Racial Equality and Justice in Islam
Islam is a universal religion for all people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. In Islam everyone is equal, except in their piety and good deeds. When Muslims gather to pray, the poorest of the poor stand shoulder to shoulder with the richest of the rich, and Muslims stand together and pray as one Ummah, no matter what your financial status, place in society, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Arab-supremacy, White-supremacy, Black-supremacy, etc. are forbidden in Islam as they are great sins of arrogance and injustice. It is our responsibility in Islam to stand firm for justice, even if we have to stand up against ourselves or our families.
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 135]
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do” [Surah al-Ma’idah: 8]
From Sheikh Hamza Yusuf:
“The great genius of our religion, and one of the great truths of our Prophet ﷺ, is that he came as a mercy to everyone. He ﷺ created multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies. He ﷺ had all types of people: Persians, Romans, Africans, Arabs from different tribes and he brought them into a fraternity of mercy. He had Jews and Christians and he honored them, and spoke to them kindly. He was not a harsh person, he ﷺ was a gentle person. He created an open society. Our religion honors people and treats them with dignity. May Allah preserve in you the tolerance of Islam.”
Quote from Malcom X’s letter about his Hajj experience:
“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug)-while praying to the same God with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of the blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the ‘white’ Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We are truly all the same-brothers.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”
Religious Tolerance in Islam
In Islam, people of the book (i.e. Jews, Christians, and Sabians) have a respected status and, as all people, have to be treated by Muslims with respect, tolerance, dignity, and justice. There is no compulsion in Islam. No one is allowed to force any person to accept or follow Islam. Religion is between each and every individual and God. “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah (God) hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things” ((Al-Baqarah 2:256).
Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) had a Jewish neighbor who, out of hatred for him, used to throw trash in his path. When Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) learned that he was ill, he came and visited him to wish him well.
When out of respect, Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) stood up for a Jewish Funeral, he was asked “Why did you stand up for a Jewish funeral?”. He (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) responded “Is it not a human soul?” (Al-Bukhari).
Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) married Safiyyah bint Huyay, daughter of the Jewish chief of the Banu An-Nadir tribe in order to show his closeness to the Jews. When she was captured in the Battle of Khaybar, he (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) freed and married her as an act of honor and mercy.
Letter from Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) to Christians:
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
English translation from ‘Muslim History: 570 – 1950 C.E.’ by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 – Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 – Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167