Greatest Anomaly in Human History

Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)

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Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)

This has produced some of the greatest anomalies of modern times – you fix the origin of those times at whatever point of history you are most comfortable with: Muslims without education and Mu’mins without character.

How is such a thing possible? How can there be a sun without sunlight or a moon without moonshine? Well, Muslims managed to produce these anomalies in practice, no matter how impossible they may sound on paper.

If Muslims had not read their Qur’an, they should have at least read their Iqbal, for he, warned them that character was key to leadership in the world.

And that character, Iqbal said, consisted in the universal Islamic principles of truthfulness, trustworthiness, commitment to justice for all as well as the courage and strength to learn them; to understand and internalize them; to remain fully focused on them; to speak and preach them; to stand up for them; and work to achieve and implement them in practice – for yourself and for everyone else.

That is what Islam was supposed to be.

And that is why Islam spread throughout the world with the unstoppable rapidity and effectiveness it did. Thirsty souls, hungry minds, parched lips and starved and shackled segments of humanity everywhere lapped it up the way a patch of famine-struck soil soaks up the first downpour of rain from the sky.



I think the following are Iqbal’s words in the beautiful language of Urdu: Sabaq phir padh sadaaqat kaa, ‘adaalat kaa, shujaa’at kaa; / Liya jaa-ay-ga tujh say kaam dunyaa ki imaamat kaa.

Don’t ask me who is or was Iqbal, for, right now, if you don’t know, I don’t care to tell you either. You should know. Those around you should have told you. Nor do I know if the couplet I quoted above is fully accurate or not. Again, I leave that up to you to find out.

I am what people may call a working man with what they refer to as a full-time job – a gift from Allah, like everything else in this world, or in any other world that there may be. Where do I have the time, the resources or the energy to go and meticulously check out every little detail of everything that I might want to speak or write, even though that is exactly what I would like to do and that is exactly also what is expected of a Muslim?

But the imperatives of time and circumstances – space if you will – decide.

Life is not a set of abstract principles lived in a vacuum tube from which all air has been emptied. Life is a set of highly constrained concrete measures and steps that are on the one hand space-time-based and which are at the same time derived from and guided by certain abstract and universal principles rooted in accumulated human wisdom, clear and tested science or unimpeachable divine revelation.

So, sometimes, it is more important to say certain things that you feel are broadly and fundamentally true, even though you may not be one hundred percent sure of every single detail about them. What may be advisable in these situations, however, is to be aware of your limitations and where applicable own up to them and alert others to them, so that those hearing or reading you will be on guard.

That is the kind of integrity Islam teaches and requires. And that is the kind of character Islam builds.

And that is one big reason why Islam spread the way it did: Because the people of the world, who had been lied to and deceived all their lives, all of a sudden ran into these fellows called Muslims whom they could trust – fellows who were honest and sincere beyond belief and who seemed willing to speak the truth, even when it might hurt their own personal interests.

Where was the surprise if the world fell in love with fellows like that when this message of universal human liberation burst upon the world for the first time after a long break?

Those were the principles then that the Qur’an taught the world. And that is the kind of culture and character Iqbal tells Muslims they should build all over again. For, the Muslims were, according to Iqbal, once again on the verge of being called to the leadership of the world. What an amazing man was this Iqbal and how amazingly insightful was his message, a derivative from the pure and pristine teachings of the Qur’an and Islam!



Therefore, while liberty is the common right of all humanity, and in many ways its shared heritage, to Muslims it should be nothing less than mother’s milk. A Muslim is conceived, born and brought up in liberty and dedicated, as someone said, to the proposition not “all men” are created equal, but that “all human beings” of all races and both genders are created equal.

It is not a simple matter to be pooh-poohed or dismissed lightly, but rather, it is a most important and fundamental difference – this difference between “all men” and “all human beings.” When the best of the best in this world were still struggling, even that with such glaring imperfection and timidity, we the Muslims had gotten hoarse singing for centuries the loftier song of Universal Human Equality and not just of male equality, that too White male equality, or more appropriately, the equality of White males with property.

Smart and decent people everywhere need to understand and accept these differences. For, in the appreciation of these differences lies the key to a proper understanding of the world in which we live today. That is also how we can most effectively address the question of how to go about making the world of today a better place for all.



So, human equality in Islam means the equality of all human beings regardless of race, color, religion, creed or gender. That means all the Jews; all the so-called “Savages” of American Indians; all the so-called “Negroes” on whom centuries of the most brutal slavery was imposed for no other reason than the fact that they were Black and therefore inherently unequal to Whites.

That also means all the women in the world, long before some of them in America turned suffragettes and were enfranchised and were “given” the right to vote by their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and grandfathers.

And it also means all the Vietnamese “Gooks”; all the Chinese “Chinks”; all the “Untouchables” of India; and all the “niggers” of old America and all the “Sandniggers” and “Hajis” of new Iraq.

These are some of the despicable and disgusting labels of derogation, humiliation and disparagement that human beings invented and applied to other human beings at different times and in different places in order to dominate, enslave and oppress them and steal and plunder their wealth and resources and exploit their labor, talents and skills for their own personal aggrandizement and benefit.

Islam, on the other hand, made it clear that human beings were all ab initio – right from the beginning that is, right from the moment they were conceived in the wombs of their mothers – unalterably equal to one another. There were no doubts, questions, hesitations, ifs, buts, vacillations or prevarications about it in the divine culture on earth that Islam fostered and established beginning with the middle of the 7th Century.



There was a clear and simple formula for universal, unconditional and categorical human equality that was drilled into every Muslim’s head right from the outset. And that never lost its lustre or integrity from the day it was first promulgated on earth in its present form in the pages of the Qur’an and through the blessed words of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, 1400 years ago. Here are broad contours of that formula:

If you are connected to Adam in any shape or form through a single common drop of his blood, then you are all fully and absolutely equal to one another, and you are all, by virtue of that common and exalted ancestry, endowed with inherent dignity and rights in equal measure in a way that no king or commoner, and that no individual or government on earth, can touch, diminish or take away in any form or fashion except through due process.

According to the core message of the Qur’an, that is how all human beings are created and sent into this world through the sperms and zygotes of their parents: absolutely equal in their humanity and absolutely inviolable in their basic dignity and human rights.

Human beings thereafter begin to distinguish themselves based on the kind of character and qualities they bring to the table – qualities of head as well as qualities of heart – and based on the efforts they expend in the pursuit of mental, moral, physical and other forms and types of excellence from a worldly as well as other-worldly point of view.

There! You have it in a nutshell: the theory of basic human equality as well as of human differences. It is also Islam in a nutshell.