Islam and Egalitarianism

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society, Nature & Science Topics: Islam Values: Justice Views: 15282
15282

When General Colin Powell, an African-American of rather humble origins, was appointed as the Joint Chief of Staff of U.S. military, the appointing president rejoiced by stating that such rise of a minority was possible "only in America." Gen. Powell's selection was no small feat by any standard. Also, despite the past history of slavery in America and suffering of so many people, it shows pluralistic strength and dynamism for the society to move ahead. However, "only in America"? Is the example of Gen. Powell unique?

Long before this American experiment and experience, leveling many an artificial bases for discriminating against people, came the final prophet and messenger of Islam - in succession, according to Islam, to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and so on - with a clarion call for the humanity to advance on the path of equality. Despite the subsequent historical experience, Islam has been categorical in its pristine principle of egalitarianism and set critical milestones in that direction.

During his Farewell pilgrimage, his address carried a decidedly universal tone--one final time. "O PEOPLE, your lives and your property shall be inviolate until you meet your Lord." It is unfortunate that many Muslims have forgotten this important principle and guidance, even though they are not supposed to be self-centered (i.e., concerned about only the Muslim community); rather they are supposed to have been "created for mankind" Quran: 3.110

Even though he himself was from an Arab background and the initial recipients of his message were the Arabs, once and for all, he demolished the artificial bases for any ethnic or racial pride by proclaiming that the Arabs had no superiority over the non-Arabs, or vice versa. The Quran is unequivocal in this regard as it addresses not the Arabs, the Muslims or the believers, but the mankind (an-nas) in the following verse: "O humankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you." Quran: 4.1.  Notably, as indicated in this verse, the Quran does not subscribe to or endorses such views that the fall of humankind from the heavenly favor was due to women's evil transgression, as exemplified, according to some, in Hawa (Eve).

Islam also repudiates vulgar forms of nationalism that artificially aggrandize one's own people over others on no moral basis. Various demarcations of people based on groups, tribes, ethnicities or nationalities are quite alright, as it is natural for the humanity as a social entity. However, that is primarily to know each other in terms of our lineage, not to aggrandize oneself. Islam further reinforces this universality on the basis of not a man (Adam), but a man and a woman (Adam and Eve) and educates us that there is no virtue based on race, color, language, geographical location, wealth, or gender. Islam offers only one criterion for assessing ourselves. Taqwa (God-consciousness that makes people humble, caring and morally upright). "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you (atqakum). And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Quran 49.13

After shattering the false and unjust foundation of the hierarchical society of the Arabs by embracing people together under one faith, irrespective of their color, race, gender, language, age, wealth, status, even at his death, the Prophet Muhammad left a remarkable and noble challenge and legacy for those that came after him.


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society, Nature & Science
  Topics: Islam  Values: Justice
Views: 15282

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Older Comments:
ABDUL AHAD FROM INDIA said:
It is wonder written enlighten the Islam
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YASMINE FAHIM FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
I would like to thank you for the wonderfully enlightening article that Dr. Farooq has written. I find most of the articles on your website extremely educational and of a great use. I only wish that these invaluable educated throughts on the basic principles of Islam were accessible to a larger public. Our Umma is in danger at the moment, in danger of evils from within. Too many waste energy on superficial aspects of Islam while ignoring, for lack of thought and understanding, the more crucial moral imperatives that should dictate our conducts as sincere, intellectually and spiritually capable Muslims. This is exactly the refined quality of discourse that I yearn to find in most gatherings and in Moskes. The major concerns these days are: is one allowed to wear a gold crown on a tooth or not; can one die the hair or not; is it permissible for men and women to meet at gatherings or not; can a man wear a gold ring or not; seriously speaking, no one is concerned about basic issues such as work ethics, egalitarianism, justice, fairness, compassion, trustworthiness, efficiency, competence, honesty and more. It is unfortunate.
Thank you very much, Y. Fahim
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HAFSAH FROM LONDON, UK said:
Salam all, i would like to say i enjoyed this article very much and do agree with what the author has to say, unlike other people's comments, i dont know, were they reading another article? you might want to concentrate while reading because i read a few of them and they seem to be reading something esle, for e.g. wali abdul hasib, your comment:
"why is it you never qoute the part of the farewell address that says, "if a nappy headed slave becomes your leader, follow him"? Because the immigrants came to America and found the Negroes already prayer (in salat) and they stay as far away from Black American Muslim leadership as possible."

WHERE did that come from??? have you EVEN read the farewell speech?? it doesnt say ANYWHERE your so-called qoute: "if a nappy headed slave becomes your leader, follow him"?
The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would never use such language and never has, and i think you should talk about the Prophet with more respect.

i have alot more to say about this subject and further comments, however, i am restricted by time and also do not want to make this comment drag on.

Wasallam
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NEGATIVE FROM UAE said:
I think when someone discounts another nation he is unconsciously polishing himself.
In the gulf society you find lots of nationalities
And all the psychological scripts (things that someone keeps saying until it becomes facts) like: those Arabs! Those locals! Those Indians! Those Europeans! Those Filipinos! (i have deducted the bad words)
What i can't understand is how we the third world people who have been a victim of discrimination we still play the game on each other.
I'm monitoring my tongue and even my thoughts to prevent any similar language, and I'm trying with other ppl. Sometimes we say things that hurt without noticing but that is no excuse.
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WALI ABDUL HASIB FROM UNITED STATES said:
why is it you never qoute the part of the farewell address that says, "if a nappy headed slave becomes your leader, follow him"? Because the immigrants came to America and found the Negroes already prayer (in salat) and they stay as far away from Black American Muslim leadership as possible.
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RAGGA FROM HAITI said:
The article is well written and I am all for it, but I wish that people practice what they preach more. For example due to an incident that Happen that the ISB in Cambridge, Ma, I will not step foot int an Egyptian Operated Mosque if I can help it.
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NYDIA said:
I only think that TO REPUDIATE (fifth paragraph)is not a word for the seekers of peace and justice, only TO LOVE WILL SAVE US ALL
OUR ONLY POWER IS LOVE, LOVE FOR ONESELF, LOVE FOR EACH OTHER, LOVE FOR ALL LIFE...
With LOVE, Nydia
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ABDULLAH JONES FROM USA said:
This man has no clue what Islam means outside of the interpretations of a bunch of secular humanists who want Islam to basically be a reflection of their own cultural values based on western ideological discourse.

This man should get a brain, then come back and give analysis on Islam, because he really does nothing but beat the drums of the secular humanists and find some way to "redeem Islam" when we should be contradicting what the secular humanists have to say in the first place.
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TAHA JIBREEL H. USMAN FROM PHILIPPINES said:
one of a kind that must be read by millions of readers
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FLEMING BURRELL FROM UNITED STATES said:
I definitely understand the premise as well and the conclusive end towards this piece that this individual wrote on the prophet (S.A.W.S). I understand quite clear, but the challenge indeed it is when it refers to those among the community, though I agree within the piece it was said that there should be no egocentrical thought within the community but inevitably it is. Because we live in a "racial conscious" society it is indeed noticable to humans the "differences" among each other, obviously for the obvious reason. Rightfully so, we humans take pride in our cultures because it is indeed apart of our consciousness. But unfortunately there are people (in fact majority of human cultural races) do indeed alienate others on the basis of their culture. Anyways I believe that this piece validates my point therefore I end with the ancient words of peace As'Salaamu Alaikum and I pray for unification among the bretheren of al-Islam.
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TYLER JOHNSON FROM USA said:
Extremely well written and informative article. I agree with the author 100% on the subject of equality amongst all Muslims. Well done!
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AKHLAQ AHMAD FROM UK said:
Mashallah. A great article but unfortunately we talk too much about 'what ifs' and past glories rather than 'what practically steps to take now?'. The Muslim Ummah has been divided along national lines mainly since the Europeans colonised Muslim lands and it is further being divided by race, language and local culture and so forth as the recent history has shown in South Asia. Those who try to unite the Muslims either across racial or linguistic lines by inviting them to one platform always find their path blocked if not destroyed soon after due to the disease of personal power and prestige practised by individuals and groups by conniving with the enemies of Islam.

We have a long way to go in order to bring Islam back into our lives in the practical sense of the word.

The first and foremost step must be for all Muslims to once again grasp the Arabic language and use it to communicate with our fellow Muslims no matter what race, nationality or other background they are from as it unites us by being the language of the Holy Quran and of Prophet Muhammad (saw) which we must all understand anyway to truly understand the Message.

Secondly, the promotion of dominant races, castes, or even cultures not conforming to or being at odds with Islam within the Muslim Ummah must be rejected in ways which will help our brotherhood to flourish again.

Thirdly and most importantly Muslim educational institutes need to do more to enlighten the Ummah with regional, national and global programmes to promote inter-racial harmony, Islamic principles of brotherhood, equality and taqwa across all Muslim lands. We must 'know each other'.

Now we must not rest and wait for someone to come and set this in motion but we ourselves must practice what we preach by going out there and doing our duty. I for one will begin by holding myself accountable for the lack of unity amongst my fellow Muslims should I fail.

May Allah (swt) guide us to the best of all systems fo
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NAJAM-US-SAHER FROM PAKISTAN said:
this web sites is to much best web site & this web sites inform me the best information of islam i like this web site i want to other best information about islam

thanks
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NADEEM YUSUF FROM ENGLAND said:
As usual, an excellent article that highlights the true spirit of Islam.
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MOHAMMED M. AZHER FROM U.S.A said:
I really appreciate this article as showing the truth to the world, as many people think IslaM Is outdated religion.
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FATIMAH ZAHRA FROM USA said:
I pray to Allah(swt) that all muslims will be guided by the spirit of egalitarianism and that none of us will look down upon another for any reason and will have only kindness in our words and intentions when advising and correcting each other ... Ameen.
This article precisely delineates fantastic features of Islam, it's features and flaws, rather, features of the muslim community and it's features and flaws, as Islam is the religion of Allah(swt) and is without error.
May we all be guided to the straight path...Ameen
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KULAMULLA FROM BABYLON said:
Jesus is more than prophet. He is declared to be the Son of God
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SHABBIR FROM AUSTRALIA said:
It is critical that world concedes to the infinite command and wisdom of Allah SWT which has been articulated in the Quran and by the Prophet Mohammed SAW in his teaching and Seera, for justice and equity to be in natural equilibrium, Insha'allah.
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MOHAMMED HABEEB FROM INDIA said:
A Thought proveking article which every one should take notice of and try to remove the barriers of misunderstanding the message of ISlam within the community and with other communities so we can have a harmonius coexistence and follow & fulfil the message of the Allah.
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JORDAN ROBINSON FROM USA said:
Asalaamu ALaikum all!

Wonderful article. This piece reminds us all that we are all very much fallible in our own selfish ways, but Islam is the true salvation to acheive peace and tranquility on this world.
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MD. SARFARAZ KHAN FROM INDIA said:
Alhamdulillah, I appreciate the author's efforts to highlight the true Quranic teachings and golden peiod of prophet's/Khulfa's practices. Quran is evidence that all prophets came with the same message to the mankind. 'Shariat(practices)' differed according to time, place and situation but 'Minhas(basic theme)'remained the same. The followers of all the previous prophets changed/inculcated/mingled/mutilated/replaced the original teachings of God apart from changing themselves. The same is the case with Muslims with only exception that they could not change the original revealition(the yeard stick)which has been protected by God, as promised in Quran itself. But here also wrong interpretation/perception of Quran and Hadith(even inculcation of fake Hadiths by Kizzabs and organised anti-islamic missonaries after crusades)has worsened the situation. Poor education and poor intelligence about the surrounding world has further catalysed the deteriorating condition of Muslim society. Majority of so called 'Practising Muslims/'Muttaquis'have replaced the true quranic teachings with the teachings of their secretarian Imams/Gurus. Under the circumstances it is prophetic duty of Ullema and scholars to take out the ummah from the cobweb/Tilasmati Islam and inculcate true Islamic spirit. We must think the ways and means of breaking this 'Jamud' from the mind of vast 'ummah' by using prophetic hammer like Abraham(pbuh) and the last prophet Mohammad(pbuh). Such articles will definitely train the trainers. Wallah Alam . sarfaraz
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RICHARD FROM USA said:
For the most part I agree with what the article contained. I agree that Islam at one time was a shining example of equality and rightousness. I also agree that Islam could obtain that status again. Islam contains all of the necessary teachings to achieve this goal. The problem we face is the fact that these teachings are not applied like they should be. Where I live, most African-American Muslims attend Masjids in their own neighborhoods, the Bosnian Muslims attend the masjids with the African-Americans or Arab Muslims, and the European-American Muslims attend the masjids of the Arab/Bosnian's. I state this to demostrate that there is a problem with the principles taught in the Quran and Sunnah being applied in the lives of modern day Muslims. May Allah grant us the strength and courage to follow the true teaching of the Quran and Sunnah.
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A, RAHIM FROM CANADA said:
Broher what you have quoted from the Holy Quran regarding "Islam and Egalitarianism" is excellent and each and every word of the Holy Book is true. Having said that I believe if the artical is directed towards Muslims it will no doubt have a tremendious influcence on them and they will definitely draw pleasure from the fact that Islamic position on this issue is very clear; however, on the other hand it will have minimal affect on Western public opinion, as majority of them don't know anything about the Quran and prophethood of Muhammad (peace of Allah be on him); beside that a huge majority of westerners don't believe or even consider the Holy Quran as a direct word of God; they also consider or rather believe that Jesus (peace be on him) was the last live-connection between men and God and anything thereafter is false. Therefore I believe that when dealing with the Christians we must research Bible and try to bring our point home by quoting from it; as scholars know there are still some traces of truth in it, that is to say that one can find some true verses,without alteration or tempering, no matter how small they may be.This is just my opinion, God knows better.
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MOTIUR RAHMAN FROM BANGLADESH said:
ASSALM O ALAIKUM.I highly appreciate this artcle.I am of 63 yrs of age.In our time these type of character building materials were deliberately put in our school curriculum and we have red these things in our school days.But now a days in the name of secularism these type of excellent anecdotes have been excluded from school curruculum. As a result our boys know nothing about Islam and Islamic personalities who made history.From the ISLAMI CITY I shall invite an article on THE CAUSES OF THE DOWN FALL OF MULIM UMMAH AND PROBABLE REMEDIES.Thanks for the current article.
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MARIA FROM USA said:
It is sad that many muslims no longer respect the ways of the Prophet and no longer believe in Egalitarianism. Racism and nationalism is abundant in the muslim world and that is why there is much strife. I used to be idealistic about Muslims and their non-racism but I have realized that Islam and Muslims are two different things. Muslims do not always reflect the true Islam. Until Muslims establish and brotherhood among people of different races and nationalities Muslims will never be at peace. Over and over I have experienced racism from Muslims so much that I find it far easier to get along with non-muslims. That is a very sad fact for a people that are supposed to establish egalitarianism.
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DELWAR MIAN FROM USA said:
I agree with the author except that he was calling the youth of Bangla, while I think the call should be to Muslims of all of the world.
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LOUBNA NASSER FROM U.S. said:
IT WILLL BE A PERFECT WORLD IF ALL PEOPLE BELIEVE IN THE EQUALITY THAT ISLAM HAS PROPOSED. WE ARE NOT LIVING IN A PERFECT WORLD OR NEAR PERFECT. RELEGIONS OTHER THAN ISLAM DO NOT BELIEVE IN THIS CONCEPT. MUSLIMS DO SHARE THE SAME PLACES ON EARTH WITH THESE GROUPS. THEY WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PRACTICE ISLAM AS LONG AS OTHER RELIGIONS ARE DOMINANT. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON WHY OTHER RELIGION'S MAIN GOAL IS TO PREVENT ISLAM FROM SPREADING. THEY ARE FIGHTING ISLAM MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY FOR THE FEAR OF BEING EQUAL WITH ANYONE ELSE. THEY DO BELIEVE IN THEIR SUPERIORITY. FINALLY, LETS NOT DISMISS THE VERSE FROM THE QURAN THAT SAYS: "WE HAVE CREATED YOU AT DIFFERENT LEVELS". HUMAN BEINGS ARE AT DIFFERENT LEVELS OF REASON. THEY DIFFER FROM EACH OTHER BY THEIR MENTAL CAPACITIES. HERE COMES THE SUPERIORITY OF ISLAM ABOVE ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. EVEN THOU MUSLIMS SHOULD KNOW THAT THEY ARE AT DIFFERENT LEVELS, THEY STILL HAVE TO TREAT EACH OTHERS AS EQUAL.
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SYED SHAHABUDDIN FROM INDIA said:
It is such a beautifull and inspiring article that one reading will not be a justice to it.It has to be read again and again.can any generation of humankind present such a character or an example.Impossible is the answer.Our spirits shudder when we think about them and no words can describe their magnificient morality.All praise to Allah for his favour on such human beings.We can only pray Allah to bring the light of Islam in our hearts and guide us on the path on whom he has showered His blessings.
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NOON FROM USA said:
Absolutely Fantastic.
Thank All of U.
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ATIF FROM NON-ARAB said:
I agree to what you say but why today's arab world is treating Non-arabs as if Non-Arabs are non-muslims. If everyone knows the last address of Holy Prophet, then why not a single arab country is following it. Everyday this difference is increasing. Why all the Islamic Organizations like yours are failure to impact even 1% on our todays Islamic Political Setup? Arent we just waisting time as nothing is happening practically?
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MUSHTAQUL HASSAN KHAN FROM KUWAIT ( ORIGINALLY BANGLADESHI ) said:
I learned a lot from this article.It'll be better if it can be printed without pictures and advertisements.
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LAYLA FROM USA said:
It is amazing how this article can speak against racism and only make a point of how South Asians are treated in Gulf countries. Why is no mention made of how South Asians and many immigrants are racist towards African-American Muslims here in America? There is blatant racism and discrimination by many immigrant Muslims towards African-American Muslims and yet I have yet to see any non-African American Muslim write an essay regarding racism from immigrant Muslims. Had any mention of this been made in the authors article I would have found him more credible. But when an immigrant Muslim wants to discuss how they have discriminated against, yet not be honest about how they have contributed to the same, I find them less credible. From this point on, if racism towards African American Muslims is not discussed in articles regarding discrimination or egalitarianism then it is a topic that holds less merit in my opinion. Try to build fences with all Muslims. Not just immigrant Muslims and interfaith groups. Don't discuss civil rights for all Muslims when you can't respect the African-Americans who fought and died for such rights in this country. We need to make sure we are being respectful of human rights for all people as presented in the Quran. Then will you have a more credible stand to make regarding equality for all Muslims.
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FAREEDA FROM USA said:
Thank you for this beautiful article which emphasizes the middle way. Allah created us with diversity in order to know our unity. Thank you for saying this. ma'a salaam
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EDWARD FROM U.S.A. said:
I'm sorry, but your article "Islam and Egalitarianism" is totally disingenuous. It is so painfully obvious that Islam has regressed from the time of Muhammad. Yes, indeed, I'm willing to concede that Muhammad, like many prophets, were way ahead of their times. Sadly, men have taken control of the great religions, Islam included, and regressed and retarded its growth. Islam today is so perverted with ethnocentrism -- Pan-Arabism - - that is is laughable. It is still dominated by tribal ways and no longer has the universal message it had in Muhammad's day. Until all the true, universalist Muslims of today go public and denounce any and all violence that is perpetrated in the name of Islam, Islam, like much of fundamentalist Christianity and Judaism, will continue to be a backward religion and not practiced in the way its founders - - Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses - - intended. As I am sorry for the "ancient" mindset that the Vatican has - - I am Catholic - - I am also saddened at the potential that is daily lost by true Muslims - - especially the scholars and leaders - - who do not openly speak out to the world media condemning to Hell all the perpetrators of violence in the name of Islam. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinion. Keep in mind, I am not siding with any one religion over another. They all have enough blood on their hands. I recognize that. Thank you. Ed Tanner
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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
A'uzoo Billahi Minash Shaitaan nir Rajeem. Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem. I love the article but take exception to the apparent assertion that Islam "repudiates vulgar forms of nationalism." Quran 4:92 indeed appears to address what is perhaps the most vulgar form of nationalism - war between believers.

If the Quran does not repudiate ("refuse to acknowledge" - from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/repudiate) war, the apparent assertion would seem to be another nice sounding generalization - the sort that leaves other "citizens of a republic" suspecting our intention is to mislead them concerning our religion (that of Islam).

For example: is Islam (first and foremost) a religion of peace? I thought it had more to do with submission (to Allah). Are we not, on occasion, supposed to fight (Quran 4:71-80, and so on)? If so, what sort of "peace" is Islam a religion of? Am I being a bit too assertive here? Astagh-firullah.

Also, I very much enjoyed "historical segments" of the article - especially the following excerpts:

"Umar shared the mount with his attendant taking turns all the way to Jerusalem ... As they reached the gate of the city, the elders came forward to greet [Umar] ... It was only when the rider apologetically explained that he was not the caliph, but the one pulling the horse."

"When the woman charged Umar that he has no right to fix or limit something regarding women's rights that the Quran has not limited, Umar publicly admitted that he was wrong and that the woman was right."

"Seeing the Islamic example, the thief not just returned the armor to the [Ali], but also embraced Islam."

These rightly guided caliphs sound like real heroes. (Surely, they have pleased Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala) Also, it doesn't like most of Islam's heroes advocated compulsion in matters pertaining to religion.

Assalamu alaikum.

--Yahya Bergum
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