عن أبي سعيد قال قال رسول الله ضلى الله عليه و سلم إن ربكم واحد و أباكم واحد و لا فضل لعربي على عجمي و لا لعجمي على عربي و لا أحمر على أسود و لا أسود على أحمر إلا بالتقوى. معجم الأوسط ج: ٥، ص: ٨٦، رقم: ٤٧٤٩
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings be upon him, has mentioned: “Certainly, your lord is one and your father is one; there is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor a red over a black, or a black over a red, except by means of ṭaqwā.”
We begin in the name of Allāh, Who created the father of mankind from clay and caused his progeny to have different languages, complexions and temperaments. May the best of peace and blessings be upon His beloved, our prophet, who demolished the customs of the Days of Ignorance and called humanity to the justice and mercy of Islām.
It is one of the mercies of Allāh that after creating us He did not leave us to use our intellect to guess at how we should live. Rather, Allāh deputed intelligent, upright prophets to explain to us how to be humans. Bereft of that Divine guidance, humanity will behave worse than animals and oppress one another, even though they claim to be the flag bearers of basic human rights and the champions of the underprivileged.
Before the deputation of our prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the world was drowning in an ocean of darkness and oppression due to straying from the prophetic teachings brought by past messengers. Jacfar ibn Abī Tālib, may Allāh be pleased with him, described the horrendous state of the Arab in particular when he was speaking to the Najāshī of Abyssinia:
“We were a people who were ignorant,” He explained when the delegation from the Quraish came seeking the return of the Muslims who had sought asylum in Abyssinia from religious persecution, “We worshipped idols, ate carrion, perpetrated all types of foul deeds, severed the ties of kinship, and treated our neighbors badly; the strong amongst us consumed the weak.”
Without a doubt, Allāh has blessed and favored us by granting us Islām and we should never think that we are helping anyone but ourselves by submitting to the laws of Allāh. The following verse was revealed as a refutation of those people who boasted of the benefit they were bringing to Islām. Allāh states, “They [boast] of their favor on you; say: You have not done any favor to me with your Islām, rather Allāh has favored you by guiding you to Imān if you are truthful [in your claim of imān].”
Through Islām, Allāh gave honor to the Muslims. Through it, He raised forth people from pits of degradation, humiliation, and lowliness to high pulpits of honor and respectability; criminals became people of immense piety; people considered the lowliest members of society became the leaders of the cummah of the beloved of Allāh. Dignity and humanity was given back to the children of Ādam.
On the historic visit of cUmar, may Allāh be pleased with him, to Bait al-Maqdis in order to accept the surrender of its people, he told one of the Companions, “You were the most humiliated, despicable, and insignificant of people, and Allāh gave you honor through Islām.” He then said, “Whenever you seek honor by means of something other than Islām, Allāh will abase you.”
Commenting on the verse, “Honor belongs to Allāh, and His messenger and the believers,” cAllāmah Ālūsī, may Allāh have mercy on him, writes that the honor which Allāh has bestowed upon the Messenger, peace and blessing of Allāh be upon him, is by means of the noble function he has been given, while that of the believers is due to their imān. The scholar then goes on to quote a pious woman who said, “Am I not in the state of Islām which is such an honor that there is no disgrace with it and such a wealth that there is no poverty with it?”
While we are in need of Allāh and His dīn to succeed both in this world and the one to come after this one. He, pure is He from all defects, is not in need of us, nor is His dīn in need of us. He, glorified be His mention, has stated in the Qur’ān: “And if you turn away, He will replace you with another people, and they will not be like you.” Ibn Kathīr, may Allāh have mercy on him, elaborates on this verse, stating, “And if you turn away from His obedience and following His sharicah, He will replace you with another people who will not be like you, rather they will listen to Him and obey His commands.” May Allāh save us from being replaced.
While explaining this same verse, Mullā cAlī al-Qārī, may Allāh be pleased with him, details who these substitutes are, writing: They are the Persians, because he, peace be upon him, was asked about them while Salmān, may Allah be pleased with him, was sitting by his side. He struck [Salmān’s] thigh and said, “This one and his companions.” Allāh will bestow His dīn on whomsoever He likes, and will use whomsoever He likes to spread it, regardless of their nationality, mother tongue, or skin color.
An Arab does not have a monopoly on Islām because he is an Arab, and the same goes for a non-Arab. In Islām there is no special claim of superiority for anyone on the basis of worldly connections. Even if one comes from a pious family, this familial tie is not a substitute for one’s own actions. It is not enough to have family members who have ṭaqwā, we must also have it. May Allāh make us amongst the people of ṭaqwā.
Allāh has made ṭaqwā (i.e. one’s compliance with the commands and prohibitions of Allāh) the sole criterion by which superiority and virtue is gauged. All humans are equal in their humanity. Allāh says, “O mankind, indeed, We created you all from a male and female and made you into [near and distant relations] so that you might recognize one another; without a doubt, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allāh is the one with the most ṭaqwā.” Furthermore, our prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, has informed us that Allāh does not look at our outward forms nor our wealth, but He looks at our hearts and our actions.
The differing colors and complexions apparent on the skins of human beings, is not a cause of boasting or pride, but a sign of the immense power of Allāh, as He says, “Amongst His signs [i.e. of His massive power] are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors; indeed, in that are signs for the people of knowledge.”
To say nothing of our pious predecessors, the companions of the Prophet were cosmopolitan in makeup, some hailing from different parts of the earth, some coming from tribes that had long running blood feuds, but through the blessing of Islām they became brothers and sisters of one another. Any notion of tribal or racial superiority was cut out from its root.
This is not surprising since Allāh mentions, ”And remember the favor of Allāh upon you when you were enemies then He joined your hearts together and, due to His grace, you became brothers; and you were on the brink of a pit of the Fire but He saved you from it, like that Allāh makes clear his āyāṭ to you all so that you may be guided.” Commenting on this āyah, Mufṭī Shafīc writes: In other words, by erasing … deep-seated enmities going back … centuries, Allah Almighty made them brothers to each other through the benediction of Islam and the noble Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. This made their life worth living, materially and spiritually, establishing between them such exemplary friendship that even their enemies found it awesome.”
It is within this milieu that Companions like Asad ibn Kacb from the Jewish tribe of Banū Quraidha, Ṣuhaib al-Rūmi, Umm Ayman al-Habashi, Abū cUqbah al-Fārisī, and others, may Allāh be pleased with all of them, earned distinction and were included amongst those whom Allāh has referred to when He mentions, “The forerunners from among the Immigrants and the Helpers, and those who follow them in goodness, Allāh is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him; He has prepared for them gardens under which rivers flow, which they will dwell in forever. That is the supreme success!”
Mucjam al-Awsat 5:86, Hadīth #:4749
Ṭanwīr al-Ghabash Fī Fadhl al-Sūdān wa al-Ḥabash, Page: 65
Sūrah Ḥujurāṭ, Āyah: 17; Rūḥ al-Macānī 27:406, 407
al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah 9:666
Sūrah Munāfiqūn, Āyah: 8
Rūḥ al-Macānī 27:171
Rūḥ al-Macānī 27:172
Sūrah Muḥammad, Āyah: 38
Ṭafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Adhīm 7:324
Anwār al-Qur’ān 4:510; Jāmic al-Tirmīdhi Abwāb al-Ṭafsīr 2:162
Sūrah al-Ḥujarāṭ, Āyah: 13; Ṭafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Adhīm
Sūrah Rūm, Āyah: 22
Sūrah Āli Imrān, Āyah: 103; Maariful Qur’ān 2:140
Maariful Qur’ān 2:140
See: al-Iṣābah Fī Ṭamyīẓ al-Ṣaḥābah 1:32; Ṭakmilah Faṭḥ al-Mulhim 5:146; Sunan Abū Dāwūd Bāb Fī al-cAṣabiyyah 2:357
Sūrah al-Ancām, Āyah: 90