Friday, March 7, 2014

'Bigotry has no place in Islam'


Islam and Human Dignity

From the very beginning, Islam has strongly condemned racial discrimination and has done everything possible to remove the artificial barriers between tribes and between nations. For the first time in the history of humanity, a new standard for judging the qualities of man was stated in the Holy Quran in these solemn words:

“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: 14)

This statement sounded the death knell for all kinds of aristocracies, whether of birth, caste or wealth. The black people found themselves on the same level as the white people. Suddenly and forever, the colour of such abominable prejudice was rejected.

Even today, with the passage of time, incidents such as those of Little Rock are hardly heard in the Islamic countries and the problems of discrimination law as before what is happening in South Africa have neither arisen in the Middle East nor the Far East.

“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab and a non-Arab has no superiority to an Arab, you are all the children of Adam, and Adam was created from clay.”

Those are the memorable words of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the valley of Mina during the Farewell Pilgrimage (his first and last one). What was the result?

At these solemn words, the social pride of the Arabs was driven away. The difference between Arabs and non-Arabs, similar to that which existed between Jews and pagans, Greeks and barbarians, patricians and plebeians was brutally stripped of the halo of old antiquity. The weak and the oppressed ceased to receive alms according to the whims of the wealthy. Religion had now given them legitimate rights to the property of the rich as well as in politics. The woman, who suffered because of the weakness of her physical stature and who was simply considered as mere commodity, was put on the same footing as man.

Abolition of Slavery: Racial and Social Equality

The emancipation of slaves was encouraged under the most trivial pretexts, and this led gradually to the total abolition of slavery. There have never been pariahs in Islam. If the world were to be created/re-established again and peace to be established permanently, then such vices like jealousy and prejudice of colour and race should be buried decently. If the new order is to be rushed into existence, then the world must necessarily recognise the moral values ​​of Islam and put them into practice in both national and international life.

Nowadays attempts are being made through social pressure and legislation to eliminate the difference between the rich and the poor, who has undoubtedly unbalanced the economy of many countries. The system of communist economy is already in force in some countries and in others, a socialist way of life is adopted.

Islamic Teachings for an Egalitarian Social Order

Experiments follow. Trials, often recommended, are made for the betterment of the people and to raise their standard of living. All this is fine, but Islam, from the same time itself of its advent, had planned such inequalities in the social economy and (to counterattack them) enacted institutions such as:

1) The Zakat and,
2) Sadaqa, while giving them religious authority;
3) Inheritance laws so that wealth and property do not accumulate in the hands of a minority;
4) The formal prohibition of usury (Riba), and also,
5) The encouragement to establish trade and commerce.

Today we have begun to be conscious that if we want to maintain a balance in the economy of a country, some Islamic teachings should be adopted. Obviously the current life has become very complex and there are strange situations to which fundamental principles are needed for adjusting the national economy, principles which are flexible and can accommodate all the requirements of a rapidly changing world without abandoning these principles.

Bigotry Has No Place in Islam

There is no religious persecution in Islam. Religious wars and communal fights were responsible for the commission of the most heinous crimes, looting, rape, theft, fire and bloodshed – and these blackened the pages of history of various countries, including ours.

This is largely due to pride, prejudice, bigotry, impatience and intolerance – the evils that were at all times difficult to remove.

Islam has never been a military religion, despite what its opponents/enemies say. Time is not for apologies – the blame has already been proved false and unjust that Islam practiced forced conversions and religious persecution. Those interested to know more about it can see these two important verses of the Holy Quran that clearly explain the extremely liberal attitude of Islam towards other religions. Here is the first:

“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.” (6: 109)

This means that a Muslim should be tolerant even towards the polytheists despite the fact that polytheism is the very antithesis of Islam. The wisdom of the injunction is clear, mutual abuse leads to charges and recriminations and finally to fighting and bloodshed. The second verse prohibits the desecration and destruction of temples and other places of worship. Allah says:

“And had there not been Allah’s repelling some (people) by means of others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is much remembered.” (22: 41).

It should be noted that the life of Muslims must be sacrificed not only to end the persecution to which they are subjected and to save from ruin their own mosques, but also to save churches, synagogues, the cloisters, to be able to maintain perfect religious freedom. Although mosques are places where the names of Allah are most often pronounced, they are subjected to rights of protection only after churches and synagogues – this is how Islam shows tolerance to other religions. In fact we are not aware of such instructions in other writings (other than the Quran).

I will stop here for now. Insha-Allah, may Allah give me the Tawfiq to continue this sermon next Friday because it hurts my heart to see what is happening in Central Africa and other countries where Muslims are trapped and captive and can do nothing to save their Islam, their honour and their lives. Many innocent people are killed. May Allah open the heart of everyone without exception to recognise the grandeur and value of this great religion, that is, IslamInsha-Allah, Ameen. 

-Friday Sermon of March 07, 2014 by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius

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