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The Holy Quran explains that humankind are equals: “O men, We created you from a male and female, and formed you into nations and tribes that you may recognize each other. He who has more integrity has indeed greater honor with God. Surely God is all-knowing and well-informed” (49:13).
However, many Muslims continue to adhere to the distorted notion that they are better, more righteous and morally superior to all non-Muslims! The engrained belief in the moral perfection of Muslim culture and the superiority of its identity and in moral supremacy over other non-Muslims continues to hinder a much-needed progress in Muslim societies.
In other words, the insistence in some aspects of the Arab and Muslim psyche to view non-Muslims as less moral and less humane contradicts with the tenets of Islam. It is primarily due to the efforts of non-Islamic cultures that we have today universal human rights, international law, constructive education, and many other positive human achievements.
Many Muslims who continue to feel morally superior to non-Muslims tend to ignore the fact that the real threat to the Muslim world today is not colonization by some foreign non-Islamic powers, but from “Islamic” radicalism. I have not personally read or heard about a Christian terrorism on a global scale, nor have I witnessed hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees fleeing to Dar- Al- Islam! Many Muslims today, even some who live in peace and prosperity in some Western societies view Westerners in general as immoral! Even though that it is actually due to Western governments and societies that Muslim refugees find safe shelters from prosecution, yet the negative depictions of Westerners continues.
Moreover, many Muslims refuse to recognize or acknowledge the moral integrity of a Western character. For many Muslims, being a Muslim is an essential requirement for moral integrity, even though those who slaughter Muslim victims in Islamic countries are usually Muslims. What seem to contribute to this distortion of Western culture and Westerners in general in some Muslim minds is the lack of recognition among Muslims that virtue, human integrity and truthfulness are not exclusive Islamic rights.
Non-Muslims do not need to convert to Islam to become virtuous or worthy of honor and respect. Our fellow human beings, especially people of the book, Christians and Jews, occupy a sanctified position in traditional Islamic views. Being people of the book, Christians and Jews share with Muslims the truths of revelation, similar moral values and almost identical rituals.
A well-read Muslim accepts wholeheartedly that one cannot label Christians and Jews as infidels. Those who are infidels or Kaffers were few groups of pre-Islam Arabs who fought against early Muslims. Our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters are our fellow humans and they deserve all respect.
Those who are morally superior to others are those who continue to be tolerant while facing the temptations of intolerance. A morally superior person is the honest individual who continues to attach himself to the human family and feels himself as an integral part of it. In today’s world, it is impossible to ignore the fact that righteousness and decency can be acquired and achieved by any person whatever their faith or creed or lack of, for that matter.
By Khaled Aljenfawi