The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches because of sleeplessness and fever.” [Muslim]
Is it not true that when a particular part of our body; whether our head, back, or even finger is in pain our entire body ceases to relax, ceases to sleep, ceases to function properly? Our focus is set on restoring the body back to comfort and well-being again. And when one part of our body is afflicted with an ailment; the rest of the body works together in trying to fight the intruder. The Prophet (peace be upon him) described the Ummah as a single body.
Our love, compassion, protection and defence should not be limited to our own families, our immediate neighbours, friends or colleagues; rather it should include the Muslim family worldwide. Islam teaches us that we are all equal to one another. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said. “All mankind is from Adam and Eve – an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action”.
Millions of Muslims across the globe from various races, nationalities, colours and sizes stand together in prayer; shoulder to shoulder five times every day– this in itself is an amazing experience! Yet, there is a disease amongst the Muslim community where colour, ethnicity, nationality and gender all take precedence over the treatment of each other.
Malcolm X, a Muslim Human rights advocate once said. “That it would probably do America well to study the religion of Islam and perhaps it could drive some of the racism from this society as it has driven racism from the Muslim society”. How far away have we drifted from this? Politics in Asian families/communities are limited to events in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Many non-Arab residents complain of prejudicial treatment whilst residing in certain Arab countries. How often do we hear of Mosques disallowing one who speaks another language or is of another ethnic background to become a trustee member of that Mosque? How many people do we know that do not attend certain Mosques because the Imaam is not of their nationality?
It begs the question; If Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) was here today – would Muslims be racist towards him?!
The prophet (peace be upon him) said. “He is not from amongst us who fights for nationalism”. We did not choose to be a certain colour or race; we didn’t choose to be male or female either – how then can one be proud over something they had no control over? Instead of judging a person by his character we judge him from where he comes. God will not ask us if we came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia or Africa but He will ask us if we divided the Ummah with our words or actions.
There are many Quranic verses and Hadith that testify to how anti discriminatory, anti-racist and anti-prejudice Islam is, so where does this disease breed from? When it is this very religion that came to eradicate such filth from the society with its light; why is it that we are walking towards the darkness again?
Isn’t it strange that in courses, lectures or at work we can discuss conflicting issues and happily disagree; we can tolerate opposing opinions and ideologies? But when it comes to the tolerance of one Muslim to another; that tolerance is expunged.
Do we not recall how the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were of different skin colours, different cultures, varying races yet they loved each other more than blood brothers. Bilal Ibn Rabah, Wahshy Ibn Harb, Usama Ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with them) were from Ethiopia or surrounding areas. Salman Abu Abdullah and Fayruz al-Daylami (may Allah be pleased with them) were from Persia. Suhaib Ibn Sinaan (may Allah be pleased with him) was Roman, Abu Zar (may Allah be pleased with him) was from Gifar, Al-Najashi was an Abyssinian King who converted to Islam, Maria the Copt was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The differences in language, colour and race were not considered as levels of quality or degrees of superiority but rather as an expression of diversity and richness in Humanity.
Know, that when we give preference to the differences in our colour, race or gender then we are undermining the message that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came with. If we are differentiating one Muslim from another based on colour, race, political stance, Madhab, Fiqh, language then we are not really a part of that one body the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke about.
And what are the effects of this division? Muslims have no power, our brothers are locked away without trials, our women are raped, our children see this terror ever day of their lives and the world says nothing! We have a weak defence system, we lack influence, venomous lies are spread about our Deen and our Prophet (peace be upon him) all over the world and no one lifts a finger! The Ummah is collapsing because we do not inaugurate love for each other rather we oppose each other vehemently over matters worth less than human life. Our ever expanding Ummah is one of the most precious things that exists on earth, why would we let something so valuable be destroyed/hurt.
A quote by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (may Allah be pleased with him) sums up the dire state of the Ummah. “We Muslims are busy bickering over whether to fold or unfold our arms during prayer, while the enemy is devising ways of cutting them off.” Whilst Muslims dispute, slander and even kill each other over who they believe are the ‘rightly guided’ or ‘superior race’ the Ummah at large is crumbling before our very eyes. Our brothers and sisters are screaming out for our help yet the Muslims are too divided amongst themselves to care about anything more than futile matters. We cannot afford to have this division! – do the enemies of Islam discriminate between a black, white, Asian or Arab Muslim?
We must learn to love for our brothers what we love for ourselves, we must accept and tolerate each other’s views, we must forgive and forget the mistakes of each other for the sake of God. We must rebuild that unity! That same unity that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us, the same unity the Companions upheld, the same unity the righteous caliphs preserved, the same unity that God commands us to maintain in the Quran: Chapter 3 (Al Imran), verse 103: And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.