Slaves in Islam Wear Crowns
by Dr. Allah Bakhsh
The Light (Pakistan), 24th September 1981 Issue (Vol. 61, No. 18, pp. 3–6)
Indian history has a record of a “Slave Dynasty”. A freed-slave Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, on account of his great merits, became a general, and subsequently the founder of a dynasty designated by the above name. He lies buried in a tomb in Anarkali, Lahore. Razia Altamush, a member of the slave-dynasty, sat on the throne of India because of her great and illustrious qualities. The faith of Islam has not only inculcated the principle of equality of all mankind, but the Muslim-brotherhood did actually abolish in practice, all the man-made distinctions of caste, creed, colour and country; elevating even the meanest born to become high ranking generals and rulers of kingdoms. Annihilation of birth prerogatives and racial prejudices is a unique contribution of Islam in the annals of human history. As the doctrine of Tawheed [Unity of Allah] has been brought to its perfection in the teachings of Islam, so has its concomitant corollary, the universal brotherhood of mankind, been brought to perfection. The twin fundamentals of faith ‘the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man’ have found actual implementation in the practical lives of the followers of Islam. The unique feature has been candidly confessed by eminent scholars and orientalists:
“Under Muhammad there sprang up, ex-necessitate rei, a form of democratic equality more absolute than the world had elsewhere seen. Claims of birth and wealth could be of no value…. The slave once a Muslim, was free; the foe, once a Muslim, was dearer than any kinsman; the Pagan, once a Muslim, might preach, if the prophet bade, to attentive listeners. Muhammad appointed a Negro slave, Bilal, to call the faithful to prayer at the stated times. And from those Negro lips the beautiful sentiment found utterance — ‘Prayer is better than sleep, Prayer is better than sleep’. It is repeated everyday throughout the Muslim world; and the most distinguished European of which history can boast is, in Asia and Africa, an unknown personage by the side of the slave, Bilal.” E. Blyden, Christianity, Islam and Negro Race, 1969, p. 326.
“In the Moslem World, “neither birth nor colour has prevented men from reaching the very highest positions;” and Islam has offered to all races which have accepted the faith equal chances and opportunities. It has shown amazing vitality even in its darkest days; and today Islam educated, awake and modern, holds in its hands the key to the Asiatic question,” — W.W. Cash, The Expansion of Islam, 1928, p. 259.
“The theory — but it is more than theory — the fact of the brotherhood and equality of all Muslims is a most powerful element in Islam. It gives each member a dignity and independence and self-respect which it were hard to find in any other system.” — S. Lane Poole, Islam, 1903, p. 37.
“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” — A.J. Toynbee, Civilization on Trial, 1948, p. 205.
The unique idea of oneness of humanity was not a passing idea of a visionary, it was a principle of action worked out in all its details by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The greatest achievement of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was his translating the noble precept of Unity of God into oneness of humanity. Thus the Negro-slaves and the Quraish were made to meet together on terms of equality in prayers. They were all equal before God.
Zaid was a freed-slave of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He was so dearly loved that people called him ‘Son of Muhammad’. When Zaid’s father came to know of his freedom, he came to Mecca to meet him. Zaid was requested by his father to accompany him home. But so dear had become his affections with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), that Zaid preferred to stay with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) rather than return home. Zaid had virtually become a member of the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) family so much so that he was married by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to his own cousin Zainab.
Zaid was made the commander-in-chief of the Muslim army and all the proud Quraish were made to obey him. When subsequently Zaid fell a martyr in a battle, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was found lamenting his death with tears in his eyes.
“What do I see”,
asked a lady.
“You see a friend weeping over a friend,”
replied the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, Zaid’s son Usama was also made the commander. In Islam it is only the personal merit and qualifications of a man or a woman that count, neither the racial, regional or linguistic differences matter in appraising the value, worth and greatness of a person.
Contrast this perfect humanitarian Islamic ideology with the wholly unnatural, utterly narrow-minded and bigoted caste-system of Hinduism. The Brahmans, the high caste by virtue of their births have no match in India. The Shudras (Harijans) are the out-castes, the accused ones created by the Divine Being. Their very look and presence nay, their very shadows are enough to pollute a Brahman. They are the born untouchables, the damned millions in the Indian Subcontinent. According to the beliefs of Hinduism, the Harijans are detestable creatures born on earth. They have been given such a birth by the Divine in order to make them suffer the ignominy and hatred of the High castes as a punishment for their own sins in a previous life. Thus they deserve the degradation and humiliation according to the great philosophy of ‘Transmigration of Souls’.
It is possible for such despicable and contemptible creatures to reciprocate with feelings of love, respectfulness, good will and kindliness for the High castes?
The grand and twin ideology of ‘fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man’ has never been consummated and completed before as in the faith of Islam in its fundamental beliefs of Tawheed and the equality and fraternity of mankind. No religion or civilisation has in effect ever succeeded to inculcate a belief in the supremacy of the one Lord and its consequent concomitant, the universal fraternal relationship of all mankind, as has been the pride and privilege of the faith of Islam.
Once an outsider proclaims his faith in the Islamic formula ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Apostle’ [i.e., the Kalima], to enter into the fold of the Islamic faith, thenceforth he receives the designation of distinction and honour, of being a Shaikh, meaning a venerable person. He becomes not only an equal member of the Muslim brotherhood, but deserving of more respect and honour than others because of his wisdom and courage to join Islam.
For thousands of years have the millions of Indian untouchables been subject to suffer the tormenting tyranny, hatred and contempt of the High castes, much more terrible and disgusting than the Apartheid in South Africa or the Negro treatment in America. While the human conscience of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has openly revolted against the un-Christian principle of the Western world, and has condemned it in the U.N.O., not a finger has been raised to point out this staring dark stigma of Hinduism in India. Now the Shudras themselves have valiantly stood up to strongly protest and draw the world’s attention to this inhuman, nay anti-human treatment in Hindu India.