within those circles as his own and those outside them as others. The circles have been drawn on the basis of accidental birth and not on rational and moral grounds. In some cases, their basis is the accident of being born in a particular family, tribe or race and in some specific geographical region, or in a nation having a particular color or speaking a different language. The discrimination between one’s own people and others is not confined to throw love on one’s own, but it has taken the worst forms of hatred, enmity, contempt and tyranny.
New philosophies have been propounded, new religions invented, new codes of law made and new moral principles framed so much so that nations and empires have made this distinction a permanent way of life and practiced it for centuries. The Jews on this very basis regarded the children of Israel as the chosen people of God, and looked non Jews as inferior in rights and rank. This also gave birth to class distinctions among the Hindus, according to which the superiority of Brahmans was upheld, and others as inferior and unclean, and the Shudras into the depth of disgrace and degradation. The atrocities in the 20th century against the colored people in Africa and America are not hidden, the treatment that the Europeans meted out to the Red Indians in America and to the weak nations of Asia and Africa had the same concept underlying it. They thought that the life, property and honor of those who had been born outside the frontiers of their land are lawful for them and they had the right to plunder and take them as their slaves and exterminate them if need be
On the contrary, Islam, which came as a blessing to the humanity, with the message of peace and prosperity for all, propounds something extraordinary in this regard. According to Islam, Allah is the God of the entire world and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger for the whole of mankind. Islam unites the entire human race under one banner without any kind of discrimination.
Allah (SWT) says in Surat Al-Hujurat, “O Mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who has most Taqwa among of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” Qur’an (49:13)
In this brief verse, Allah has drawn the attention of mankind to three cardinal truths:
One that the origin of all existence/creation is one and the same, so there is no point to be discriminated or to be differentiated.
Second, that in spite of being one in origins, the divisions of nations, tribes, regions, colors, features, languages and ways of living were made for recognition and not demand the distinction of inequality of high and low, of noble and mean. Indeed, satanic ignorance creates the differences among mankind, boast the hatred which led to every kind of injustice and tyranny.
Lastly, that the basis of superiority that there is or can be is of moral excellence and as regards to birth, all are equal for their Creator is one, the substance of creation is one and all descend from one parent.
Moreover, a person born in particular country, nation or clan is mere accident, so there is no rational basis on which the differences can be made. The only thing which can create a gulf is that the persons being more God Conscious, avoider of evils, and follower of the righteous, irrespective of him belonging to any race, country, tribe and so on.
The same verse has been interpreted by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while making circumambulation of the Kaaba: ‘ O people, men are divided into classes – the pious, the righteous, honorable in the sight of Allah and the sinful and vicious who are contemptible in the sight of Allah, whereas all men are children of Adam and Adam was created from Clay’. (TIRMIDHI)
On the farewell pilgrimage, in the midst of Tashriq (period between 9th to 13th Zil Hajjah), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) addressed the people, ‘ O people, be aware, your God is one, no Arab has superiority over Non Arab, nor any Non Arab is superior to any Arab, similarly no White is superior over Black, and vice versa, except on the basis of Taqwa’.
These teachings have not remained confined to words only, but Islam has practically established a universal brotherhood of the believers which does not allow any discrimination on account of color, race, language, country or nationality. In Islam, there is no concept of high and low, clean and unclean, mean and respectable and it admits all human beings with equal rights. Even the opponents of Islam had to admit that no precedent is found in any religion and system with which the Muslim society has given them the practical shape and it is the only religion which welded and combined innumerable races and communities scattered in all corners of the earth into one universal Ummah.
—The author is a Post Graduate in Islamic Studies and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org