“Arabs have a special place in Islam, you know.”
“Islam is Bedouin culture masquerading as a worldview.”
The first quote came from an Arab, unfortunately in the company of non-Muslims. With some- definitely NOT all- Arab Muslims are going around with this attitude, the second quote doesn’t surprise me.
So, is Islam an Arabic religion? Was it by the Arabs and for the Arabs, a tool of spreading their political domination and superiority over the globe?
The answer, in English and Spanish, is no.
Here is what Allah, His Messenger Muhammad (May Allah’s Blessings and Peace be upon him), and the Messenger’s companions (May Allah Be Pleased with them) had to say about Arab culture and Islam. It is hoped that this email will clear the misconceptions held and propagated by some Muslims, non-Muslims, critics of Islam, and slanderers of Islam.
Refutation of Racial and/or Tribal pride
“O mankind! We* Have Created you from a male and a female, and Made you into nations in tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the most righteous of you.”
– Qur-an 49.13
* i.e. the “royal” we of esteem, not plurality
“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people of sound knowledge.”
– Qur-an 30.22
“So when you have accomplished your (Hajj) rituals, remember Allah as you remember your forefathers or with a greater rememberance…”
– Qur-an 2.200
Note: This refutes a custom the Arabs had introduced into the Hajj (a pilgrimage which precedes Allah’s revelation to Muhammad). In it, they would spend hours praising their forefathers in poetry and song, an exercise in tribal pride.
“The wandering Arabs are the severest in disbelief and hypocrisy, and most likely to be ignorant of the limits which Allah hath revealed unto His messenger. And Allah is Knower, Wise.
Some of the desert Arabs look upon their payments as a fine, and watch for disasters for you: on them be the disaster of evil: for Allah is He That heareth and knoweth (all things).
But some of the desert Arabs believe in Allah and the Last Day, and look on their payments as pious gifts bringing them nearer to Allah and obtaining the prayers of the Messenger. Aye, indeed they bring them nearer (to Him): soon will Allah admit them to His Mercy: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”
– Qur-an 9.97-99
Note: There’s no special place for Arabs here.
“An Arab has no superiority over a Non-Arab, and a Non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab, and a red man has no superiority over a black man, except in terms of piety”
– Muhammad (May Allah’s Blessings and Peace be upon him)
(Narrated by Imam Ahmad, Volume 5, Page 411)
“Allah Has Taken awah from you the pride of the Period of Ignorance and its pride in forefathers. (A person is either) a pious believer or a miserable evildoer. You are the sons of Adam* and Adam came from dust. Let men give up their pride in their people, for they** are just coals from Hell, or they will become more insignificant before Allah than the dung beetle that rolls up filth with its nose.”
(Narrated by Abu Dawood in al-Adab, Page 111)
* Peace be upon him
**i.e. the disbelievers and evildoers among them
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle said, “You should listen to and obey, your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.”
Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “Listen and obey (your chief) even if an Ethiopian whose head is like a raisin were made your chief.”
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said to Abu-Dhar, “Listen and obey (your chief) even if he is an Ethiopian with a head like a raisin.”
When ‘Umar, the future second khalifah (caliph) of the Muslims, heard the Abu Bakr, the future first khalifah, had purchased the freedom of Bilal, an Ethiopian slave, he said “Abu Bakr, our master, has freed our master.”
– Narrated by Muslim
Note: The right to Khilafah (Caliphate) of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar is disputed by Shi’a Muslims. The Shi’a belief on this matter, in summary, is that ‘Ali was the rightful Khalifah after his death. Muhammad’s cousin (through his uncle Abu Talib), son-in-law (through his daughter Fatimah), father of his only surviving male bloodline (his grandsons Hasan and Husain), and eventual fourth Khalifah,
However, Abu Bakr was Muhammad’s father-in-law (through ‘Aa-isha). ‘Umar was also his father-in-law (through Hafsa) and Ali’s son-in-law (through Umm Kulthum, granddaughter of Muhammad through Fatimah). As such, some Shi’a contend that they are virtuous. (http://revivingalislaam.blogspot.com/2010/12/umars-marriage-to-umm-kulthum.html). In addition, and with all due respect to Shi’a points-of-view, their contributions to Islam, humanity, and civilization are matters of nearly universally accepted historical fact.
Did You Know? An Arab Muslim invented Social Security on behalf of a Jewish Man
‘Umar in Al Khattaab, second khalifah of the Muslims, saw an old Jewish man begging from people, so he asked him,
“From which of the People of the Book are you?”
The man replied, “I am a Jew.”
Then ‘Umar took him to the storekeeper of the Treasury (Bayt al-Maal) and told him to give a regular stipend to this man and others like him, enough for them to live off and handle their affairs, saying,
“We are not treating him fairly if we take the tax (jizyah) from him when he is young, then neglect him when he gets old.”
– Abu Yusuf, al-Kharaaj, Page 144
Another story of the Sharee’a ruling in Favor of Non-Arabs over Arabs
His (Amr in al-‘Aas, governor of Egypt) son became very upset with the Copt because he had beaten him in a race, so he struck him with his whip, saying, “Take that! I am the son of the most noble!” The Copt went straight to Madeenah and complained to the Khalifah, ‘Umar in al Khattaab. ‘Umar summoned ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas and his son, and gave the whip to the Copt and told him, “Beat the ‘son of the most noble.’” When he had finished, ‘Umar said to him, “Now beat ‘Amr on his bald head, for his son beat you because of his father’s position.” The Copt said, “It is enough that I have beaten the one who beat me.” Then ‘Umar turned to ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas and said,
“O ‘Amr, how could you enslave people whose mothers bore them free?”
Refutation of Arab Marriage Customs
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their dowry with a good heart…”
– Qur-an 4.4
Note: This bans the practice of giving dowries to the fathers of the bride, effectively ending the custom of selling daughters and buying wives against their will.
O ye who believe! It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) ye should put constraint upon them that ye may take away a part of that which ye have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye hate a thing wherein Allah hath placed much good.
– Qur-an 4.19
Note: The Arab custom of widows being inherited by their brother-in-law or other in-laws is banned.
And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- an abominable custom indeed.
– Qur-an 4.22
Note: Another Arab custom is banned.
If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mothers), they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is one that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again).
But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered,- (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: Thus are ye admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.
And he who findeth not (the wherewithal), let him fast for two successive months before they touch one another; and for him who is unable to do so (the penance is) the feeding of sixty needy ones. This, that ye may put trust in Allah and His messenger. Such are the limits (imposed by Allah); and for disbelievers is a painful doom.
– Qur-an 58.2-4
Note: The Arab custom of divorcing his wife by saying she was like the back of his mother is condemned, punished and banned.
Refutation of Blood Feuds
“O you who believe! The Law of Equality in Punishment is prescribed for you in the case of murder:
the free for the free,
the slave for the slave,
and the female for the female.
But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or relatives, etc.) of the killed for blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood-money to the heir should be done in fairness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this, whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood-money), he shall have a painful torment.
And there is a saving of life for you in the Law of Equality in Punishment, O people of understanding, that you may become righteous.”
– Qur-an 2.178-9
Note: Previously, tribes would retaliate for a murder by murdering any other member of the offending tribe, which would in turn retaliate, starting a vicious cycle of vengeance. At the time of Allah’s revelation to Muhammad, a blood feud had been running for centuries between two tribes that began with a member of one drinking from the other’s well.
Condemning the Arab custom of Female Infanticide and Attitudes towards Females
“And when the female infant is asked: for what sin was she killed?…
…every soul will know what it has brought (of good and evil).”
– Qur-an 81.8-9, 14
When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief!
He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge.
– Qur-an 16.58-9
Note: The Arabs used to dig a hole for the mother to deliver over. If it was a girl, they would simply bury it in the hole. This is the amount of shame and inferiority that was attached to females. There is a narration in which a man once informed Prophet Muhammad that he buried his daughter alive after she was several years old. It is also reported that a man once told the Prophet that he had buried eight of his daughters alive before Islam.
Other Miscellaneous Refutations of Arab Culture and Customs
“And as such do the idols beautify for the idolaters the killing of their children, in order to lead them into their own destruction and confuse them in their religion. And if Allah Had Willed, they would not have done so. So leave them alone in their fabrications.
And they say: “What is in the bellies of these cattle is for our males alone, and forbidden to our females, but if it is born dead, the all have shares therein.” He Will Punish them for their attribution (of such evils to Himself). Verily, He Is Wise, Knowing.
– Qur-an 6.137, 139
It’s clear then, that Islam (which is considered by Muslims to be the final revelation of an eternal religion) is NOT Arabian. It shatters the concept of anybody being a “chosen people” or superior. Arabs and all others are held clearly to the same standard: right belief and righteous action. The best in these are the best in the sight of the Allah, Who Is All-Wise and All-Knowing.
So, why do some Arab Muslims feel that Islam is theirs or that they have some special place in it?
Or, why do some non-Arab Muslims feel that some Arab (particularly “Saudi” Arabians) scholars are the premier (or only) sources of Islamic knowledge and authority?
Really, forward this email and tell me what they say: firstname.lastname@example.org
I guarantee you that they can not provide one unequivocal statement that comes from an authentic source. More on those sources later.
P.S. As a Muslim, I believe in Jesus too, so here’s a Christmas present for you and your friends and colleagues:
The Truth Behind Christmas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmdb88_6sjM
The Truth Behind Christmas and New Year’s I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbB3lgue3oY
The Truth Behind Christmas and New Year’s II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG2U-PfwmM4