يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

49.13. O humankind! Surely We have created you from a single (pair of) male and female, and made you into tribes and families so that you may know one another (and so build mutuality and co-operative relationships, not so that you may take pride in your differences of race or social rank, or breed enmities). Surely the noblest, most honorable of you in God's sight is the one best in piety, righteousness, and reverence for God. Surely God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.

 

 Racism is one of the severest problems of our age. When Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was ra­ised as a Prophet, the attitudes behind racism were prevalent in Makkah in the guise of tribalism. The Quraysh considered themselves (in particu­lar) and Arabs (in general) as being superior to all other people. Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, came with this Divine message and proclaimed it, explaining: No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, and no white person is superior to a black person (Ibn Hanbal5:  441); and, If a black Abyssinian Muslim is to rule over Muslims, he should be obeyed (Muslim, "'Imārah," 37).

Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, eradicated color-based racism and discrimination so successfully that, for example, 'Umar once said of Bilāl, who was black: "Bilāl is our master, and was emancipated by our master Abū Bakr" (IbnHajar, 1: 165). Once Abū Dharr XE "Abu Dharr"  got so angry with Bilāl XE "Bilal"  that he insulted him: "You son of a black woman!" Bilāl came to Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and reported the incident in tears. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reproached Abū Dharr: "Do you still have a sign of Jāhiliyyah?" Full of repentance, Abū Dharr lay on the ground and said: "I won't raise my head (meaning he wouldn't get up) unless Bilāl puts his foot on it to pass over it." Bilāl forgave him, and they were reconciled (al-Bukhārī, "Īmān," 22). Zayd ibn Hārithah, a black slave emancipated by God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was his adopted son before the Revelation banned adoption as a legal procedure. The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, married him to Zaynab bint Jahsh, one of the noblest (and non-black) among the Arab Muslim women. In addition, he chose Zayd as the commander of the Muslim army that was sent against the Byzantine Empire, even though it included such leading Companions as Abū Bakr, 'Umar, Ja'far ibn Abī Tālib (the cousin of Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings), and Khālid ibn Walīd (even  then famed for his genius as a military commander) (Muslim, "Fadā'il as-Sahābah," 63). Further, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, appointed Zayd's son Usāmah to command the army he formed just before his death. Included therein were such leading Companions as Abū Bakr, 'Umar, Khālid, Abū 'Ubaydah, Talhah, and Zubayr. This established in the Muslims' hearts and minds that superiority is not by birth or color or blood, but by righteousness and devotion to Allah.

During his caliphate, 'Umar paid Usāmah a higher salary than his own son, 'Abdullāh. When his son asked why, 'Umar replied: "My son, I do so because I know Allah's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, loved Usāmah's father more than your father, and Usāmah more than you" (Ibn Sa'd, 4: 70).

 

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