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Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Deal with Unjust People?

flower among thorns

A person of faith knows that he will attain the pleasure of Allah only when he acts justly.

Hatred Felt Towards a Community Does Not Prevent Believers From Exercising Justice

Hatred and anger are the major sources of evil, and are likely to prevent people from making just decisions, thinking soundly and conducting themselves rationally.

Some people can readily inflict all kinds of injustice on people for whom they feel enmity. They may accuse these people of acts they have never committed or bear false witness against them, although their innocence is known to them.

Only on account of such enmity, many people may be subjected to unbearable oppression. Some people avoid bearing witness in favor of people they disagree with, although they know they are innocent, and they keep evidence which would reveal their innocence hidden.

Furthermore, they take pleasure in the misery these people face, their encounters with injustice or great suffering. Their greatest worry, on the other hand, is that justice should be done and these peoples’ innocence proved.

For these reasons, it is very hard for people in corrupt societies to trust one another. People worry about being harmed by someone else all the time.

Having lost mutual trust, they also lose their human feelings, such as compassion, brotherhood and co-operation, and start hating one another.

According to God’s Commands

However, the feelings someone holds in his heart towards a person or community should never influence a believer’s decisions.

No matter how immoral or hostile the person he is considering may be, the believer sets all these feelings aside and acts and makes his decisions justly and recommends that which is just. His feelings towards that person cast no shadow over his wisdom and conscience. His conscience always inspires him to comply with Allah‘s commands and advice, and not to abandon good manners, because this is Allah‘s command in the Qur’an. In Surat Al-Ma’idah, it is related as follows:

You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to faith. Heed Allah (alone). Allah is aware of what you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

As is related in the verse, displaying a just attitude is what most reflects having fear of Allah. A person of faith knows that he will attain the pleasure of Allah only when he acts justly.

Every person who witnesses his or her good manners will trust this person, feel comfortable in their presence and trust them with any responsibility or task. Such people are treated with respect even by their enemies. Their attitude may even lead some people to have faith in Allah.

Our Exemplar

gentle flower

A Muslim is responsible for being understanding, forgiving, just and humane towards people, regardless of whom they may be.

The best example to follow for believers in our day is also the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as described in the Qur’an. Similar to the blessed period of the first community of Islam – an age of well-being when people in general adhered to the Qur’an – in our day, too, people of different  beliefs such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, idolaters and pagans live together.

A Muslim is responsible for being understanding, forgiving, just and humane towards people, regardless of whom they may be. It is probable that in time everyone will place his faith in Allah, become a Muslim and surrender himself to Allah.

A believer should always bear this fact in mind. The responsibility of a believer is to summon people to Allah‘s religion with a favorable, peaceful attitude.

The decision to follow divine guidance and have faith rests with another party. Compelling a person to have faith and forcing him to do things are against the Qur’an.

Allah states the following about this:

There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and has belief in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2: 256)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”. 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

How Did Islam Fight Racial Discrimination? (Part 1)

How does Islam stand up against racial discrimination?

Dr. Wael Hamza

I am better than him: You created me from fire and You created him from clay. (Saad 38:76)

Racial Discrimination

Racial pride results in criminal acts against others in the form of racial discrimination, enslavement, and even killing.

This was an infamous racist statement made by Satan, or the Devil, in his arrogance and disobedience to Allah. The story of Satan and Adam is a clear demonstration of how dangerous racial superiority can be –it led Satan to disobey a clear order from his Creator and established his permanent place in the Hellfire.

Racial Pride

But racial pride has far worse consequences when people act on it. Not only does it create a personality that lives a life of arrogance and deceit, but also results in criminal acts against others in the form of racial discrimination, enslavement, and even killing.

The issue of supremacy is an old one for humanity: some people think they are better because of their gender, clan, color, race, political position, age, and interestingly even religion. Throughout history, this ugly issue showed itself in the form of mass murder and mass enslavement, and, more subtly, in the form of discrimination.

Although the world now strongly condemns all forms of discrimination, the practices of many societies are to the contrary. When the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America clearly stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” black Americans suffered a brutal period of discrimination on the very same land. Although the current President of the United States has black origin and the law strictly forbids all forms of discrimination, African Americans along with other minority groups still face the consequences of racial discrimination.

All of these forms of discrimination are diseases in the society that stem from spiritual and social illnesses of individuals. Fighting discrimination in general, and racial discrimination in particular, should be a priority for any free person, group, or nation.

A Turning Point in History

The world was at its worst before Allah sent Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). All forms of racial discrimination existed. In places such as Persia and India, a very unjust caste system existed, in which the majority of the people were oppressed and discriminated against because they belonged to a lower caste.

In Arabia, where noble character was promoted, people were categorized based on their color and tribal affiliation. All societies, with no exception, lived a tough life of oppression due to this disease.

Prophet Muhammad brought the final message to humanity with a cure for all of humanity’s problems, including that of racial discrimination. As mentioned above, the Prophet had to deal with racial discrimination at its worst –he was even victimized by it when the disbelievers in Makkah accused him of being a regular person and not from the “noble” people:

And they said, had this Qur’an been sent down to a great man from the two villages, (we would have believed). (Az-Zukhruf 43:31)

Islam’s arrival was really a turning point in the battle against discrimination. Islam was able to change people’s beliefs and behavior to a huge extent. A few decades after the death of the Prophet, leaders from all spheres of the Muslim community, whether political, scientific, or spiritual, were from different tribes and nations without regard for their color, or racial origin.

It behooves us to study how Islam was able to effect these changes. Humanity is in dire need for such a blessed guidance to eradicate the discrimination that continues in our society today. Educators, political leaders, and community leaders have a rich pool of resources to use in the battle against discrimination.

In the remainder of this article, the author will share a few reflections about Islam’s cure for the serious problem of discrimination, in particular racial discrimination.

A Change of Beliefs and a Cure for the Intellect

The Quran is a cure to that which is in the heart. As Allah said,

Mankind! Now there has come to you an exhortation from your Lord, a healing for the ailments of the hearts, and a guidance and mercy for those who believe. (Yunus 10:57)

The first step towards fighting discrimination was to touch the hearts, change beliefs, and re-orient the intellect.

Islam built the spiritual and intellectual foundation of the believers through the divine words of the Quran and the eloquent tradition of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). It was quite miraculous to see how the rock of discrimination began to crack when exposed to small drops of understanding.

Although simple, the ideas presented in the Quran and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were extremely effective. An example of that is the brief speech the Prophet delivered during his last year while performing the Hajj (pilgrimage). He eloquently and concisely delivered a strong message against discrimination and racism:

O People! Listen to my words and pay attention to them, for I may not meet you again after this year.

O People! Your Lord is One. Your father is one. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab nor for a white person over a black person except by piety.

You all belong to Adam and Adam is from dust.

Your individual wealth, blood, and honor are as sacred to you as this day of yours in this land of yours in this month of yours.

In the following few sections, we will reflect on a list of simple, yet strong messages that constitute the spiritual and intellectual foundations of curing racism.

Racial Discrimination

Monotheism is the fundamental message of Islam: “Your Lord is One.”

Your Lord is One and Your Father is One

Monotheism is the fundamental message of Islam: “Your Lord is One.” He is the one who created all humans and created them equal. He created them from a single male and female.

O Mankind! Be conscious of your Lord who created you from one soul and created from it its mate… (An-Nisa’ 4:1)

The idea is repeated in the Quran and the words of the Prophet. The Prophet said,

“O People, Allah has elevated from you the arrogance of the era of ignorance and taking pride in family and clan… Humans are the children of Adam and Adam is from dust.” (At-Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud)

Then he recited:

O People, We have created you from a male and a female and we made you into tribes and nation to know one another, the best of you is the most conscious of Allah … (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Although a simple message, it was foundational for fighting racism.

Mind What Counts

The short speech above brings to attention what really counts in the eyes of Allah. It is not our color, wealth, or family. It is not our physical appearance. Rather, it is our hearts and our actions. As the Prophet said above and in many other hadiths, and as Allah said in the Qur’an, “The best of you before Allah is the person of highest taqwa (God Consciousness)” (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Prophet also said,

“Allah does not look at your appearances or your financial status, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.” (Al-Bukhari)

Even wealth and clan have no value:

It is not your riches nor your children that draw you closer to Allah, except for him who has faith and acts righteously … (Saba’ 34:37)

People like to compete with one another towards success. Islam redefined success to be that which is with Allah. The competition is not based on anything but faith and action.

Even that, no one can judge except Allah. Value was removed from race, family, socioeconomic status, and was placed on righteousness and good deeds.

Beware of Arrogance: It is a Severe Sin

Racism is a vicious cycle: racism creates pride and pride feeds racism. In order for this vicious cycle to end, Allah made pride a severe sin, an atom-weight of which deprives one of Paradise. The Prophet said,

He whose heart has an atom-weight of kibr (pride and arrogance) will not enter Paradise. (Muslim)

He later explained kibr to his companions saying, “Kibr is rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” (Muslim)

Removing kibr from the hearts of people was like drying the substance that fuels racism.

Difference in Races is a Sign to Reflect on

Another idea that was brought to people’s attention is the scientific and artistic nature of creation. Allah says,

And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors. Indeed there are signs in this for the men of knowledge. (Ar-Rum 30:22)

Instead of considering race something to fuel supremacy, this verse encourages the reflective minds and hearts to think of the beauty and miracle of creation:

– How have all these races came out of one family? (genealogy)

– How did people develop into nations and tribes , all speaking different languages? (anthropology)

– How would the world look if humanity been all one race? (sociology) This positive way of thinking about race creates not only awe of Allah and His ultimate power, but also respect to people that are different.

Injustice is Strictly Forbidden

A final fundamental point in fighting racism is banning of any form of injustice. Allah said in the divine (qudsi) hadith:

“O my servants, I made injustice forbidden on Myself and I made it forbidden amongst you; so do not commit injustice to one another” (Muslim)

As the Prophet said in his speech above, “…your blood, wealth, and honor are sacred …” When Abu Bakr was elected to lead, he clearly stated that:

“…the weak are strong before me until I bring them their rights, and the strong are weak before me until I make them deliver the rights of others.”

Racial discrimination is an ugly form of injustice and those who are unjust suffer severe consequences on “the Day when excuses offered by the unjust shall not avail them. Theirs shall be the curse and a woeful abode.” (Ghafir 40:52)

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Source: aboutislam.net

 

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Being Human in Islam: Their Rights and Dignity

By: Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha

Islam condemns the abuse of power, position and authority to obtain personal gains. In fact, Islam empowers the ruler to reclaim all assets taken through abusive means and deposit them into the Islamic treasury. But what rights do humans have in Islam?

human-rights

In Islam it is not allowed to be unjust with anyone, even to one’s own self.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) appointed a man called Ibn-ul-Lutbiyyah, as a zakah collector. When the collector brought the zakah amount, he said: This is for you (the Islamic Treasury) and this has been given to me as gifts. The Prophet became very upset upon hearing this from the collector. He said:

“Where he is sitting in his father’s or mother’s house, would  he have received any of these gifts? By Him in Whose hands is my soul, nobody would take anything from this except that he would be carrying it on his neck on the Day of Resurrection, even if it be a camel. Then he raised his hands until we saw the whiteness of his armpits and said: “ O Allah! Bear witness that I have conveyed the Message three times.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam prohibits all forms of intoxicants that affect the minds or brains of users. It is commanded in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication to) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination), so that you may prosper. (Al-Ma’idah 5:90)

All types of injuries to a person or animal such as beating and other vices such as backbiting, tattle-telling, false testimony, etc. are also prohibited. The verse in the Qur’an warns:

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins, and spy not, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it. And fear Allah, for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. (Al-Hujurat 49:12)

Being Human in Islam: Dignity

It upholds the dignity and honor of others and forbids slandering them. The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin. (Al-Ahzab 33:58)

In Islam great importance is given to the privacy of a person and any type of intrusion is prohibited. Allah states in the Qur’an:

If you find none in the house, enter not until permission is given to you; if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves and Allah knows all that you do. (An-Nur 24:27)

Justice is one of the basics of the religion of Islam. It is not allowed to be unjust with anyone, even to one’s own self. Allah commands in the Qur’an:

Allah commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion, He admonishes you that you may take heed. So fulfill the Covenant of Allah when you have entered it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them, indeed, you have made Allah your surety; for Allah knows all that you do. (An-Nahl 16:90-91)

In addition, in a hadith qudsi (divine revelation other than the Qur’an), Allah says:

“My slaves! I have banned injustice for Myself. I have declared injustice unlawful among you. Therefore, do not do any act of injustice to one another.” (Muslim)

In fact, Allah disapproves injustice done even to those who differ with Muslims in faith and religion. Allah has demanded Muslims to be kind and fair to non-Muslim residents in an Islamic State. Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an:

Allah forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: Verily Allah loves those who are just. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

Towards Non-Muslims

Islam forbids abusing the beliefs of non-Muslims, when it provokes the other party to respond with reciprocal abuse. The Allah says:

Revile not you those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they revile Allah out of spite in their ignorance. (Al-An`am 6:108)

Instead, Allah  instructed Muslims to use a fair and well-matured dialogue with such people: Allah says:

Say: “O People of the Book! Come to common terms between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. If then they turn back, say you: “Bear witness that we are Muslims (submitting to Allah’s Will). (Aal `Imran 3:64)

Islam, further, bans all types of social, political and moral corruption and mischief. It is commanded in the Qur’an:

Do no mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order, but call on Him with fear and hope, for the Mercy of Allah is near to those who do good. (Al-A`raf 7:56)

Islam forbids the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force. Allah states in the Qur’an:

If it had been your Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind against their will to believe! (Yunus 10:99)

This does not mean that Muslims should not call others to join the Islamic monotheistic faith by delivering the Message of Allah to people but indicates that Muslims should call to Islam in a wise, kind and comely manner. Islam has an international mission and it is neither a regional nor ethnical call. But the guidance is in the Hands of Allah alone and not in the hands of people.

human rights

Islam commands people to assist an oppressed person even with the use of force when necessary.

Justice & Consultation

Islam commands people to run their governments with consultation. The principle of consultation is operative in situations where there are no clear scriptures from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah states in the Qur’an:

…their affairs are conducted by mutual consultation…  (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Islam commands that all relative rights be given to their deserving people. Islam also calls for full justice among people.

The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

Allah does command you to render back your T rusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice: verily how excellent is the teaching which He gives you! For Allah is He Who hears and sees all things. (An-Nisaa’  4:58)

Islam commands people to assist an oppressed person even with the use of force when necessary. This is based on the verse in the Qur’an, the meaning of which is translated as:

And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is:

Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help! (An-Nisaa’ 4:75)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions”.

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Prophet Muhammad on the Elimination of all Forms of Racism

nature

In the sight of Allah, all people are equal.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) upheld justice in his time and rejected the ignorant belief which considered some people superior to others because of their language, race, social status or ethnicity. That is because such discrimination is severely condemned in the Qur’an.

‘Racism,’ as defined in our day, is an idea Allah prohibits in the Qur’an, but which receives extensive support in ignorant societies. As mentioned in the Qur’an, one of the divine purposes in the creation of the different races is “that they should come to know each other”. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Humanity-based

In the sight of Allah, all people are equal, and the only superiority anyone can have over anyone else is his fear of Allah and faith in Him.

The Prophet Muhammad also declared to his people, who committed racism, that ethnic differences had no importance and that everyone was equal in the eyes of Allah.

He repeatedly underlined that all that mattered was having sincere faith. While summoning his people to have faith, the Prophet Muhammad commanded them not to discriminate in his last sermon:

“O people! Your Allah is One and your forefather (Adam) is one. An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety. Indeed the noblest among you is the one who is deeply conscious of Allah.” (Ahmad)

The Prophet Muhammad also told people that Allah created man from nothing, that everyone is created equal and that everyone will give account of his deeds all alone before Allah. For this reason, he added that it would be a great wrong to look for superiority in one’s descent.

The Prophet commanded thus:

(All of) you are children of Adam, and Adam is from dust. Let some men cease to take pride in others.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

He (peace be upon him) stated that no criteria except for heedfulness are acceptable:

“Your descent is nothing to be proud of. Nor does it bring you superiority. O people! All of you are the children of Adam. You are like equal wheat grains in a bowl … No one has any superiority over anyone else, except in religion and heedfulness. In order to consider someone a wicked person, it suffices that he humiliates other people, is mean with money, bad-tempered and exceeds the limits.” (Ahmad)

The Formula… the Qur’an

Throughout his life, the Prophet Muhammad advised his people to set aside their ignorant and perverse values and to live by the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, racist attitudes are defined as “fanatical rage,” and people’s ambitious attitudes are criticized. A related verse reads:

Those who disbelieve filled their hearts with fanatical rage- the fanatical rage of the Time of Ignorance- and Allah sent down serenity to His Messenger and to the believers, and obliged them to respect the formula of heedfulness which they had most right to and were most entitled to. Allah has knowledge of all things. (Al-Fath 48:26)

Muslims who obeyed Allah‘s call in the above verse led their lives in peace and security, both during the blessed period of the first community of Islam and in succeeding ages when just administrators reigned.

In the Period of the Prophet Muhammad, contracts signed with the People of the Book and the pagans secured justice in society.

After the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Medina, he encountered many different communities. At that period, Jews, Christians and pagans who held power were all living together.

Under such circumstances, the Prophet Muhammad united the cosmopolitan structure to secure social unity and peace by making social agreements- either by sending letters or holding face-to-face meetings- with more than a hundred communities, and thus achieved social compromise.

Prof. Thomas Arnold stresses the importance of the social unity established by the Prophet Muhammad in these words: Arabia that had never before obeyed one prince, suddenly exhibits a political unity and swears allegiance to the will of an absolute ruler. Out of the numerous tribes, big and small, of a hundred different kinds that were incessantly at feud with one another, Muhammad’s word created a nation. (Thomas Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World, Goodword Books)

Islam and Other Religions

As is related in many verses in the Qur’an, living in peace with people of other religions is perceived as good by Islam.

In one verse, Allah commands Muslims to believe in all the holy books revealed by Him and respect their beliefs:

So call and go straight as you have been ordered to. Do not follow their whims and desires but say, “I believe in whatever Allah has sent down (in the form) of a Book and I am ordered to be just between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. We have our actions and you have your actions.

There is no debate between us and you. Allah will gather us all together. He is our final destination. (Ash-Shura 42:15)

The above verse describes the relations a Muslim should establish with people of other religions. Muslims are also held responsible for adopting the morality of the Prophet and being compassionate and just towards other people. This person can be anyone, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian or even an atheist.

Such honest and just attitudes will make a very positive impact on their hearts, no matter what or who they believe in- or even if they have no beliefs at all- and they will become a means to make them feel closer to Islam.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”.

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