The doctrine or belief in monotheism that there is only one God resonates in the core of Islamic theology. Although definitively the term “monotheism” relates to the belief in one God, it also relates that the entity of God is one, and furthermore that we’re all equal under Him. When one embraces Islam, he or she declares the statement of faith bearing witness that there is no god other than God the Creator, and this in itself means that no holiness or sacredness can be attributed to any entity other than God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, which brings equality among the people He created.

This clear and simple theme caught the attention of the people who were neglected in the community of Mecca around the year 610 AD when Prophet Mohammad received revelation from God at the age of forty. Many, who were considered among the elite, abused their power of wealth, social, political and religious status. And therefore, slaves and minorities, alongside the average and elite of the society, who saw the beauty and value of this simplicity, embraced Islam and became pioneers in living this concept of equality and calling people to it as well.

The tenets of Islam enforced this concept. The five daily prayers for example are conditioned by the status of humility whereas no one is considered more special than another. It is encouraged to perform the prayers in groups, standing in straight lines, side by side, where one’s worldly status is left behind. The giving of Alms or Charity to the poor is another way of reminding the wealthier people that every human being is entitled to the right of an honorable existence.  And as this means of giving creates more financial equality, it also allows one to purify his wealth through giving to others in gratitude for what God has given to him. Fasting also teaches equality through experiencing hunger and thirst that brings empathy for our fellow brethren who may experience this daily, which in turn elicits more gratefulness to God for our blessings, while actively striving to help the less fortunate. Pilgrimage is one of the clearest demonstrations of equality where everyone wears the same simple garments of white clothing.  A king cannot be distinguished from a pauper, and all classes of people dissolve in this ritual of worship and devotion.

The late Malcolm X, during his trip to Mecca for pilgrimage, witnessed firsthand the effect of this equality as a main pillar of Islam, and it completely changed his outlook on everything he had previously stood for. He said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”[1]

People of Abrahamic faith have always promoted equality in their religious belief. “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.[2]

These days, while we are witnessing the hateful rhetoric and actions going around the world, it is important to remind ourselves about the basics of life and faith that we are all one, and equal under God.

[1] (Text is from the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X with assistance from Alex Haley, the author of ROOTS).

[2] John 13:16

By Sh Kifah Mustapha