When Islam was first introduced to the Arabs, it was not introduced as an exclusive religion, on the contrary, it was introduced as a message for all people throughout the ages. Hence, alongside justice, the sense of equality is extremely strong in the Islamic teachings. All people are equal in the sight of the Creator except on the criterion of piety. There is no superiority for any race or nationality above another. As mentioned earlier, our appearances and this outer shape that we call the body is not actually what Allah looks at, but it’s our hearts which He observes. Those who are most pious are His most beloved. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“O mankind! Be pious to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from its kind He created its match, and from them He created many men and women, so fear Allah through whom you demand (Your mutual rights), and do not sever the relations of the wombs. Verily, Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you.” [The Qur’an (4:1)].
“O mankind, We have created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another. Verily the noblest among you in Allah’s sight, are those who are most pious. Verily Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” [The Qur’an (49:13)].
The above verses stipulate the fact that all mankind are one family in Allah’s sight. It was His plan to disperse us into different nations and tribes to fill the planet entrusted to us so that we may learn different things, and exchange our knowledge through fair cultural interaction, not cultural subjection. Allah also stipulates that the noblest among all people are not Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Persians, Romans, etc., nothing of that sort; the noblest are the most pious. Some people are Muslims, they testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, but their hearts are empty from the justice and piety of true faith. Islam is one thing and true faith is a totally different thing. This is why we see a Muslim bribee, a Muslim thief, a Muslim terrorist, etc. In the verse next to the above, Allah says:
“The Bedouins say: ‘We have believed.’ Say to them: ‘You have not believed yet, you should rather say, “We have submitted to Islam,” for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you will obey Allah and His Messenger, He [Allah] will not detract anything from your good deeds. Allah is most forgiving and ever merciful.’ ” [The Qur’an (49:14)].
Hence, unlike what most Muslims think, Islam is not the apex of faith, it’s just the doorway. Consequently, piety is not to utter the testimonies of faith, but it’s a force linked only to true faith when it fills the heart. It is concealed inside the hearts of believers and it always guides them to what’s fair and true. ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab is recorded to have said, “I swear to Allah that if non-Arabs come on the judgment day with good deeds, and we (Arabs) come empty handed, then they shall be worthier of Prophet Muhammad than us.”
From the above we may conclude that the Islamic teachings stipulate that all mankind are “One Family”. Of course, being one family doesn’t mean that we should hate or keep on fighting against each other. It means that we should be “kind & Just” towards one another. It’s true that under the stress of the world injustices we are suffering from today, some semi-knowledgeable Muslims who don’t have enough understanding of Allah’s laws and Prophet Muhammad’s teachings reciprocate hatred towards non-Muslims instead of knowledge, but this is not from Islam. Actually this contradicts the Islamic teachings in a manifest way endangering its doer to be misguided. Prophet Muhammad said in his farewell pilgrimage: “Oh! People, your God is one, your father is one. There is no superiority for an Arab on a non-Arab, or for a non-Arab on an Arab, nor for a white (man) on a black (man), or for a black (man) on a white (man). Verily the noblest among you in Allah’s sight are the most pious.” [Recorded by Ahmad].
On mentioning equality, one can’t disregard fraternity. The Prophet’s morals and teachings were a personification of these attributes. Anas Ibn-Mālek, the Prophet’s servant reported that: “The prophet accepted any invitation even if he was presented barley bread and soup whose taste had changed.” [Recorded by Al-Tirmidhī].
He always made Anas sit and eat with him from the same plate as reported by Anas himself.
He used to visit the poorest of ailing persons and urged all Muslims to do likewise as recorded by Bukhari. Anas also reported that the Prophet P.B.U.H. said: “I am Allah’s servant, I eat like a servant and sit like a servant.” [Recorded by Abu-Yu‘la].
‘Abdullah Ibn Mas‘uod, the companion reported that: “A man came to the prophet to ask him about something. When he saw the prophet he quivered, so the prophet P.B.U.H. said, ‘Take it easy man, I am but the son of a woman who ate jerked meat for sustenance.’ ” [Recorded by Ibn Mājah].
‘Abdullah Ibn-’Abbās , the prophet’s young cousin reported that: “The prophet used to sit on the floor, eat on the floor, tether his sheep and accept a slave’s invitation.” [Recorded by Tabarāni].
Anas reported that: “The prophet was the most beloved person to us all, whenever we saw him approaching, we only wouldn’t get up (in his honor), for we knew how much he hated that.” [Recorded by Tirmidhī] He would himself, however, stand up humbly for those who had taken care of him during infancy. He stood up to receive his foster mother who had reared him in infancy, and in respect he spread his own sheet for her and her husband. His foster brother was also given similar treatment.
Abu-Dhar, the companion reported that: “The prophet avoided sitting at a prominent place in any gathering. People coming in always had difficulty in spotting him, and had to ask which one was the Prophet.” [Recorded by An-Nasā’ī].
‘Abdullah Ibn Abi-Aufa, the companion reported that: “The prophet never disdained to walk along with widows, slaves, and the wretched until their needs were fulfilled.” [Recorded by An-Nasā’ī].
On one of their journeys, the Prophet’s companions were preparing to roast a goat. One of them said that he would slaughter the animal, another said that he would skin it, while a third one said that he would cook it; the prophet then said that he would gather some wood and light the fire. Their response was: “O Prophet, we can do everything.” The prophet said: “I have no doubt that you can, but I do not like distinctions to be made, nor does Allah like any one of His servants to exert any superiority over his companions.” [Recorded by Abu-Dāwud].
From the above few examples, one may conclude that the third pillar upon which the methodology of reformation in Islam was built is: “Rooting the sense of Equality and Fraternity.”
By: Ehab Shawky