Assalāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāhi Wabarakath,
I'd written this article for a Dubai Magazine, but oddly enough the Awqaf didn't approve of it, although they loved it.
There are numerous diseases which exist within our Ummah, especially in this day and age. But one of the deadliest is racism. It is so ugly, that when it raises its head society does not function properly. It is able to end all the bonds between Brothers' and Sisters' which Islam carefully builds. It causes distress, leads to pride and puts a black spot on our hearts.
When Islam came it managed to abolish this ugly disease which was very prevalent then, and is again now. The Arabs in Mecca, especially the Quraysh considered themselves to be the most superior and of the highest caliber compared to other people. Tribalism was another common disease which was found at that time, and sadly is till now in some parts of the world. When Islam came it acted as a unifying force, bringing people together of all backgrounds and culture together. It increased the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood between the people and built it on nothing but purely faith. The people did not look down upon each other because of their colour anymore, but loved each other simply because they were Muslims.
The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam delivered a severe warning against racism or tribalism and those who practiced it.
It is narrated by Abu Dawud that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyah or who dies for `Asabiyah."
This is indeed a very harsh warning for anyone who has any prejudice or hate in their hearts towards other people based on race or colour. Or anyone who supports their kinsmen or tribesmen in wrong simply because of nationalism.
Today we see this happening in the Muslim World. Where people believe they are better then others because of their heritage, nationality or colour. When Islam came, it combined black, white and red into one. Some of the much respected Sahaba [Radiallahuanhum] were of different backgrounds, yet they came together in the path of Allah.
Bilal Ibn Rabbah [radi allahu anha], the first Muazzin of Islam who was the one of the closest companions to the Prophet Sallalahu alayhi wasallam was an African slave of dark colouring from Abysinnia. Salman Al-Farsi, another Sahabah, with whose help the Battle of the Trench was possible, was of Persian origin. It is transmitted by at-Tabarani and al-Hakim that in one incident some people spoke very lowly about Salman al-Farsi. They spoke of the inferiority of the Persian in relation to the Arabs, and upon hearing this Messenger of Allah (saaw) declared,
"Salman is from us, the ahl al-bayt (the Prophet's family)."
Why is it then, when among the companions, those whom we hold in very high regard, there was no racism or tribalism but we have such problems arising in the Muslim Ummah now? When Islam came, it joined the wealthy, the poor, the king and the slave together. In the sight of Allah, a persons colouring or wealth does not matter, what matters is their deeds that they did in this World.
Allah subhanna wa ta'ala says in the Qur'an, [Translation of meaning]:
Verily, the most honourable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqûn (pious - see V.2:2). Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (49:13)
The Prophet Sallalahu alayhi wasallam said:
"An Arab is no better than a non-Arab. In return, a non-Arab is no better than an Arab. A red raced man was not better than a black one except in piety. Mankind are all Adam's children and Adam was created out of clay." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Musa]
Once Abu Dharr, another companion of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam had an argument with Bilal, and in his anger he said to Bilal, 'You son of a black woman!'. The Messenger of Allah [Sallalahu alayhi wasallam] became extremely upset at this and he said to Abu Dharr, 'This is too much, Abu Dharr!, He who has a white mother has no advantage which makes him better than the son of a black mother.' Abu Dharr came to his senses and was so affected by this he put his head on the ground saying that he would raise it again until Bilal radi allahu anha put his foot on it.
Look at this beautiful example, subhan'Allah! Look at the anger of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam at Abu Dharr [RA] for saying that to Bilal [RA] and look at Abu Dharrs humility after realising his error. And now look at us, there is division in our Masajids according to nationality or colour where people make their own groups. When such divisions arise within the Ummah, the Ummah becomes weak and cannot defend itself. The Muslims are supposed to be one, to help each other in times of need and to be there for each other.
Allah subhanna wa ta'ala says in the Qurán [Translation of the meaning]:
The believers, men and women, are Auliyâ' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another
The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam has said:
"The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim]
When Muslims anywhere suffer in the World, it is our duty to respond to them, to help them in whatever means we can regardless of their race or nationality.
In another ahadith, the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam has said:
"Every Muslim is a brother to a Muslim, neither wronging him nor allowing him to be wronged. And if anyone helps his brother in need, Allah will help him in his own need; and if anyone removes a calamity from [another] Muslim, Allah will remove from him some of the calamities of the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone shields [another] Muslim from disgrace, Allah will shield him from the disgrace on the Day of Resurrection." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar].
Allah suhbanna wa ta'ala says in the Qur'an [Translation of the meaning]:
'And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh (i.e. this Qur'ân), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allâh's Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islâmic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allâh makes His clear to you, that you may be guided.' [3:103]
Allah subhanna wa ta'ala has created all of us from Adam and Hawwa, we are all offspring of them, in the forms of different colours and race and instead of looking down upon those among us who are different, we should embrace this diversity and come together as Brothers and Sisters in Islam.
May Allah subhanna wa ta'ala remove this disease from our Ummah and our hearts.