Malcolm X once famously said that “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”
The fact of the matter is, Islam has all the keys necessary to defeat racism from society and leave no room for such kinds of discrimination. Incase you’re wondering exactly how it works, let’s break things down.
Islam is colour blind
For starters, Islam teaches that there is no distinction in terms of a person’s colour or race. In fact the only purpose our different races and cultures serve in Islam is for us to build bridges in getting to know one another. As God clearly mentions in the Quran.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O people, We have created you male and female and made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most noble of you to Allah is the most righteous of you. Verily, Allah is knowing and aware.”
Surat Al-Hujurat 49:13
This means, that such diversity is not a means of discrimination but rather a means of education.
Diversity is a miracle of God.
The colour of our skin and all of our unique cultural features are God-given traits that none of us chose to inherit at birth. The differences we share are in fact all signs of the magnificence of God and a reflection of His infinite creative power as also mentioned in the Quran.
It is not through such characteristics that we realise the greatness of ourselves, but rather we realise and appreciate the greatness of the One who created us.
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ
Among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Verily, in that are signs for people of knowledge.
Surat Ar-Rum 30:22
Mankind was all created from clay
Islam teaches that all human beings were essentially created from the same thing – dirt. So it makes no sense to consider ourselves better than one another when we are all designed from the same components, regardless of our different cultures.
Abu Musa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى خَلَقَ آدَمَ مِنْ قَبْضَةٍ قَبَضَهَا مِنْ جَمِيعِ الْأَرْضِ فَجَاءَ بَنُو آدَمَ عَلَى قَدْرِ الْأَرْضِ فَجَاءَ مِنْهُمْ الْأَحْمَرُ وَالْأَبْيَضُ وَالْأَسْوَدُ وَبَيْنَ ذَلِكَ وَالسَّهْلُ وَالْحَزْنُ وَالْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ
Verily, Allah the Exalted created Adam from a handful which He took from the earth, so the children of Adam come in accordance with the earth. Some come with red skin, white skin, or black skin.
(At-Tirmidhi 2955, Sahih)
Virtue is only through righteousness.
In the eyes of God, our skin colour or race grants us no favours, rather it is simply our actions and deeds that make all the difference.
In the Prophet’s farewell sermon, he made this point very clear when he stated that white skin is not better than black skin, nor is black skin better than white skin. Rather it is our righteousness that makes the difference.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَلَا إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّ أَبَاكُمْ وَاحِدٌ أَلَا لَا فَضْلَ لِعَرَبِيٍّ عَلَى أَعْجَمِيٍّ وَلَا لِعَجَمِيٍّ عَلَى عَرَبِيٍّ وَلَا لِأَحْمَرَ عَلَى أَسْوَدَ وَلَا أَسْوَدَ عَلَى أَحْمَرَ إِلَّا بِالتَّقْوَى أَبَلَّغْتُ
O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no virtue of an Arab over a foreigner nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?
(Musnad Ahmad 22978, Sahih)
We are all slaves of God.
While we may all come from different nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds, at the end of the day our overarching identity as Muslims dictates that we are all servants of God. There is no superior race or culture, we are all equal servants of God who are in as much need of God as everyone else.
Nationalism is prohibited.
In Islam it is prohibited to boast about our race or culture to the extent that it belittles or denigrates people from other cultures. The Prophet warned us all about the dangers of such tribalism and stated that “He is not one of us who fights for the sake of it”.
Jubair ibn Mut’im reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ دَعَا إِلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ وَلَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ قَاتَلَ عَلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ وَلَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ مَاتَ عَلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ
He is not one of us who calls to tribalism. He is not one of us who fights for the sake of tribalism. He is not one of us who dies following the way of tribalism.
(Sunan Abu Dawud, Hassan)
As mentioned before, the only standard to determine a person’s superiority is through their level of righteousness, which is, by the way, a trait the can only ever be truly determined by God alone.
Islam defeats racism, and only once it’s practiced can we defeat it from society today.