Racism through the eye of a Quranic verse
When Makkah was conquered, Bilal al-Habashi climbed over the Kaaba upon the order of the Prophet (pbuh) and called adhan. Some polytheists despised Bilal by saying, “Did Muhammed not find anybody else but this crow?” Thereupon, the following verse was sent down:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you…" (al-Hujurat, 13) God Almighty states in the verse above that the reason why He made people into nations and tribes is knowing and helping each other. He also states that superiority in the sight of Allah is based on taqwa (righteousness), not on race and nation.
Dividing people into nations and tribes, mentioned in the verse, is a reflection of the reality of the positive disagreement (difference) that is dominant in the whole universe. Yes, all of the beauties in the realm are fruits of positive disagreement.
God Almighty created the sun, the world and the moon with different properties; He made His mercy, help and grace manifest with this difference. He also bestowed His favor upon us by creating plants and animals with different properties. He ensured solidarity, unity and system in the human body by creating the organs in man differently. Division of human beings into races and nations is like that too. God Almighty ensured the harmony and system in social life by dividing people into different races, nations and tribes. Thus, tribes will know and help one another and make up the deficiencies of one another. Yes, division of labor and specialization in social life helps perfection in life; creation of people as different races and with different abilities helps them know and help one another and develop.
"Our nation is a body; its spirit is Islam and its mind is the Quran." As this principle expresses, all believers are like the organs of a body. If one of them is the eye, another one is the hand; while another one is the mind, yet another one is the strength. Man needs feet to walk, hands to hold and eyes to see. If those organs unite by obeying the command of a spirit, each organ will help the perfection of that spirit. In that case, each organ will receive their shares from the talents and abilities of the other organs. They will be honored with the merits of one another. For instance, the mind needs the hands to show its science and knowledge. As a result of the cooperation of the mind and the hands, different scientific works will appear. Both of them receive their shares from the perfection and honor of the work. If the organs in man forget the spirit that they serve, try to act selfishly and conceitedly, see the mistakes of one another and fall into disagreement, the unity in the body will break. As a result, both the body and each organ will be deprived of the honor they receive from life and they will become miserable.
Allah states the following at the end of the verse: "Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you." (al-Hujurat, 13) The reality understood from this divine decree is that superiority of people over one another is based on taqwa, not on their races, nations or claims. The most honorable ones among people are muttaqis, that is, those who keep away from all prohibitions of Allah.
Taqwa means to obey the commands of God Almighty and to keep away from all kinds of thoughts, deeds, actions and immoralities with which He is not pleased. Mutaqis, that is, people who have taqwa, are the believers who protect themselves from all kinds of bad deeds and sins that can harm their afterlife, who connect their hearts only with Allah, who love only Him and whose greatest aim is to attain His consent.
Yes, the criterion for being acceptable in the sight of Allah can be nothing but taqwa. The mind and wisdom will also accept this fact. The superiority of people over one another is not based on races; it is not based on knowledge, art, wealth and material development either. For, those attributes are valid for all people whether they are unbelievers or believers, sinful or righteous, rebellious or obedient. That is, an unbeliever or a sinner can have any of those attributes fully. If those attributes were to be regarded as criteria, unbelievers would be superior to believers and sinners would be superior to righteous people.
Thus, God Almighty gives importance to taqwa, not races, tribes or nations. He informs us that muttaqis are superior among people.
The Prophet states the following in the Farewell Sermon, confirming this reality:
"O people! Your Lord is one; your father is one, too. All of you are children of Adam. Adam was created out of dust. The one that is the most valuable in the eye of Allah is the one that fears Him the most. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab except by taqwa."
A good example showing that Allah Almighty does not give importance to races, nations and tribes is the story of the Prophet Noah (Nuh) and his son:
During the incident of Deluge, the Prophet Nuh invited his son the ship by addressing him as follows: "O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers." His son did not accept his invitation.
When a wave drifted his son away, the Prophet Nuh prayed to Allah as follows: "O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and Thy promise is true, and Thou art the justest of Judges." Thereupon, Allah Almighty said, "O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous." (Hud, 46)
As it is seen, God Almighty regards only a son who is a believer as a member of one’s family. He states in the following verse that all believers are brothers: "The Believers are but a single Brotherhood." (al-Hujurat, 10). When those two verses are considered together, the following fact appears:
God Almighty does not regard an unbelieving son as a man’s son and a member of his family but He declares all believers to be brothers no matter what nation they belong to.
The following decree in the Islamic law confirms the same fact: "An unbelieving son cannot be an heir to his father’s wealth."
God Almighty threatens severely those who try to boast of their unbelieving fathers and grandfathers by listing their ancestors in the cemetery along with praising their lineage and He informs them about the grievous penalty they will encounter in the hereafter as follows:
"The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things), Until ye visit the graves. But nay, ye soon shall know (the reality). Again, ye soon shall know! Nay, were ye to know with certainty of mind, (ye would beware!) Ye shall certainly see Hell-Fire! Again, ye shall see it with certainty of sight! Then, shall ye be questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in!)." (at-Takathur)
The reality shown by those verses and hadiths is that God Almighty values belief, taqwa and righteous deeds, not nations, tribes and lineage.
- Could you give some information on nationalism and racism? Is it religiously permissible if I love my nation better than other nations?
- Foreword (About Racism)
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