Islam’s Viewpoint on Racism

09 June, 2020
Q As-salamu `alaykum! What does Islam say about racism?

Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- Racism stems from one group of people feeling and believing they are superior to another or they enjoy extraordinary prestige which others lack. By this, they feel they deserve preferential treatment in exclusion of other people.

2- But we should make it clear that color can never be the yardstick in measuring superiority, it is only piety that renders one better than another; and even at that, Allah is the only One who knows the extent of anyone’s piety. So racism is completely against the essence of Islam.


In responding to your question, Dr. Taha Jaber Al-`Alwani, the late President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and the late President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:

Racial discrimination can be looked at in different ways. It can be used as a kind of preference among people on the basis of law and transactions. The matter extends to encompass blood relations as well as biological characteristics related to racial groups.

The Glorious Quran asserts that all people come from the same soul. Allah Almighty says: {O Mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a Watcher over you.} (An-Nisa 4:1)

Furthermore, all people are alike in origin, nature, reason for existence, and morality. The Quran states: {We have created you from a male and a female, and we have made you into nations and tribes to get to know one another.} (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Quran asserts that differences in race, color, and language exist and must be a vehicle for friendship and harmony. In doing so, all will cooperate to establish God’s message on earth, build civilizations, and utilize the world’s resources for the betterment of humanity.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated in his Farewell Sermon: ‘O people, our father is one, and our God is One; We are all from Adam, and Adam is from dust.’

The Prophet asserted that the only criterion for being better than another is character. We must compete in behaving better with others and helping all of humanity. Allah says, {The most valued of you in Allah’s Sight is the most God-conscious.} (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Prophet also stated, ‘There is no higher status of an Arab over a non-Arab except through God-consciousness.’

The Prophet taught that religions have the same origin, the whole earth belongs to us all, and we must work together to establish peace and justice for all.

The Prophet stated, ‘The earth has been made a place of worship for me, and a pure place.’ The whole earth must be protected and respected, and everything and everyone on it.

Positive Means to Overcome Racism

We must increase awareness in schools and media outlets regarding the evils of racism, which is akin to a disease that destroys unity, disrupts civilizations, and leads to conflicts and war.

Winning Allah’s pleasure is not due to color, race or language; but rather to the degree that man tries to help others. This is the fundamental religious value that establishes brotherhood in humanity, and it should be promoted in the workplace at all levels.

We must be honest in stating that racism played a great role in encouraging conflict and war (such as the American Civil war, Turkish-Kurdish conflict, the Serb-Croat conflict, and the Tamil-Sri Lankan).

We must sponsor studies of previous civilizations, to show the role of racism in their decline and fall.

We must reform the field of sociology and anthropology, which have a history in spreading racism. A new vision to the oneness of humanity and a shared fate need to be promoted in these fields.

The Affirmation of Basic Religious Values

As Muslims, we do affirm the worth of every person, emphasize the need for compassion, join in the call to reconciliation, and assert the desirability of cooperation. Differences between us should be the reason we come together, rather than the reason we drift apart.

So, based on this, if anyone happens to be a victim of racism, this shouldn’t drive him to have mistrust of the well-established rule due to an individual case. It should be well-ingrained in his mind that, according to what is mentioned above, Islam is totally against giving privilege to someone or some people due to color or race.

By this, if one notices contravention of the above-mentioned rule in any place, it doesn’t mean that the same is expected to take place elsewhere. This also should not be taken as a pretext to nullify the whole system, the Divine Legislation, which stipulates that all human beings are equal before the law, and in the Sight of Allah, save the privilege one enjoys for being pious and righteous in the true sense.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.