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All the praises are due to Allah and may His salutations and blessings be upon the holy Prophet Muhammad, his family and all companions.

The concept of equality is very vital in Islamic law in references to which are many verses and prophetic traditions. The biography of the holy Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and that of the rightly guided caliphs as well as the history of Muslims in the best centuries are filled with instances of complete display of the right to equality and the equal protection under the Islamic government. The Islamic Law offers the right to sue and be sued, to prosecute and be prosecuted; for the same kind of action should be same for all citizens of full age and understanding without distinctions of race, religion, wealth, social status or political influence. According to Islam, the difference in race and nationality, social status and wealth are not yardsticks for inequality among men. This value of equality is not to be mistaken for or confused with identicalness or stereotype. Islam teaches that in the sight of Allah Almighty, all people are equal, but they are not necessarily identical. There are differences of abilities, potentials, ambitions, wealth and so on.

The limitations in these examples are natural. The social limitations are those imposed by society as a result of experience and practice; in the final analysis, they are intellectual attitudes related to the previously mentioned traits. There is, for instance, the established difference between the ignorant and the learned. No one would assign major responsibilities that are crucial to the community to an ignorant person. The holy Qur’an declares:

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well-Experienced.( Hujuraat: 13), hence, all people have the basic right to equality and there is no distinction whatsoever in the application of the law.

The practical application of equality in Islam is the equality among people in front of the law and regulations. What is allowed is for all people and what is forbidden as well upon all people. The obligations are upon everyone, and whoever deserved punishment gets it, regardless.

An example of such was when some of the companions talked to Osama Bin Zaid, the favorite of prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), to intervene for the sake of the well reputed woman from Quraish tribe who deserved punishment for stealing (that is cutting her hand), Osama talked to the prophet (peace be upon him), the prophet (S.A.W.) got angry and said, "Those before you were districted, that is because the renowned is untouched when he steals, and the poor is punished, verily if Fatima daughter of Muhammad stole, I would have cut her hand."

Also during the period of guided khilafah (rightly guided caliphs) there are many examples of the application of the equality principle. Here are two examples:

1st example: the story of Jebelah Bin Al Ayham who was a Gasan tribe's prince and the Bedouin who complained to the Ameer al-Mu’mineen Umar Ibn Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with with him) that Jebelah (the prince) has slapped him, then Omar brought Jebelah and told him to let the Bedouin retaliate, a slap for slap unless the Bedouin forgives him. This was taken difficult by the Gasan prince and told Omar: How does he retaliate and I am a prince and he is a common. Omar answered: Islam has made equal out of you. That did not satisfy Jebelah, and he escaped from Madinah then abandoned Islam, but that did not cause any one's concern because one's abandoning Islam is much trivial than abandoning such a principle of Islam "equality".

The 2nd example was the story of Umar again and his governor to Egypt Amr Bin As, when the son of the governor struck a Christian man and told him that he is the son of an honored family. The Christian man went from Egypt to Madinah complaining, and then Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) called the governor and his son and ordered the man to strike the son of the governor the same way he was struck, which the Christian man did to his satisfaction. When he was resolved from retaliating to the son of Amr Ibn As-As, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him ordered him to strike Amr himself stating that the son beat him because of the lofty status of his father. Amr (may Allah be pleased with him and everybody was shocked to hear this. The Christian man decline this saying;” oh leader of the believers! I have taken my share from my opponent and want nothing anymore. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him then turned to Amr Bin Al ‘Aas the governor and said: "When did you enslave people when their mothers born them free."

This is Islam: emphasizing the equality and applying it in the society since 1400 years ago, when during that time mankind used to suffer the worst distinction among people and individuals in the society.

 

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