The Islamic Attitude Towards Race and Racism

Islam established racial equality, declaring all people to be equal in the sight of God. At the end of Prophet (saw) farewell sermon he stated, “​All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has 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.”

Racism is not permitted in Islam. The concept of racism was first introduced by Satan himself, who was the first racist in history. He refused to obey Allah’s (swt) command to prostrate to Adam because Adam was created from dirt, while Satan was created from fire. The religion of Islam forbids racism and racial inequality.

Black Muslims were able to rise to the top of leadership at all levels of scholarship, run dynasties, lead armies, etc.

It’s important to note that prophets came from the lineage of black people (and people of color.) According to authentic narratives, both Prophet Musa and Sulaiman were men of color. ​Ibn ‘Abbaas​, may Allah be pleased with him, stated that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “​On the night of my Ascent to Heaven, I saw Musa (Moses), who was a tall, brown man…​” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim.] Furthermore, black Muslims were able to rise to the top of leadership at all levels of scholarship (‘Ataa bin Abi Rabi’ah, first Mufti of Makkah), run dynasties (Mamluk dynasty), lead armies (Tariq ibn Ziyad), etc.

Prominent Black figures in Islam

  1. Story of Sa’d al-Aswad: He was black Arab from Bani Sulaym. He came to the Prophet, Peace and blessings of God upon him, and asked him if his dark complexion and unpleasant features would prevent him from entering Paradise. The Prophet, Peace and Blessings of God upon him, responded that they would not, as long as he was mindful of his Lord and believed in Him. Sa’d immediately accepted Islam. Sa’d then explained to the Prophet, Peace and Blessings of God upon him, that he had searched assiduously for a wife, but had been rejected by all and sundry because of his dark complexion. The Prophet, Peace and Blessings of God upon him, sent Sa’d to marry the daughter of ‘Amr bin Wahb, a recent convert from Bani Thaqif, who retained many pre- Islamic prejudices.
  2. Story of Ubadah Ibn As-Saamit: He was one of the first Ansar and a black man. He accompanied the prophet in every battle and was one of writers of revelation.Ubadah was black, and when the delegation traveled by boat to al-Muqawqis and entered his place, Ubadah stepped forward and al-Muqawqis was alarmed because of his blackness. He said, “Take this black man away from me and let someone else come and speak to me!” They said: “This black man is the best of us in knowledge and wisdom. He is our leader and the best of us, and has been appointed over us. We all refer to his opinion, and our leader has appointed him over us and ordered us not to go against him. And to us, a black man and white man are the same!”
  3. Story of Julaybeeb: He was looked down upon in society for many reasons. No one would consider him for marriage. So, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went to a father of a beautiful righteous woman and said, “I would like to marry your daughter, not to myself but to Julaybib.” He said let me talk to her mom. He went to her and told her the prophet wants to marry your daughter to Julaybib. She started to scream, “JULAYBIB!” at the top صلى االله( of her lungs. “I will never marry her to Julaybib!” The daughter heard the prophet’s recommendation and insisted on marrying him. Uthman (ra) paid his Mahr for ‘علیه وسلم him.

A​ll human beings are created and loved by Allah regardless of the color of their skin. 

These stories showcase that Prophet Muhammad attempted to erase the racist attitude that existed among the people of his time by putting people in positions of religious/political leadership through marriage and social/family interactions and to not judge others based on skin color.

A​ll human beings are created and loved by Allah regardless of the color of their skin. 

Selected Verses from the Quran on Justice

  • “Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others: and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed”. (Quran 16:91)
  •  “God commands justice and fair dealing…” (Quran 16:90)
  •  “O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and subtribes that you may know one another. Verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware” (49:14)
  •  “And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress the balance. And establish weight in justice and do not make deficient the balance.” (Quran 55:7-9)