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Religious Studies

Islam: prejudice and discrimination

Muslim attitudes towards prejudice and discrimination

The Qur’an (the Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad) teaches that everyone was created by Allah (God) and that everyone is equal:

Of His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours.

Surah 30:22

O mankind, We have created you from male and female; and We have divided you into tribes and sub-tribes for greater facility of intercourse. Verily, the most honoured among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’

Surah 49:14

Therefore there is no reason to treat people of different races differently. The Prophet Muhammad showed how important this teaching was in his last sermon, when he said:

All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve, an Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab; a white person is not better than a black person, nor is a black person better than a white person except by piety and good actions. Learn that every Muslim is the brother of every other Muslim and that Muslims form one brotherhood.

No one can follow these teachings perfectly, and there will be occasions when Muslims, like those of other faiths, are guilty of prejudice and discrimination.

But there are many examples too of Muslims challenging injustice when they see the laws of God being broken.

One such person is Farid Esack, a Muslim university teacher who decided to challenge racism and inequality in South Africa at a time when Apartheid was the political system. Today he continues to work with people of all religions to find ways to resolve conflict, misunderstanding and injustice.

Muhammad said: "Believers are in relation to one another as parts of one structure. One part strengthens the other."

Bukhari Hadith 8.88

The most excellent jihad is the uttering of truth in the presence of an unjust ruler.

Tirmidhi Hadith 17

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