One community: Friday Special
BY A M I N VA L L I A N I | 6/5/2015

WE are different from one another yet we are one community. In fact, the Holy Quran says that all humans are one community.

Everyone born in this world is human first, then takes on his family`s identity as a Muslim, Christian or a believer of any other faith. In some cases, the family`s faith takes precedence in a way that renders the person oblivious of his/her prime responsibilities as a human towards fellow beings.

Presently, we are faced with the challenge of communalism. Everyone lives within his own cocoon; life has become self-serving and exclusive, with people limited to their own circle.

Being human, one must realise that there is a divine thread running throughout humanity connecting each person with the other. World peace, progress and prosperity are the desired goals of entire humanity, but these are dependent on religious harmony and going the extra mile beyond communal boundaries. It requires mutual understanding, respect, and tolerance, holding fast to the rope that binds us together.

Islam invites all of humanity to worship the Lord (2:21). Worship means prayer and service to humanity. Humanity is like one body; if an organ is in pain, then the whole body feels the pain and becomes restless.

All human beings inhabiting the earth irrespective of their race, religion, colour and caste are created from one soul as per the Holy Book (4:1). Their body structure, systems, blood colour and life requirements are the same. They collectively share the earthly resources including the oceans` water, air, glaciers, sunlight, outer space and other natural phenomena.

They breathe oxygen, drink water and enjoy rain and sunlight drawn from one heavenly source to sustain their lives. They get inspiration and enlightenment from one spiritual fountainhead. The problem of one nation is the problem of another. If a calamity hits some part of the globe, all of humanity feels the pain and expresses its sympathy for the victims.

Islam, through its teachings, is quite emphatic in making humans realise their single origin. It says humans are the descendants of Hazrat Adam, who came to this world for a short period. The earth and its resources are therefore entrusted to humans to manage in accordance with the divine will.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is designated as a mercy for all creation with a mission to be kind and gentle towards all human beings.

His teachings are available for all peoples, no matter what faith or background they belong to. He came as a blessing to the worlds and treated those he encountered with kindness.

Differences at the level of culture and religion are natural, but they should not become a cause of friction. Allah says that He will judge them on the day of Resurrection (22:17). The need of the time is for humanity to live together in peace in order to surmount the global challenges of food shortages, diseases and environmental changes. Accepting social and religious diversity makes humanity akin to a tree, whose leaves differ from one another in physical shape and size but are attached together to the branches and stem.

Every human being is worthy of respect, deserving the best, no matter what language one speaks or what religion one professes. The Holy Prophet has set numerous examples highlighting the spirit of oneness among humanity. The Constitution of Madina enabled Muslims and non-Muslims to demonstrate the spirit of humanity. It recognised the pluralistic nature of the world and provided a base for strength, wherein each party had a right to keep its own law and customs. It is on record that the Holy Prophet respected all communities, be they Christian or Jewish, who visited him as guests or sought his help.

As it is reported, once a funeral pro-cession passed in front of the Holy Prophet and he stood up till the procession left. He was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, to which the Messenger replied that it was of a [human] being (Bukhari Book No. 23, Hadith 399). Also, the Quran particularly invites the People of the Book towards the word which is similar between them (3:64).

In recent years, the world has witnessed polarisation among people. In order to make the world peaceful, progressive and prosperous, the new generations must be taught that humanity is one community. The pluralistic nature of humanity needs to be understood, valued and built upon to construct a better world. In Islam, pluralism is well-recognised and respected.

For example, in the early period of Islam, we found companions of the Holy Prophet from different lands, building the edifice of Islam together; Hazrat Salman Farsi from Iran, Hazrat Bilal al-Habashi from Abyssinia and Hazrat Suhayb ar-Rumi from Byzantium all these distinguished individuals hailed from different lands and cultures and together worked for Islam under the ablest leadership of the Holy Prophet.• The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.

Published in Dawn