The word, race, literally denotes a species or sub classification of a species. Human beings are one single species - homo sapiens. Contrary to common belief, humans are not composed of different races. The false notion of 'human races' is a psuedo-scientific concept born of the misapplication of this term. In large measure, scientists and others who know the true meaning of the word race are to blame for either directly perpetuating the myth of human races, or not clarifying that humans are one species.
The notion of any group of people constituting a 'pure race' is ludicrous. It is a confirmed scientific fact that all human beings proceeded from the same earthly mother and father. For some time, scientists have known about the parallel relationship between the development of human languages and the emergence of diverse ethnic groups throughout the world. This strong relationship between language and ethnicity gave rise to a field known as Ethno linguistics, derived from anthropological linguistics. These truths were revealed in the Quran 1400 years ago, long before such questions were considered important and long before man had the means to research such questions.
[4:1] O people, observe your Lord; the One who created you from one being, and created from it its mate, then spread from the two many men and women. You shall regard God, by whom you swear, and re-gard the parents. God is watching over you.
[30:22] Among His proofs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors. In these, there are signs for the knowledgeable.
[35:28] Also, the people, the animals, and the livestock come in various colors. This is why the people who truly reverence God are those who are knowledgeable. God is Almighty, Forgiving.
The First Racist
Racism is defined as "belief in the superiority of a particular race; prejudice based on this (racism), antagonism towards other races" (Oxford American Desk Dictionary, 1998). This definition of racism is correct in its content but incorrect in terms of the word being defined. As previously stated, humans are one species or one race. An accurate definition of racism among humans would read, "belief in the superiority of a particular group, antagonism towards other groups." This is an example of intra-species prejudice wherein one group feels superior to another group within the same species. The 'human racist' assumes a posture of believing that he or she is a member of a superior "species" of humans.
The first expression of racism did not take place on earth. Consistent with the literal definition of the word race, the first expression of racism was between species, not among members of the same species. The first racist thought and act took place in the presence of God. In the Quran, we learn that Almighty God commanded the angels to bow down to the physical body of Adam. Satan, an angel at that time, refused to bow down to Adam's body. Satan 'reasoned' that since God created him of what he opinioned are superior qualities and elements, he should not bow down to a creature created from mud.
[15:28-31] Your Lord said to the angels, "I am creating a human being from aged mud, like the potter's clay. Once I perfect him, and blow into him from My spirit, you shall fall prostrate before him. The angels fell prostrate; all of them, except Iblis (Satan). He refused to be with the prostrators.
Almighty God knew why Satan refused to prostrate, but the angels did not know. God asked Satan why he did not obey His command.
[7:12] He said, "What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?" He (Satan) said, "I am better then he; You created me from fire, and created him from mud.
[15:32-35] He said, "O Iblis (Satan), why are you not with the prostrators?" He said, "I am not to prostrate be-fore a human being, whom you created from aged mud, like the potter's clay. He (God) said, "There-fore, you must get out. You are banished. You have incurred my condemnation until the Day of Judgment."
Banished by God for his racist arrogant act, Satan asked for respite until the Day of Resurrection. He declared that he will mislead and send the entire human species astray.
[15: 36-39] He said, "My Lord, respite me until the day they are resurrected. He said, You are respited. Until the specified day and time. He said, My Lord, since you have willed that I go astray, I will surely entice them on earth; I will send them all astray.
In the idiom of the language of divine revelation, Satan can be deemed "The father of all racists." In other words, Satan's arrogance and sense of superiority over Adam (human beings) is the genesis of an individual's thoughts of being better than or superior to his or her fellow humans. Satan was the first racist, and the first creature to defy God's commands. Thus, it stands to reason that racism is a gross sin. Satan was wrong on all accounts. He was blinded by his arrogance and racism into believing he was superior to Adam. Such thoughts of superiority were blasphemous in themselves. He refused to obey God's command. He blamed God for his arrogance and defiance. He then stated he would "get back" by misleading the humans.
In contemporary psychological language, Satan is non-compliant, externalizes or blames others for his failings, needs a scapegoat to project his anxieties and weaknesses on to, and is in denial of the truth. Among his other pathologies, Satan suffers from a neurotic condition known as a superiority complex.
The author and psychiatrist, Alfred Adler generally defined the superiority complex as a compulsive drive to overcome anxiety and feelings of inferiority by exalting one's self (or group) above humankind and who depreciates everyone else and puts them in the shade (Adler, A., 1979; p. 117).
Satan also suffers from delusions of grandeur. Delusions of grandeur are defined as false beliefs resting upon self-aggrandizement, boastfulness, pride, and self-assertiveness; extravagant and impossible claims are made and plans are drawn (Cameron and Rychlak, 1985).
Many humans fall prey to this ploy of Satan-racism accompanied with the superiority complex and delusions of grandeur. Psychological and social seeds of racism have been firmly planted in all societies, past and present. In any community, there are individuals who have a compulsive drive to feel innately superior to other individuals. This compulsive drive is a means of:
- compensating for their real or imagined limitations,
- feeling better about themselves, and
- coping with anxiety.
Ignorance is not the cause of racism. Arrogance is. Like the First Racist, all racists want to position themselves as "Superiors." Racism is usually spawned from: 1) distorting the significance of natural differences in characteristics such as skin complexion, physical features, culture, language, and place of geographic origin, or 2) accepting bogus false "differences" concocted by individuals and groups who distort facts to promote racist ideas.
Some individuals are "reactive racists." Having been victims of racism, reactive racists embrace racist ideas as a defense to repudiate racist beliefs directed against them. They justify their racist beliefs by saying that they are only "balancing the scales," and claim to be "revealing true facts." (Some of their "facts" are really shared fantasies). Reactive racists may also turn against another group(s) they deem as inferior to them. In the dawn of the new millennium, there are societies and communities where the social and cultural stratification of individuals based on long-held racist ideas is even integrated into religious practices and beliefs.
An intelligent person realizes that racism is more than a biased attitude or prejudice towards others. Racism should be duly classified as a mental disorder by mental health professional organizations, national and international. Racism is also a spiritual illness first manifested by humanity's ardent enemy, Satan.
Racism is wholly incompatible with submission to God alone (Islam). A person who submits to God alone does not have a need to embrace racist ideas and beliefs to feel better about him or her self. A Submitter (Muslim) recognizes that God alone is the Superior One over His creation with no equal or 'competitor.' In contrast, a racist gives him or her self over to the First Racist. True Submitters are protected by God from Satan and his tool of racism.
[15:42] You have no power over My servants. You only have power over the strayers who follow you.
[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.
Dr. E. Douglas Brown
Adler, A. (1979). Superiority and social interest. Toronto, Canada: W.W. Norton & Company.
Abate, F. (Ed.). (1998). The Oxford American Desk Dictionary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Cameron, N. and Rychlak, J.F. (1985) Personality Development and Psychopathology. Boston: Hough-ton Mifflin Company.