Islam Through the Lens

YASMINE MAHIDA, ANUM ARSHAD and SAFA AHMED

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. [Surah al-Hujurat 49:13]

In essence, we are all the same. As human beings, we are all of the same makeup, and have the same hearts beating in our chests. Yet at the same time, we are different in so many ways. Our life experiences are different, the emotions we feel are different, and the sights and perspectives through which we view the world are very different.

But nothing that God does is without reason. He has created everything with an express purpose, and as Muslims, we are encouraged to use every aspect of our lives as a means of getting closer to Him. And though our inherent differences are one such tool that we have to our advantage, groups have misused these differences as a means to cause controversy, angst, and animosity within our global community. What these groups fail to realize, however, is that this purposeful variation of our society is not meant to perpetuate a sense of superiority of one people over another. Why, then, would God divide people into different nations and tribes? How could this ever facilitate familiarity?

As Muslims, we believe that life in this world is temporary. It brings a series of tests that we must face with patience, and pass with steadfastness and faith, that we may hope to attain the favor of our Creator. One of these tests is this very fact that we have each been created differently. Instead of pinpointing and using the differences between one another as a barrier, we can use them as strengths and tools to connect with our fellow humanity. Man’s job is to do good works, and to help others from all walks of life. As the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him) once said, “Truly the faithful are to one another like components of a building—each part supports the other.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

And indeed, one person’s weakness can be another person’s strength. We are all equal in the eyes of God, and the best in the eyes of god is the one who does righteous deeds. We were, after all, made into nations and tributes in order to know one another better. Had we been made into a world of people with the exact same thinking, nature, and habits, there would be no variation; no reason to interact and get to know the beauty in our differences. But all too often, we get caught up in our own views and routines, that we forget to engage and understand another person’s perspectives and way of life.

And thus, we as a people must meet a challenge: the challenge to get out of our comfort zones and just explore. As students, we especially have myriad opportunities to broaden our horizons and simply learn about one another. But sometimes we even take for granted how blessed we are to have so many different kinds of people around us all the time.

Our experiences in life are what bring us together as humanity. No matter how different we are, whatever race, background, affiliation, or inclination — in the end, we are all human. This division is actually a means for unity, a path to harmony, concord, and wholeness. We must not forget our purpose, and our true place in the eyes of God.
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SAFA AHMED is a third year Business Economics major at the University of California, Irvine
YASMINE MAHIDA is a third year Psychology major at the University of California, Irvine
ANUM ARSHAD is a fourth year Political Science and Anthropology double major at the University of California, Irvine

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