In this post I will point out to another negative Muslim social behaviors which is very much being practiced among Muslims now a days. It is to do with lineage and tribal status and I will also relate to you Islam’s stand point from such behavior. It is very common among Muslims in past and recent history that they boast about their lineage and ancestral relationships. Particularly they attach an honorable status to themselves if they happen to link back to Prophet Muhammad’s lineage; hence they assume the title of “sayyid” as a reminder to the community of their honorable lineage so that they expect a special treatment, status and prestige among people.
This Muslim social practice have laid down the foundations for a racist social norm within the Muslim teachings and created a sense of two classes of human beings; one is related to the Prophet of Islam, it is called “sayyid” and the second class is non-related to the Prophet of Islam, it is called a commoner or “‘aammi” Some may say that I hold some kind of contempt against those who have blood relationship to the Prophet and therefore I am jealous of it. Well, for the sake of this argument I am compelled to say that I am related to the Prophet lineage but I reject such classification and social practice. It is worth mentioning here that within the Muslim religious establishment such social practice is often signified by a specific dress code and that is a black turban signify a blood relationship to the Prophet where as a white turban signify a non relationship to the Prophet of Islam. In addition, it has financial implications in respect to the distribution of religious tax funds, known as “khums or ftith of gains”-these funds are distributed based on the two classes of Muslims; this Khums is often reserved to the needy Muslims who have blood relationship to the Prophet of Islam. This bad social practice may not have been intended by those Muslims in question but certainly it has been inherited from our Muslim generations which has created a trait of racism in the psyche of Muslims .
This bad social practice is absolutely denounced and rejected by the Prophet of Islam, his household and the honorable companions. It is narrated that when the honorable companion “Bilal alhabashi-the Abyssinian” (ra) was calling the prayers; “Azan” to Muslims , then some Arab Muslims went to the Prophet and protested the weak pronunciation of Bilal (ra) because he was a non-Arab and his difficulty pronouncing the letter “sheen” in the word “ash-hadu“; instead he was saying it “as-hadu” with he letter “seen” instead of “sheen” Then the Prophet Muhammad (saaww) said to those proud Arabs;” Angel Gabril (as) has told me that the “seen” of Bilal is “sheen” in the sight of Allah and His Angels. Furthermore in other occasion the Prophet has said “there is no difference between an Arab and non Arab except through piety.- la far’qa baina ‘arabiyyin wa aa’ajamiyin illa bit ta’qwa” And the Quran stated that;
“O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.…49:13″
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ (49:13)
It is also narrated by Imam Ali (AS) that:
“The people who have the best claim to the prophets are those persons who have the most knowledge of what they have brought”. Saying this, Imam Ali cited a passage from the Holy Qur’an; “Behold, the people who have the best claim to Abraham are surely those who follow him – as does this Prophet and all who believe [in him] – and God is near unto the believers.3:68” إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَـذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَاللّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُؤْمِنِين
He further said, “The most worthy follower (friend)-wali, of our Holy Prophet is he who, though not related to him, obeys the orders of Allah, and the enemy of Muhammad is he who, though he is related to him, disobeys Allah.” ..(1)
There are a lot more Quranic verses and Prophetic Hadeeths in this regard but I will leave it to the reader for further examinations.
It is not sufficient to follow the outward Sunna of the Prophet
Often Muslims tend to emphasize upon the outward Sunna of the Prophet and no much attention given to his conducts and actions. The best way to describe such problem is through a tradition from Imam Zain al’abideen where he clearly set out a beautiful definition of how we should really relate to the Prophet of Islam and how we ought to follow the practical Sunna of an Imam or a leader; he stated:
“There is no true worthy lineage of a Quriashi (Prophet’s lineage) or of an Arab (to be claimed), except through humility, and no true generosity except through piety, and no true action except through intention, and no true worship except through comprehension. Surely Allah the most high despises the one who follows the Sunna of an Imam but does not follow his (the Imam’s) actions.(1)
روي عن الإمام زين العابدين (عليه السلام) : لا حسب لقرشي ولا عربي إلاّ بتواضع ، ولا كرم إلا بتقوى ، ولا عمل إلاّ بنيّة ، ولا عبادة إلا بتفقه ، ألا وإنّ أبغض الناس إلى الله عز وجل من يقتدي بسنّة إمام ولا يقتدي بأعماله.”
Accordingly we Muslims must be recognized by other people through our good conducts and not necessarily through merely our appearance or dress code alone. It is very nice to simulate the physical appearance of our beloved Prophet Muhammad but if we do that then we must be conscious of one important fact that is we are carrying a bigger responsibility and that is to uphold the principles of Prophet Muhammad and we must live up to the sacred image we are representing otherwise we will smear the beautiful image of Prophet Muhammad and Islam; and unfortunately much of this happening in our world today.
It is worth mentioning here that the majority of Muslims seem to follow only the mechanics of the Sunna of Prophet Muhammad. They are very particular in following the superficiality of the Prophet’s teachings; such as his physical appearance, as they perceive him to be – long bearded, short pants no Mustache and etc… I am not demeaning such gesture on the part of those who love the prophet and wish to simulate his appearance but what I am saying here is that Muslims aught to emphasize more on the true message of Prophet Muhammad and to follow his actions and to simulate his character and his dealings with others. What is really notable in recent history that all of those who commit terrorism seem to follow the physical appearance of the Prophet and they are very specific in doing so but when it comes to taking human lives in the wholesale fashion (with all due respect to those wonderful Muslims who follow the Prophet’s physical appearance but absolutely reject and deplore violence and murders in the name of Islam), they do not seem to remember the Prophet’s teachings in this regard. This is what this hadeeth of Imam Zainul ‘aabideen above alludes to ; “Surely Allah the most high despises the one who follows the Sunna of an Imam but does not follow his (the Imam’s) actions.
(1) Nahjulbalagha; wisdom #96 English version, and wisdom #97 in Arabic version
(2) Hadeeth source: albihar; translated by A. H. katib.