Muslim literally means a ‘submitter’, but it implies someone who believes in One true God (Allah in Arabic) and that Muhammad was the last Prophet. The question has been asked whether being a Muslim a race. The short answer is a ‘No’. In fact Islam transcends race and racism as I will explain below.
In addition to the mandatory belief in One true God (Allah), and Prophet Muhammad, Muslims also believe in the Qur’an as the literal word of God, revealed to Prophet Muhammad through archangel Gabriel. Additionally Muslims believe in the Torah and Injeel (The Gospel) as the Scriptures from the same God, and the ‘Biblical’ Prophets, including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jospeh, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus. In addition to the Scriptures and Prophets, Muslims are required to believe in the Day of Judgment and the hereafter. The Qur’an is actually full of narrations about the importance of believing in the hereafter, and accountability, though Muslims also believe that it will be God’s mercy that will make their entry into the paradise.
Back to the basic question: Is Muslim a race?
Muslims are in fact the most diverse religious population on the planet. You will find Muslims in all continents and among all races, whether you are White, Black, Brown or oriental. According to Pew Research Center, American Muslims are a highly diverse group of people belonging to a number of ethnic, racial background.
No racial or ethnic group makes up a majority of Muslim American adults. A plurality (41%) are white, a category that includes those who describe their race as Arab, Middle Eastern, Persian/Iranian or in a variety of other ways. About three-in-ten are Asian (28%), including those from South Asia, and one-fifth are black (20%). Fewer are Hispanic (8%), and an additional 3% identify with another race or with multiple races.
The Qur’an in fact talks about the diversity of color of skin and our languages as a Sign of God.
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned. The Qur’an 30:22
This is part of a series of verses that invites the reader to ponder on various signs of God, such as turning of the night and day.
And one of His signs is that He created you from dust, then lo! you are mortals (who) scatter.
And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.
And one of His signs is your sleeping and your seeking of His grace by night and (by) day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who would hear.
And one of His signs is that He shows you the lightning for fear and for hope, and sends down water from the clouds then gives life therewith to the earth after its death; most surely there are signs in this for a people who understand
And one of His signs is that the heaven and the earth subsist by His command, then when He calls you with a (single) call from out of the earth, lo! you come forth.
And His is whosoever is in the heavens and the earth; all are obedient to Him.
And He it is Who originates the creation, then reproduces it, and it is easy to Him; and His are the most exalted attributes in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.
The Qur’an 30:20-27
Another great sign of the diversity of the Muslims is seen during Hajj, which is currently going on, when millions of Muslims from around the globe gather in Mecca. My recent blog post shares more insight into the remarkable diversity of color, race, ethnicity, national origin and socio-economic status on display during Hajj.
Prophet Muhammad’s last Sermon on race and belief/actions
When he was returning from Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), he gathered all the Muslims who were with him and delivered a famous sermon that encompasses a number of important subjects on beliefs, actions, ethics and so on. One of the more famous lines clearly shows that Islam transcends race or national origin, and dispels any doubt about Muslim being a race.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a White has no superiority over a Black nor a Black has any superiority over a White except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.