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Islam and Racism

Islam and RacismTawhid, or “Unity”, is the basis of Islamic theology and therefore it is the ground of its philosophy of society. All humanity is one; a great unit. Its individuals are members of one society incorporate which is so comprehensive that it includes all differences within its oneness. The many find within the one that brotherhood, affection, friendliness and human blood-relationship which is of the essence. Hence distinctions do not become differences – not colour, nor culture, nor class, nor custom, nor conversational idiom. Mutual respect as fellow-humans in pursuit of the common good is the rule throughout the worldwide society of Islam, without superiority or inferiority.

Islam and RacismTawhid, or "Unity" [1], is the basis of Islamic theology and
therefore "Unity" is the ground of its philosophy of society. All humanity is
one; a great unit. Its individuals are members of one society incorporate which
is so comprehensive that it includes all differences within its oneness. The
many find within the one that brotherhood, affection, friendliness and human
blood-relationship which is of the essence. Hence distinctions do not become
differences – not colour, nor culture, nor class, nor custom, nor conversational
idiom. Mutual respect as fellow-humans in pursuit of the common good is the rule
throughout the worldwide society of Islam, without superiority or inferiority,
since all mankind were created in one human soul to start with, from whom man
and woman, black and white, poor and rich, civilised and savage, all evolve
sharing one common humanity: ‘Truly God made of one flesh all the nations upon
earth it haply they may feel after Him and find Him.’

So it is written in the Holy Qur’an (Sura Al-Nisa (Chapter 4), Verse 1). "O
people! be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single
being ", leaving no room for nationalistic divisions. Differences in skin and
tongue are merely tokens of the Creator’s power. They call on men to study the
will and might of Him who from one elemental root created so many variations of
colour countenance and conversation.

As it is written also in the Holy Qur’an (Sura Al-Rum (Chapter 30), Verse 22):
"And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the
diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for
the learned."

It is further written in the Holy Qur’an (Sura Al-Baqara (Chapter 2), Verse
213): "Mankind was a single nation; so Allah raised prophets as bearers of good
news and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it
might judge between people in that in which they differed; and none but the very
people who were given it differed about it after clear arguments had come to
them, revolting among themselves; so Allah has guided by His will those who
believe to the truth about which they differed and Allah guides whom He pleases
to the right path." This verse reveals that in the beginning mankind was one
single nation without differences or splits or conflicts but enjoying unity,
cooperation and harmony.

Imam Ali (a)* left us the priceless legacy of the Nahjul Balagha, amongst which
is his historic address to Malek Al-Ashtar in which he expresses this truth as
follows:

"Maalik! You must create in your mind kindness, compassion and love for your
subjects. Do not behave towards them as if you are a voracious and ravenous
beast and as if your success lies in devouring them.

Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people:
those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and
those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like
you."[2]

Unity and union amongst individuals will subsist under the aegis of unity of
thought and spirit, oneness of conviction and aim; nor can any unity obtain save
under that orderliness. Should a society fall into division of thought and
conviction, its bonds of affection will be loosened and when adversity arises,
material needs will increase differences, conflicts and tensions. That is why
the strongest tie of unity amongst nations is the religious bond.

It is in this bond of union that Islam has brought people and peoples together,
freeing them from the trammels of division and difference, and calling them to
establish the bases of accord and agreement in a society of brotherhood which is
the natural state of man.

Islam treats mankind as one great family of brothers and sisters. In the human
family the relationship of father and child is a stronger bond than that of
brotherhood. But the qualities of respect and of difference of age deprive the
father-child relationship of full equality. That is why it is brotherhood which
Islam exalts as the expression of that perfect and heartfelt affection which
should reign within the human family. It should reign on the surface and in the
depths. Brotherhood is therefore the call of the Qur’an. The most sublime levels
of love and the most sincere of friendships are those which arise between
Muslims. They are called brothers because of their brotherhood, because of the
existence of the fact of this most tender and beautiful of manifestations of
equality; it is not the command to be brothers which called the fact into
existence. The command was uttered, but the natural upwelling of the spirit
engendered by that surrender (tasleem) to God (which Islam is) issues in
brotherhood.

This brotherhood is deeper and higher than mere natural brotherliness, for it is
the unity of a shared aim, the unity of shared convictions, the unity of joint
beliefs, the unity of hearts.

It is written in the Holy Qur’an (Sura Al-Hujurat (Chapter 49), Verse 10):
"Believers are a single brotherhood. Make peace amongst your brothers and fear
God that you may receive mercy."

The Prophet decreed: "The members of the assembly of the believers are by love
and affection one body, and any limb of that which is pained causes all the
other limbs to suffer in sympathy. If any individual Muslim falls into a painful
situation all the other members of the community must run to his help and share
in his sorrow." (Safeenatul Behar, Vol. 1, p.13.)

Notes

1. Tawhid is the fundamental principle and forte of the Islamic tradition. It
includes the idea of the unicity of the Godhead as well as the pricipial unity
of all Being in both its transcendental amd immanent modalities. The principle
of Tawhid as a world outlook implies the unity, coherence, and harmony between
all parts of the universe. There is no equivalent for this term in English.

2. Letter Number 53, Nahjul Balagha.

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