We firmly believe that discrimination and any other effort to divide humanity on any plane may pay some short-term dividends for some; however, in the long run, the consequences are dire for all concerned. In this contemporary scenario, Islam has a very positive message and an effective role to play.
We wish to make it clear in this article that racism and class hatred are denounced by Islam in the strongest terms, as is the generation of any kind of disorder. The verses of the Holy Quran referred to above are some of the many that deal with this issue.
The character of the Holy Prophet (lpbD) of Islam is described as:
"The light of God, belonging neither to the east nor to the west, i.e. equally partaken of by both".
اَللّٰہُ نُوۡرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ ؕ مَثَلُ نُوۡرِہٖ کَمِشۡکٰوۃٍ فِیۡہَا مِصۡبَاحٌ ؕ اَلۡمِصۡبَاحُ فِیۡ زُجَاجَۃٍ ؕ اَلزُّجَاجَۃُ کَاَنَّہَا کَوۡکَبٌ دُرِّیٌّ یُّوۡقَدُ مِنۡ شَجَرَۃٍ مُّبٰرَکَۃٍ زَیۡتُوۡنَۃٍ لَّا شَرۡقِیَّۃٍ وَّلَا غَرۡبِیَّۃٍ ۙ یَّکَادُ زَیۡتُہَا یُضِیۡٓءُ وَلَوۡ لَمۡ تَمۡسَسۡہُ نَارٌ ؕ نُوۡرٌ عَلٰی نُوۡرٍ ؕ یَہۡدِی اللّٰہُ لِنُوۡرِہٖ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَیَضۡرِبُ اللّٰہُ الۡاَمۡثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ؕ وَاللّٰہُ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ
"Al'lah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. His light is like a shining niche, in which there is a lamp. The lamp is in a vessel. The vessel is like a shining star. It is lit by a blessed tree - the olive tree - which belongs neither to the East nor to the West, whose oil could give light even if the fire did not touch it. Light upon light! Al'lah guides to His Light whomever He wills. For Al'lah presents parables to men, and Al'lah knows all things perfectly (Q. 24: Al-Nur: 36).
It is further introduced as:
وَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنٰکَ اِلَّا رَحۡمَۃً لِّلۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ
"A mercy (and source of blessings) for the whole world (and all mankind)". ( Q. 21: Al-Anbiya: 108)
I am astonished to see how a number of medieval-minded Muslim thinkers, who are wrongly defined as fundamentalists, subscribe to the view that Muslims must engage non-Muslims in armed struggle, continuing the struggle until they are either exterminated or accept Islam. Islam, as found in The Holy Quran, has nothing to do with this distorted and corrupt notion of "holy war". There is no need to repeat the many verses dealing with religious peace as they have already been mentioned.
Let me reaffirm that Islam is a sincere supporter and suggests various measures to unite mankind through a peaceful process aimed at establishing peace in the world and unifying human beings.
As far as the attitude of the Holy Founder of Islam (lpbD) is concerned, the following extracts from the Last Sermon (known as "the Farewell Sermon") which he delivered before his demise before the largest human gathering he had ever addressed are significant enough:
"O men! Give me your attention, for I do not know whether I shall ever be able to meet you again in this valley and address you as I do now. Your lives and possessions have been declared inviolable by God against the attacks of one and the other, until the Day of Judgment. God has appointed to each one his share in the inheritance. No will shall be admitted which prejudices the rights of a legal heir. Every child born in any house shall be considered the son of the father of that house. Whoever contests the parentage of such a child shall be liable to punishment according to the law of Islam. Whoever attributes his birth to the father of another, or falsely declares that a certain person is his guardian, him will be cursed by God, His angels and all mankind".
"O men! You have some rights before your wives, but your wives have also some rights over you. Your obligation is that they should live a chaste life and not adopt ways that attract the husband's disgrace in the eyes of the people... But if the behaviour of your wives does not lead to the disgrace of their husbands, your duty is to provide them with food, clothing and shelter according to your standard of life. Remember that you must always treat your wives well. God has made you responsible to care for them. The woman is weak and cannot protect her own rights. When you marry, God appoints you as the custodian of those rights. You bring your wives into your homes under the law of God. You must not, therefore, abuse the responsibility which God has placed in your hands".
"O men, you still keep under your possession some prisoners of war. I warn you, therefore, to feed and clothe them in the same manner and style in which you feed and clothe yourselves. If they do something wrong that you are unable to forgive, then hand them over to someone else. They are part of God's creation. It cannot be right in any way that you should cause them pain or suffering".
"O men, listen and remember what I say to you: All Muslims are like brothers to each other. You are all equal. Every man, whatever nation or tribe he belongs to, and whatever position he holds in his life, is equal to others. (Raising his hands, and joining the fingers of one hand with those of the other, he added): "Just as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal. No one has any right or superiority to claim over another. You are like brothers".
"O human beings, your God is One and your origin is one! An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, nor is a non-Arab superior to an Arab. The white man is in no way superior to the black man, nor is the black man better than the white man, except in so far as both fulfil their responsibility before God and man. The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the most pious..."
"Just as this month is sacred, this inviolable land and this day are sacred, so God has made sacred the life, property and honour of every man. To strip a man of his life, his property or attack his honour is as wicked and unjust as to violate the sanctity of this day, this month and this land. What I command you today is not for today alone. It has value for all time. You are expected to remember it and to act upon it until you leave this world and go to the next to meet your Maker".
"What I have told you, you must communicate to the ends of the earth. Perhaps those who have not listened to me will benefit more than those who have heard me". (Sihah Sita, Tabari, Hisham, Jamis and Baihaqi).
This passage is very intense and patent. It is worth noting the reminder of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, that we are all children of the same Father. It has the obvious connotation that religions should not be allowed to divide the universal brotherhood of mankind, which originated from a single kinship.
(lpbD) - God's peace and blessings be upon him.
(To be continued in the next instalment: number 29)