Monday, September 29, 2008

Islam on brotherhood and equality of all human beings

29 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

FROM fruits of the Islamic belief in absolute unity of Allah, is the human brotherhood. Of the prerequisites of the human brotherhood is the equality of humans. In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Shaikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi says, “This brotherhood is based on two factors”: Firstly, by virtue of the call to belief in unity of Allah, all the humans are slaves or servants of the same single Lord; He created them and made them equals, so they enjoy sameness in the status of servitude to Allah.

Secondly, they all are sons of the same parents — Adam and Eve. Whatsoever the colour of their skins may differ or wherever their homelands may be located, or their tongues may vary or their classes may be disparate, they still remain the sons of Adam.

They are on par in their status of affiliation to Adam. This is what the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) communicated to his nation on the occasion of the Hajjatul Wadaa' (the Farewell Haj). In his sermon to the large congregation, he said, “O people, the Lord of all of you is one; the father of all of you is one; all of you belong to the Adam; Adam was created from the dust; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab — except by piety” (1 Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad: 5/411 — through Abu Nadhrah; considered authentic by Albani).

Allah, the Most Exalted and Glorified, says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”. (Al-Quran: Al-Hujurat: 13)

Imam Ahmad has narrated through Zaid Bin Arqam that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to invoke Allah after every congregational prayer with the following three supplications: “Oh our Allah — our Lord and the Lord and Owner of everything —, I bear witness that you are the one and only deity who has no associate”. “Oh our Allah — our Lord and the Lord and Owner of everything —, I bear witness that all humans are brethren”.

This brotherhood is the broad human brotherhood. And certainly, brotherhood embodies three elements of love, equality and co-operation. Some people may say that Allah says — in the Quran — “the Believers are but a single Brotherhood” and that His Messenger — Mohammad (PBUH) — says, “a Muslim is the brother of another Muslim”, which means that the basis of brotherhood is nothing but religion and faith. We say that the religious brotherhood based on faith is the very special and deepest brotherhood, but it does not conflict with other types of brotherhood, like national or ethnic brotherhood — as mentioned in the following Quranic verses: “To the 'Ad People (We sent) Hud, one of their own brethren....” (Al-Quran: Hud: 50)

“To the Thamud People (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren.…( Al-Quran: Hud: 61) “To the Madyan People (We sent) Shu'aib, one of their own brethren” …( Al-Quran: Hud: 84) Thus, the Quran confirms existence of brotherhood between those Messengers and their people; even though they rejected them and rebelled against them, they still belonged to them and were not alien to them. That is the ethnic brotherhood. And there is the bond of human brotherhood between the descendants of Adam in general. That is what we mentioned above in light of the prophetic supplications.


To be continued

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