By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam
21 June 2019
Men and women are equally created in their basic humanity. Discrimination on the basis of gender, colour, lineage, class, race, or language is strongly prohibited in Islam. Equality does not mean that all are completely alike since there is no denial about natural differences. The two genders complete and complement each other. Allah says in the Quran,
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (4:1)
In another verse, He Almighty says,
"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Indeed the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted" (Quran 49:13)
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah does not look at your bodies and your colours but at your acts and your hearts (i.e. outward deeds and inward intentions) (Sahih Muslim)
These commands are equally applicable to all human beings without any discrimination due to class, race or social status. Allah Almighty says,
“Whoever does righteousness - it is for his [own] soul; and whoever does evil [does so] against it. And your Lord is not ever unjust to [His] servants.” (41:46)
Islam dislikes all sorts of racism. For example, one of the companions of Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him), Hazrat Abu Dharr once said to a black slave, “O the son of the black lady!” Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah turned to Abu Dharr and said to him, “Are you insulting this man with his mother? Truly, you possess some of the qualities of the era of Ignorance (pre- Islamic times). That time is finished and over. There is no virtue or merit for the son of the white woman over the son of the black woman, except through piety and righteousness, or by good deeds and actions” (Ahmad 4:145.)
It is narrated that Abu Dharr, after hearing the Prophet’s words, put his head down on the ground in humility for the slave to come and step with his foot on his head, as expiation for his racist words. Though the Prophet did not command him to do so, Hazrat Abu Dharr did it to discipline himself by humiliating himself in this way so that he would never commit such disrespectful words in the future.
This is to assert that in Islam, a person’s worth is determined by his good deeds and by his obedience to Allah.
Islamic value of equality is based on the following principles;
1. All human beings are created by One God.
2. The father of all human beings is One, that is, Hazrat Adam (peace be upon him)
3. Allah is Just and Kind to all His creatures, without having any partiality to any race, age or religion.
4. All human beings are equally born, that is, none of them brings any possession with him, and they die without taking back anything of their worldly belongings.
5. Allah judges every individual on the basis of his merits and deeds.
6. Allah has conferred on Children of Adam, that is, on all mankind, a title of honour and dignity.
These principles are mentioned in the Quran and Hadith. For instance, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “O Mankind! Your Lord is One. Your father is one. All of you belong to Adam. And Adam is created of soil. Truly, the most honourable person in the Sight of Your Lord, the Almighty Allah, is the most pious among you. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab. There is no superiority for a non-Arab over an Arab. There is no superiority for a red (race) person over a white person. Likewise, there is no superiority of a white over a red (race) person, except for the piety and God consciousness. (Musnad Ahmad Hadith no. 411)
To sum up, Islam declares all human beings equal in terms of human values, yet every person is rewarded in accordance with his service that he offers. This concept, if utilized in daily life, can greatly benefit the societies and develop pluralism. There will be thus no room for prejudice, oppression or persecution.