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Friday, November 27, 2020

RACISM AND ISLAM

 

“…Seest thou not that Allah sends down water from the clouds, then We bring forth therewith fruits of various hues? And in the mountains are streaks, white and red, of various hues and (others) intensely black. And of men and beasts and cattle there are various colors likewise (Q. 35:27-28)…”

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…continued from yesterday…

Islam is a way of life. Islamic doctrine, or Aqeedah, addresses the same issues that its legal texts does. In other words, whatever personal belief the Holy Quran guides someone to, will be in accordance with how he or she must lawfully behave in society.

In addition, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), unlike other prophets, did not come to one people or tribe or nation.

The Quran is addressed to all people, and while it notes that there are indeed physical differences among individuals, it also stresses that all human beings share a common ancestry.

In Chapter 35 Verses 27-28 it is said:

“Seest thou not that Allah sends down water from the clouds, then We bring forth therewith fruits of various hues? And in the mountains are streaks, white and red, of various hues and (others) intensely black. And of men and beasts and cattle there are various colors likewise.”

But Chapter 4 Verse 1 reads:

“O people, keep your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind), and spread from these two many men and women.” 

This single ayat effectively negates the whole idea of racism by reminding us of our shared human heritage.

Islam has historically been a great unifying force because it does not determine the value of a person based on such an irrelevant thing as the way he or she looks. Rather, it focuses on right living and piety to determine the value of an individual.

But in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the tribes of Arabia used lineage to determine social standing. Partly as a result, black people were regarded as inferior and not fit for much else besides slavery. Slavery was one of the many institutions in pre-Islamic Arabia that was abhorrent to Islam.

In one of the very earliest Quranic revelations, Al-Balad (The City), it is said:

“And what will make thee comprehend what the uphill road is? It is to free a slave.” (Chapter 90:12-13)

In his Quranic commentaries, Maulana Muhammad Ali says:

“[Islam] is the only religion which enjoins the duty of granting freedom to slaves, and the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the only founder of a religion who showed the noble example of freeing all the slaves that he ever had and helping in the freedom of others.”

Regarding Chapter 9 of the Holy Quran (Al Bara’at: The Immunity), Verse 60, Maulana Ali continues:

“the State itself must spend a part of the public funds in purchasing freedom for slaves.”

It may be argued that, black or not, those slaves who converted to Islam did so because anything, and certainly Islam, which after all provided for the eventual freedom of all slaves, was preferable to slavery. But this does not explain the conduct of Hazrat Bilal, a black slave who was freed after conversion to Islam. Bilal, the black man, stood firm in his devotion to Islam when many of the earliest converts, under torture, did not. It is reported that “in the depth of his anguish the persecutors could force from him but one expression, ‘Ahad! Ahad!’ (One! One! God).”

…to be continued…

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