The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism.
(The definition of racism, Oxford Dictionary)
Take a moment to think back to your school days and see if you remember an incident when someone you knew was racially mocked. Most likely you do – maybe it was a gesture, a joke or even a physical attack. The reality is that this type of bullying can affect the life and self esteem of the victim for the rest of their life.
But this behaviour doesn’t stop with children but continues on into adulthood with many people. The Independent recently highlighted a shocking poll which revealed that 1 in 3 Brits had thoughts and feelings which would be considered as racist . What’s alarming is that previous such reports  have suggested that many people’s feelings of hostility towards foreigners was passed down from previous generations.
This might seem obvious, since we know that racism isn’t genetic so it must be taught. Just like a child is taught manners, morals or right from wrong, a parent or carer can nurture feelings of racial resentment in a child. You may have witnessed very young children in playgrounds. Children too young to be tainted by such nurturing. When left with other children of a different colour, they will happily play together, as naturally as they would with children of their own colour. For such children, colour doesn’t come into the equation – because racism isn’t part of their natural disposition.
Most people may think that we have moved into the 21st century without the racial tensions and prejudices that have plagued our world in the past. Following the victory of the second world war in the 40’s, the U.S. Civil Rights Movements of the 60’s, the disintegration of past apartheid states in the 90’s, and the appointment of a black U.S. president in the new century, we do see greater integration in the world today…but the disease of racism continues to dwell amongst us, as many will testify:
“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”
Rosa Parks, American Civil Rights Activist
So racism still exists in societies today. Maybe it’s more hidden and subtle but the effects of it are still present, requiring us to educate ourselves on how to deal with it. So please join together ‘Against Racism’.
As one famous man once said;
“To me the earth’s most explosive and pernicious evil is racism, the inability of God’s creatures to live as One, especially in the Western world.”
Malcolm X – El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
ISLAM’S STANCE AGAINST RACISM
There are many groups and individuals that still hold abhorrent views of other people who are of a different race or caste. An arrogant hatred stemming from feelings of racial superiority. We, as Muslims, are calling people to stand up against such views, whether held within our circle of friends, families, colleagues or communities – ‘Against Racism, Against Hatred’.
ISLAM’S VIEW ON RACISM
Islam teaches that all people are equal and the only difference between people is their level of piety and god consciousness. In the Qur’an, it clearly states:
“Oh Mankind, We (God) created you from a single pair of a male and a female (Adam and Eve), and made you into tribes and nations so that you may know one another (not so that you despise each other). Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah (God) is he who is most righteous of you.”
The Qur’an, Chapter 49, Verse 13
So all humans descend from Adam and Eve. In that sense, we are all essentially brothers and sisters. Our differing colours and diversity is not there to cause division but as a method of recognising one another. Such traits do not elevate a person’s status but rather our status with God is based on our level of piety and righteousness. In a further verse from the Qur’an:
“And amongst his signs is the creation of heaven and the earth, and the diversity of your language and colours; Verily, in these are signs for those who have knowledge.”
The Qur’an, Chapter 30, Verse 22
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him – pbuh) is authentically reported to have said:
“Allah does not look at your appearances or wealth but looks at your actions”.
The Prophet (pbuh) also reiterated this point in his last sermon to the people, as can be seen from the following excerpt:
“O people, Remember that your Lord is One. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor a white has any superiority over black, except by piety and good action (Taqwa). Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa).
The Prophet’s Last Sermon as reported in Baihaqi
As can be seen from the above quote, Islam is the antidote to racism, since in Islam there is no tolerance for racism. Muslims feel it is a duty to convey these messages within our wider society and work towards the common good, both in word and deed.
WHAT DO MUSLIMS BELIEVE?
A Muslim means one who submits (in obedience) to God. The Muslim values are based around a firm belief in One God, a single Creator. Some essential tenets of a Muslim’s belief include:
BELIEF IN ONE GOD
Allah is the name used by Muslims for God. Allah is considered to be the same name used by previous Prophets of God and can be found in other semitic languages and past scriptures (old testament), often translated as Elah. The name itself does not directly translate as ‘God’ but is a much more comprehensive meaning referring to the all powerful Creator, who is unique, separate and not comparable to His creation. Unlike other orthodox religions, Muslims believe that God is unseen, all knowing and .
There are many other names for God in Islam, including The Most Merciful, The Most Forgiving, The Loving, The All Knowing etc. Although we cannot understand the true nature of God, such names help to comprehend some of His attributes like mercy and love.
WORSHIPPING GOD ALONE
Muslims do not believe in worshipping idols or making pictorial representations of God. These are considered sacrilegious. Rather, they believe in worshipping God alone without any intermediaries or saints. Worship is the essence of man’s nature, allowing man to fulfill his true purpose in this world.
The Qur’an is the holy scripture of the Muslims. It is considered to be the unadulterated word of God as transmitted by the archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) over 1400 years ago. The Qur’an was revealed gradually over a period of twenty three years and, as confirmed by historians, has been unchanged since its revelation.
Muslims believe that scriptures were sent to people in the past but that much of these scriptures have been lost and changed over time. Some of these past scriptures have been named in the Qur’an such as the gospel, the taurat and the songs of David. However the Qur’an is seen as the final revelation to all of mankind, preserved by God since it was first revealed.
Muslims believe that Allah sent prophets and messengers to all nations throughout time. Prophets of Islam include those similar to the Jewish and Christian religion such as Adam, Noah, Jacob, Joseph, John and others (may God’s peace be upon them all). The true followers of these prophets were therefore also considered Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is considered to follow in the line of these historic prophets and is believed to have been foretold by these prophets. The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is also considered to be a messenger as well as a prophet, as were Jesus, Moses, Abraham and David (peace be upon them all).
Unlike others, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is considered to be the final prophet and messenger. For this reason, unlike prophets of the past who were sent to a specific people and time, the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as a messenger sent to the whole mankind, with the message Islam being the final religion sent from God.
MALCOLM X’S LETTER FROM HAJJ
Islam also promotes racial integration through its practices. For example, the Islamic Hajj (pilgrimage to the first house of worship built by Abraham – the Kabba (a)), which takes place every year, is attended by millions of people of different races and colours. As in other Islamic practices, it encourages people to mix freely together in performing the pilgrimage rites and to pray side by side as one community.
Through such unity, the pilgrimage can have a profound effect on people. One such example of this was in 1967, when Malcolm X travelled to perform his pilgrimage. At the time, Malcolm X was still considered a black supremacist. He had been a former member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), a black-racist group established in 1950’s America, which had no ties or resemblance to orthodox Islam (elements of orthodox Islam were practised by the group but others were developed by it’s leader who was a former convict and self-proclaimed prophet).
On travelling to Mecca, Malcolm X was astounded at the racial integration and equality that he witnessed, which he had never experienced elsewhere. Here is an excerpt of a letter from Malcolm X after he attended the hajj in 1967:
“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”
“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white – but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”
“During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.”
“We were truly all the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.”
Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
(On returning from hajj, Malcolm X became an orthodox practising Muslim, renouncing his black supremacist beliefs of the past.)
“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”
Muhammad Ali, Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
“…with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land – every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike – all snored in the same language.”
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
African-American Muslim Minister & Human Rights Activist (1925 to 1965)
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.“
Martin Luther King, Jr,
Christian Pastor & African-American Civil Rights Leader (1929 to 1968)
“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.”
Professor A.J. Toynbee,
Historian (1889 – 1975)
“Achievement has no color”
16th President of the United States (1809 – 1865)
“Our true nationality is mankind.”
Writer (1866 – 1946)
“Racism is a weapon of mass destruction”
“At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being”
Friedrich Otto Hertz,
Writer (1878 to 1964)
“Racism is a cancer. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot or a little, it’s still cancer!”
AGAINST RACISM, AGAINST HATE
Racism has existed as far into history as we know and still exists through to our present time today. We see it in old biblical stories like that of Moses and Pharaoh and we’ve witnessed it in the modern-day scenes of genocide in places like Rwanda and Burma.
DEFINITION OF ISLAMIC TERMS USED
The Ka’bah is the first place of worship built by Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son Ishmael and is situated in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic and biblical history, it is a region in the desert where Abraham left Hagar and his new born son Ishmael to reside.
One of the historic names for Mecca is also Bacca (3), as it is referred to in the Bible. It is recognised as a holy place where the archangel Gabriel came down and quenched the thirst of the baby Ishmael by God allowing for the creation of a spring. This spring is known as the well of Zam-Zam near the Ka’bah and still exists today, providing water to millions of pilgrims annuallly.
It is often misunderstood that Muslims believe that God resides in the Kabba. This is not correct. God in Islam is unseen and is outside of creation, in a manner befitting His majesty, presiding over everything.
Pbuh – Peace be Upon him
Whenever a prophet or messenger’s name is mentioned then it is deemed part of Islamic manners to show respect by stating ‘peace be upon him’.
 The NIV Bible, Psalms 84:5-6