Fighting Racism Has To Be A Priority For People Of Faith


In The Name Of God: The Infinitely Merciful And Compassionate Beloved Lord

The recent events surrounding Ferguson and New York City are painful reminders that all is not well with regards to race in our country. Yes, we have a biracial President, and that is something to be celebrated (his policies on various issues notwithstanding). Nevertheless, there is still much we need to do as a society.

And the fight against racism has to be a priority for people of faith for, in its essence, racism is a spiritual disease. In the Islamic tradition, in fact, the sin of racism goes back to Satan himself. In the Qur’an, it says that God had shaped Adam out of clay and then breathed into him from God’s Spirit. Afterwards, He ordered both the Angels and Satan to prostrate themselves before Adam. Satan refused, saying:

I am better than he: You created me out of fire, whereas him you created out of clay. (7:12)

Because of this arrogant refusal, Satan was expelled from the Garden.

Satan refused a direct commandment of God because of racism: he felt he was better than Adam – not because of what Satan had done – but because of what he was:  a being created out of fire. Yet, his being created out of fire was not his choice, but God’s. Thus, he had no right to feel any sort of superiority over Adam.

So should it be with humanity. Our skin color, our ethnicity, our racial background was chosen for us by God Himself. Thus, we have no right to feel better than anyone because of who we are as people. We have no right to feel better than anyone because our skin is this color or that; or our language is this or that; or our physical looks are this or that.

Indeed, the Qur’an states:

O humanity! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware. (49:13)

The Prophet Muhammad said in his famous farewell Hajj address:

All humanity 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 a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.

These same principles are also taught in Judaism and Christianity. Thus, people of faith must be at the forefront – and many are – of the fight against racism and bigotry. We are all children of God, and if we truly love and believe in Him, we must do all that we can to help relieve the suffering of His children from whatever afflicts them. And that includes those children who suffer from the fires of racial hatred and bigotry.

And if we ourselves have whispers of racial bias in our hearts; if we ever look at someone else with scorn because of their ethnic background, or skin color, or language that they speak, we must check our own selves. We must pause and seek refuge in God, for these whispers come from Satan himself. And as we all know, it was Satan himself who invented the sin of racism.

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