In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Islam Declared Equality Among People
(Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N.C., on February 20, 1987)
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Hujurat, (verse 13), what be translated as, "O Mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who has most taqwa among of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware."
With this verse, Islam declares equality among people, that is because Islam respect a human for being a human not for any other reason; Islam dose not distinguish between two races, or two groups of people, or between two colors, and the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) addressed the people signifying that concept during the last pilgrimage, saying: "O People! Your God is one; your father is one; no preference of an Arab neither over non-Arab nor of a non-Arab over an Arab or red over black or black over red except for the most righteous. Verily the most honored of you is the most righteous."
Not only did Islam emphasize the equality principle theoretically, but did it practically in some of the worship acts that translated this principle into a sensible fact that dose not escape people minds, thus: in the mosques where Friday prayer is held once every week, as well as the five daily prayers; equality is exercised practically and all the differences vanishes among people. That is, whoever came to the Mosque first, took his place in the front rows despite his financial states or position, and whoever come late, his place is late and if you look at any row among the prayer's rows, you would find in that row the rich and poor, the knowledgeable and the one with no knowledge, the Arab and the non Arab, no differences all the same in sight of Allah (S.W.T.), their direction during prayer, as well as their reveled book, as their Lord is one and also their movements during the prayer following one Imam.
Also in the holy land where the annual pilgrimage and the Omrah is performed, the equality is even clearer and stronger that is because during prayer people may differ in their clothes but during pilgrimage and Omrah the Ihram situation oblige every one to only wear simple white clothes which equates the rich and the poor, the governor and governed, all walking around Ka'bah asking one lord.
Also, another practical application of equality in Islam, is the equality among people in front of the law and regulations. What is allowed is for all people and what is forbidden as well upon all people. The obligations are upon everyone, and whoever deserved punishment gets it, regardless.
An example of such was when some of the companions talked to Osama Bin Zaid, the favorite of prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), to intervene for the sake of the well reputed woman from Qurach tribe who deserved punishment for stealing (that is cutting her hand), Osama talked to the prophet (S.A.W.), the prophet (S.A.W.) got angry and said, "Those before you were districted, that is because the renowned is untouched when he steals, and the poor is punished, verily if Fatima daughter of Muhammad stole, I would have cut her hand."
Also during the period of guided khalafahs there are many examples of the application of the equality principle. Here are two examples:
1st example: the story of Jebelah Bin Al Ayham who was a Gasan tribe's prince and the bedwein who complained to kalafe Omar that Jebelah (the prince) has slapped him, then Omar brought Jebelah and told him to let bedwein retaliate, a slap for slap unless the bedwein forgives him, this was taken difficulty by the Gasan prince and told Omar: How does he retaliate and I am a prince and he is a common. Omar answered: Islam has made equal out of you. That did not satisfy Jebelah, and he escaped from Madinah then abandoned Islam, but that did not cause any one's concern because one's abandoning Islam is much trivial than abandoning such a principle of Islam "equality"
The 2nd example was the story of khalif Omar and his governor to Egypt Amer Bin Al Aus when the son of governor struck a Christian man and told him that he is the son an honored family that man went from Egypt to Madinah complaining, then khalif Omar called the governor and his son and older the man to strike the son of the governor the same way he was struck, and turned to Amer Bin Al Aus the governor and said: "When did you enslave people and their mothers born then free."
This is Islam: emphasizing the equality and applying it in the society since 1400 years ago, when during that time mankind used to suffer the worst distinction among people and individuals in society and readied the enslaving of the human to his brother the human.
This is the secrete that made Islam and Muslims prevail nations in the past. It is a mistake to think that Islam prevailed only because Muslims like dying in the battles as other like to live. Islam did not prevail through battles only, but because Islam is a complete unique guidance for life, unique in it's rituals, beliefs, dealings and morals and from all with all that the religion of Allah is comprised, and with all that Muslims won and prevailed in the past, and with it Muslims can prevail and rule these days or any other time.
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