The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted.”
The characteristics of Islam are universality, rationalism, pragmatism, egalitarianism, and simplicity. Islam and seeks to establish a universal brotherhood. It stands for equality among people and encompasses every sphere of life, whether it is social, political, moral, or intellectual. Islam exhorts all Muslims to seek the path of peace through righteousness and good conduct towards each other. The Quran emphasises the concept of brotherhood in a number of verses.
“Hold firmly to the Rope of Allah together and do not become divided” [3:103]
“The believing men and women are allies of one another” [9:71]
In these verses Muslims are urged to get rid of the great evil of prejudice. On account of prejudice man in every age has generally been drawing around himself small circles and regarding those born within those circles as his own people and those outside them as others. These circles have been drawn on the basis of accidental birth and not on rational and moral grounds. The discrimination between one’s own people and others assumes the worst forms of hatred, enmity, contempt and tyranny. Islam recognizes that brothers share a special bond. Brotherhood is a fundamental Islamic credo. When others speak of their co-religionists, they mention them as comrades, but Islam elevates that relationship to one of brotherhood. Muslims from any race or tribe, speaking any language, and of any age, feel profound brotherly love amongst themselves, even if they live in distant parts of the world. Such love and accord is quite palpable in the pilgrimage to Mecca.
As regards birth, all men are equal, for their creator is one, their substance of creation is one, and their way of creation is one. A person’s birth in a particular country, nation, or clan is just accidental. There is no rational ground on account of which a person may be regarded as superior to the other by virtue of his birth. What really makes a person superior is piety and righteousness. And the one who is reverse of him in character is inferior, whether he is black or white, born in the East or in the West. These truths have been explained in great detail by the Prophet (PBUH) in his addresses and traditions. In the speech that he made on the conquest of Makkah, after going round the Kabah, he said, “Thank God who has removed from you the blemish of ignorance and its arrogance. O people, men are divided into classes, the pious and righteous, who are honourable in the sight of Allah, and the sinful and vicious, who are contemptible in the sight of Allah, whereas all men are the children of Adam and Adam had been created by Allah from clay.” On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “O people, be aware: your God is one. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, and no non-Arab any superiority over an Arab, and no white one has any superiority over a black one, and no black one any superiority over a white one, except on the basis of Taqwa (piety).”
At another place, the Prophet said: “The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted.”
These teachings have not remained confined to words but have practically established a universal brotherhood of believers which does not allow any distinction on account of colour, race, language, country. It admits all human beings with equal rights. Even the opponents of Islam have to admit that no precedent is found in any religion and any political system of such a principle of human equality and unity. Islam is the only religion which has welded and combined innumerable races and communities scattered in all corners of the earth into one universal Ummah.
The writer has an MA in Islamic Studies from Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora. [email protected]