A society is doomed to failure when it is based on ignorance and anarchy.
This fact becomes more apparent when people are void of moral conduct and racial tension is high. In a society like this, the strong will oppress the weak and the rich will exploit the poor. Under such circumstances, the Prophet Muhammad s (Some translate it as “peace be upon him”. This translation is incorrect; the correct translation is, “may Allah y exalt his mention, and render him and his household safe and secure from every derogatory thing.”) came forth to mankind with the Message of Islam ( Islam is a way of life, which is both private and public. It is an inclusive term meaning: acts of worship, political practice, and a detailed code of conduct, including hygiene or etiquette matters). It spread rapidly. At first, many rejected it and tried their best to stop it from spreading. Oppressors knew quite well that this meant an end to their reign over the general population. Islam, the Message of God, frees the soul and mind from being enslaved to any individual.
One of the key characteristics of the Message of Islam is that it instructs people to seek education and to cast aside all vile acts. Racial supremacy - in all of its forms - was extinguished, for all people stand equal before God Almighty. Superiority, according to Islam, is not achieved by one’s color, race, or ethnic origin.
On the contrary, it is only achieved through piety. The more one is God-fearing, the more beloved they are to God.
One of the key characteristics of the Message of Islam is that it instructs people to seek education and to cast aside all vile acts.
A Muslim stands firm to fight all forms of oppression, immoral behavior, and ignorance. Racial tensions based on skin color, race, and sex dissipate in Islam. These social maladies were very common in the pre-Islamic Makkan society, as they are today in many parts of the world.
Before the advent of Islam, people worshiped idols made from stone or wood. It was quite common for a person to enslave his fellow brother-in-humanity in laborious schemes to exhaust him financially and physically. The Prophet s clarified that no one was superior to another; all were equal before God. The Prophet s said:
“O people! Indeed your God is one, your father is one, and there is no superiority to an Arab over a non-Arab or to a non-Arab over an Arab. A red skinned person is not superior to a black skinned person, nor is a black skinned person superior to a red skinned person.” (Ahmed)
The scriptures used by the Brahman Indians clearly make mention of a caste system whereby some people are considered superior to others. According to them, Brahma created the Brahmin people from his mouth. He created the Kshatriya from his arm and the Vaishya from his thigh and the Shudra from his feet. At the top of this fourfold system is the Brahmin and at the bottom is the Shudra. According to their scriptures, “One occupation only did the lord prescribe to the Shudra; to serve meekly even these (other) three castes [varnas]”.
The Prophet s clarified that no one was superior to another; all were equal before God.
The Jews and Christians before the advent of Islam saw themselves as the chosen family of God.
Ancient Greece and Rome
In Ancient Greece and Rome, the nobles believed themselves to be created from a substance unlike that of the rest of creation, who they called “barbarians”. Aristotle spoke of the Barbarians (This term refers to the following meanings, “uncultured”, “uncivilized” or “speaker of a foreign language”) in a very disdainful manner, saying, “The nature of a barbarian and a slave is one and the same (Republic By Aristotle Volume 1)”.
He also said: “The lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. Nature would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, the other upright, and although useless for such services, useful for political life in the arts of war and peace. And doubtless, if men differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the statues of the gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of the superior.” (Book 1, chapter V of ‘The Politics’)
Jews and Christians
The Jews and Christians - before the advent of Islam - saw themselves as the chosen family of God. They believed themselves to be special. They gave the name “ger toshav” (Literally it means a Gentile who is a “resident alien” living under Judaic law) to anyone else, whether they were atheists or general non-believers. They claimed that they were the only ones who deserved to be served, so they exploited other nations. Allah y clarifies this in the Quran saying:
“And among the People of the Scripture is he who, if you entrust him with a great amount [of wealth], he will return it to you. And among them is he who, if you entrust him with a [single] silver coin, he will not return it to you unless you are constantly standing over him [demanding it]. That is because they say, ‘There is no blame upon us concerning the unlearned.’ (The early Jews did not consider it a sin to gain the upper hand over a gentile or a pagan) And they speak lies about Allah y while they know [it].”(3:75)
In the commentary of the Quran by the scholar Ibn Kathir, he writes: “What led them to rejecting the truth was that they claimed, ‘There is no sin upon us from consuming the wealth of the ignorant, who were the Arabs. God has made it lawful for us (to take their property)’”.
Some among the early monotheists belittled all other nations and viewed them as being of a lesser class. They asserted that all among humankind were their slaves. Allah y clarifies to us their nature and explains at the same time that all humankind are equal. He says:
“But the Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of Allah y and His beloved.’ Say, ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins?’ Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah y belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination.” (5:18)
The Jews and Christians - before the advent of Islam - saw themselves as the chosen family of God. They believed themselves to be special.
The Prophet’s words are like guiding lights both for the Arabs and for all nations, to how how one is to respect all others.
The Arabs held the same belief and viewed themselves as superior to all other races of people. They crowned themselves as Arabs, referred to other races as “non-Arabs”, and considered them worthless. The Prophet s clarified to them the mistake of their ways and the fallacy of this belief. He said to his Companions:
“It is not appropriate for one to say that I (the Prophet Muhammad) am better than Younus bin Mat’ta (the Prophet Jonah).” (Bukhari)
The Prophet’s words are like guiding lights both for the Arabs and for all nations, to show how one is to respect all others.
The Companion, Ibn Umar (may Allah y be pleased with him), related that the Prophet s said:
“I saw in my dream many black sheep gathering together with white ones.’ He was asked, ‘What is the interpretation of this dream O Prophet of Allah?’ He said: ‘Non-Arabs will share in your Deen (The word translated as religion is “Deen”, which in Arabic commonly refers to a way of life) and your lineage.’ The Companions exclaimed, ‘The non-Arabs!’ The Prophet s then said: ‘If Iman (faith) was tied to a star, it would have been claimed by men from the non- Arabs.’” (Haakim)
People come from many racial backgrounds and have their individual moral elements.
Every person has unique characteristics, and perfection belongs to God Almighty alone. Imperfection is an inherent nature in man, except for the Prophets and Messengers, for they perfectly conveyed the Message of God to their respective nations. The message of Islam had a great effect on humankind with the result that they began to treat one another, in varying degrees, with respect.
Al-Mustourad Al-Qurashi (Pronounced “Ra’dee-Allah d ’who an’who”, it means: “may Allah y be pleased with him”) said, while I was with Amr bin Al-Aas I told him that I heard the Prophet s saying:
“The Final Hour will not be established till the Romans are the greatest people in number.” Amr said, “If this is the case, it is because they (the Romans) are merciful to their kind. When an affliction befalls them they are the quickest to regroup. They stand together and fight fiercely. They are good to the orphans, poor, weak, and do not tolerate the wrongdoing of their rulers.” (Muslim)
The Messenger of Allah s was sent to efface the caste system that was in place in society. He was sent to free mankind from the servitude they showed to men and to make them serve God alone.