Building Bridges of Understanding: Islam, Racism and Hatred

The National Conference on Community and Justice, Washington, DC. NCCJ was originally formed (as The National Conference of Christians and Jews) in 1927 to fight anti-Semitism and Racism. NCCJ has changed its name to the National Conference on Community and Justice to make it more inclusive of all religions.

During the presidency of Clinton, he was pained by the killing of a homosexual man in Montana, the bombing of an abortion clinic in Georgia and the racial killing of an African American man who was chained and dragged by a truck in Jasper, Texas. There was only so much that law enforcement could do. How do we stop and correct our racial tendencies at the very inception. These questions arose in everybody’s mind. He asked the religious community for help in solving the hatred and racial problems. Religious leaders were asked to submit scriptural quotations on, “How their religion deals with Racism and Hatred “. Notices were sent to all religious denominations and sects asking for their input. Danielle Glosser, Director of Policy and Planning at the NCCJ office in Washington, DC has collected and published this material.

The article, reproduced below has become a part of the resource guide on “Denouncing Racism” and have a wide distribution, including the media, many individuals, denominations, faith based and other organizations including, but not limited to the following: NCCJ Faith Leaders Initiative’s database; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights members; National Hate Crimes Coalition partners; Presidents and Deans of Theological Schools and Seminaries; U.S. House and Senate Chaplains; U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Center for Faith based Community Initiative; NCCJ Directory of Faith based “Promising Practices.”

The United Muslim of America’s statement on Islam, Racism and Hatred was selected by NCCJ as a reference study. ISNA (The Islamic Society of North America) formally endorsed this version, which is produced here for your information.

ISLAM, RACISM AND HATRED

“Bear witness to the truth in all equity and never let hatred of others lead you to deviate from Justice. Be just for this is closest to Righteousness. Remember God is well aware of all that you do” 5:8

United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance (UMAIA) asserts that the Islamic Scriptures proclaim the equality of all people, male or female, rich or poor, of any race, class, caste or national origin. According to UMAIA, the monotheistic belief that there is only one God to all humanity and that all human beings originated from a single pair, namely, Adam and Eve, is backed up in the Quran.

“Oh, Mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, (Adam and Eve) and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another (not to despise each other). Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the one who is most righteous.” 49:13

In one specific instance Prophet Mohammed spoke about race related problems rampant in Arabia in the pre-Islamic days.

“All human kind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, and a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab. A white person has no superiority over a black person, and a black person has no superiority over a white person, except by piety and righteous actions.” Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon year 632. 

Since Islam recognizes equality of all the prophets 2:136, the Quran is clear in providing salvation for followers of all the prophets as is evidenced below:  This idea of reward for those who believe in God and living a righteous life is repeated numerous times in the Quran with the authority of judging people resting only with God and never with any human being.

“Those who believe in the Quran, those who follow the Jewish Scriptures, the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God, the Last Day and does righteousness shall have their reward from their Lord on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. 2:62. 
In Islam, it is very important to understand the attributes of One and only One God for all humanity. The All-Knowing, The All Aware, The Merciful, The Forgiver, The Truth, The First, The Last, The Just, The Sustainer, etc.  With regard to racism God is All Responsive and the Provider for All humanity, showing no discrimination of race, religion, caste, creed gender or national origin. It is purely based on individual efforts.

“I waste not the labor of any that labors amongst you, be they male or female, each one of you are equal to me.” 3:195

UMAIA recognizes that just as there are numerous flowers of various colors, each having their own intrinsic value, so also, there are humans of various shapes, colors, sizes and intellectual capabilities. Quran, according to UMAIA, compares the diversity within the human race as part of God’s plan.

“To each among you (various groups/races - not excluding anybody) we have prescribed the Law (Torah, Gospels, Quran, etc.) and an Open Way (given a conscience with reference to the indigenous people & spiritualists). If God had willed, all humanity would have been of one single community (this is not a part of God’s plan). God’s plan is to test you in what each one has received (in form of Holy Scriptures or Conscience). So strive, as in a race in all virtues. The goal of all the people is to God. God (alone) will tell you the truth in matters of which you dispute.” 5:48

(This means do not fight over religious beliefs or practices - establish peace and open a dialogue with wisdom and beautiful conduct to understand each other and work for universal good).

Not only does the Quran denounce racism, but it advocates the eradication of racism as well.

“Stand out firmly for Justice as witnesses in front of God, even against yourselves, against your children and against your parents, against people who are rich (lobbyists) or poor. Do not follow your inclinations or your desires, lest you should deviate from Justice. Remember God is the best of all Protectors and well acquainted with all that you do.” 4:135


“It is righteousness to spend your income to help your relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveler, to liberate the slaves (by buying them out, or paying them fair wages and upgrading them economically) and those who ask for help. It is righteousness to give regular charity, to pray steadfastly and to be firm and patient in pain or sufferings, and during all periods of turmoil and panic. Such are the people of Truth, the God conscientious.” 2:177


UMAIA, once again asserts that to wipe out racism, hatred and bigotry from our lands, we have to enforce laws of equality. This requires a judge, witnesses and a jury. The above quotations from Islamic scriptures address the character of such people. If we have such people dispensing justice in our courts of law, then racism will not only be wiped out of United States, but, also the whole world. This way we will maintain the leadership of the world based on higher standards of justice, liberty and equality in all areas. These are the fundamentals principles on which our Constitution is based.

Iftekhar Hai is director of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance and is on the Board of seven other interfaith organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. Some of them are United Religions Initiative (URI), National Conference on Community and Justice (NCCJ), Interfaith Alliance of California (IAC), etc. He can be reach for comments at 650-872-2578 or email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


The American Muslim does not claim primary copyright on the source material.  Printed in The American Muslim with permission of the author.  If you wish to reprint the entire article, you must obtain permission of the copyright holder.


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