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How Islam responds to issues about Equality Essay

Introduction

Throughout this project, the intention of the information is to answer the question:

How does the religion of Islam respond to issues on equality?

All through this Booklet, I have kept in mind to focus on the ideas of Islamic equality and what this means to a Muslim, in the Islamic definition.

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In Islam a definition of equality means evenness, uniformity, impartiality, parity etc. Therefore, if applied to Islam in liaison to the now modern everyday life this would involve issues such as

* Racism

* Sexism

* Forgiveness

* Religious attitude

Which are the subjects I will be talking about and looking over at the Islamic perspective on these topics of concern. To portray the view Islam has over these issues I will be using:

* The genuine teachings from the word of our God `Allah` himself, doing this through the Qur’an.

* Referring to important hadiths (lessons) and quotes from the prophet Mohammed (pbuh)

* The message given out today by the most knowledgeable top scholars.

These should give a clear message of what, the view on these issues used to be like, how they have progressed and possibly altered over the years, the differences on these matters from today in contrast to when the religion began, and how it is today, right now in Muslim houses and nations across the world.

Racism

Constantly throughout the world today and especially in the history of humans since the beginning of civilisation. There has a been a power struggle between those trying to gain power and have authority over others whether it is because of their skin colour, lineage, education, origin or physical disabilities.

Islam has extinguished the discrimination which subsisted in the land of Arabia, the roots of the religion and the main reason it was created was to give equality among men and women of all races. It punished those who lowered women to the level of slaves and transferable goods. It also punished those who took advantage of their privileges. Being the 1st kind of religion to truly do this won the hearts of nations and the admiration and respect of its enemies.

In the Qur’an Allah even shames those who cannot understand the purpose of the variation in skin, colour and language.

`And among those His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the Earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours; verily in that are Signs for those with sound knowledge`

In some societies those who are poor and live a life in poverty are considered lower class, with less intelligence and the worst company. But it is these people who the prophet of Allah was asked to seek for their company. At this the idol worshippers (Quraish) began to make mockery of how the majority of the people following Islam were poor, lower class people. Allah then sends down this verse to the prophet:

`And keep yourself (O Mohammed) patiently with those who call their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking his face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of life of the world; and obey not him whose heart we have made heedless of our remembrance, one who follows his own lusts nd whose affair (deeds) have been lost`

The verse meant that a new society would be built with no racism and equality at its base such as justice and equal opportunity. No one is Islam should ever be judged by his skin, colour or any part of his physical appearance or origin whatsoever. Also no man should be bale to judge another only Allah is the judge.

`Allah does not look at your appearance, or wealth, rather he looks at you hearts and deeds. `

Sexism

It is disputed by some non-Muslims that in Islam, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the image of women is one of sexism and lower class and it is quite clear that Islam has become very male dominant and women are shown to be inferior and of less-importance. Or possibly as Muslims are allowed to have more than one wife it’s thought they are mis-treated. In fact, this is not how Islam has placed the role of women.

In Islam there are very precise guidelines relating to the equality of men and women. They are both looked upon as being equal in soul and in mind and in religious responsibilities. Of course, they are not looked upon as the same but merely different. The importance of the mother has the same importance of the father. Although they play a different role. But one cannot say that one is inferior to the other. As regards the care of children, the mother cares for a child a lot more than the father does and this sort of motherly love is held in the highest regard in Islam. The father is expected to supply the family with care, food and money and can only have more than 1 wife under the condition that he has the wealth to pay for them.

The Prophet Mohammed one day was questioned by a follower whom should he treat with more affection, he asked the prophet 4 times one after the other who are the most important. The prophet answered;

` Your mother, ` then

`Your mother, ` then

`Your mother, ` at the forth time

`Your father,` he went onto say `Paradise lies at the feet of your mother.`

Such is the treatment and respect given to women in Islam, from my own personal experience when I am in Jordan and I am with my grandmother; everywhere she goes, people call her grandma/mother and treat her with the utmost respect and courtesy. When anyone comes to visit, they immediately enter the room and kiss her hand three times, such is the respect men in Islam have towards women. Violence against women is extremely wrong and is not allowed. A women’s honour is held in high regard and no verbal or physical abuse is permitted at all, to the extend where our prophet said;

`Those whom so ever beat their wives, in the eyes of Allah are no Muslim`

Any crime against women especially rape etc. is treated very seriously and in the Islamic Shari’ah court the punishment for such a crime is severe. During the month of Ramadan, women are given leave from having to fast, if their menstruation cycle is kicking in, this also applies to their praying. Men whoever always have to fast unless they are ill and are incapable. However women do still have to pray, have to perform Hajj, they must render Zakat; all Muslims must perform these duties; there are no differences between them, and both shall be held accountable by God in the life of the here and after.

`Whoever does deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and have faith, they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them`

Attitudes towards other Religions

Muslims have a very open view to other religions, and they are the only religion that have kept strict to the instruction of their holy book. Muslims are given a duty to lead other people into their faith, and making people revert (Every human is born Muslim) back to Islam is very important and held in high regard, so much so that in one of the hadiths (lessons from the prophet) he says;

`One who changes the faith of another towards Islam and helps him unto the righteous path, will be rewarded in heaven most greatly`

Allah also said

`Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and the Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, We are Christian`: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant.`

Islam also teaches that all people have the natural instinct to be Muslims- the term for this in Arabic (as mentioned before) is `fitrah`. People may be born into another religion, but this is due to the way they are brought up and the will of Allah, as he tests your strength and willpower (a.k.a as one’s `iman` in Arabic) If someone does convert back to Islam, they are reverting back to the religion into which they were born as. Allah also rewards those who turn back to Islam tremendously.

Also to try and avoid any kind of conflict between Islam and those who follower other faiths, Allah did send down a message to Mohammed, clearly showing there is no wilful approach to any other religion for trouble or arguments.

`Follow your path, let me follow mine and there shall be no conflict between us`

Islam does not bring out clashes with other religions but only wishes for there to be peace. From the above quote it clearly states, the Muslim intention not to have any fight/conflict with those of any other religion. However should any Muslim be attacked by one of another religion they are permitted to fight back and to stand up for themselves as long as they are in the right.

Forgiveness/Reconciliation

Allah has granted human beings with intelligence, this intelligence demands responsibility. Therefore, the more intelligent a person is the more he/she is responsible. When the intelligence is missing, the responsibility is neither there. This also means that little children are not held responsible for their actions or words, because their intelligence has not developed. The insane are not responsible, because they have lost the rational capacity. However, part of us being Human, is also that we make mistakes, nobody’s perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes without thought and intention. But sometime we knowingly and deliberately commit sins and do wrong to others. It is said that `To err is human and to forgive is divine`. Both parts of this statement are very true. As human beings we are responsible, but we do also make mistakes and we are constantly in need of forgiveness.

Two Types of forgiveness:

* Forgiveness from Allah

* Forgiveness from other people

Both are important as we do wrong to both our God and towards other people.

Allah’s Forgiveness

Allah is the most forgiving, of all. There is a hadith recited by the prophet that talks about the mercy of Allah.

`Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones. Then he explained it {by saying that} he who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.`

There are many names given to Allah in the Qur’an, some of these names are related to His mercy and forgiveness. Here are some of them, with their meanings.

Al-Ghafoor: The most forgiving. This name appears in the Qur’an more than seventy times. There are other names from the same root, such as Ghafir and Ghaffar. The meaning of the `ghafara` is to cover, to hide and from it comes the meaning `to excuse`, `to pardon`, `to remit` and `to forgive`. Allah does all these things. In the Qur’an it is mentioned that Allah does not forgive however without `Shirk` repentance but he may forgive every other sin for whomsoever he wills.

Al-Thawwab: The Acceptor of repentance. This name of Allah is mentioned in the Qur’an about eleven times. Allah accepts repentance of those who truthfully and whole- heartedly repent and turn to him. The word `thawwab` gives the sense of `often returning` which means that Allah again and again accepts out repentance and forgives us. We commit sins and mistakes then we repent and he forgives us, then we go and commit more sins and repent and accepts our repentance again and gives us another chance.

The Qur’an teaches that Allah is a Judge and He also punishes but Allah is not bound to punish. The justice of Allah, according to Qur’an is that Allah does not and will not inflict undue punishment on any person. He will not ignore the good of any person, but if He wishes to forgive any sinner, He has the full freedom to do so, His mercy is unlimited as shown in the hadith above and his love infinite.

Human Forgiveness in Islam:

It is very important to believe in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah but it is also necessary to base relationships on forgiveness. We cannot expect Allah’s forgiveness unless we also forgive those who do wrong to us. Forgiving each other, even forgiving one’s enemies is one of the most important Islamic teachings. In the Qur’an Allah has described the believers as:

`Those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies are those who when they are angry they forgive. `

`The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah. `

Even in another Hadith, the Prophet once said that Allah had commanded him nine things, one of which he mentioned was:

`That I forgive those who do wrong to me`

The Prophet of Islam was the most known truthful and especially forgiving man. He was always ready to forgive his enemies even the very worse ones. When he went to the town of Ta’if to preach the message of God with his adopted son Mahmood, its people mistreated him, they abused him and hit him with stones.

He left the city upset and wounded, then when he took shelter under a tree; the angel of Allah visited him and told him that Allah sent him to destroy the people of Ta’if because of their sin of mistreating the prophet. The prophet [rayed to Allah to save the people of Ta’if, because what they did was out of their ignorance.

He said, `Oh Allah, guide these people, because they did no know what they were doing. `

When he entered the city of Mecca after the victory, the Prophet had in front of him some his most terrible, hateful enemies. Those who had fought ruthlessly against him, plotted to kill him for many years, persecuted his followers and killed many of them. Now he had full power to do whatever he wanted, to punish them for their crimes. It is then described that the prophet asked them:

`What do you think I shall do to you now? ` They pleaded for mercy

The Prophet returned `Today I shall say to you what Prophet Yusuf (Joseph and his 11 brothers) said to his brothers, `No blame on you today. Go, you are all free. `

Such was his immense mercy that they all came to finally realise the greatness of Islam and accept it with their hearts. He even forgave the previous rulers wife Hind who had caused the murder of his uncle Hamza. After killing him she had his body cut open wide and chewed on his lever leaving him to bleed. Despite this atrocious crime, when she accepted Islam and submitted herself to Allah, the prophet still forgave her.

Conclusion

Overall, all in all in my total truthful opinion, I do believe that Islam the true words from Allah does promote equality among society.

`O Mankind! I have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one from another. Verily, the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is he who has the most taqwa among of you. Verily, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware. `

With this verse, Islam declares its equality among people, that is because Islam respects a human for being a human not for any other reason; Islam does not distinguish between two races or two groups of people or between two colours and the Prophet Muhammad spoke to the people signifying that concept during his 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 honoured of you is the most righteous. `

Despite the teachings of our Lord and Prophet, these are all empty words if people do not listen to them and use them as their guides, and unfortunately when conflict does arise it is not because Muslims are fighting for their freedom in Jihad, No it is an extremely small minority of people who using Islam as a cover, go against the word of Allah and commit crimes. However, the majority of Muslims emphasize the equality in their religion, practically and theoretically.

When all are praying whoever comes to the mosque 1st, can sit down in the front row regardless of his financial state or position and whoever comes last takes his place in the last row regardless of his position or importance. If you look along each row, one can see a diversity of people all kneeling down together sitting on the floor, the rich and poor, the knowledgeable and the unknowledgeable. There are no differences among these people as they are all the same in the sight of Allah, their direction during prayer, as well s their holy book, as their Lord is one and also their movements during the prayer follow one imam.

Especially in Mecca and Medina, when hajj or umrah is performed, equality there is at its highest, everyone side by side all wearing the same clothes all bowing to the same God, only thing differing among them is the strength of their belief and the good they have done.

An example of such was when some of the companions talked to Osama Bin Zaid, the favourite of Prophet Muhammad, to intervene for the sake of the well reputed woman from the Quraish tribe who deserved punishment for stealing (that is having her hand cut) Osama talked to the prophet, the prophet 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 Muhammed) stole, I would have her hand cut. `

Islam is emphasizing the equality and applying it into the society since 1400 years ago, when during that time mankind used to suffer the worst distinction among people and individuals in culture and prepared the enslaving o humans.

This is where the secret to Islam’s great real power, strength and past triumph lie. One is mistaken to think that Islam prevailed only because Muslims like dying in battles as others like to live, no!. Islam did not win through battles only, but because Islam is a complete unique guidance for life, unique in its rituals, beliefs, dealings and ethics and from all in all that is the religion of Allah.

 

Bibliography

The holy qur’an

the companions of the prophet book2

al-nawawi’s 40 hadiths

Religion & equality booklet

www.islamonline.net

www.islam101.com

www.bbc.co.uk/gcse/bitesize

www.islamicforums.com

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