Equality in Islam

Equality in Islam

By Tawqeer un Nissa

Allaah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“O you who believe
Stand out firm for Justice, as a witness to Allaah
Even though it be against yourself or your parents or your kin
Whether he is rich or poor, Allaah is a better protector of both, than you
So don’t follow the lust of your heart, lest you may avoid Justice
And if you distort your testimony or refuse to give it
Verily Allaah is ever well acquainted with what you do”

This is verse 135 of Surah Al Nisa. Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world, has posted this verse of the Glorious Qur’an at the entrance of its faculty library, describing this verse as one of the greatest expression of the justice in history.
Social Justice was a term coined in the 1980’s and is the guiding principle for all societies today, just as it was fourteen centuries ago in the Arabian Peninsula. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was a social activist of his time. He shook the roots of the unjust society he lived in by bringing about social reforms. Society’s well being was paramount to him. The Holy Prophet(PBUH) taught that all humans were entitled to same rights and privileges and that people are as equal as the teeth of a comb and he practiced what he said. Islam provides complete guidance of life. The Salah itself gives a strong message about social justice. The concept of standing in one row joining shoulder with shoulder and foot with foot irrespective of who you are, teaches us that everyone is equal.
In the beginning of Islamic call in Arabia, there were these downtrodden people in Mecca who accepted Islam. They were so poor that the elite in Mecca told Prophet (PBUH) that we are ready to accept Islam on one condition that you distance yourself from these people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) refused and even Allah revealed to him that “Don’t chase away those who are calling out to your Rab”. (Surah An’am; Verse 52)
Take a look at Bilal bin Rabah(RA).He was an Ethiopian slave who was freed by Islam. Islam abolished and diminished slavery in a beautiful way. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began his attack on prevailing dehumanizing institution of slavery by targeting its root causes. He gave positions of authority to people based on competence, even though they were freed slaves. Bilal bin Rabah(RA) was chosen as Muazeen, Salim Maula Abu Huzaifa(RA) was chosen as Imam of Masjid Quba, Usamah bin Zayed(RA) was chosen as the leader of Army against Byzantine. This prophetic teaching of non discrimination and equality was so ingrained in the Muslims that on his death bed Omar bin Khattab(RA) announced that had it not been for their death he would have made either Salim Maula Abu Huzaifa(RA), an ex-slave or
Abu Obaidah Al Jarrah(RA) as the next Khalifa of Islam without any Shaura.
The emergence of Islam was a new beginning for pre Islamic Arabian social and political structure. Every part of Arab society began to be reshaped by Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) and an important change occurred in the understanding of Tribalism. He firstly aimed to unite Arab in faith. With the birth of Islam, tribal form of organization turned in Ummah based on faith of Allah. The Ummah is bound together by faith and justice rather than kinship. Qur’an rejects superiority of lineage and refers to Universal fraternity. Allah says “The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah, so that you may receive Mercy” (Surah Hujurat; Verse 10)
This brotherhood was proved by Muhajiroon and Ansars. Muhajiroon left their homes and estates, immigrating to Medina to give support to Allah’s messenger(PBUH) to establish Islam. They gave up their wealth and devoted themselves to this cause. And th Ansar, the Muslims of Medina, gave asylum to their Muhajiroon brothers in their own homes and comforted them with their own wealth. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preached brotherhood throughout his life. He said in his last sermon that “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a Non Arab and a Non Arab has no superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a Black and a black has no superiority over a white – except by piety and good deeds.”
Allah says in Qur’an:
“O Mankind, indeed we have created you from male and female
And made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another
Indeed the most Nobel of you, insight of Allah is the most righteous of you
Indeed Allah is knowing and acquainted” (Surah Hujurat; Verse 13)
Today, Muslims should aspire to that maxim through participating in social and community projects. In sum, Muslims should actively get involved in making their communities better for everyone.

—The author can be reached at: [email protected]

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