Jul 26, 2009

Common Mistakes by Muslims - Nationalism & Racism

Falling into the trap of Nationalism and Racism.
Many Muslims today around the world have fallen into the trap of nationalism. It is easy to fall into this trap because of the wonderful slogans that people can easily make up to promote nationalism. They convince the Muslim that their first duty is to their "nation", their "people", based on geographic, ethnic or linguistic borders. This clearly contradicts Islamic teachings, and goes against the very soul and core of Islam.

While nationalism tries to group people based on geography, language, ethnicity or tribal ties, Islam groups people based on their belief and value system, based on their ideology. There are many sayings of the prophet that point to the prohibition of nationalism and racism, the following are some examples:

It is narrated by Abu Da'wud that the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: "He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah."

And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) referring to nationalism, racism, and patriotism said: "Leave it, it is rotten." [Muslim and Bukhari].

In the Hadith recorded in Mishkat al-Masabith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: "He who calls for `Asabiyyah is as if he bit his father's genitals."

Also, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said, narrated by At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud: "There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors; but in the sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust."

Also, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: "Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age of Jahilliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay. People should give up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of Hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah (swt) will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung)." [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi].

There are many examples of this also in the seerah, where the Prophet (pbuh) rebuked and was very angry with those who try to stir up tribal or nationalist sentiments. Another related issue is that of racism, which is prohibited and strongly denounced by Islam.

It is transmitted by at-Tabarani and al-Hakim that in one incident some people spoke very lowly about Salman al-Farsi. They spoke of the inferiority of the Persian in relation to the Arabs, and upon hearing this the Messenger of Allah (saaw) declared: "Salman is from us, the ahl al-bayt (the Prophet's family)." This statement of the Messenger of Allah (saaw) disassociates all links
based on lineage and tribal considerations.

It was also transmitted, in two different versions, by Ibn al-Mubarak in his two books, Al-Birr and As-Salah, that some disagreement occurred between Abu Dharr and Bilal and Abu Dharr said to Bilal, "You son of a black woman." The Messenger of Allah (saaw) was extremely upset by Abu Dharr's comment, so he (saaw) rebuked him by saying: "That is too much, Abu Dharr. He who has a white mother has no advantage which makes him better than the son of a black mother." This rebuke had a profound effect on Abu Dharr, who then put his head on the ground swearing that he would not raise it until Bilal had put his foot over it.

Also, the messenger of Allah called upon all Muslims to be united, regardless of ethnicity, race, language or tribe. The following are some examples:

The Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: "The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim].

And: "The faithful are like one man: if his eyes suffers, his whole body suffers." [Muslim].

And: "An Arab is no better than a non-Arab. In return, a non-Arab is no better than an Arab. A red raced man was not better than a black one except in piety. Mankind are all Adam's children and Adam was created out of clay." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Musa].

Muslims, whether they are of Chinese, African, European or Asian origin, are one Ummah and they cannot be separated from each other. No tribal ties should ever break their unity.

Furthermore, Allah (swt), says: "The Faithful are but brothers..." [Surah Al-Hujurat (49): ayah 10].

And the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: "The Faithful are to one another like [parts of] a building - each part strengthening the others."

And: "Every Muslim is a brother to a Muslim, neither wronging him nor allowing him to be wronged. And if anyone helps his brother in need, Allah will help him in his own need; and if anyone removes a calamity from [another] Muslim, Allah will remove from him some of the calamities of the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone shields [another] Muslim from disgrace, Allah will shield him from the disgrace on the Day of Resurrection." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar].

Therefore, Muslims should be very aware of the dangers of nationalism and racism, and of the strong denunciation of these concepts by Allah and his messenger. Muslims are one Ummah, and nothing should divide the Ummah into separate states as this is not allowed by Islam.


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