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Honoring people of African descent in Islam Part 1

Aug 30, 2021

International Day for People of African Descent

Introduction
The International Day for People of African Descent will be celebrated for the very first time and the date which has been set aside is the 31 August 2021. The main aim of this commemoration is to promote the extraordinary contributions of the African diaspora around the world and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people of African descent.

These International days reflect the values that society shares. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies. Any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.

What Islam says?
One day, in Makkah Mukarramah, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ dropped a bombshell on his followers: He told them that all people are created equal.

عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ خَطَبَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي وَسَطِ أَيَّامِ التَّشْرِيقِ خُطْبَةَ الْوَدَاعِ فَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّ أَبَاكُمْ وَاحِدٌ أَلا لا فَضْلَ لِعَرَبِيٍّ عَلَى عَجَمِيٍّ وَلا لِعَجَمِيٍّ عَلَى عَرَبِيٍّ وَلا لأَحْمَرَ عَلَى أَسْوَدَ وَلا أَسْوَدَ عَلَى أَحْمَرَ إِلا بِالتَّقْوَى إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
“All humans are descended from Adam and Eve, there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.” [Shu’ab al-Imān 4706]

In this sermon, the Noble Prophet of Allah, Muhammad ﷺ outlined the basic religious and ethical ideals of Islam, the religion he began preaching in the early seventh century. Racial equality was one of them. Muhammad’s ﷺ words jolted a society divided by notions of tribal and ethnic superiority.

Apart from monotheism – worshipping just one God, Allah – belief in the equality of all human beings in the eyes of Allah set early Muslims apart from many of their fellow Arabs in Makkah.

Chapter 49, verse 13 of the Quraan, declares:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ
“O humankind! We have made you…into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. The noblest of you in God’s sight is the one who is most righteous.”

During the course of this week, as part of honouring people of African descent, we will in sha Allah take a look at some of the illustrious companions of Nabi ﷺ who were of African descent.

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