Racism is a form of prejudice and prejudice has existed before any of us were created. The definition of prejudice is where people are treated differently because of gender, colour, language, religion, etc. Unfortunately, we are living in a time where division has become almost the norm. People appear to be more divided than ever before.
But this is not something new. Allah SWT educates us on the origin of Iblees’ downfall in Sura Saad when he demonstrated prejudice upon first seeing Allah SWT create man. When challenged as to why Iblees refused to prostrate, he replied and demonstrated his prejudice as well as his arrogance. The imam reminded us of this through the 76th ayat of this sura which is translated to say:
He replied, “I am better than he is: You created me from fire and him from clay.”
Dear brothers, prejudice is something that is a trait of Iblees and so it has no business being a trait that we possess. Allah SWT has told us that we are different races and that this is part of a divine plan. We are also told in Sura Al-Hujarat, ayat 13 what we are meant to do with this knowledge. It’s translated to say:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.
Dear brothers, our conduct between one another is highlighted here. We are all the creation of Allah SWT and we are created equal and it is only our deeds and our acts of worship that should be used to compare. And even then, they are used to lift one another and to inspire one another, not to be a cause of any negative behaviour.
And so, with this reminder, we need to be mindful of our actions and behaviours. Prejudice on gender, race, background and even religion, does not belong to the characteristic of a Muslim. It leads to arrogance which is a trait of Shaitaan and therefore we can conclude today with the following practical reminders:
- When dealing with other people, it is OK to be aware of differences such as race or language. However, this is something you should treat positively. Look at it as a blessing of Allah SWT that he has made us differently from one another but made us to appreciate the difference in one another. We all have our individual strengths and blessings and these should be celebrated and a source of positive behaviour, not of prejudice or envy.
- It is only natural to compare. This is human nature. However, this human trait to compare should be used to inspire ourselves to self-reflect and to improve ourselves. The Prophet SAWS told us to that the only time we are permitted to compare is when we are competing to do good deeds and good actions. Again, this is not to have prejudice in one another. No, we ought to be happy for our fellow brothers and sisters in this regard, but also use their achievements and their conduct to encourage our own selves to become better in our actions and our deeds.
Dear brothers, we are diverse and different in so many ways. This is part of what makes us human. However, we can use this fact to inspire one another to greatness or we can use it to demonstrate prejudice and arrogance like Iblees.
Our Prophet SAWS set the standard by calling us all his Ummah, regardless of our differences. Our role now is to carry this forward and demonstrate what it means to be one community of our beloved prophet SAWS.