Racism and Casteism are the evils that repeatedly try to engulf society. These are not newly coined terms as people have been through these problems from time to time. Racism is defined as 'poor treatment of people because of their race while casteism is a blind group loyalty towards one’s own caste or sub-caste, which does not care for the interests of other castes, and seeks to realize the social, economic, political and other interests of its own group’. Where racism leads to suppression of people because of their physical characteristics, casteism leads the members of one caste to exploit the members of another caste for their vested interest in the name of superiority or inferiority. Where Nelson Mandela is considered a symbol of struggle against racism in Africa and is familiar throughout the world, B.R Ambedkar is credited to have played a key role in the abolition of caste system (casteism) in India.

With the rapid growth of these problems, some countries and organizations amended their constitutions and charters to deal with these growing menaces. Many countries have mentioned their national books to provide equal rights to citizens. It is a secondary question that their implementation is considered necessary or not? Nevertheless, these attempts deserve applause.

Interestingly, modern world has become concerned about such issues in the 20th century, but our religion has given a sense about it 1400 years ago. If I would say Islam is first religion that has uprooted and objected such evils, it would not be a mistake.

Islam protects honour. In Islam, insulting others or making fun of them because of caste, creed, race, etc is not permitted. Merciful Holy Prophet (PBUH) says: “Truly, your blood, your property and your honour are inviolable” (Al-Bukhari). The life, property and honour in an Islamic state and Islamic concept are considered sacred irrespective of your race and caste.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Your God is one and your ancestor (Adam) is one. An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab. And a red (white tinged with red) person is not superior to black and black is not better than red, except in piety.” (Musnad Ahmad). Islam gives a clear message, that God created human beings as equals, who are to be distinguished from each other only based on faith and piety and this categorical message eradicates the concept of racism and casteism.

History has witnessed the era when Abubakr (R.A)' and Bilal e Habshi (R.A) used to sit side by side in the same row and same place in Mosque of Medina. History has also been evident, when all people, Arabian or non-Arabian, rich or poor, Master or Slave, used to assemble at the same place, sit in the same row and used to perform Salah behind the same leader (imam) and that will continue until the Day of Judgment. Allama Iqbal said, “Aek Hi Saff Mein Khade Ho Gaye Mehmood o Ayaz, Na Koie Banda Raha aur Na Koie Banda Nawaz” (King and slave are in the same row, bowing before one God, under the leadership of one Imam, Now there is hardly any difference between the two). Apart from this, Prophet (PBUH) denounced and opposed the concept of racism and casteism, not only vocally, but practically too and furnished honour to a number of occupations (upon which castes are based) that people treat inferior to practice.

Let me cite a few facts in this regard:

Shoe repairing is nowadays considered low-grade occupation and people practicing it are commonly called cobblers. However, when we look at the biography of Holy Prophet (PBUH), we find him repairing his sandal himself (Adab ul Mufrad).

A common person confuses, besides having thousands of companions, ready to sacrifice everything, even life for him; why beloved Prophet (PBUH) cobbles his sandal himself.

In fact, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) conveys the message, “After my era; Elites may deprecate and offend shoe shiners & repairers, but they need to remember it has been the profession of Leaders of Thousands. Had this been a low quality profession, the leader of Ummah would not have practiced it." Authentic hadith are testimony; Holy Prophet (PBUH) dignified goat farming, by practicing it. Prophet (PBUH) reared goats and milked his goat (Musnad Ahmad), just to teach the people, not to consider this job inferior. It has been the job of the sublime person 'about whom Allah says, “We have sent you not but as a mercy for the 'Alameen (Mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” (Qur'an: Sura Al-Anbiya). In nutshell, Biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) provides ample evidence that he was first anti-racist & anti-casteist.

To summarize, Islam provides a perfect harmony between the individual and society holding both in concert with each other, which lays the foundation of a new religious aspect ‘Islamic Sociology’ 

The need of the hour is to be obedient to Allah and follow teachings of beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that is only the solution to our present-day problems. Let's pledge to be faithful to Allah and promote and propagate the true message of Islam (based on loyalty, love, peace, compassion and affection), which is being demonized on every platform.