By Waqas Khalid
February 26, 2013
Actor Denzel Washington uttered some pretty famous words in “Remember the Titans,” one of the best sports movies of our era. “I don’t care whether you’re black, white, green, or purple, I want my offensive players on this bus,” he said, pointing in one direction before pointing the other way, “and the boys trying out for the defence on that bus.” The movie is about a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team during their first season after racial integration.
If I turn the wheel of time 1,400 years back, a person in Arabia talked about racial equality and racial justice much the same way. He laid the foundation for human rights. The words he said, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Also, a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. You are all equal.” These were the famous words said by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) at his last sermon, a short time before his death.
The world of today associates Islam with terrorism, violence and human-rights abuse. But Islam talks about justice, peace, harmony and equality without any distinction or discrimination. The Islamic view of human rights is pivoted on justice, as evident from the following verse of the Holy Quran: “O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female; and we have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is all-knowing and all-aware.” The verse emphatically and unequivocally asserts the principle of human fraternity and equality and calls upon us all to be righteous and God-fearing.
The true worth of a man is to be judged only by his character, his moral greatness, and by the way he discharges his obligations to God and His creation. The above verse lays an axe at the false and foolish notions of superiority, with others born of racial arrogance or national egoism. The verse also reminds us our creator is one, our ancestor is one and we are created by God from a single soul. The entire human race is one family; we are divided into tribes, nations and races so we can better acknowledge one another’s national characteristics and good qualities.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, said we should dispose kindly to each other and be mutually helpful. In the difficulties pertaining to religious and worldly matters, we should exercise such sympathy toward each other as if we have become limbs of the same body.
If there is a room with people from different nationalities, race and ethnicities and the light is switched off, is it possible for a person to differentiate among the individuals in the pitch darkness? In complete darkness we are all the same; it’s our knowledge and wisdom that separates us. In this world there is room for everyone and the mother planet is full of resources, and everybody has a role to play in this beautiful world.
I dream of a day when people believe “all men are created equal,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence, as written by Thomas Jefferson.
Waqas Khalid is a Muslim, a native of Pakistan and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, pursuing master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering and engineering management. He wrote this because February is Black History Month.