Friday, July 18, 2014 06:15 Nur Achmad, MA

Islam is a religion which upholds the principle of Tawhid (Oneness of God). Tawhid is the deepest awareness to the oneness of god which necessitates the principle of justice in life (QS. 16:90), respects for humanity (QS. 17:70), equality and brotherhood of mankind (QS. 49: 10-13), help and love each other in virtue and piety (QS. 5: 2). In Islam, the standard to select human capacity and to determine the best of you in the sight of Allah is a piety which manifests into good attitudes and behaviors in life. The differences in tribe, nation, language, skin color, hair type and color, and so on that show diversity or physical differences, can not be used as the basic standard to judge someone whether he is good or bad and believer or infidel. 

Similarly, the person’s physical limitations, whether due to congenital or certain accident he experienced that cause physical limitation, should not be used as assessment standard of right or wrong, good or bad, noble or despicable. Instead, humans are assessed based on their morality, praiseworthy or disgraceful, as the prophet Muhammad asserted: “Akmalul-mu’miniina iimaanan ahsanuhum khuluqaa wa khiyaarukum khiyaarukum li nisaa’ihim” (The believers who have the most perfect faith are those who have the best morality and the best among you are those who behave the best upon women, HR. Tirmizi, in Riyadhus-Shlihin, no. 628).

More specifically, regarding the equality, Allah says: 

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (QS. Al-Hujurat/49: 13).

The prophet Muhammad further explained that the physical differences are not assessment standard in the sight of Allah, because all human beings are descendants of Adam and Adam was created from soil, as he said: 

4337 – عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ رضى الله عنه أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « قَدْ أَذْهَبَ اللَّهُ عَنْكُمْ عُبِّيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ وَفَخْرَهَا بِالآبَاءِ مُؤْمِنٌ تَقِىٌّ وَفَاجِرٌ شَقِىٌّ وَالنَّاسُ بَنُو آدَمَ وَآدَمُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ». قَالَ وَهَذَا أَصَحُّ عِنْدَنَا مِنَ الْحَدِيثِ الأَوَّلِ.

“From Abi Hurairah ra., that Rasulullah said: “Indeed Allah has completely eroded the arrogance and the pride of Jahiliyah (the people of ignorance) to their ancestors. The man, there are those who believe and who are introspective and also those who are sinner (fajir) and suffer. All humans are descendants of Adam and Adam was created from dust. “(HR. Tirmizi: 4337. Sahih). 

حَدَّثَنِى أَبُو الطَّاهِرِ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ سَرْحٍ حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ عَنْ أُسَامَةَ – وَهُوَ ابْنُ زَيْدٍ – أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ أَبَا سَعِيدٍ مَوْلَى عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَامِرِ بْنِ كُرَيْزٍ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى أَجْسَادِكُمْ وَلاَ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ ». وَأَشَارَ بِأَصَابِعِهِ إِلَى صَدْرِهِ.

“Ahmad Abu al-Tahir ibn ‘Amr ibn Sarh told me a hadith, Ibn Wahb told us a hadith, from Usama ibn Zaid that he heard Abu Sa’id Maula Abd Allah ibn’ Amir ibn Kuraiz narrated: I heard Abu Hurairah r.a., narrated that Rasulullah said: “Indeed Allah does not look at your bodies (physical body) and your faces, but Allah looks at your heart “, while he was pointing to his chest”. (HR. Muslims: 6707). 

In another narration, Rasulullah added that the properties are also not the criterion of someone’s piety, although they can also lead to a social piety:

حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرٌو النَّاقِدُ حَدَّثَنَا كَثِيرُ بْنُ هِشَامٍ حَدَّثَنَا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ بُرْقَانَ عَنْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ الأَصَمِّ عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ ».

Amr al-Naqid told us, Kasir ibn Hisyam told us, Ja’far ibn Buqan from Yazid ibn al-Asham, from Abu Hurairah narrated that Rsasulullah said: “Indeed Allah does not look at your physical shape and your properties, but Allah looks at your heart and your deed.” (HR. Muslims: 6708).

So it is obvious that any kind of racial, social, and economic discrimination is not justified. On the contrary, appraising humans by looking at their heart attributes and behavior or performance is justified. For example, when an organization wants to rejuvenate the leadership, so moral integrity, intellectuality, and capability of a person should be considered.

The Prophet Respects Those with Special Needs.

The following hadith become a real example on how Islam really respects humanity, not physical, position, or socio-cultural status. The prophet had a cousin from Siti Khadijah r.a., namely Waraqa ibn Nawfal who had limited vision when he was old. But he had a distinction in understanding the Bibles and writing in Hebrew. When the prophet received the first revelation, he ever consulted with him. It shows that the limited vision does not reduce the prophet’s respect unto him and make him as the colleague to consult.  It is stated in the preface of Sahih Bukhari Hadith.

It was narrated from ‘Aishah Ummul–mukminin (The mother of believers) r.a., that when the prophet received the first revelation in the Cave of Hira’, he felt so heavy and scared. Then he was entertained by his wife, Khadija r.a., In the narration of Imam Bukhari, it was stated: 

فَقَالَتْ خَدِيجَةُ كَلاَّ وَاللَّهِ مَا يُخْزِيكَ اللَّهُ أَبَدًا ، إِنَّكَ لَتَصِلُ الرَّحِمَ ، وَتَحْمِلُ الْكَلَّ ،
وَتَكْسِبُ الْمَعْدُومَ ، وَتَقْرِى الضَّيْفَ ، وَتُعِينُ عَلَى نَوَائِبِ الْحَقِّ .

Khadijah r.a., said: “No need to be heavy and fear, By Allah, Allah will not put you down forever, (because) indeed you continuously make compassion (silaturrahim), bear the burden of others, give the job to the unemployed (empowering defective man), respect the guests, and help those who are entitled to help. ” (See HR. Bukhari: 3) 

Furthermore, it is explained that Khadija asked the prophet visited the house of Waraqah bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, son of Khadija’s uncle who was skillful in writing of holy book in Hebrew. Waraqah wrote some part of the Gospel in accordance with the will of Allah he wrote. But in fact, he was an elderly and had limited vision or blind. After the prophet told him the occasion how the first revelation came down in the Cave of Hira, Waraqah strengthened the prophet while saying: 

هَذَا النَّامُوسُ الَّذِى نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ عَلَى مُوسَى – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يَا لَيْتَنِى فِيهَا جَذَعًا ، لَيْتَنِى أَكُونُ حَيًّا إِذْ يُخْرِجُكَ قَوْمُكَ . فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – « أَوَمُخْرِجِىَّ هُمْ » . قَالَ نَعَمْ ، لَمْ يَأْتِ رَجُلٌ قَطُّ بِمِثْلِ مَا جِئْتَ بِهِ إِلاَّ عُودِىَ ، وَإِنْ يُدْرِكْنِى يَوْمُكَ أَنْصُرْكَ نَصْرًا مُؤَزَّرًا . ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنْشَبْ وَرَقَةُ أَنْ تُوُفِّىَ وَفَتَرَ الْوَحْىُ .

(Who conveyed the revelation), this Namus (the Angel Gabriel) who also has come to convey the revelation to Moses. Waraqa asserted: “If someday I am alive, when your people repell you (from the land of Makkah, surely I will help you Muhammad). Then the Prophet said: “Are they going to repel me?” Waraqa said: “Yes, that is right; none who comes with the revelation of God as you bring it will be despised by his people. If I meet with that day, surely I will help you with my strength.” Soon after that, Waraqa passed away and the revelation was suspended.” (See HR. Bukhari: 3). 

In the aforesaid hadith, it is stated that Waraqa bin Naufal who had expertise in writing and understanding the Scriptures, thought he had visual and physical limitations, was visited by the prophet and his wife (Khadija) to seek advice. It can be concluded how the prophet wanted to respect and was willing to hear the opinions of man who had earlier knowledge. 

Except Waraqa, one of the prayer callers (Muazzin) of the prophet who specifically exclaimed the call to prayer of dawn prayer (Subuh) was ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum who had limited vision due to blindness. It was explained in the following hadith: 

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ عَنْ مَالِكٍ عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قَالَ « إِنَّ بِلاَلاً يُؤَذِّنُ بِلَيْلٍ ، فَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّى يُنَادِىَ ابْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ » . ثُمَّ قَالَ وَكَانَ رَجُلاً أَعْمَى لاَ يُنَادِى حَتَّى يُقَالَ لَهُ أَصْبَحْتَ أَصْبَحْتَ

Abdullah bin Maslamah told hadith to us, from Malik, from Ibn Shihab, from Salim ibn Abdillah, from Abdillah (Ibn’ Umar) r.a. that Rasulullah saw said: “indeed, It was Bilal who called to prayer at night (before the dawn comes), therefore, O you eat and drink (before the dawn for fasting), until Ibn Ummi Maktum called to prayer (dawn, stop eating and drinking).” And ‘Abdullah bin’ Umar narrated that Ibn Ummi Maktum was a person who had limited vision, no call to prayer (azan) till it was said to him: “You have entered the dawn. You have entered the dawn. “(HR. Bukhari: 617). 

The aforementioned hadith confirms that the prophet did not discriminate, did not differentiate based on physical limitations, racial, and so on. The Prophet was well known to have two prayer callers (Muazzin), namely Bilal bin Rabah and Abdullah bin Ummi Maktum. The first was former black slave who has been freed by Abu Bakr al-Siddiq r.a and then became the respected and noble man to do the noble work that was to call people for praying. The latter was ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum who did not have a clear vision or blind but honored by the prophet and the Companions. Even, the prophet has ever been warned by Allah to give attention related to the arrival of ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum who wanted to convert to Islam, while the prophet was chatting with the prominent of Quraish, as stated in the occasions of revelation (asbabun-nuzul) Shurah ‘Abasa. So, if the Prophet was not the man who used to discriminate, his followers also do not merit to do it. 

Supporting the Widow and the Poor

In terms of empowerment, the prophet also gave a good example whether in actions or in statements. In many hadiths, it can be known clearly. One of them, the prophet affirmed that the assistance also should be undertaken ​​to those who are socially and economically weak:

عن صفوان بن سليم : يرفعه إلى النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال الساعي على الأرملة والمسكين كالمجاهد في سبيل الله أو كالذي يصوم النهار ويقوم الليل

From Sofwan bin Sulaym that the prophet said: “Someone who becomes the helper of the widow and the poor is like a fighter in the way of Allah, or like one who fasts during the day and prays all night.” (HR. Tirmidhi: 1969, Sahih) 

The widows, either because of husband death or divorce, are group of society who need to be considered by the system of state and social. Usually, the widows are the head of families who take care of orphans and ensure the need of their families. Similarly with the poor, there are many verses and hadith that talk about the importance to defend and to accompany them. 

Even in the Shurah al-Ma’un: 1-7, confirmed that the man who does not care about the poor and the orphans’ condition is regarded as a liar against al-din (which means Day of Judgment or religion). Both of these meanings can be accepted since one of the pillars of Islamic faith is to believe in the Hereafter. If you do not believe in the end of the day, means you are unbeliever or betray religion. 

In the context of Indonesian, in the 1945 Constitution Article 28H, it also has been regulated in such a way that the impoverished person, the abandoned children have the right for social security. Therefore, the state needs to manage and ensure the implementation of social security in order to run well. 

Reflection questions

If the equality of human beings becomes the principle of life, any kind of discriminations comprise racial discriminations, physical-weaknesses discriminations, socio-economic discriminations, and political discriminations are not justified. Social services, educational services, job access, transportation, and public facilities should be provided to all citizens, without differentiating them. We can see on the street. Are our brothers who use wheelchair, imitative legs or stick because of elderly or blind able to access public services (roads, pedestrian bridges, and so on) well and comfortable? Are there sidewalks that can be enjoyed by pedestrians who do not drive? Can the stairs in the office be accessed by our brother who can not walk on stairs, except with the wheelchair? Is there an access for our brothers with special needs to be able to take the train, public bus, and so on safely, comfortably, and reasonably? When we recruit employees or staffs, do we still regard physical limitations and so on as the benchmark to pass or not to pass the applicants?    When we see our brothers with special needs or limitations, do we tend to discriminate or despise them? These questions can be forwarded again and again.  

Those are the basic teachings of the prophet regarding the support and assistance to those all who have special needs, physical limitation, and socio-economic problem for the dignity, prosperity, and happiness of human life in the world and in the hereafter. Then, as human beings we have to follow him in any condition and our ability. Hopefully thereby we have become his loyal followers. Wallahu a’lam {}

*The lecturer of Islamic Studies STIEAD Jakarta


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