Trust in Allah being grateful to Allah

How Islam Defeats Racism

Allah has commanded us to uphold justice with all other human beings regardless of their race, religion, lineage, status, or identity. Love for one’s people is normal and healthy if it leads to good deeds. But such love that comes at the expense of justice is no praiseworthy love at all. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا

“O you who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. Follow not your desires, lest you not be just.” (Surah Al-Nisa 4:135)

If we accept blanket indictments of an entire group, then we are claiming collective guilt that will ultimately lead to collective punishment, and collective punishment is a crime of war. Islam rejects collective guilt and punishment, in words and deeds, because innocent people may never be held accountable for the crimes of others. Allah says:

وَلَا تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ إِلَّا عَلَيْهَا وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ

No soul earns anything except it is upon itself, and none shall bear the burdens of another.: (Surah Al-An’am 6:164)

Racial Egalitarianism in Islam

What makes Islam exceptional in its potential to address the race problem, as Malcolm and Gandhi seem to believe? Indeed, the racial egalitarian teachings of Islam can be traced directly to the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muĥammad ﷺ. The Qur’an invites us to reflect on the brotherhood of all humanity, saying.

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

“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Qur’an and the example of the Prophet ﷺ teach that each person has the right to be treated well by others. The Qur’an describes the believers as brothers (ikhwah), warning, Allah says:

وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا

“And whoever kills a believer intentionally then his recompense (is) Hell, abiding in it forever and Allah’s wrath will fall on him and He (will) curse him and He has prepared for him a punishment great.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:93)

In the realm of biology, we must return to our single-origin story and relearn its merits, and reinforce it with the aspects of evolutionary theory that are consistent with our theologies. Islamic teachings call us to offer similar correctives that help promote communal trust, security, and peace. Allah says:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا

“And if you fear dissension between (the) two of then send an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. If they both wish reconciliation, Allah will cause reconciliation between both of them. Indeed, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:36)

Lastly, Muslims must remember that the Prophet Muĥammad ﷺ censured racist and bigoted talk, appointed men from ethnic minorities to prominent positions, and located one’s identity in one’s character and piety. We need a multifaceted approach to begin to solve the race problem. In the realm of philosophy, we can revisit the history of the concept of race, the negative stereotypes born during the Enlightenment period, and the enduring perceptions that plague us today.