كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ (2:213)
Originally humankind was a single community, free of discord. Then human beings created mutual differences and since these differences could not be resolved by means of human intellect alone, Allah sent a series of Messengers and Books for this purpose who would give their people glad tidings provided they lived together as one family, and warn them about the consequences of a disintegrated society. Allah’s Messengers resolved human differences in accordance with the revealed book. After Messengers accomplished their appointed tasks and left, their followers again created differences amongst themselves. Those from amongst them who followed Allah’s Guidance were able to resolve their mutual differences. This is how Allah, according to His Laws, shows the right path to those who seek it (2:136, 3:83, 3:183, 16:92, 57:25).
In light of the above verse it is clear that Islam does not discriminate against human beings on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, blood relationships, language, or nationalities etc. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) built a true multiethnic multiracial society based on the Qur’anic principle of universal brotherhood of humankind. The Quran says: وَمَا كَانَ النَّاسُ إِلَّا أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَاخْتَلَفُوا ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ (10:19). The ultimate objective was to eliminate differences amongst human beings and to make them one unified community as they were at the beginning of human history.
If Allah wanted He could have forced humans to form one unified universal community but this would have deprived humans of the freedom of choice and freewill (11:18-19). Allah did not want humans to be like animals forced to follow a certain path of life. Allah wants humans to use their freewill to choose the right path. Human division into different races, tribes, and nations are only for introduction, not for creating differences (49:13).
Universal Brotherhood of humankind
The purpose of sending Messengers with Divine revelation was to create one brotherhood of humankind so that the caravan of humanity could reach its true destination. Humankind’s source and essence is one, so it befits that its life journey reflect that unity. The foundation stone of this political paradigm of life was laid by Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). He left his father, his family, his people, and his country and created a nation founded on the basis of the unity of Faith; and he, consequently, created one community. He practically implemented a system of life to reflect this ideology through harmonious organized effort.
Any political organization or system of life requires a practical visible center. With the help of divine guidance (through revelation) Ibrahim (PBUH) chose a place in the city of Makkah for establishing this visible center known as Kaaba. The Quran introduces the Kaaba thus: إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ (3:96). The first House ever selected for the entire humankind was Makkah. It was from this place that humanity was destined to get the guideline and the ultimate Law which would ensure stability and sustenance for all.
To transcend all human differences, and to ensure it belongs to entire humanity as a whole, Allah has called Kaaba as بَيْتِيَ (My House): وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ (2:125). And when We made the House (at Makkah) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship). [Pickthall]
Ibrahim (PBUH) established this system for which the Kaaba was declared as the Center in order to bring all humanity together; and to bring about universal peace. Muslims are asked to aspire to attain Ibrahim’s (PBUH) standing. Therefore, they must follow his path and emulate his conduct. The builders of the Kaaba (Ibrahim (PBUH) and Ismail (PBUH)), through Allah’s guidance, made this place as the Center of a Universal system undefiled by manmade narrow beliefs and ideas. This Center is dedicated for organization and training of believers who submit to the Laws of Allah; and their purpose in life is to keep a vigil so that humanity is protected from danger, and to resolve its complex problems.
Goal of humanity
In the above verses we see that the Quran has explicitly declared Kaaba to be the Center of gathering for humanity (لِّلنَّاسِ). It is worth noting that the word “humanity (لِّلنَّاسِ)” has been mentioned wherever in the Quran there is mention of Kaaba and Hajj. This is because the goal of Allah’s revelation is to create universal brotherhood of humankind. Therefore, its Center, naturally, should be dedicated to humanity. This is what the Quran says: جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ الْكَعْبَةَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ قِيَامًا لِّلنَّاسِ وَالشَّهْرَ الْحَرَامَ وَالْهَدْيَ وَالْقَلَائِدَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (5:97). Allah has made the Kaaba a sanctuary and also the Center of the Divine order whose ultimate aim is to make sure that all humanity is able to stand on its feet, thus making it independent. You should respect the sanctity of the months during which war is prohibited and abstain from injuring animals brought by the pilgrims. These things are told to you, so that you should know that Allah is Protector and Beneficent but He is also very strict in meting justice and accountability. So far as the Messenger is concerned, his duty is only to deliver the message. But Allah knows what you do openly and what you do in secret.
This is a great reality that the Quran has described in just few words. Humanity as a whole cannot stand on its fee if it is divided. For example, we see how the world has been divided into: first, second, and third worlds; or developed and undeveloped worlds; or powerful and weak nations. It is understandable that weak nations are dependent for their support on powerful nations. Weak nations cannot stand on their own feet without external support. But what is not understandable is why superpowers are dependent on weak nations and compete to bring as many weak nations as possible into their orbit by using carrot and stick approach. Powerful nations never let weak nations stand on their own feet. But if humanity becomes one by dissolving all boundary lines that divide it, then humanity can stand on its own feet and does not need any external support.
There is no peace anywhere in the world today. Whether big or small, whether powerful or weak – all nations are living under constant fear and insecurity. If that is the condition of nations then one can very well imagine what the individuals will be going through!
A place of peace and security
The Quran has declared Kaaba as the place of peace and security: وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا (2:125) – Kaaba has been established in order to bring humankind together and a catalyst for universal peace and security. In another place the Quran says: وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا (3:97) –whoever enters this place, would have peace and security.
The issue is very clear. The fear, the anxiety, the insecurity, the danger – all these are due to man-created differences. If these differences dissolve then humankind’s fear and insecurity will automatically disappear. One can very well imagine how this world then will turn into a heaven of peace and tranquility. The Quran says: جَعَلْنَاهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَاءً الْعَاكِفُ فِيهِ وَالْبَادِ (22:25) – We have declared it open for entire humankind, for those who dwell here and for those who come from abroad. Allah, the Almighty, has instructed that His House must be open to all.
These are attributes of Allah’s House as a Center of gathering and sanctuary for humanity (لِّلنَّاسِ) proclaimed by Allah. These are not the attributes of the physical building of stone and mortar but that of the divine system of life whose physical symbol it represents.