We live in a time of partisan and ethnic divide.
The causes of this negative phenomena are countless and they cause immeasurable distress in society.
Sometimes, the ethnic divide or racism that we harbor is based on our natural biases towards a certain color or a certain class. At times, it is based on one individual assuming that they are better than another individual. At times, our ethnic divide stems from not understanding the divine teachings of the Almighty or our purpose in life of being champions of humanity.
The Almighty advises us time after time to establish ties with people and not break ties. He advises us to remove our biases by getting to know one another and connect with one and all despite their color, culture, faith and gender.
The Almighty says in the Quran, “O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may (get to) know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” – Quran, 49:13
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) states, “O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favor of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?” They said, “The Messenger of Allah has delivered the message.”
– Musnad Ahmad 23489
There are countless narrations in Islamic traditions that speak about bridging the ethnic divide and uniting with people – despite your biases that you should work hard to overcome.
One easy method at a personal level that we can utilize to bridge the ethnic divide in our time is just to basically get to know people – to reach out to individuals [who you possibly have negative assumptions towards, or biases that stem from family or friends], have a conversation, ask questions about the unknown, or even better, join them for a cup of coffee and get to know one another through smiles, productive conversations and good character.
At a community level, it doesn’t hurt to conduct joint events together at the worship homes or the community centers of one another. I have seen lots of positivity and goodness come about from such humble yet sincere efforts. Efforts such as the above give birth to genuine understanding, acceptance and an unbreakable affection towards people who we would consider [once upon a time] to be the “other.”
I pray to the Almighty to facilitate goodness for one and all regardless of their background and walk of life. I pray to the Almighty that He inspires us with kindness beyond measure which assists us in joining the hearts of all of humanity.
Imam Mazhar Mahmood serves as the director of religious affairs at the Islamic Foundation of Peoria.