Originally published in The Charlotte Observer
Social and political upheavals dominate the world news today. Innocent lives, property, and wealth are destroyed each year due to social, political, and racial tensions. According to the Bible and the Quran, this vicious cycle of violence in human society can be traced back as far as the time of Adam when Cain murdered his brother, Abel. Since then, human society has been plagued with violence in different shapes and forms. The creation of heaven on earth, where there is peace and security, has been the long cherished dream of the world’s major religions.
In our own time, the importance of peaceful co-existence and eradication of racial tension has been championed by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., whom we celebrate every January. Indeed, much progress has been made with regard to universal equal rights but mistrust and suspicion still exist, which at times lead to violent confrontation and the destruction of property.
It appears that there is no end in sight for this current situation. However, a careful study of Islam shows that it has an antidote for racial tensions and a way towards peaceful co-existence in society. In chapter 49 verses 14 of the Quran we read, “O mankind, We have created you from a male and female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.”
In addition, the prophet Mohammad during his farewell speech said, “O men, what I say to you, you must hear and remember. All Muslims are as brethren to one another. All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold, are equal. Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, any superiority to claim over another. You are as brothers .”
Human society has come of age from isolated communities towards a global village thanks largely to advancement in science and technology. Emigration, international education, tourism and sports have helped shape our understanding of racial and cultural diversity across the globe. Telecommunication and the Internet have facilitated the breaking of cultural and language barriers. Despite having come together as one big community, we still struggle with racial tension, mistrust and suspicion.
The beautiful Islamic teachings which recognize racial diversity as a strength, when put into practice in our time will not only eradicate racial tension, mistrust and suspicion, but will also create universal brotherhood with love and respect for each other. Let us use our modern day technological advances as an opportunity to bridge the racial gap to create our own heaven on earth.