The Prophet (peace be upon him) molded a society in which all people were equal.

When Makkah fell to Islam without a fight, eight years after the Prophet and his companions had to seek refuge away from it as a result of a sustained persecution campaign, Bilal, a black companion of the Prophet and a former slave, stood on top of the Kaabah to make the call to prayer. One of the chiefs of Makkah said to another: “I am glad that my father had died before he could see this taking place.” What he did not wish his father to see was that a former slave doing such an honorable action. Class distinction was so important to those people, as it has always been in many human societies. Islam, on the other hand, takes a very different view. All human beings are equal. They distinguish themselves by their deeds. Those of them who are more Allah-fearing achieve a better position in Allah’s standards.

The Prophet was very diligent in his efforts to purge all considerations that separate people and divide them into classes. No consideration of tribe, nation, race, sex or color was of any value in the society the Prophet molded. All were equal. The Muslims were very happy with their new outlook. They felt that the bond of faith was highly meaningful while their old tribal bonds were of no real value.

Yet this was not an easy endeavor. It is difficult to eradicate old values and traditional standards. Any disturbance could lead to old prejudices surfacing again. An example was the incident that took place after the Prophet and his companions achieved great success, with little fight in the Battle of Al-Mustalaq.

They were still encamping at the spring which provided the stage for their battle. Servants were taking horses to the water to drink. Among them was Jahjah, Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s servant. Apparently, there was some scrambling at the water among the servants. Jahjah clashed with an ‘ally’ of the Khazraj, named Sinan ibn Wabr. Neither man seemed to be endowed with much wisdom: Punches were exchanged and each appealed to his ‘group’ for help. Jahjah called on the Muhajirin to defend him, while Sinan called on the Ansar. Perhaps one should emphasize here that these two noble groups of Muslims did not feel themselves to be two separate communities. However, in a heated situation, old habits resurfaced. Thus, some individuals hastened to the combatants’ aid.

The Prophet was informed of what was happening. He felt very angry that the Muslims should stand against one another. He went out quickly to the spring where the event was taking place. Speaking strongly to the Muslims, he asked: “How come you are invoking the loyalties of ignorance?” He calmed the two sides and told them plainly that the loyalties they were invoking — tribal and national loyalties — were unworthy of them. They must abandon such ties because they were alien to Islamic values. He described such loyalties as “stinking” and ordered the Muslims to abandon them altogether.

It is indeed worth noting that the Prophet moved quickly to stamp out any tribal or communal division among the Muslims. Indeed, he feared nothing more than internal division in his newly formed community. This should serve as a reminder to all Muslims that their differences should at no time cause a split into separate camps which are hostile to each other, when the bond of Islam exists between them all. Muslims may have different points of view, but such differences must not be allowed to alienate any group of them from the other. They must always feel that any Muslim remains a brother with whom they have the strongest of ties. The Muslim community must always remain a single, united community, with mutual love and compassion prevailing among all its members.