Equality in Islam

Allah said, “And keep yourself patient by being with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever in neglect.” [Quran 18:28]


According to a tradition mentioned by Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), the elites of the Quraish said to Prophet Muhammad, may peace and salutation be upon him, that they considered it below their dignity to sit with such indigent people as Bilal, Suhaib, ‘Ammar, Khabbab, Ibn-Mas`ud and the like who generally remained in his company. They said only if he should send them away, they would be willing to attend his meetings in order to learn Islam.

At this, Allah revealed this verse admonishing the Prophet: “Do you desire to discard these sincere but poor people so that the chiefs of the Quraish, the well-to-do people, should come and sit near you?” At the same time, this is also a rebuke to those chiefs of Quraish: “Your wealth which you are so proud of has no value at all in the sight of Allah and His Messenger. Those poor people are really more worthy in their sight, for they are sincere and always remember Allah.”

Islam declares a complete equality among all mankind, regardless of one’s faith, skin color, language, social status, wealth or ethnic background. The whole universe belongs to Allah and all the people are his creatures. Everyone is born equal and will die equal. He will judge every person on the basis of merits and deeds.

Prophet Muhammad stated in his farewell sermon, “O people. Your Lord is one and your father is one (Adam). Arabs have no superiority over non-Arabs, nor non-Arabs has any superiority over Arabs. Also white has no superiority over black nor does black have any superiority over white, except by piety and righteousness. All humans are from Adam and Adam is from dust.”

Look at our Prophet who practically dignified the second class people among Quraish. For example, after the demise of his mom at the age of 6, his father’s Ethiopian slave, Ummu Ayman, took care of him. Until he became a Prophet he still respected her like his own mother and he considered her as a family member. He also adopted a slave boy, Zayd, and raised him like his own son. After his wife Khadijah passed away, he married to a black woman, Sauda. When Muslims conquered Mecca, the Prophet had Bilal climbed on top of the Kaaba to proclaim Azan, the call for the prayer. It was done to show the people the prestige of the black people in Islam.

After several weeks at the annual pilgrimage, we will see Muslims from all over the globe gather in Mecca. They speak different languages but perform all rituals together without any difference. In masjids near our houses we notice this fact too, when rich and poor, white and black, educated and layman all stand together worship their One God. All of this equality atmosphere in Islam was introduced in the ages when people looked down at other people just because their social status or their lineage, centuries ago before the Revolution of France or the Declaration of Human Rights. In Islam anyone who does righteous deeds with full conviction and piety, becomes beloved to Allah.

Allah speaks the truth when He said, “O mankind, We have created you from one male and female and made you into nations and the tribes that you may know one another. Surely the most honorable among you with Allah is the one who is the most righteous. Verily Allah is all-knowing all aware.” [Quran 49:13]

written by Nur Fajri Romadhon


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