Diversity, Liberty, and Virtue in Islam

Diversity, Liberty, and Virtue in Islam

Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5295-7.ch012


Islamic teachings state that diversity is intended to encourage people to learn and understand each other rather than disharmony. It requires one to look at the mindset and the culture of an organisation and the different perspectives people bring to an organisation on account of their ethnicity, social background, professional values, styles, disabilities, or other differences. Diversity is ‘otherness' or those human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong yet are present in other individuals and groups. Age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race, and sexual orientation are considered primary dimensions, while education, place of residence, class, marital status, religious beliefs, occupational status, and life experiences are secondary dimensions of diversity. This chapter aims to analyse and discuss diversity management as an inclusive concept, encompassing a broader focus than employment equity.
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This chapter further focuses on diversity procedures, it is usually thought of in terms of obvious attributes – age differences, race, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, religion and language. Diversity in terms of background professional experience, skills and specialisation, values and culture, as well as social class, is a prevailing pattern.

The last sermon of holy Prophet (PBUH) specifically addresses dimensions of human diversity while laying down basic principle of superiority i.e. righteousness does not race, ethnicity or any other aspect of otherness:

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 does a black have any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action.

The concepts of diversity and multiculturalism can be easily found in several verses of the al-Qur’ān and the tradition (Sunnah) of holy Prophet (PBUH) (Muhtada, 2012).

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; (al-Qur’ān 5:48)

Even though humankinds are created in diversity, the concept of unity and brotherhood are crucial. The diversity of human beings should not lead to disharmony (Muhtada, 2012).

O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women (al-Qur’ān 4:1)

This verse reminds human beings that they have been created of a single sole, so that they should respect each other (Muhtada, 2012). The same message of brotherhood is repeated in following verse:

O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another (al-Qur’ān 49:13)

Gender equity is reflected through several verses that treat male and female equally (Muhtada, 2012).

And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed (al-Qur’ān 4:124)

And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female;” (al-Qur’ān 3:195)

In Islamic ethics male and female have same opportunities to secure rewards of their deeds:

Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do (al-Qur’ān 16:97)

Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward (al-Qur’ān 33:35)

Islamic ethics establish common grounds among other religious communities to emphasise similarities instead of differences:

Say, “O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah”. But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]” (al-Qur’ān 3:64)

Islamic teaches respect for places of worship of other religions:

[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah “. And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might (al-Qur’ān 22:40)

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