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Khutba # 32

Islam and Equality


Let us all practice Taq’wa (piety and righteousness), and revere Allah and obey His divine commands.  Let us be heedful of our choices in this life and their likely consequences in the hereafter.  May Allah provide us all with the spirit of righteousness by way of His obedience as best course for all.


Let us ask ourselves: How does Islam view equality, and on what teachings does equality stand?  The answer is that Islamic teachings regard all people equal in their rights before God Almighty.


Such value of equality is not to be mistaken for or confused with identity however.  Islam teaches that, in the sight of Allah, all persons, male and female, are equal in their rights, but not necessarily identical. There are differences of course in man’s abilities, potentials, ambitions, wealth, or color, among other things. Yet none of these differences can by itself establish a status of superiority of one person over another or a race over another.  The only distinction, which God recognizes, is the distinction in piety, and the only criterion, which God applies, is the criterion of goodness and spiritual excellence. In the Quran, God says in Surah 49 (al-Hujuraat), Ayah 13:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O mankind! Behold, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another.   Verily the most honored of you with Allah is the greatest of you in piety. God is all-knowing all-Aware.”

The difference in rights on the basis of race, color, tribal attachment and social status is totally denied by Islam, though they exist among most nations in the present age.


Islam had declared its view on this matter long ago, at a time when social groupings, discrimination in position, difference in rights were considered to be natural and rational.  This was the case in the civilized and most advanced countries of that day, as well as its continuation in many countries nowadays.


Islam does not regard any special group or class or country to have been born for subjecting others for mastership, be it other groups or other countries.  This doctrine is based on the foundation of Unity (Tawhid) as its main principle.  The Tawhid “Unity” is the basis of the Islamic society.  In such society all humanity is to be dealt with as one, meaning one great unit.  Its individuals are members of one society incorporate.  In this society distinctions do not become differences —not color, nor culture, nor class, nor custom, nor conversational idioms.  Also mutual respect is the rule throughout the worldwide society of Islam, without superiority or inferiority.  That is because mankind was created in one human soul to start with, thus sharing one common humanity: from whom man and woman, black and white, poor and rich, civilized and savage, all evolved.  It is written in the Holy Quran in Surah 4 (al-Nisaa’), Ayah 1:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا

"O’ Mankind! Reverence God Who created you all from a single soul and from it He created its mate…” 

This Ayah leaves no room for nationalistic divisions.  And differences in skin and tongue are merely tokens of the Creator's Power.  The Holy Quran also affirms this point in Surah 30 (al-Room), Ayah 22:


وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the varieties of your tongues and complexions.   Verily there are signs in this for those who hearken"

Accordingly, the foundation of the view-of-equality in Islam is deeply rooted in the structure of Islam itself.  It stems from basic principles such as: 

  1. One and the same eternal God creates all mankind, the supreme Lord of all. 

  2. Everyone belongs to the human race and shares equally in the common parentage of Adam and Eve.

  3. God is just and kind to His creatures.  God is not partial to any race, age or religion.

  4. The whole universe is God’s dominion and all people are His creatures. 

  5. All people are born equal in the sense that they do not bring any possession with them, and they die equal in the sense that they take back nothing of their worldly belongings with them.

  6. God judges every person on the basis of his/her own merits and according to his/her own deeds.

  7. As such, God has conferred on man a title of honor and dignity.


Equality among individuals will subsist under the protection of unity of thought and spirit, oneness of conviction and aim.  Should a society fall into division of thought and conviction, its bonds of affection will be loosened: and, when adversity arises, material needs will increase the differences.  That is why the strongest tie of unity amongst nations is the religious bond.


It is in this bond of union that Islam has brought peoples together, freeing them from the plight of division and differences.  Islam calls people to establish accord and agreement in a society of brotherhood, a brotherhood that should be the natural state of man.


Islam is the religion of equality and brotherhood, as it is the religion of Justice.  A social system in Islam is comprised of human relationships that tie the members of society together.  One’s family, neighbors, relatives, the offspring of the Muslim nation everywhere, the non-Muslims who live within the Islamic state, all these form part of the social fabric based on justice and pay attention to human rights.


Islam treats mankind as one great family of brothers and sisters.  Brotherhood is the Quran’s call. The sublime level of love and the most sincere of friendships are those that arise between genuine Muslims.  They call each other brother because of the sense of their brotherhood, indirectly meaning the existence of the manifestations of equality.  The surrender (Tasleem) to God is the main cause of brotherhood.


This brotherhood is deeper and higher than mere natural brotherliness, for in it are the unity of a shared aim, the unity of shared convictions, the unity of joint beliefs, and the unity of hearts.  The Holy Quran declares in Surah 49 (al-Hujuraat), Ayah 10:


إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

"Believers are a single brotherhood.  Make peace amongst your brothers and fear God that ye may receive mercy."

The Prophet decreed in a Hadith:[1] 


مثل المؤمنین فی توادهم وتراحمهم کمثل الجسد اذا اشتکی بعض تداعی له سائر اعضاء جسده بالحمّی والسهر.

The love and grace of the faithful towards each other is like a body, it suffers even if one part becomes ill.



A true Islamic society is a society whose members:  a) have faith in Islam, b) apply Islamic Laws in their life, and c) abide by Islam’s moral standards of love, brotherhood, mercy and trust.  By so being they are performing their religious duties. 


In a true Islamic society, drinking alcohol, practicing usury, dressing immodestly, deceiving each other, giving or taking bribes, indulging in injustice, violating other’s rights, are all prohibited and to be avoided.


There will be no room for oppression or suppression in Islam.  Concepts of (chosen people), and gentile peoples, or phrases such as privileged and condemned races, all ideas of social castes, and second-class citizens are alien to Islam in the strictest sense.


Imam Ali left us a priceless legacy in Nahjul Balaaghah, amongst which is his historic address to Malik ibn al‑Ashtar expressing this truth:[2] 


وأشعر قلبک الرحمة للرعیّة والمحبّة لهم واللطف بهم   ولا تکونن علیهم سبعاً ضاریاً تغتنم اکلهم،  فانهم صنفان: 

إمّا اخ لک فی الدین   او نظیر لک فی الخلق 

▪    "Make Thy heart a throne of mercy towards Thy people.

▪    Show them perfect love and care.

▪    Do not treat people as a voracious beast that tears their properties and their persons.

▪    For, they are in one of two groups.

▪    Either they are thy brothers in the Faith,

▪    Or they are thy fellow-humans of one flesh with Thy own."


This broad view embraces all races, all cultures, and all tongues.


We pray Allah to help us perform Allah’s commands in our life and for our society according to Islam’s rule and keep it safe from subversive and corrupt elements by means of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. 


For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.


The 13th of Rajab is the Anniversary of Imam Ali’s birthday.  Amir Al-Mu’mineen Ali was the son of Abu Talib.  He was born ten years before the commencement of the Prophet’s mission. When he was a few years old he lived in the house of the Prophet, according to an arrangement between the Prophet and Abu Talib, the father of Ali.  Thus, Ali was under the direct care and guardianship of the Holy Prophet the better part of his life.[3]


A few years later, when the Prophet was endowed with the Divine gift of Prophethood, Ali was the first male to embrace Islam.  He was 10 years old then.  Three years later, when the Prophet (pbuh) invited his relatives to proclaim his message and to invite them to accept Islam, Ali was the only person who answered the Prophet’s appeal. 


The Prophet (pbuh) declared to the audience in a firm manner saying::[4]


ان هذا اخی ووصیی وخلیفتی فیکم   فاسمعوا  له  واطیعوا

“Verily, this is my brother, my deputy and the one to succeed me, therefore listen to him and obey him”



Ali was in the company of the Prophet more or less constantly. On the night of the migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina (Hijrah), while the infidels had surrounded the house of the Prophet determined to put an end to him, Ali took the place of the Prophet and lay in his bed.  This ploy shattered the plan of the attackers and unraveled their horrific scheme.  In the meantime, this made it possible for the Prophet to leave his house safely and set out for Medina.[5]


Ali continued to be constantly in the company of the Prophet.  When the Prophet was creating bonds of brotherhood among his companions in Medina, he selected Ali as his brother.  The Prophet also gave his daughter, Fatima, in marriage to Ali.[6]


Ali never disobeyed the Prophet, he was to such an extent that the Prophet said of him:[7]


علي مع الحق   والحق مع علي

“Ali is with the Truth and the Truth is with Ali”



Ali was supreme in bravery and faith.  He participated in all the confrontations in which the Prophet participated except the battle of Tabuk.  For the Tabuk encounter, Ali was ordered to stay in Medina in place of the Prophet.


As said before, Ali was constantly in the company of the Prophet, be it in private or in public.  During his Khilaafah of nearly four years and nine months, Ali followed the way of the Prophet (pbuh) meticulously, and he gave his Khilaafah the form of a spiritual movement and renewal; and he began different types of reforms. While beneficial to the public at large, these reforms were against the very interests of some people who were after their own self-interest and benefit.


According to the testimony of friends and foes, Ali had no shortcomings.  And in the Islamic virtues Ali was the perfect example in upbringing and the training given to him by the Prophet (pbuh).  In knowledge Ali was the most learned of the companions of the Prophet.  His highly acclaimed discourses were the first in Islam to open the door for logical theology and proof (al-Ma’arif al-Ilahiyah).

The Prophet (pbuh) spoke repeatedly about Ali; a well-known saying goes as follows:[8]


 أنا مدینة العلم وعليٌ بابها    فمن أراد المدینة فلیدخل الباب

“I am the abode of knowledge [enlightenment] and Ali is its gateway.  He who wants to reach this locality, should come through its gateway.”



Ali was without equal in religious asceticism and the worship of God.  Many stories are told of Ali’s remarkable kindness to the meek, his compassion for the needy and poor, and his generosity toward those in misery.  Ali spent all the capital he earned to help the poor and the needy, and he lived in the strictest and simplest manner.


Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.


[1] Safinat al Bihaar, Vol. 1, Page 13.

[2]  Nahjul Balaaghah, Imam Ali (a.s.), Section of Letters, Page 53.

[3] Al-Fusool al-Muhimma, Page 14.  Also Manaaqib al-Khawarzmi, Page 17.

[4] Irshad of Mufeed, Page 4.  Also, Tibari, History of Countries Vol. 2, Page 216.

[5] Al-Fusool al-Muhimma, Page 28-30.

[6] Yanabi’ al-Mawadda, Page 63-65.

[7] Manaaqib Ali, Vol. 3, Page62 and 218.

[8] Al-Jami’ Al-Sagheer, Vol. 1, Page 415, Hadith 705.

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