ISLAM calls for equality between people. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “An Arab has no superiority to a non-Arab and a white man has no superiority to a black one except through piety and good deeds.”
The following examples prove this Islamic concept.
Abu Dharr of the Ghifar tribe somehow got angry with the freed slave of Abu Bakr, Bilal of Abyssinia. Both of them were the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The altercation became prolonged and Abu Dharr in his fury called Bilal, the son of a black-skinned mother.
Bilal complained to the Prophet, who addressed Abu Dharr saying, “Did you call him a name reviling his mother? It appears you still retain vestiges of Jahiliyyah (Period of Ignorance before Islam).” The Prophet also said in reply, “You are his brother (and should be considerate and kind to him).”
Abu Dharr was ashamed and repentant and out of extreme repentance and humility requested Bilal to trample his face with his feet.
Another example is when, during the lifetime of the Prophet, a woman of the Bani Makhzoom tribe, Fatimah, was found guilty of theft. She was brought to the Prophet so that she might receive her punishment according to the Shari ‘ah (Islamic Law).
The Quraish tribe very much resented it since it involved their tribal prestige and dignity. So they thought of intercession by somebody for the remission of her punishment.
It was therefore decided after deliberation to send Osamah Bin Zaid for such intercession since he was very much in favor with the Prophet. So he was approached, prompted to intercede and he talked to the Prophet on this issue.
The Prophet was very angry and said to Osamah, “You intercede in the matter of the limits prescribed by God?”
Then he called a big gathering of the believers and, in a touching manner, said, “The people before you who met their doom, discriminated between the austocrats and the common people in the dispensation of justice for crimes like theft. The high-placed were spared while the weaker sections of society were readily punished. By God, if Fatimah Bint Muhammad had committed theft, I would have amputated her hand also. A third example involves Adi Bin Hatim(one of the elite of his time) who came to Madinah before embracing Islam and found the companions sitting around the Prophet.
They had just returned from some battle and some of them still had the armory and helmets on. ‘Adi, witnessing the awe of the Prophet and their reverence for him, himself fell in awe.
Meanwhile, a humble woman of Madinah came to the Prophet and requested to see him in private.
The Prophet readily agreed to talk to her. He got up and at some distance from the gathering talked to her for a sufficiently long time, and having finished with her came back to the gathering.
When ‘Adi witnessed this state of affairs, he was very much touched by this inconceivable concept of generosity in action and embraced Islam.
A fourth example was offered when, after 21 years of hard struggle, the Prophet conquered Makkah. Those who had rejected him, had driven him out of his home and had been waging wars with him, were brought before him vanquished. But even then, he called them to the Faith and kept in view those lofty principles that he had preached in the vales of Makkah or had enforced in Madinah as a ruler when he was laying the foundations of a new civilization in the Islamic history.
That day he proclaimed those principles that he had been preaching while he had not yet gained his final victory.
Standing at the gate of the Ka’aba he said, “O you people of Quraish! Allah has, this day, put an end to your pride of the Jahiliyyah (Days of Ignorance) and also the pride of your ancestry. Keep in mind! All men are the offspring of Adam, and Adam was fashioned out of clay”. The Quraish who held an exalted position in the Arab society, and had a high opinion of themselves, listened to him in silence with bowed heads. On this occasion he recited the following Qur’anic verse which he had been reciting off and on: “O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you.”
The fifth example came in the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. He set the example of a ruler whose heart was full of sympathy for his subjects without distinction of rank or class. Notwithstanding his position as the head of the Muslim state, he would visit the girls of the locality whose fathers had fallen martyrs in wars.
He milked their goats for them and assured them that his new responsibilities would not stand between him and his routine of benevolent acts such as that.
It can be said with certainty that there is not a single incident as glorious, outstanding and based on the noble sentiments of fraternity as the ones cited above, anywhere in the lives of the greatest men in the history of mankind.
There is an incident connected with George Washington, the savior of America, that he was once going along the road when he saw some soldiers trying to lift a stone but were unable to do so. Their supervisor was standing close by but not lending a helping hand. Washington asked him to come to their help, but he refused saying that it was below his dignity.
Washington , kept his sheet on one side of the road and helped them lift the boulder, and said to them when departing that whenever they needed help in a difficulty of that type they could enlist his help at such and such address.
Certainly this is a unique incident and is an example of a high standard of morality, but cannot be compared with the incidents mentioned above.