Tag Archives: hamza yusuf

The Term for Racism in Islamic Text


Mr. Hamza Yusuf said that there is no word for “racism” in classic 7th century Arabic, and that the closest word is “Jahl” (ignorance).
However, that is not the case.

The Holy Qur’an (2:34 | 15:33 | 38:76) tells us:
God created Adam from hot clay and told Iblees to prostrate to Adam.
Iblees said: “I am better than him! You created me from fire and him from clay”. Iblees became “arrogant” and refused to bow to Adam, disobeying God’s direct command.
This is the first case of racism, where Iblees (Satan) believed that his race (made from fire) is superior over a race made from mud. The word used for it in the Qur’an is “arrogance” (Istikbar) إستكبار

Another word for “racism” that is used in Prophetic traditions (Hadith) is Asabya عصبية (believing that one is superior over another based on tribe or race).

These terms are encompassing and go beyond race, it would include tribe, culture, even gender, or anything that would make you feel superior over another human being.

May God the Almighty protect us from the evils of Satan, arrogance, and any type of supremacy.