By saying that Arabs have no superiority over non-Arabs and Whites have no superiority over Blacks, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered the greatest message of equality centuries ago, said Justice Rajinder Sachar (a non-Muslim) former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court while speaking at an event by India Tomorrow in August 2016.
Speaking as Chief Guest at a symposium entitled “Islam and Modern Age” organized by Maulana Azad Ideal Educational Trust at the Nehru Guest House of Jamia Millia Islamia, Justice Sachar mentioned the last Haj sermon of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
“I always say that when Prophet delivered his last sermon, he said that it was his last sermon and I would not be among you after this. In that sermon he said that non-Arabs were not superior to Arabs (and vice versa) and white person was not superior to black (and vice versa). It is understood that his message was to consider everyone equal.”
Explaining the context and greatness of the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s message, Justice Sachar said:
“At that time there was slavery in Arab and slaves were black. When Hazrat Sahab (Prophet Muhammad) said that non-Arabs were not superior to Arabs and when he said that white is not superior to black, how greatest message of equality he was giving.”
In his last Haj sermon at Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia in 632 A.C., Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had said:
“O People, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today…. All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…”
In his speech, Justice Sachar said that the United States is taken as an example of equality but the Prophet (peace be upon him) had given the message of equality in 7th century itself.
“Today, we take USA (as an example of equality) that Barak Obama (became president), since there was a fight for equality. But his (Prophet’s) message of equality spread in 7th century that no one (white) is superior to black. I believe the beginning of Islam was based on equality of all citizens.”
Sachar who in 2004-2005 headed Independent India’s first government panel that looked into the socio-economic backwardness of the Muslim community. The committee is known as Sachar Committee.
In his speech, Justice Sachar mentioned a UN report of 2011 on tolerance and said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had talked on the issue centuries ago.
“There is a UN development report published in 2011 by United Nations which states nothing can be more absurd than to say that tolerance is a notion associated with West only. The report gave three examples; first it illustrated (Emperor) Ashoka as to how he behaved to be equal. Then it illustrated Emperor Akbar for saying ‘to be with your religion’… I beg your pardon if I am wrong, Prophet (Muhammad) also said the same thing — ‘to you be your religion, and to me my religion’,” said Justice Sachar.
The line referred to the Prophet is actually a Quranic verse in Chapter 109 titled the disbelievers:
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
“To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism).”
Justice Sachar said that there is a continuous role of Islam in spreading the message of equality.