By now, most of us have realised that whatever the current issue at hand may be – we remain divided as humanity.
Whether it is reverberating protests sparked from injustice and racism, the ignorance of the existence of white supremacy, or the historical recognition of racial inequality. This division is what makes politicians and pundits promote agendas that further divides our humanity. A focus on our differences takes away from that which unites us when in reality we all belong to just one race – the human race.
There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race — scientifically, anthropologically. Toni Morrison
If you think about it, not only historically but even today, racial inequality and injustices take place as a result of the abuse of power and the propelling of a narrative that stemmed from creating divisions within society. They all stem from a violation and deprivation of basic human rights.
No doubt, in the dark corridors of this world’s history, echoes of human suffering and exploitation resonate consistently. Eventually, a ray of hope emerges in the form of words on paper enforcing human rights – the Magna Carta, the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, the American Bill of Rights, the Australian Charter of Human Rights. Retrospectively, when we search for some form of a sane understanding from these ‘pretentious dictions’, we remain disappointed. We realise that these covenants are not all that we hoped they would be. Not so much in what they say, but in what they forget to mention. They give us no practical source of salvation for humanity. Ironically, like the Penguin classic by George Orwell, these formal agreements, despite having existed, depict the understanding that “All are equal, but some are more equal than others!”.
In comparison, if we sincerely scroll through historical covenants, a sermon delivered to a group of devout believers, while addressing the whole of humanity, contains in it the solution to the troubles of the world today. This sermon became known as the Farewell Sermon, which contains a beautiful embodiment of the entire spirit and teaching of Islam. The powerful words provide a deep concern for the welfare of man and the peace of the world. These teachings, described by the English Historian, HG Well were such that they “brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression were at the lowest level when compared with all other societies preceding it…replete with gentleness, tolerance and fraternity”.
“O men, what I say to you, you must hear and remember. All Muslims are as brethren to one another. All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold are equal. Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, any superiority to claim over another. You are as brothers.
O men, your God is One and your ancestor is one. An Arab possesses no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab. A white man is in no way superior to a black nor for that matter is a black man better than a white, but only to the extent to which he discharges his duty to God and man. The most honoured among you in the sight of God is the most righteous among you…
Even as this month is sacred, this land inviolate, and this day holy, so has God made the lives, property and honour of every man sacred. To take any man’s life or his property, or attack his honour, is as unjust and wrong as to violate the sacredness of this day, this month, and this territory. What I command you today is not meant only for today. It is meant for all time. You are expected to remember it and to act upon it until you leave this world and go to the next to meet your Maker…
What I have said to you, you should communicate to the ends of the earth. Perchance those who have not heard me may benefit by it more than those who have heard.”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
This momentous speech has laid the foundations for world peace. In words that were as timeless as they were enlightened, The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) proclaimed that all people were born equal and that a white person was not superior to a black and nor was a black person superior to a white. Brandishing an eternal torch illuminating the path towards universal human rights, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) pronounced that all human beings were born equal and had the same rights.
If we let these events pass by without realising its cause and without recognising the mindsets that fuel them, then it will be only a matter of time before we see new hashtags trending, more protests, more prejudice spreading, and more hatred causing division. One reason people resist change is that they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain. We must realise that we have far more to gain as a united humanity, than what we are currently losing as a divided society.