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What does Islam say about Discrimination?

In today’s world, racism has integrated itself into the core fabric of social structures that govern our modern day societies. It has manifested into one of the most prevalent diseases plaguing human communities today.

Not one day goes by where you pick up a newspaper or put on a news channel or tune into the radio, and you are not bombarded with news of racial discrimination, violence, war and terror. One cannot help but wonder about the triggers of such tragic instances prevailing across the globe.

Contrary to popular Western belief, Islam strictly rejects the whole notion of racism and discrimination and condemns it to its very core. Islam stands on a solid foundation based on the concept of mutual love and brotherhood. It rejects discrimination based on color, race, ethnicity, blood, power or any man-made distinctions, for that matter.

All were created equal in the eyes of Allah. Islam out rightly rejects favoritism be it in terms of monetary privileges or biological differences. The only distinguishing factors among individuals is their level of faith and piety.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍۢ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ شُعُوبًۭا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ ١٣

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes for you to know one another. Truly, the noblest of you with God is the most pious.

(Al-Hujurat 49:13)

One of the basic principles of Islam is to unite people under one banner; that is why all Muslims are considered as brothers and sisters.

Islam does not make any distinction between an Arab and non-Arab; the only difference between people is due to their level of taqwa (consciousness of Almighty Allah) and good conduct. Allah Most High says:

{Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.}

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ

(Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Moreover, the Nabi Muhammad (saw) said:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ

“Whoever has an atom of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise.”

(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1998)

Pride means boastfulness, rejecting the truth, and looking down on people. So, anyone who looks down on their fellow Muslim sisters and brothers because they are black has pride in his/her heart, which will prevent him/her from entering Paradise unless he/she repents and regrets the sin he/she is committing.

Islam is a religion of unity; it unifies its followers under one nation. Allah the Almighty says:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ ءَامَنَ أَهْلُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًۭا لَّهُم ۚ مِّنْهُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ

{You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and you believe in Allah.}

(Aal Imran 3:110)

Therefore, making discrimination and distinction among people on account of their color, race, etc. has no basis in Islam. It leads to the disintegration and disunity of the Ummah. It also contradicts the command of Allah the Almighty to Muslims in the Quran:

وَٱعْتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبْلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًۭا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited.”

(Aal Imran 3:103)

Islam places great emphasis on the concept of brotherhood among humans, irrespective of their characteristics and position. And forbids discrimination.

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