By Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi رحمہ اللہ
Sent by Muskan Fatima
The second great favor conferred by Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم on human beings was the concept of equality and brotherhood of mankind. The world before him was divided by manifold divisions of castes and creeds, tribes and nations, some claiming ranks of nobility for themselves and condemning others to the position of serfs and chattels. It was for the first time that the world heard the revolutionary message of human equality from the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم of Islam.
"O Mankind, Your God is one and you have but one father. You are all progeny of Adam, and Adam was made of clay. Lo! The noblest among you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. No Arab has any preference over the non-Arab nor the non-Arab an Arab save by his piety.”
Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم made this declaration on the occasion of his last hajj before a congregation of one lakh and twenty-four thousand persons. His announcement put the seal on the twin principles of the Unity of God and the Unity of mankind. These are the two natural foundations for raising any edifice of peace and progress, friendship and co-operation between different peoples and nations. They create a twin relationship between human beings—that of One Lord and one father (Hadhrat Adam علیہ السلام) for all of them. Oneness of God is the spiritual principle of human equality just as a common lineage of the high and the low, the white and the colored races places them on the same plane of humanity.
The world was not in a frame of mind to pay heed to the message of equality of human beings when it was first announced by Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم. It was then a radical call, making a clean sweep of the then social relationships and economic and political orders. So striking and revolutionary was this call that it had sent the world into jitters. Today we fine the principle of human equality enshrined in the constitutions of different countries and being proclaimed from the forum of the United Nations Organization in the shape of the Charter of Human Rights but it was all due to the pioneering efforts of the followers of Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم, Muslim missionaries and reformers, who made indefatigable efforts to establish a truly egalitarian Muslim society. It was this model established through their toil and tears that later on the came to be accepted as the standard human existence in this world. There was a time when numerous clans and families claimed their descent from the sun and the moon. Qur'an quotes the belief then held by the Jews and the Christians in these words: "The Jews and the Christians say: We are the children of God and those whom He loves."5 The Pharaohs of Egypt claimed themselves to be the incarnation of the Sun god while India had several ruling families, which arrogated themselves as the progeny of the sun or the moon. The Emperors of Iran called themselves Kasra or Chosroes, which meant that Divine blood flowed in their veins. The last Iranian Emperor was known as Yazdagird owing, chiefly, to the Divine respects paid to him by his subjects.
The Chinese rulers deemed themselves the sons of Heaven. They believed that the Heaven was their God, who, with his spouse, the goddess earth, had given birth to the human beings and Pau Ku, the Chinese Emperor, was the first-born son of Heaven enjoying supernatural powers. The Arabs were so proud of their language that every other nation besides their own was an 'ajami' or dumb to them. Likewise, the Quraish of Mecca being extremely conscious of maintaining their superiority claimed a position of privilege even in the performance of hajj. This was the shape of things, all over the world, when the Qur’an proclaimed that all human beings were equal.
“O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware.” (Qur’an 49:13)
In another Surah, which is the opening chapter of the Qur’an, it was declared that:
“Praise is to Allah, Lord of the Worlds” (Qur’an 1:1)
The third great gift and a boon to humanity bestowed by Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم is the Islamic concept of humanity dignity. During the Age of Darkness when Islam made its appearance, none was as ignoble and humiliated as man. Without any worth, he had absolutely no sense of human dignity. Oftentimes trees and animals regarded as sacred, owing to religious beliefs or traditions, enjoyed a more coveted place than man himself. Human sacrifices at the altar of deities were common spectacle. It was solely due to Muhammad Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم that man came to appreciate the fact that human beings, the glorious creation of God, were entitled to a much more loving regard, respect and honour than any other creature. The rank accorded to man by Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم was next only to God; for God had Himself heralded the purpose of man’s creation in these words of lasting beauty:
“He it is who created for you all that is in the earth.” (Qur’an 2:29)
Man was declared as the best of creations, the ruler of the world and all that exist in it.
“Verily we have honored the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom we created with a marked preferment”. (Qur’an 17:70)
Man had been accustomed to associate nobility with those who claimed themselves to be the progeny of gods and demi-gods. In order that the honour of the common man was not usurped again by the selected few, Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم announced:
“The whole mankind is the family of God and he amongst His family is dearest to Him, who does good to others”6
A celestial Tradition of Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم alludes to the deep concern of God for the welfare of human beings. It says:
God would ask (someone) on the Day of Judgment, ‘I was ill but you did not pay a visit to Me!’ The man would reply; ‘How could have I paid a visit to Thee? Thou art the Lord of the worlds!’ But Allah would say, ‘Do you not recollect that one of my slaves was ill? Had you gone to see him, you would have found Me by his side!’ Then God would ask, ‘O son of Adam, I asked you to feed me, but you refused it to Me.’ The man would submit, ‘How could I have fed Thee, Thou art the Lord of the Worlds?’ But the reply of God would be, ‘Do you not remember that one of my slaves asked you for food?
Didn’t you know that if you had given food, you would have found it with Me!’ God would again ask, ‘O Son of Adam, I asked you for water to drink but you refused it to Me!’ The man would say in reply, ‘O Lord, How could have I given water to Thee? Thou art the Lord of the worlds’ but the reply given by God would be, ‘Do you not recollect that one of my slaves asked you for water, but you refused! Did you not know that if you had given him water, you would have found it with Me?’”
Islam preaches unalloyed and absolute unity of God and rejects every form of anthropomorphism. Still, it employees this similitude to drive home the rank and dignity of man in the eyes of God. Has any other religion or philosophical thought accorded a nobler place to human beings than that assigned by Islam?
Rasulullah صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم taught that the surest way to attract the blessings of God was to be kind and considerate to others.
“The Most Compassionate (God) is kind on those who are kind to others. If you would show kindness to those who live on the earth, He who lives in the Heaven, shall shower His blessings on you.”8
You can very well imagine the pitiable condition of man in the days when this powerful voice of human dignity had not been raised in the world. A mere whim of a king or an emperor could then cost the lives of a thousand men. It was then not unusual for an ambitious adventurer to put to sword the entire population of a conquered land; Alexander converted all the countries from Greece to India into a vast battlefield. Caesars played with the lives of human beings as if they were wild beasts. The two World Wars fought only recently had cost the lives of millions merely for securing markets for the industrial produce of advanced nations or to establish national or political ascendancy of certain nations over all others. Iqbal has correctly assessed the political ambitions of man in this verse:
Man is still possessed by the imperialistic lust, what a pity! Man prowling after man as yet.
(to be continued)