18 October 2017 CE | 27 Muharram 1439 AH

Hadith Explanation

Black Beetle

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors, but in the sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of the time of Jahiliyya (Ignorance/Pre-Islam) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.” [Tirmidhi]

Within 100 years of the advent of Islam, the Muslim empire stretched from India in the east, to Morocco and Spain in the west and River Oxus in the north. The civilization of Islam could not have come into being, let alone prosper, with tribal and cultural prejudices in place. Looking at the size of this area and the centuries of peace it enjoyed thereafter, it is clear that it was the power of Islam that allowed this peaceful co-existence. The historian H. R. Gibb wrote in Whither Islam (p.379): “No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind… Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition.”

In the Islamic state, Islamic laws determined the structure of the state, its judicial system, its economic system, and its foreign policy. The individuals were free to follow the religion of their choice. It was the converse of the system prevalent today, wherein the systems of government and state are man-made (democratic, capitalist, communist, whatever they may be) while the individuals in their personal lives may practice whatever limited religion they can.

The past couple of centuries have seen wars between different ethnic groups on an enormous scale. The rise of nationalism has resulted in bitter conflict between groups that had lived for centuries in harmony. Each group works, fights and kills, for its supremacy over others.

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us clearly that lasting honour and respect come only from one’s own piety and obedience of Allah. The respect that one hopes to enjoy by boasting of one’s ancestors is false since it is not based on anything he/she did. It is worthless in the sight of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) since He is the one who determined who your ancestors would be. It is temporary because at the latest it will end with your death. While he/she who recognizes Allah’s rights on His creatures will earn Allah’s respect and be respected forever.

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