"O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous." (Quran, 49:13).
I felt that this aaya alone held the answer to innumerable problems that exist in our society today. The wise words written in the Quran are, unfortunately, often limited in context when it comes to application in our daily lives, but what we fail to realize is that the words in the Quran are written to be applicable in our lives – today, and every day. We ignore that humanity is a factor that unites us all, but we constantly remind ourselves of the small differences we have between ourselves and others. These differences can vary in contexts that range from social status to race and from gender to culture. Some attributes such as race and gender are innate, and others such as social status and cultural ‘tribes’ are man-made. All are given some level of importance in the societies we live in, or the values that are held in some of our countries back home.
We as human beings are often keen on emphasizing the differences between ourselves and others, whether it be to make ourselves feel superior, or to distinguish “ourselves” from the “others”, whoever they may be. What we do not realize is that like it is stated in the Quran 49:13, Allah has created different nations and tribes not so we make some superior and label others as inferior, but so that we could learn from one another. We should always take the good from anything new or different to us and leave the bad. The last part of the aforementioned aaya emphasizes the fact that the most honourable of you (us, humans) in the sight of God is the most righteous. This makes it clear that people are judged according to their righteous deeds and the emaan, not from which nation or tribe one comes from.
We can make as many differences as we want between one another, and we can claim to be superior or make others inferior, but we need to keep in mind that Allah swt is the one who is ultimately going to judge us, and the ones that we may knowingly, or unknowingly oppress. Issues relating to this are visible in so many spheres including those of international politics, wars, and on a different scale, when it comes to building families (ie: marriage) and creating social ties. These are unfortunate affairs which are a sad reality in our world today. The more I think, the more saddened I am. I pray that Allah swt gives us all hidayat (guidance) and makes us all better human beings. We should love the creation of the Creator, the Almighty, and this will make us one step closer to strengthening our emaan and improving our character.
Tolerance and acceptance of what may be unappealing merely because it is different is something that we must reconsider next time we come across it.