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Recognition of Diversity and Patriotism in Shariah

Moderation is the hallmark of Islam. Any deviation towards negligence or extremism is condemned.

Shariah gives recognition to every natural angle and dimension of human beings, from the male gender to the female gender, from blood relations to milk relations, from families to tribes and from nations to trans-nations.

Consider the following verses:

يا أيا الناس انا خلقناكم من ذكر و أنثي

Translation: “Oh People! Indeed we have created you from male and female” (Surah Hujurat, 13)

وجعلناكم شعوبا و قبائل

Translation: “And we have created you as Nations and Tribes” (Ibid)

ياأيها الذين آمنوا لا يسخر قوم من قوم

Translation: “Oh you who believe! One nation should not look down upon another nation” (Surah Hujuraat, 11)

Shariah also appreciates the diverse values and practices emanating through gender, family, cultural, ethnic and national differences and accordingly have laws governing such issues.

The divine reason given for the categorization of human beings as tribes, families and nations in mutual recognition and respect for each other. After explaining the basics of human beings, Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala) says:


Translation: “So that you may recognize each other” (Surah Hujuraat, 13)


It is natural for a human being that is born and brought up in a particular tribe or country to love his tribe and country. This is also appreciated and recognized in Shariah. Hazrath Bilal (Radhiyallahu Anhu) migrated to Madeenah Munawwarah and he fell sick. He began thinking of valleys, trees, and water wells of his native land, Makkah Mukarramah and expressed his wish in poetic form. Consider the following Hadeeth:

حدثنا قتيبة عن مالك عن هشام بن عروة عن أبيه عن عائشة أنها قالت لما قدم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة وعك أبو بكر وبلال رضي الله عنهما قالت فدخلت عليهما

وكان بلال إذا أقلعت عنه يقول

ألا ليت شعري هل أبيتن ليلة بواد وحولي إذخر وجليل

وهل أردن يوما مياه مجنة وهل تبدون لي شامة وطفيل

Translation: Aisha (Radhiyallahu Anha) says that Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) came to Madeenah and Abu Bakr and Bilal (Radhiyallahu Anhuma) did not agree with the climate of Madeenah. She further states: “Whenever the fever would subside from Bilal, he would say: “If only I could spend one night in a valley with Izkhir and Jaleel around me and how I wish for a day when I would drink the water of Mijannah and How I wish Shamah and Tufail would appear before me.” (Saheeh al-Bukhair, Hadeeth # 5330)

The books of Hadeeth have dedicated chapters on the recognition of the various tribes, for example the Quraish:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : الناس تبع لقريش في الخير والشر

Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Mankind are followers of the Quraish in good and bad” (Musannaf, Hadeeth # 4755)

Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) also mentioned the other tribes.

قريش و الأنصار و جهينة و مزينة و أسلم و غفار , أشجع موالي، ليس لهم مولي دون الله و رسوله

Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “The Quraish, Ansaar, Juhainah, Muzainah, Aslam, Ghifaar and Ashja are masters, they do not have any master except Allah and His messenger” (Bukhari, Hadeeth # 3512)

The recognition given to the various tribes induces a sense of honour and pride in its members.

Overarching Principle

Whilst there is general recognition of diversity in ethnicity and nationality, if there is a good quality or moral that enhances the value of the tribe or nation, that is also recognized and praiseworthy.

حدثنا ابن أبي عمر حدثنا سفيان بن عيينة عن أبي الزناد عن الأعرج عن أبي هريرة ح وعن ابن طاوس عن أبيه عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خير نساء ركبن الإبل قال أحدهما صالح نساء قريش وقال الآخر نساء قريش أحناه على يتيم في صغره وأرعاه على زوج في ذات يده

Translation: Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said “The best women are those who ride camels, one of the narrators said “The pious Quraishi women and the other narrator said “The women of the Quraish, the most kind to an orphan in infancy and most considerate to her husband’s wealth and possessions.” (Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth #2527)

Conversely, if there is anything un- Islamic, for example oppression based on patriotism, that will be condemned.

و عن بنت واثلة ابن الأسقع أنها سمعت أباها يقول : قلت: يا رسول الله: ما العصبية؟ قال: أن تعين قومك علي الظلم

“Hadhrat Wathila Bin Asqa asked Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam): What is Asabiyyah? He replied: To assist your nation/people upon oppression.” (Abu Dawood, Hadeeth # 5119)

Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:

عَنْ جُبَيْرِ بْنِ مُطْعِمٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : ( لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ دَعَا إِلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ وَلَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ قَاتَلَ عَلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ وَلَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ مَاتَ عَلَى عَصَبِيَّةٍ

“He who invites towards Patriotism, fights because of Patriotism and dies upon Patriotism is not from amongst us” (Abu Dawood, Hadeeth # 5121)

Hadhrat Moulana Khalil Ahmed Saharanpuri (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) states under the commentary of this Hadeeth that “The meaning of dying on Asabiyyah is that Asabiyyah becomes entrenched in the heart of the person and one becomes desirous of Asabiyyah even though he did not invite anyone nor did he kill anyone.”

Patriotism has a tendency of evoking deep emotions in a person which could overshadow the correct and proper thinking of an individual. Such a person is robbed with his moderation, justice and fairness.

Consider the following thought provoking incident of patriotism that took place at the time of Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)’s response to such patriotism.

اخبرنا ابن جريج قال : أخبرني عمرو بن دينار أنه سمع جابرا يقول: غزونا مع النبي و قد ثاب معه ناس من المهاجرين حتي كثروا ، و كان من المهاجرين رجل لعاب فكسع أنصاريا، فغضب الأنصاري غضبا شديدا، حتي تداعوا، و قال الأنصاري: يا للأنصار و قال المهاجري: يا للمهاجرين، فخرج النبي فقال: ما بال دعوي أهل الجالية؟ ثم قال: ما شأنهم، فأخبر بكسعة المهاجري الأنصاري، فقال النبي: دعواها فانها خبيثة

Hadhrat Amr Bin Deenar narrates that he heard Jabir saying: “We went out in battle with Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and a group of Muhajireen also joined until they increased, and there was a very playful/jovial man from the Muhajireen and he hit an Ansari on the back, the Ansari became very angry until they both rallied for support. The Ansari said: Oh Ansar! Help me. And the Muhajir said: “Oh Muhajireen! Help me. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) emerged and enquired: What is the condition of the claim of the people of Jahiliyyah? Then he said: “What is their matter? Then he was informed of the Muhajir’s hitting of the Ansari. Then Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: leave that for verily it is filthy”. (Bukhari, Hadeeth # 3519)

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


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عن امرأة منهم يقال لها فسيلة، قالت: سمعت أبي يقول، سألت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقلت: يا رسول الله أمن العصبية أن يحب الرجل قومه؟ قال: «لا، ولكن من العصبية أن يعين الرجل قومه على الظلم» (ابن ماجه، باب العصبية)


A woman named Fasilah narrates that she heard her father saying: I asked Nabi sallaAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, “O Rasullullah, is love for one’s nation considered chauvinism?” He sallaAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied, “No, chauvinism is partly to help one’s nation in perpetrating injustice” (Ibn Majah)

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Abu Fusailah states:

سَأَلْتُ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ أَمِنَ الْعَصَبِيَّةِ أَنْ يُحِبَّ الرَّجُلُ قَوْمَهُ؟ قَالَ " لَا وَلَكِنْ مِنَ الْعَصَبِيَّةِ أَنْ يَنْصُرَ الرَّجُلُ قَوْمَهُ عَلَى الظُّلْمِ

“I asked the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam “is it from nationalism that a person loves his nation?” The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam replied “no, nationalism is when a person helps his nation to oppress others.””

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said in his final sermon:

لَا فَضْلَ لِعَرَبِيٍّ عَلَى عَجَمِيٍّ وَلَا لِلْأَحْمَرِ عَلَى الْأَسْوَدِ إِلَّا بِالتَّقْوَى

“There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and there is no superiority for a white over a black except through piety”

Mufti Shafi Rahimahullah remarks under this Hadith:

یہ اعلان فرما کر آپ نے وطنی قومیت اور نیشنل ازم کی بنیاد ختم کردی اور بتا دیا کہ نیشنل ازم اور اسلام ایک ساتھ نہیں چل سکتے

“By making this anouncement, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam eradicated the bases of patriotism and nationalism and showed how nationalism/patriotism and Islam are incompatible”

As Muslims, we must remain law-abiding citizens of our countries, but our servitude must always remain towards Allah Ta’ala.


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Difference between Nationalism amd Patriotism

Following is extracted from askimam.org

Nationalism and patriotism both show the relationship of an individual towards his or her nation. The two are often confused and frequently believed to mean the same thing. However, there is a vast difference between nationalism and patriotism.

Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background, including language and heritage. Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on values and beliefs.

When talking about nationalism and patriotism, one cannot avoid the famous quotation by George Orwell, who said that nationalism is ‘the worst enemy of peace’. According to him, nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life. These concepts show that patriotism is passive by nature and nationalism can be a little aggressive.

Patriotism is based on affection and nationalism is rooted in rivalry and resentment. One can say that nationalism is militant by nature and patriotism is based on peace.

Most nationalists assume that their country is better than any other, whereas patriots believe that their country is one of the best and can be improved in many ways. Patriots tend to believe in friendly relations with other countries while some nationalists don’t.

In patriotism, people all over the world are considered equal but nationalism implies that only the people belonging to one’s own country should be considered one’s equal.


By "patriotism" I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseperable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.


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