Racial (in)justice and the Islamic teachings of brotherhood

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Originally published in The Minnesota Daily

“Allah has made you brethren one to another, so be not divided. An Arab has no preference over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one.” These are some of the last words the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) of Islam bestowed upon his followers during his farewell sermon on March 6th, 632 AD.

Minneapolis has been burning for several days now, but that is not all. Clashes in Minnesota created a domino effect that took down cities like Louisville, Kentucky. Similar protests have ignited all over the country, some peaceful, some ending in chaos and injury.

The senseless murder of George Floyd has sparked widespread concern over the cruelties meted out by some law enforcement against Black America, the broader issue of systemic racism and racial injustice. An EMS trained police officer cutting the carotid blood supply to the brain should know better. Will Smith – one of the most prolific actors of current times – said with a heavy heart, “racism isn’t getting worse, it’s [just now] getting filmed.”

As Ahmadi Muslims, we follow the teachings of true Islam, which inculcate compassion and sympathy for all humans. This is evident from the literal hundreds of commandments in both the Qur’an and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet). We are urged to eliminate artificial boundaries between mankind that create division and enmity and uphold law, order and absolute justice in society. Guided by these teachings, we fully support the cause of justice – be it social, racial, economic or otherwise. The Holy Qur’an states that no people have superiority over another group of people: “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and we have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.  Verily, the most honorable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you.” [Chapter 49: Ayah 14]

Thus, we encourage policymakers and the leaders of our country to swiftly and sensibly implement laws and policies which will proactively protect the lives and welfare of all people, irrespective of their color, creed or nationality. The world has become divided over non-issues that should not ever be a cause for hatred, prejudice or injustice. At the same time, until we all recognize the universal brotherhood of mankind, by which we are all united as one community and equal as human beings in the sight of our Creator, the plight of racial injustice will persist in our country — resulting in tragedies the like of George Floyd’s murder. 

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of Islam and leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has said at the annual Islamic convention in Germany in 2017 at Jasla Salana that “it is a cause of regret that racism and bigotry remain prevalent in the world … such extremist views can only fuel resentment and despair amongst the people of other races and ethnicities.”

Instead of picking up arms as means of destruction of private life and property of our fellow citizens, we should be looking out for the greater good of the community. With a global pandemic already shredding us to pieces, we need to stand united and fight the metaphorical battles that divide us on all fronts of life. Those in power have the moral responsibility to look out for the vulnerable. So, aside from pointing our fingers outward, each American should reflect on the moral culture we adopt in our own homes and communities, that ultimately produces the individuals willing to commit such hateful acts.

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Irtaza Khalid
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