Are There Social Classes in Islam?

Are There Social Classes in Islam?

If we go back to Islam, the concept of social classes doesn’t exist at all. The only criteria upon which a person is to be judged is “taqwa”, which means piety, righteousness, etc. As ALLAH says in Sura Hujrat 13, “O humankind! We have created you from the single pair of male and female and have divided into Nations and Tribes so that you may recognise each other and not that you despise each other. And verily the most honoured amongst you in the sight of Allah is the one who has taqwa.” The Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “O people, verily your Lord is One and your father (Adam) is one. There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, white over black, nor black over white except in terms of piety.”
Quarrels are unseemly and should be resolved, manners spring from morals, and mutual respect is a duty in Islam. Tribes, races and nations are convenient labels by which we may distinguish certain characteristics. But, before Allah, they are all one. Modern society is trying to attain this egalitarianism but it is failing miserably because people are not following the path that will lead them there.
Pride, boasting and vainglory based on ancestry, lineage, caste, status, etc, has been clearly condemned in Islam. The difference in social stratum and upholding it has created a lot of mess and unfortunately it seems to be music to the ear of one who is boastful of his lineage or high status. This is nothing but sheer arrogance, and arrogance was the character of Iblees and his cohorts. The first one who showed arrogance towards Allah and His creation was the accursed Iblees.
This ill concept of living and marrying within one’s own social status or class has created a lot of problems. Allah says in Sura Nissa, aayat 1, “O mankind, fear your Guardian Lord who created you from a single person, created out of it his mate, and from them twain scattered countless men and women. Fear Allah through whom you demand mutual rights and be heedful of the wombs that bore you: for Allah ever watches over you.” All our mutual rights and duties come from Allah. We all are His creatures and He wants His creatures to do justice, but at the same time we must protect our own brotherhood and faith from insult. Those who are boastful of their class are in reality the crew of Satan who will be gathered together before the Almighty for punishment.
Islam has lifted us into the sphere of social welfare, morals and faith. If we are constantly carping at regulations, we shall do nothing but cause divisions and schisms among people and the ordered society would break up. As Allah says in Sura Al Baqara, aayat 177, “It is not (the only) righteousness that you turn your faces towards east or west; but the righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; To spend of your sustenance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer; for those who ask and for the ransom of slave.”
Society based on justice, equality and fraternity which was established first time in human history at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) will be re-established if the condition of following the commandments of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) are fulfilled.

—The writer teaches at a madrasa and is studying for a degree in Islamic Studies. asiyagani@gmail.com

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