Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya claims that Arabs are superior to other races in lineage and descent, which is the view of most scholars, including Imam Ahmad.
Doesn’t that contradict the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that no Arab is superior to non-Arab except in Taqwa? This deeply disturbs me because Ibn Taymiyya and Imam Ahmad are two scholars I respect, and I hate that they have such an opinion. Can you kindly clarify if that makes sense?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
I pray you are in good faith and health.
Islam gives all people equal rights and opportunities and opposes all forms of racism, nationalism, and tribalism which incite the pride of one class of people against another. The Quran and Sunna convey mindfulness of Allah Most High as the only distinctive feature that makes someone better than another.
Allah Most High said, “Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you.” [Quran, 49:13]
Abu Nadra (Allah bless him and give him peace) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “O people, your Lord is one, and your father Adam is one. There is no favor of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?” [Aḥmad]
Arab Virtue Over Others is Due to Islam, Faith, and Mindfulness
“Verily, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran over the worlds.” [Quran, 3:33]
“Verily, Allah has chosen Kinana from the sons of Ishmael, and he has chosen the Quraish from Kinana, and he has chosen the tribe of Hashim from the Quraish, and he has chosen me from the tribe of Hashim.” [Muslim]
Allah Most High, through his wisdom, favored some nations over others by bestowing divine revelation upon them, but it has nothing to do with race, tribe, or lineage. However, Allah Most High favors some nations over others because of their righteous deeds. That favor is lost with the loss of righteousness, which is why the Israelites eventually fell from grace.
Ibn Taymiyya’s (Allah have mercy on him) View and Clarification
Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him) clarifies his opinion and gives a reason (also acknowledging, “Allah Most High knows best”) that is: because they were the very first models of Islam and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was from amongst them in lineage and descent, having brought faith in Him, having beneficial knowledge, righteousness, and of high spiritual excellence. It was not because of them being an Arab, or foreigner, with black or white skin, or residing in the city or countryside. [Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim Li Mukhalafat Ashab al-Jahim]
Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on SeekersGuidance?
I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.