Racism is evil plain and simple. Black, brown, white. African, Asian, European. Discrimination, prejudice and stigmatisation lead to oppression, injustice, hatred. And inhumanity. Slavery, genocide, apartheid all perpetrated simply because one human being is seen as inherently inferior to another, as the other. To this day it still exists to varying degrees at both a political and social level. Racism can be present in word or deed, it can even manifest in attitude and demeanour.
This is totally antithetical to Islam. The Qur’an teaches us that racial and cultural diversity is something to be celebrated as one of Allah’s wonders, “Among His wonders is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours. In this, there are signs indeed for the intelligent!” (Q30:22).
Rather than racial stereotyping and profiling, rather than drawing artificial lines in the sand based on skin colour and background, rather than constructing false barriers between each other, the Qur’an teaches us that our diversity is a positive, it is a means of getting to know each other and to understand each other, “Mankind! We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another.” (Q49:13)
It is tragic and distressing to see racism rear its ugly head anywhere, but for us personally, it is especially painful when we see it amongst some Muslims, and nowhere is this so apparent as when the topic of marriage is broached. How could this be? Why? We are taught to embrace skin colour and race. Islam transcends racial classifications. The best of us, man or woman, is not the black or the white – that is irrelevant. It is not the Western or the Eastern – that too is irrelevant. It is the one with best conduct and best heart; and that is known only to Allah. Our Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah does not look at your outward appearance, nor your wealth; rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.”
In the Prophet’s final sermon before he passed away, what were his words? “People, your Lord is one and your father is one. The Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab to an Arab, nor a light-skinned person to a black-skinned person, and nor a black-skinned person to a light-skinned person, except through piety.”