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ALL MEN ARE EQUAL

After an unfortunate but significant incident in Makkah, the Prophet received a revelation from God Almighty, which has been recorded in the Qur’an in the chapter ‘Abasa (He Frowned). The chapter begins thus: He frowned and turned away when the blind man approached him, for how can you know that he might seek to purify himself, or take heed and derive benefit from [Our] warning? As for him who was indifferent, you eagerly attended to him—though you are not to be blamed if he would not purify himself—but as for one who comes to you eagerly and in awe of God you pay him no heed. (80:1-10)

The background to these verses is that one day, the Prophet was engrossed in a conversation with some influential persons of Makkah, hoping to convince them—and, through them, the Makkan community at large—of the truth of his message. At that point, he was approached by one of his followers, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum, who was blind and poor—with the request for repetition or elucidation of certain earlier passages of the Qur’an.

Annoyed by this interruption of what he momentarily regarded as a more important endeavor, the Prophet “frowned and turned away” from the blind man—and was immediately, there and then, reproved by the revelation of the first ten verses of this chapter. In later years he often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility: “Welcome to him on whose account God has rebuked me!”

All men and women are equal in the eyes of God. If there is any difference, it is only between the Creator and His creatures. This incident, recorded in the Qur’an, teaches the universal lesson that every human being is worthy of respect and should be treated on an equal basis, regardless of whether he is poor or rich, a common man or a highly placed person. All men and women are equal in the eyes of God. If there is any difference, it is only between the Creator and His creatures.

As far as God’s creatures are concerned, everyone enjoys the same status and respect and deserves to receive the same importance. Equality is not simply a moral value, it is more than that. Equality means equal regard, equal opportunities, equal freedom, equal right to development and progress. Equality has an absolute value in the Islamic system. No compromise whatsoever is allowed in this regard.

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