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The Message of the Messengers

The Prophets of God came for the guidance of humankind; to save it from shirk, and to take them out of darkness into light.

God, the All Wise, All Knowing, All Merciful and Just, created this Universe in order to test and examine His obedient slaves and reward them, and to punish the disobedient. He says:

We did not create the heavens and the earth and that between them in play. We did not create them except in truth, but most of them do not know. (Ad-Dukhan 44:38-39)

God also made clear the main goal for the creation of mankind saying:

I did not create the Jinn and Mankind except for My worship. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Allah, the Exalted, did not leave His slaves to rely upon their intellect and inclination to guide them to the correct way; rather He sent them Messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners. He sent the revealed Books with them to be a reference in those matters wherein they disagreed, so that no excuse would remain for the people and the proof would be established against them. Thus, after sending the Messengers, there would be no further excuse for people before Allah.

Indeed, their mission covered every good and banished every evil. They brought to humankind everything needed for their wellbeing and happiness in this world and the Hereafter. There is nothing good, which they did not inform the people about and nothing evil that they did not warn the people against.

‘Abdullah bin `Amr ibn Al-`Aas (may God be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There was never a Prophet before me except that it was a duty upon him that he should guide his nation to every good that he knew and warn them against every evil that he knew…” (Muslim)

Indeed, calling to God was the mission of the Messengers in order to bring the people out from darkness into light. There are many basic principles upon which their calls were based, which were the starting point for calling to God. These fundamental principles are:

1. Tawheed (monotheism)
2. Prophethood
3. The Hereafter

Every book revealed by Allah gave great importance to these points. The most important and sublime of these three principles and the most fundamental of them all is Tawheed (Oneness) of God.

Allah says:

And We certainly sent into every nation a Messenger, (saying): ‘Worship Allah and shun Taghut (all false objects of worship).’ (An-Nahl 16:36)

God has informed us about some of the Prophets (peace be upon them) and how they faced their people. We see that all of them proceeded upon the universal way laid down by God and followed the methodology He established for all of them. Not a single one of them is at variance with it:

And We had certainly sent Noah to his people, (saying): ‘Indeed, I am to you a clear warner, that you not worship except Allah. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful Day.’ (Hud 11:25-26)

The noblest of all Prophets and the last of them, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (who was sent with the greatest, most complete and comprehensive message), began with what all the Prophets started their Da`wah (call) – calling to the `aqeedah (creed) of Tawheed (Oneness of God), and calling for all worship to be made purely and sincerely for God alone. Allah’s Messenger started with the principle: ‘Witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah.’

Say, (O Muhammad): ‘O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allaah to you all, (from him) to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death.’ So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided. (Al-A`raf 7:158)

The verses in this regard are many, what we quote here is just one example. With regard to the Sunnah (traditions and approved actions of Prophet Muhammad), there are many clear indications that Allah’s Messenger began his call to Islam with Tawheed.

1. `Amr ibn `Abasa Sulami said: “During the times of ignorance … I heard of a man in Makkah who received revelation. So I set upon my riding beast and came to him. At that time he was in hiding, due to the oppression of his people. So I behaved in a way that enabled me to gain access to him in Makkah. I said to him: “Who are you?” He replied: “I am a Prophet.’ So I said: ‘And what is a Prophet?’ He said: ‘Allah has sent me as a Messenger.’ So I said: ‘And what is it that He has sent you with?’ He said: ‘I have been sent to order the joining of ties of relationship, to break the idols, so that Allah is worshipped Alone and nothing at all is associated in worship along with Him.” (Muslim)

2. At the time of the peace of Hudaybiyah Hiraql (Heraclius) asked Abu Sufyan some questions about Allah’s Messenger, among which he asked: “What does he (Muhammad) command you?” Abu Sufyan replied: “He says: ‘Worship Allah Alone and do not worship anything else along with Him, and abandon what your fathers say. He also orders prayers, charity, and the joining of the ties of relationship.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Consequently, the Prophets did not come to bring about the downfall of one state to replace it with another. They did not seek sovereignty, nor did they organize political parties for this reason. Rather, they came for the guidance of humankind, to save it from misguidance and shirk (polytheism), and to take them out of darkness into light.

In this regard Prophet Muhammad gave an example about himself. He said:

“The similitude of me and the message with which Allah has sent me, is like a man who came to some people and said: ‘I have seen the enemy forces with my own eyes and I am a mere warner (to you). So, save yourselves, save yourselves!’ A group of his people obeyed him and went out at night, slowly and steadily and was safe; while another group belied him and stayed in their place until the morning when the army destroyed them. Such is the similitude of those who obey me and follow what I have brought (i.e., Message) and of those who disobey me and belie the Truth which I have brought.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

The message of the Messengers, by the Mercy of God, revives and enlightens the believer’s soul. This enlightenment is the revelation of Allah, which leads mankind from the darkness of polytheism and ignorance to the light of truth and Islam:

Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light. (Al-Baqarah 2:257)

The Messenger and the Message are evidence against the disbelievers.

Allah sent His Messengers and His Books so that there can be no excuse for mankind on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an says:

(We sent) Messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against Allah after Messengers. (An-Nisaa’ 4:165)

The message of God deals with the rights of Allah on His bondsmen, the rights of man on His Creator, The Oneness of Allah and its influence on the creation, knowledge, admonition, the wisdom behind the creation, righteousness, mutual interactions, refutation of incorrect beliefs and deviations, lawful and unlawful, migration and Jihad. In totality, it is the complete code for righteous living, which results in delight, pleasure and harmony in this life and the Hereafter.

 

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Source: Islamweb.net

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

What Does Islam Teach about Justice?

(Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

the justice ordained by Him calls for equal understanding and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination.

The true justice described in the Qur’an commands man to behave justly, not discriminating between people, protecting others’ rights and not permitting violence, no matter what the circumstances, to side with the oppressed against the oppressor and to help the needy.

This justice calls for the rights of both parties to be protected when reaching a decision in a dispute, assessing all aspects of an incident, setting aside all prejudices, being objective, honest, merciful and compassionate. In the event one fails to display any of these characteristics or attaches greater importance to a particular one, then it becomes hard to exercise true justice.

For instance, someone who cannot assess events in a moderate way, and who is swayed by his emotions and feelings, will fail to arrive at sound decisions and will remain under the influence of those feelings. However, someone who rules with justice needs to set all his personal feelings and views aside. He needs to treat all parties with justice when they ask for help, to side with what is right under all circumstances, and not to diverge from the path of honesty and truthfulness.

Justice in the Qur’an

A person should incorporate the values of the Qur’an into his soul in such a way that he may be able to consider the interests of other parties before his own and maintain justice, even if this harms his own interests.

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 piety. Be careful of (your duty to) Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

As it is suggested in the above verse, Allah knows everything a man does. A person who fears Allah and who is aware that he will have to account for his deeds on the Day of Judgment, issues his commands in a just way in order to earn the good pleasure of Allah. He knows that all his words and thoughts will be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be rewarded accordingly.

For this reason, what one has to do to earn the good pleasure of Allah, to be saved from the torment of Hell and to attain the infinite favors of Paradise is to fully live by the Qur’an. In order to attain this morality, everyone must make personal efforts and set aside all his selfish desires and personal interests and adopt the guidance of justice, compassion, love and peace.

Allah gives a detailed description of true justice in the Qur’an and informs us that all sorts of disagreements can be solved by the maintenance of justice. In a society made up of righteous administrators and just people, it is obvious that all problems can be readily overcome.

In the Qur’an, Allah gives a detailed description of justice and informs believers of the attitude they have to adopt in the face of incidents they encounter and of the ways to exercise justice.

Such guidance is a great comfort to believers and a mercy from Allah. For this reason, those who believe are responsible for exercising justice in an undivided manner both to earn Allah‘s approval and to lead their lives in peace and security.

Justice Should Be Exercised Equally Among All People, With No Consideration of Language, Race, or Ethnicity

A close examination of developments all over the world reveals that the performance of justice varies according to place, time and people. For instance, in some societies, the color of someone’s skin influences decisions. Even under the very same circumstances, the same decision may not apply to a white and a black man.

In some societies, race is of great importance to people. In the 20th century, Hitler’s annihilation of millions of people solely because he deemed the Aryan race superior to other races is a good example of this. In our day, too, there are people being subjected to cruel and unjust treatment because of the color of their skin or their race. In the United States and South Africa, black people were for many years treated as second-class citizens, and savage disputes raged in many Asian and African countries simply because of racial differences.

The fact is, however, that Allah reveals in the verses of the Qur’an that one of the pieces of wisdom behind the creation of different peoples and nations is to allow them “to come to know one another” (Al-Hujurat 49:13).

scale of Justice

Those who believe are responsible for exercising justice in an undivided manner both to earn Allah‘s approval, to lead their lives in peace and security.

Different nations or peoples, all of whom are the servants of Allah, should get to know one another, that is, learn about their different cultures, languages, traditions and abilities. In brief, the purpose of the creation of different races and nations is not conflict and war but cultural richness.

Such variation is a bounty of Allah‘s creation. The fact that someone is taller than someone else or that his skin is yellow or white neither makes him superior to others nor is something to feel ashamed of.

Every trait a person has is a result of Allah‘s purposeful creation, but in the sight of Allah, these variations have no ultimate importance. A believer knows that someone attains superiority only by fearing Allah and in the strength of his faith in Allah. This fact is related in the following verse:

Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

As Allah informs us in that verse, the justice ordained by Him calls for equal understanding and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination.

Perfect Exemplar of Justice

In his time, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) treated people of different races and places with the utmost justice. He severely criticized subjecting people to different treatment because of their race, and attributed such acts to the “morality of the ignorant.”

The Prophet Muhammad reminded his people that people in ignorant societies may harbour enmity towards other people because of their color or race, and warned all Muslims against such an attitude, which is described as “ugly” in the Qur’an.

1,400 years ago, all these primitive ideas were abolished through the Qur’an, which was sent to mankind as a mercy, and it was proclaimed that all people, regardless of their color, race and language, are equal. The Prophet Muhammad criticized the unbecoming practice of people of ignorant societies who assessed others according to their race and color.

He cautioned the Arab people in these words in his last address (Farewell Sermon) to them:

“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

With these words, the Prophet Muhammad once again reminded all mankind the fact related in Surat  Al-Hujurat verse 13; that superiority among people is attainable only through fear of Allah.

Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also stresses, completely abolishes all these primitive ideas. In an environment where the values of Islam are established, a man cannot be accused, subjected to discriminatory treatment or oppressed because he is a Jew, a Christian, a black or an Indian.

Allah decides what race a person should belong to. He shaped man in the most perfect manner. Man’s duty is always to be just, loving, respectful, compassionate to and at peace with everyone.

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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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The People of the Book in the Qur’an

Religion of Peace

the Qur'an

While they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, the People of the Book- as the Qur’an reveals- have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not.

There are many nations in the world with different colors, creeds, and languages. These differences have been a cause of enmity throughout history in societies that did not live by religious moral values.

The perceived wisdom is that people can never manage to co-exist and that disputes arise wherever such differences exist.

However, this is a great misconception and the facts are otherwise. In fact, it is Allah Who created human beings in different communities and in the Qur’an, He calls all people to peace and security:

O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Allah calls to the Abode of Peace and He guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Yunus 10:25)

All divine religions revealed through Allah‘s messengers summon people to have faith in Allah, recommend them to display moral perfection and warn them against bad morals.

Despite the fact that all divine religions, except for Islam, are distorted, it is evident today that some of their messages are fundamentally the same. That is why these conflicts, which are stirred up artificially, lack reasonable and logical grounds.

As stated in the verse above, the main reason for unrest among people is not complying with Allah‘s summoning but following in the ”footsteps of Satan.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers’ harboring hostile feelings to other people who have faith in Allah is a moral weakness that displeases Allah, Who prohibits all believers from displaying such feelings. He calls on people to establish peace and friendship.

In the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, the last Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), Allah gives believers explicit commands and recommendations on this subject.

Their Status in the Qur’an

In the Qur’an, Jews and Christians, the members of the religions who abide by the Divine Books revealed by Allah, are called the ”People of the Book”. What Muslims’ views of the People of the Book should be, their relations, and the status of the People of the Book in social life are described in verses and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad in detail.

The People of the Book, while they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not. For this reason, if one of the People of the Book cooks some food, it is lawful for Muslims to eat it.

In the same way, permission has been given to a Muslim man to marry a woman from among the People of the Book. On this subject Allah commands:

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Book is also lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste women from among the believers and chaste women of those given the Book before you, once you have given them their dowries in marriage, not in fornication or taking them as lovers. But as for anyone who disbelieves, his actions will come to nothing and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)

Throughout Islamic history, the People of the Book have been always treated with compassion in Muslim societies. This was particularly evident in the Ottoman Empire.

It is a well known fact that the Jews, whose rights were denied and were exiled by the Catholic Kingdom of Spain, took refuge in the lands of the Ottoman Empire.

When Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror captured Istanbul, he granted both Christians and Jews all their fundamental rights. Throughout Ottoman history, Jews were regarded as a People of the Book and enjoyed peaceful coexistence with Muslims.

How Should a Muslim Regard Judaism?

As exemplified above, throughout his life, the Prophet (peace be upon him) treated the People of the Book with the utmost understanding and justice.

As a result of this noble attitude, Abdullah ibn Salam, a prominent rabbi, and his friends converted to Islam and came to believe in his prophethood.

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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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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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Shura: The Meaning of Democracy in Islam

By Lamya Hamad 

Is Shura something known to Islam? Is it compatible with Islamic principles? What style of leadership does Islam encourage?

The onset of 2011 witnessed an unexpected wave of protests that swept through the Middle East. Citizens struggled to topple authoritarian and tyrannical governments that had trampled on their rights for decades.

The domino effect that ensued after the first protests in Tunis caught the world by surprise. The desire for democracy and justice were undoubtedly the driving forces behind this movement. Some countries in the region have already begun shaping their legislation in a way that reflects democratic values.

Although the process will take time, the expected outcome is a system that allows all citizens to actively participate in the development of their country’s legislation and government.

Islam & Democracy

There is no universally accepted and defining model for democracy, which leaves room for nations to mold and customize their governments in a way that mirrors democratic concepts in each nation’s cultural and religious contexts.

Democratic values have been present for thousands of years, embedded in cultural and religious practices that might have been lost to history. In Islam, there are many documented instances of active participation of the people with the leaders of their time. This began with the Prophet Muhhammad (peace be upon him) as he was directed by God to seek consultation from his followers and companions while making important decisions.

Consultation is an integral concept in Islamic leadership and is known as shura.

Modern Middle Eastern countries have been blind to this key concept in Islam, which ultimately protects governments from regressing into corruptive and totalitarian regimes because of the continuous and direct involvement of the people.

As Michael Hamilton Morgan writes in Lost History, “Shura was the tradition Muhammad valued, according to which decisions that affect the community are to be made in consultation with members of the community.

In fact, one chapter of the Qur’an is named Ash-Shura, referring to a verse that states that those close to God should conduct their affairs by due consultation with others: “and those who conduct their affairs with consultation among themselves.” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Now, the Middle East has a chance to form new governments and modify constitutions. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and his close companions.

Shura in the Political Sphere

Shura is a crucial part of the Islamic political system. It allows common people to participate in the decision-making process. It helps create a society that engages actively with leaders.

Consultation is important in building a solid relationship between the leader and the people ensuring that the leader does not go astray or regress into an authoritarian government. God encouraged the Prophet to use shura:

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance. (Ash_Shura 42:38)

There are several examples of the Prophet taking counsel from his companions and following their opinions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) held many councils of war before going into battle. At one point, he believed that they should fight only if the enemy entered Madinah. However, his companions opined that they should go out and meet the army. He accepted the latter opinion even though they lost. Despite this, God revealed shortly afterwards a verse which stressed the importance of shura:

It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you has taken a decision put your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

In the next battle, the Muslims decided to stay put in Madinah. The Prophet again consulted his people regarding the best way to protect themselves against the enemy. Many suggestions came, including one which required the building of an extensive trench. The Prophet agreed to this option and actively participated in its construction. This time, they won.

The Prophet used both consultation as well as consensus when making decisions. However, the opinion of the majority was not always taken if it conflicted with the tenets of the faith or went against the overall benefit of the people.

At the same time, when the Prophet acted according to the commands of God, he did not heed to opposing viewpoints. For instance, when a seemingly disadvantageous treaty was signed with the Makkans, his people vehemently opposed it. However, the Prophet stuck to the decision and eventually his companions realized that the treaty worked in their favor.

This indicates a key principle in shura: it must not contradict or override the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, known as Sunnah.

The Qur’an and Sunnah combined represent a binding constitution for Muslims, much like the constitution of countries. Just as governments adhere to the constitution when passing new laws, the constitution being the superior document, a similar process is at work here.

The basic tenets of this divine constitution cannot be violated by anyone, not even leaders or popular movements. This means that the powerful cannot manipulate the system to their own advantage. Certain rules and principles must be upheld and cannot be overruled, such as, basic human rights like equality.

The Ethics of Leadership

The Prophet and his close companions all maintained strong moral ethics while in positions of authority. `Umar, the second Caliph, has particularly left a legacy of leadership which modern leaders can learn much from.

Upon assuming the role of Caliph, he said: “In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Book (the Qur’an), and will follow the examples set by the Prophet and Abu Bakr (the first Caliph). In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.”

Addressing the needs and concerns of the people was no doubt paramount in his reign and under the rule of other close companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, `Umar was even keen on safeguarding the well-being of animals, he would say, “If a mule stumbled in Iraq, I would be afraid that Allah (God) would ask me, why did you not pave the road for it `Umar?”

As illustrated in “A History of Muslim Civilization” by Abiva and Durkee, `Umar “expected his leaders to live up to ethical standards.” The list below shows some of the criteria a leader should have according to `Umar:

1- No nepotism or hereditary succession.

2- The people should be able to reach the leader easily to voice any of their concerns or suggestions.

3- The ruler should seek counsel, accept criticism, and be willing to rectify his mistakes.

4- The army exists to protect the people of the nation, not protect the leader from the people.

The above examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and `Umar give us priceless models in governance. Not only was shura and consultation key in their rule, they also upheld high morals and ethics.

Every living entity was given importance, be it animal or human, which created an empowered society where the rights of its subjects were paramount and people were given the opportunity to thrive. These standards are especially relevant for our world today in our quest for democracy.

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Source: new-uslims.info

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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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New Muslims Society

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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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Equality: Its Meaning and Roots in Islam

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

Men and women are created equal in their basic humanity, and have all the shared linage and dignity of Allah’s creation and privilege of man over the other creatures of His creation. What does Islam say about equality?

Discrimination due to race, sex, color, lineage, class, region or language is vehemently prohibited in Islam to avoid the artificial barriers between the privileged and underprivileged.

Equality does not mean that all are exactly alike since there is no denial about natural differences. The two genders complement and complete each other. Allah says in the Qur’an:

O mankind! Fear and revere your Lord, Who created you from a single person, created from it its mate, and from them scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; so fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (An-Nisaa’ 4:1)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“O Mankind! Your Lord is One. Your father is one. All of you belong to Adam (peace be upon him). And Adam is created of soil. Truly, the most honorable person in the Sight of Your Lord, the Almighty Allah, is the most pious among you. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab. There is no superiority for a non-Arab over an Arab. There is no superiority for a red (race) person over a white person. Likewise, there is no superiority of a white over a red (race) person, except for the piety and God consciousness.” (Ahmad)

Human-based

All humanity, according to Islam, with all its races, has one original source, so how can some exploit others claiming superiority or special privilege? Islam does not tolerate false pride in lineage and social status. The Messenger of Allah said:

“The Almighty Allah has removed the false pride which was practiced in the pre-Islamic period wherein individuals took false pride in their ancestors. All mankind belongs to Adam. And Adam is created of soil.” (Abu Dawud)

Pride of race and class are rampant in some societies. For example, some Jews and Christians have considered themselves of a higher status, breed, race or class of people.

Allah the Exalted and Almighty has exposed the truth of this arrogance, as He states in the Qur’an:

The Jews and the Christians say: “We are sons of Allah, and His beloved.”  Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men, of the men He has created: He forgives whom He pleases, and He punishes whom He pleases: and to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the return (of all). (Al-Ma’idah 5:18)

Islam & Racism

The laws of Islam eradicate any misguided basis of racism. For instance, Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) once said to a black slave “O the son of a black lady!” Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah turned to Abu Dharr, and said to him:

“Are you insulting this man with his mother? Truly you possess some of the qualities of the era of Ignorance (pre-Islamic times). That time is finished and over. There is no virtue or merit for the son of a white woman over the son of a black woman, except through piety and righteousness, or by good deeds and actions.” (Ahmad)

It is reported that Abu Dharr upon hearing the comment of the Prophet, put his head down on the ground in humility for the slave to come and step on his head with his foot, as an expiation for his misdeed, although the Prophet did not command him to do so. Abu Dharr wanted to discipline himself by self-humiliation so that he would never repeat such a sin in the future.

In the Sight of Allah

All people in Islam are completely alike and equal in terms of the obligation to perform various acts of worship to Allah. The rich and the poor, the leader and the peasant, the white and the black, the one of dignified means and the one of lower means, all are alike and equal as humans before Allah; the most noble is the most righteous and most sincere and steadfast in worship and good deeds. As the Prophet said:

Allah doesn’t look at your bodies and your colors but at your acts and your hearts (i.e. outward deeds and inward intentions and sincerity.” (Muslim)

All commands of obligation and prohibition are applicable to all without any distinction because of class, social status or race:

Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: nor is Your Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His slaves. (Fussilat 41:46)

The differentiation between individuals in the Sight of Allah is based on their levels of piety, righteousness, and compliance to the Commands of Allah, the Most Beneficent:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the Sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. In addition, Allah has full Knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

All individuals are equal before the Islamic code of law and the appointed Muslim judge. The penalties, judgments and legal sentences are applicable to all races and classes of people without any distinction and without any privileged person acquiring immunity.

Equality in Punishment

One outstanding example will be cited reported that the Quraysh were deeply concerned when a noble woman of the Makhzum clan stole, and Allah’s Messenger wanted to apply the due punishment in her case by amputating her hand. The Quraysh consulted among themselves and said: ‘the best person to talk to the Prophet about the Makhzumi woman thief is his beloved Companion (and the son of his beloved Companion) Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him).’

Therefore they sent Usamah to speak to the Prophet to intercede on behalf of this Makhzumi woman. Upon listening to Usamah, the Prophet  said:

“O Usamah! Are you coming to intercede concerning a punishment set by Allah?” Allah’s Messenger  stood up, as soon as he finished his conversation with Usamah and delivered a speech saying: “The people (or nations) before you were destroyed due to the fact that when a noble person among them would steal, they let him go unpunished, but if a poor, weak and insignificant person among them stole, they would apply the punishment on him. By Allah! If Fatimah ; the daughter of Muhammad stole, I shall cut off her hand.”

None has the right to monopolize, abuse or act for his personal Interest on national resources. All members of the nation have the right to benefit from the national resources, each according to just and equitable rights and obligations.

However, they will not be equal in terms of the work and the benefit they present for the public good. The Islamic government must exert every effort to secure job opportunities for its constituents and organize the utilization of national resources.

Islam declares all people equal in terms of human values yet every individual is rewarded according to what he presents to his society and community. The only distinction between people is on the basis of service that they offer. For instance, it does not look at a hardworking individual and a sluggish individual on equal footing in terms of pay and financial rewards:

To all are degrees (or ranks) according to their deeds: for Your Lord is not unmindful of anything that they do. (Al-An`am 6:132)

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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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His Character New Muslims

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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