Racial Equality in Islam

Racial Equality in Islam

Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said in his historic farewell Hajj sermon: ‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also, a white has no superiority over black, nor a black has any superiority over white, except by piety and good action.’

Whatever our nationality in this world, no matter what race we come from, no matter what monetary class we belong to, or what value system we practice, we all are only weighed on account of our good deeds and piety in the eyes of Allah. Allah, the Almighty laid out in the Holy Book in a crystal-clear manner, that all mankind is given birth from dust, borne by Adam and Eve, and all are equal in the eyes of Allah, our supreme Creator, regardless of our race, color, gender etc. We, creatures next to nothingness in front of The One who created the heaven and the earth, how can we degrade someone on his color being black, or on his race supposedly being inferior to ours? We are rushing towards our self-assigned destination as if there will not be a trial after we leave this world? Each and every one of us will have to answer to Allah about even a grain of injustice on our part, and also on the imbalance brought to this world due to the selfish acts of immorality by us.

Some non-Muslims might criticize the Quran and Hadith as outdated, but our dear Prophet (PBUH) could sense this at that point in time, that a stage will come when people would develop hatred and animosity against each other on the basis of being white or black, Subhan Allah. His actions spoke louder than words, for sure, and he lived his life on principles of equality, forgiveness, brotherhood, compassion, humility and kindness. To learn to let go, and allow others to live freely, that should be our goal in life too.

According to another hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Those who boast about their forefathers should desist or they will be less significant before Allaah than the beetle that rolls up the dung with its nose. Allaah has taken away from you the arrogance of Jaahiliyyah and its pride in forefathers, so a person is either a pious believer or a doomed evildoer. All the people are the children of Adam and Adam was created from dust.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3890; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 3100; and in Ghaayat al-Maraam, 312, it was said that al-Tirmidhi and Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah classed it as saheeh).

Source: Quora.com

Non-Arabs Beloved to Prophet (PBUH)

Our dearest Prophet (PBUH) believed in and exercised equality and a racism-free lifestyle. He did not have any bias towards non-Arabs and held them close to his heart, regardless of their skin color. Every step taken by the messenger of Allah had hidden wisdom enveloped around it, emitting a never-ending ray of guiding light for the generations to come. His attitude and love towards people, who did not even have a blood relation with him, spoke a thousand words about him. A few examples of this attachment are quoted as under:

Umme Aymun

An early convert to Islam, Umme Aymun (Barakah bint Tha’alaba) was an Abyssinian slave of the Prophet (PBUH), serving his parents till their departure from this world, and then helped in the upbringing of Muhammad (PBUH) and was a companion to him. She was freed from slavery later on, but still, she remained with the Prophet (PBUH), served in the battles of Uhud and Khyber, fighting bravely alongside the brave Muslim soldiers, and remained an important part in the life of Allah’s messenger.

Our dear Prophet (PBUH) arranged for her marriages; first to Ubayd ibn Zayd, and then (after the death of Ubayd) to the adopted son of the Prophet (PBUH), Zayd ibn Harithah (a non-Arab). When Ubayd ibn Zayd passed away, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

‘If anyone of you wishes to marry a woman from the people of Paradise, let him marry Umm Aymun.’

Wow, Allah’s beloved creatures, His slaves, selfless people who were humble and pure in their love for Allah and His beloved messenger, undoubtedly. After Muhammad (PBUH) included her as a woman of Paradise, highlighting her esteemed position as a true believer, Zayd ibn Harithah chose to offer his hand in marriage, and both were blessed with a boy; Usama.

The Prophet had extreme love for her (and deemed her as a woman of Paradise), and also as ‘my mother after my own mother’ (Ummi). Prophet (PBUH) was an Arab but he considered an Abyssinian slave woman as next to his mother, because of her devoted services to his family.

Zayd ibn Harithah

The only beloved companion of the Holy Prophet whose name is mentioned in the Holy Quran, such was his stature, masha Allah. Zayd served Hazrat Khadija’s (R.A.) household for several years, and then at the time of her marriage to our Holy Prophet (PBUH) Zayd ibn Haritha was given to Allah’s messenger, so as to serve him. When Zayd’s father found out about him, he was overwhelmed and came to Makkah to get him. Just think, a slave, who has been in the family for many years, then finally gets a chance to be freed and re-united with his family, a golden chance of freedom. But be ready to read the historic reply of Muhammad’s (PBUH) devoted slave:

‘Slaveship with Muhammad (PBUH) is better than freedom with any man.’

Imagine the type of behavior which was extended towards the slaves serving in the households of Muhammad (PBUH) and Khadijah (R.A.) which showered the helpers with unlimited love and affection, claiming their long-life companionship even after getting a chance of freedom. Our dear Prophet (PBUH) freed and legally adopted Zayd after Prophet’s marriage to Hazrat Khadija (R.A.). Zayd is known to be possibly the third person to accept Islam after Hazrat Khadija (R.A.), and Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A.), and played an important part in the life of the Prophet (PBUH) as a devoted companion and commander in Muhammad’s (PBUH) army. Because of Muhammad’s extreme love and affection for Zayd, the people of Quraysh used to address him as ‘Zayd, the son of Muhammad (PBUH)’, an example of purity, selfless devotion, and gratitude for someone who offers his services to you, regardless of their ethnicity, race or color, something we are incapable of practicing in today’s age.

Usama ibn Zayd

Zayd was married to Umme Aymun, (whom Muhammad considered as a mother next to her mother) and had a son; Usama ibn Zayd, dark in complexion, and was known famously as beloved son of the one who is beloved to Allah’s messenger. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH), grandfather to Hassan and Hussain, would hold Usama and Hassan in his lap and say:

‘O Allah, I love them so love them!’

Subhan Allah, such a great sight, a moment when the person loved by Allah, the Almighty is holding in his great lap, on one side a freed slave’s boy, and on the other side of his lap, his grandson, remarkable. A historic moment where color, race, ethnicity held no importance, rather a sea of fotherly love and affection showered on the two (unrelated by blood) kids.

Usama ibn Zayd also served as a commander in the early Muslim army. Hazrat Usama ibn Zayd (R.A.) was given command of an army expedition, at a mere age of 18, to Syria after the heavy loss of Muslims in the battle of Mootah. Many disliked Prophet’s (PBUH) decision of choosing a slave boy as their commander but our dear Prophet (PBUH) assured them of Hazrat Usama’s competency. Usama was fortunate enough to be chosen by the Prophet to ride with him on the Day of Conquest, being present in Kabah when he entered it. During Hajj, from Arafah to Muzdalifa, Usama rode with our dear Prophet (PBUH), an honor for him undoubtedly.

Bilal ibn Rabah

Another great example is of Hazrat Bilal (A.S.) who belonged to Habsha, lived in Makkah as a slave but was later freed by Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.). He embraced Islam in the very initial stages of its spread, ultimately becoming the target of severe torture by the non-Muslims of Makkah, but he faced it all with great bravery. He was a black man, he loved the beloved Prophet (PBUH) immensely, and was the one to announce the first Adhan (call to prayer) chosen by Muhammad (PBUH) himself, bearing a very sweet voice, and remained the call prayer till Muhammad (PBUH) stayed alive. Muhammad (PBUH) entrusted him with the responsibility of handling his expenses, making him the head treasurer.

Now, how else could the messenger of Allah show to the world that in the eyes of the final Prophet of Islam, all were equal; Arab or non-Arab, Black or not, slave or not, nothing mattered but one’s piety, deeds, and devotion to Islam. In those times, the slaves were slowly and gradually bought and freed by people who had the resources to do so, ultimately abolishing the chain of slavery altogether. This is the beauty of Islam, that Allah considers all believers as equals in His eyes, providing freedom to each and every one and allowing them to exercise all their rights without any awkwardness or inferiority.

Allah says in the Quran in Surah Ar-Rum, Verse 22

Quran Surah Ar Rum Verse 22

‘And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.’ (30:22)

At another point, in Surah Al Hujurat, Verse 13

Quran Surah Al Hujurat Verse 13

‘O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.’ (49:13)

True Islam believes in diversity, equality, brotherhood, and has no room for racism or bias on the basis of color, gender, ethnicity or background etc. Islam is a religion of peace and is a blessing for all mankind, allowing them to see hope at the end of a dark tunnel of suppression, injustice and hatred, maintaining an equilibrium of sanity and composure.


The situation in the U.S. regarding the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘All Lives Matter’ movement is quite disturbing; this is the result of the never-ending seed of white supremacy which was planted long time ago when slavery was part of America; like blood in its veins. And, it appears that this hatred and sense of superiority and supremacy is still there in one form or the other, degrading a non-white individual, at whatever chance one might get, in whichever area.

Discriminating against any particular person on the basis of religion, color or race has no place in a society that considers everyone as an equal structural component. Offering basic human rights to the whole mankind regardless of their nationality or belonging is the urgent need of the hour. Tolerance, patience, compassion, kindness and understanding, are the qualities we need to adapt to get through these trying times. To let others breathe the same air, not holding grudges against each other, and forgiveness for acts big or small is the demand of today. May we all learn from incidents like the killing of George Floyd, and pray that such acts of hatred, cruelty and racism become part and parcel of the past, giving birth to a new and improved tomorrow, a dawn of peace and prosperity for all, if Allah wills.

In conclusion, let us be aware of what Malcolm X, one of America’s greatest Civil Rights leaders, wrote in a letter, from his pilgrimage to Makkah in 1964;

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all together, irrespective of their color.”

Deeply impacted by his journey, Malcolm X narrated that “during the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words 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.”


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