In the first place, the important fact we would like to stress here is that Islam is the religion that lays a great emphasis on unity. It makes it crystal clear that all human beings, being the children of one father, constitute a single brotherhood that places certain rights on each member of the family. However, these rights are not the same between all members; some members are entitled to greater rights. This is just a normal case whereby you find that your relationship with your brother is to some extent stronger than your relationship with your cousin. However, all of you still constitute one family.
In his Farewell Sermon, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) declared: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, and that Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”
The late Dr. Hammudah `Abdul-`Atti recorded the following in his book Islam in Focus:
Another fundamental element in the value system of Islam is the value of human brotherhood. This value also is founded on the same principles which have been discussed in connection with freedom and equality. Besides those foregoing principles, human brotherhood in Islam is based on an unshakable belief in the Oneness and Universality of Allah, the Worshipped, the unity of mankind, the worshippers, and the unity of religion, the medium of worship. For a Muslim, Allah is One, Eternal and Universal. He is the Creator of all mankind, the Provider for all human beings, and the Judge of all people. To Him, social status, national supermanship, and racial origin are insignificant. Before Him, all people are equal and brothers of one another.
The Muslim believes in the unity of mankind with regard to the source of creation, the original parentage, and the final destiny. The source of creation is Allah Himself. The original common parentage is that of Adam and Eve. To this first parentage, every human being belongs and of it he partakes. As for the final destiny, there is no doubt in the Muslim’s mind that it will be to Allah, the Creator, to Whom all people shall return.
The Muslim believes in the unity of Allah’s religion. This means that Allah does not confine His religion or favours to any particular nation, race, or age. It further means that there can be no contradiction or fundamental differences in the Religion of Allah. When all this is interpreted properly, it will leave no ground for pretended supremacy or presumptuous exclusivity. And when it is imparted into the human mind, it will provide man with a clear concept and a solid basis of human brotherhood. Because the Muslim believes in the Oneness of Allah, the unity of mankind, and the unity of religion, he believes in all the Messengers and Revelations of Allah without discrimination.
Shedding more light on the issue of unity, we would like to cite the following:
A man’s struggle to fulfill his unnecessary wishes and desires are turning his life into hell. That is, man has become a slave of his personal desires. Material benefits have become his identity, wealth has become his race, social status has become his color and love of money has become his creed. In short, we can say that materialism has become the faith of a man.
Social status built on materialistic basis have become very popular and will soon demolish all the positive and moral human values from the society. Materialistic people forget the values of the family system. Their pride in their caste makes them so selfish that they feel no need for permanent friends either, and continuously change friends on behalf of their benefits.
Roots of the Social Problems
One’s pride in material identity and misunderstandings about the social human status are the main roots of the social problems. This confusion about the material limitation and identities leads the society to a condition of a deep social conflict, anarchy and destruction of the real culture and religion.
Islam demolishes all material limitations and equalizes the different social status to maintain a peaceful social order in the society.
The Basis of Collective Unity
The foremost requirement of the individuals is the provision of a basis for collective unity which links all the individuals into a single entity.
Different concepts shape the collective unity in different communities. For example:
a) Concept of Racial Unity: Individuals are unified because they belong to a particular race or tribe, and consider themselves distinct from other individuals and communities on account of this common binding factor.
b) Concept of Linguistic Unity: Individuals are woven into a unity because they speak a common language and carve out a distinct identity for themselves on the basis of linguistic loyalty and affinity.
c) Concept of Geographic Unity: Individuals are forged into a unity because they live in a particular area and crave for a separate status on the basis of this geographical affiliation.
d) Concept of Economic Unity: Individuals are linked into a unity on account of common economic conditions and regard themselves as an independent group on the basis of their economic conjugation.
e) Concept of Intellectual, Ideological Unity: Individuals are galvanized into a unity on account of their intellectual and ideological convictions, and on the basis of these views regard themselves as a separate ideological group. Their particular convictions distinguish them from other groups and confer on them a special identity of their own.
Islam rejects all constricted concepts of unity. It patronizes only the intellectual and ideological concepts of unity and transforms its followers into a unity on the basis of their adherence to this concept. All other concepts do provide some basis for stringing individuals into a unity. This initial provision is the beginning of transforming a collection of individuals into a nation. Individuals cannot own guise of national life unless they are electrified by a unifying concept. Therefore, their allegiance to a particular concept of unity is essential for threading them into a well-knit community.
Unity of Human Race and Sanctity of Humanity
Islam believes that the collective struggle of human beings should lead to the creation of a social setup that is primarily based on the concept of the unity of the human race and the sanctity of human life. The Qur’an refers to the unity of the human race at various places, at different places in different contexts:
1) (O mankind, be mindful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from the two created and spread many men and women.) (An-Nisaa’ 4: 1)
2) (He it is Who created you from a single soul and made from it its mate that you might incline towards her and find communities comfort in her.) (Al-A`raaf 7: 189)
In these Qur’anic verses Almighty Allah invests the concept of the unity of human race with fundamental significance. It is repeatedly emphasized that Allah has created human beings from a single source. Just as we cannot associate partners with Allah and entertain any notion of duality or think of an ensemble company who can challenge His exceptional and solo status, similarly it is equally perverse to conceive of the human race in terms of essential duality or plurality. As a matter of fact, the unity of the human race is recognized through what He has created. The Oneness of Allah is a transparent reflection of the oneness of humanity. This concept is clearly articulated in the Qur’an: (These people of yours are one people and I am your Lord, so worship me alone.) (Al-Anbiyaa 21: 92) Almighty Allah also says: (Surely, this community of yours is one and I am your Lord, so fear me.) (Al-Mu’minun 23: 52)
These verses express the unity, divinity and suzerainty of Allah with special reference to the unity of the human race. The concept of “One Nation” serves as the foundation stone in Islamic society and also asserts its own distinctive configuration.