Summary of 7.1′ “Human Brotherhood and Equality I”

The main point that was discussed last time is that the concept of human equality and brotherhood is a very profound principle in Islam.’ It emphasizes that all human beings come from the same common parenthood through Adam and Eve and that there is no levels of people within their own creation.’ Nobody is superior to another on the basis of birth.’ There is no single place in the Quran where God is referred to as being Lord to a single group of people or race and that it always addresses God as Lord of the universe and mankind.’ This sets up the basic equation for human equality and brotherhood.

The main theme of the first program dealt with the foundation of human equality and brotherhood.’ The three basics of this foundation are: belief, moral code of Islam and the basic principles of Islam.’ The main point that was emphasized in regards to belief is that belief is not separate from a social system.’ We have shown that belief in the oneness of God has a serious implication in terms of human equality and brotherhood.’ Once we believe there is one God, no one in between God and man it establishes basic human equality.

Secondly, we referred to the oneness of all the prophets and the oneness of their message.’ This means that all the prophets were brothers and if their followers are sincere to the faith they too must be brothers.

In the second moral foundation we indicated that all aspects of the moral code of Islam whether they are prohibited act or moral virtues are not only acts of individual piety but are tied to social behavior and social morality.’ In the end of the last program we began addressing the conceptual foundation of the principles for human brotherhood.’ We briefly mentioned the story of Adam and Eve as depicted in the Quran is different from previous traditions.’ The story is not mentioned as mere historical chronology of events but is a principle that is repeated and relates to actual behavior and implication in terms of human equality.

7.2′ Human Brotherhood and Equality II

Host:’ What is the story of creation as indicated in the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

There are several references in the Quran to the story of Adam and Eve.’ In ten verses in Chapter 2 of the Quran’ (2:28:39) ‘How can ye reject the faith in Allah- seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return.

It is He who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’ They said: ‘Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: ‘I know what ye know not.

And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: ‘Tell me the nature of these if ye are right.’

They said: ‘Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom.’

He said: ‘O Adam! Tell them their natures.’ ‘when he had told them, Allah said: ‘Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?’

And behold, We said to the angels: ‘Bow down to adam’ and they bowed down.’ Not so Iblis (Satan): he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.

We said: ‘Oh Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.’

Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been.’ We said: ‘Get ye down, all (ye people). With enmity between yourselves.’ On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood- for a time.’

Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

We said: ‘Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

‘But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire: they shall abide therein.’

This is one of the stories in the Quran as the same story is mentioned in different places with different emphasis on different points.’ This particular quote gives a broader view of the story of creation.

Host:’ Can you analyze the above text and give us some understanding of its implications?

Jamal Badawi:

The story as we read did not start by talking about how God created Adam but rather it started by saying that God created everything on earth for mankind even before Adam was created.’ This has very important implications as t the trusteeship of mankind and the basic mission for which human beings were created.’ The fact that the creation of earth was completed before the creation of mankind (Adam) implies that the essence of human life is not sin but responsibility.

The second interesting point is that when God announced the news of the creation of a trustee on earth the angels wondered (not objecting) how God would create someone who would shed blood and have corruption.’ How could the angels have known that there would be blood shed and corruption on earth?’ An explanation could be that the fact that God told them that mankind would be His trustee on earth.’ Trusteeship in the mind of angels may have implied that there would be a struggle for their choice which could have implied the possibility of evil or error.’ The other explanation is that God told the angels that He is creating humans from clay.’ Clay, same basic elements that are found on earth which means that this species of creation may have from the Spirit of God within him he also has a physical material body which is a reflection of his materialistic nature which includes greed and temptation.’ For example in the Quran in (38:71) ‘Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I am about to create man from clay.” The implications here is that all human beings are created from clay through Adam and Eve; and all human beings are born threw the basic reproductive functions, which leaves no room for some humans to claim that they are superior to others.

Also God told the angels I know what you don’t know.’ This could refer to the fact that the human species were blessed by God with certain knowledge.’ This knowledge could be that of the secrets of the universe and it could be the potential of the human being to receive God’s message and the struggle to implement it.’ It could also be that this species is different from animals, material things and even angels because it has free choice.’ Why then would human beings claim that one is better than another if they are all created equally? The interesting point is, mentioned in this chapter (2) and in (17:70) in the Quran, that God ordered the angels to bow down to Adam.’ This means that anyone who claims to be human and is of the lineage of Adam and Eve who follows the right path will share the dignity shown by the angels to Adam.’ At the same time snobbishness and false claims of superiority (as Satan did when he disobeyed God) on the bases of sex, race, nationality or for any other reason are totally false and very dangerous.’ These were the main reasons Satan was thrown out of Paradise.’ It is clear from this that humans are not only equal on the basis of their creation and mission but they are equal in their basic nature and the temptations that they are subject to.’ They all also have great potential for goodness and improvement once they find the path of God.

Host:’ Other than the story of creation are there other parts of the Quran that enshrine the principleof equality and human brotherhood?

Jamal Badawi:

The style of the Quran varies depending on the audience it addresses.’ For example when the Quran addresses believers it says ‘Oh you who believe.” When it addresses broader human elements which are common among human beings it doesn’t address them with ‘Oh believers’ but with ‘Oh mankind.” Mankind refers to black, white, rich, poor, from the east or the west, believer in this or that faith or none believers making humanity the basic quality.’ In (2:21) ‘Oh ye people!’ Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may have the chance to learn righteousness.” This verse was mentioned prior to the story of creation which shows that aside from particular beliefs we should all remember that we were created by the same God.’ In (2:168) it talks about the right of all human beings to enjoy the legitimate bounties that God has created ‘O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, Lawful’ and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one, for he is to you an avowed enemy.” Again it implies here that all human beings are equal.’ Another example which is really beautiful, in terms of male and female, in (4:1) ‘O mankind!reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.” The point here is made and is not addressed to Muslims or believers but to mankind at large.’ Finally, equality is emphasized in the Quran that regardless of faith or a particular religious belief all mankind is going back to God to stand their trial and accountability.

Another example is found in (19:93-95) ‘Not one of the beings in the heavens and earth but must come to ((Allah)) Most Gracious as a servant.’ He does take an account of them (all), and hath numbered them (all) exactly.’ And everyone of them will come to Him singly on the Day of Judgment.” There are two interpretations: one , that every individual will come and stand their personal accountability or that all mankind will come before God for their accountability as one.

Host:’ Within the frame work of basic human equality is there any room for distinctions among human beings?

Jamal Badawi:

There are distinctions between humans but not in the basic human qualities.’ The absolute equality in the spiritual and human is that there is no superior human simply because of birth, race, nationality, etc.’ This doesn’t mean that good and bad are equal.’ There are definitely objective and fair ways of making distinctions between people but in order to avoid mistaken judgments of the goodness of people the Quran in (49:13) ‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.’ And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” This was revealed 1400 years ago and yet today we do not see such declaration (by United Nations or otherwise) that comes even close to its beauty or precision, beauty and comprehensiveness.’ Like the other verses it addresses mankind at large, regardless of belief or any other distinction that people might think of.’ This shows that there is only one basis of distinction between human beings that is expected by God and that is piety and goodness or taqwa.’ Taqwa enshrines everything that is good whether it is related to correct belief, moral qualities of a human or how beneficial one human is to another.

In this particular verse it talks about God creating nations and tribes so that they can get to know each other.’ In some traditions that proceeded Islam some people believed that the source in a difference in human languages comes from the story of the tower of Babel (that God saw that people were building the tower and were becoming too strong so He changed languages).’ In the Quran it says in (30:22) ‘And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” Variation in languages was a blessing rather than a result of rivalry between the power of man and the power of God.’ The variations in languages and colors is like a mosaic of live which makes it more interesting, more challenging and provides people with the chance to get to know each other.’ Every language is beautiful, every color is beautiful and every race is beautiful as these are variations instead of distinctions in terms of superiority.