The word Racism generally means the feeling and demonstration of one`s distinction over other individual. This superiority complex takes many forms like the most prevailing one is thinking of white people as better than the black. Other forms include linguistic prejudice in some countries, and discrimination on the basis of cast and creed is also commonly observed throughout the world. This act is considered as one of the biggest social evils, as Allah SWT has clearly said in the Holy Quran:
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. [Quran, 30: 22]
The above mentioned Ayah indicates towards the fact that the Almighty Lord has created outer space and world and divided human beings having different way of speech, and being dissimilar in looks just as His Signs which the true believers should think about. Just like there is constant alternation of day and night in the surroundings, individuals are also having different qualities and characteristics, but it does not mean that they have to consider themselves better than others.
Now let us further elaborate the prohibition of racism according to the Sacred Scripture and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH):
Quranic Perspective About Racism
Before the arrival of Islam, Arabs used to have many cultural and tribal differences among each other, where some of the clans regarded themselves as superior to others. They had forgotten the basic instructions of the past Prophets and had many community problems, and racism was one of them. Slaves were treated worse than animals, and inter ethnic quarrels were very common. To call them towards unity and harmony, Allah SWT revealed the following verse of Furqan e Hameed on His Last Messenger (PBUH):
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Quran, 49: 13]
There is some key wisdom in these Quranic lines regarding strict forbiddance of racism.
- First of all, the evolution of whole mankind has started from Adam and Hawa (Eve). No matter how rich, prosperous, good looking, or physically strong someone is, it should never forget about its likeness in its beginning to other persons, i.e. from a single father and mother. Everyone is born alike, differing in nothing and having no special abilities and skills from other people.
- Second, the purpose behind dividing mankind in to nations and group is none other than just to make it easy for natives to recognize each other. If everyone looked same and spoke same language, there would be many problems for people to distinguish among themselves. So, the need of the hour is to embrace the real reason behind having different reference groups, i.e. easy to know each other than to differentiate among one another on the basis of cast, color or creed.
- Third, and the most important lesson that we can take from this verse is that the decisive factor of one`s supremacy over the other near God, the Exalted, is only to strive in adopting uprightness and morality in its lives.
So, the overall understanding of the above described Ayah from the Book of Allah SWT about prejudice is quite clear. There is no space for racial, ethnic, cultural, tribal, or national discrimination whatsoever. The most important thing to notice is that the Almighty Lord has discussed this matter with the entire humanity, and not just the Muslim, which also shows the universality of Islam.
Prophetic (PBUH) Belief Regarding Racism
All the previous Prophets were sent to preach the word of ethics and Oneness of the Almighty to their specific nations alone. But, the Final Messenger, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) had the distinction of being given responsibility to moralize the complete world population. The knowledge of His Seerah (Autobiography) highlights the true essence of Islam. He used to treat everyone alike, despite belonging to one of the highly known families of Qureyshi tribe, i.e. Bani Hashim. He never considered Himself better than others, spoke gently, was truthful and honest, and never took any advantage of His family name. On the occasion of His very Last Friday Sermon, known as “Khutbah Hujjatul Wada”, where He called others towards unity and criticized the act of prejudice in these words:
“O people! Your God 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.” (Ahmad)
The Holy Prophet (PBUH), in His last address, talked to general people and stressed on remembrance of One Allah, for completion of faith in Islamic Ideology demands first to have absolute belief in the Supreme Power of the Almighty. Then, He came towards the topic which is under discussion now, i.e. avoiding discrimination among one another. All the humans share common starting point, i.e. they all have the same forefather, Adam. So, there is need to think about one`s preeminence over the other because of being Arab or Non Arab, white or black and vice versa. The only way to be better than others is having Taqwa (piety and consciousness about righteousness). On another occasion, Abu Hurrairah (R.A) reports Rasulullah (PBUH) saying as:
“Allah does not look at your appearances or your financial status, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.” (Al-Bukhari)
It means that Allah SWT does not consider how much one possesses the pleasant appearance or have amount of money, rather He only sees our Iman (devotion towards Islamic convictions) in our hearts, intentions of our deeds.
In short, there is no room for racism in the Religion of Peace as it is one of greatest social evils. The standard of one`s superiority over others should not be evaluated on someone`s nation, tribe, property, skin color or language etc. but it should solely be restricted to one`s ability to surpass in committing actions of rectitude.