Asabiyyah is a Diseases that weakens the Muslim
(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed
Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on July 31, 1998)
The causes and the diseases that have weakened
the Muslim ummah are many, and the asabiyyah with all its kinds and forms
is one of these deadly diseases that have weakened the Muslim ummah in the
past as well as today; the once unified, merciful, and cohesive Muslim
ummah has transformed into differing, conflicting, warring entities.
For this reason, it is a must for us to know
what asabiyyah with all its forms is and to know what Islam says about
asabiyyah and why Islam has fought it, and how we can rid ourselves from
Definition of asabiyyah:
Linguistically, asabiyyah comes from the word
asabah which is the relatives of the person from the father side. These
relatives are called asabah because they strengthen and defend the person
that makes him/her stronger.
Idiomatically, asabiyyah is man's supporting his
people to whom he belongs, whether they are right or wrong, oppressing or
oppressed. The belonging to these people can be due to kith and kin,
ethnicity, color, birth place, citizenship, school of thought, or a group
of people with common interest.
What causes asabiyyah? The drive that causes
asabiyyah is the feeling of being better than others, and that others are
at a lower class. So, the person that has this feeling of asabiyyah thinks
so highly of himself and of those to whom he belongs, and thinks that
other people are as good as his own people.
This kind of thinking is corrupted, and it is in
fact a kind of arrogance that comes from the mentality of Iblis, which led
him to disobey the command of Allah when He ordered him to prostrate to
Adam. Iblis said,
"I am better than him, You created me out of
Fire and you created him (Adam) out of clay." The Prophet Mohammed
(S.A.W.) warned us when he said, "No one enters Paradise if they have in
their heart a grain weight of arrogance." The prophet (S.A.W.) defined
this arrogance in two things: Rejection of the truth and looking down on
What are the harms of asabiyyah? Asabiyyah is
harmful in many ways. It destroys the ummah, and changes the unity and
harmony to disunity and disharmony. This is beneficial to the enemies of
the ummah or an opportunistic group of people from this ummah. This
situation is witnessed many times in the past as well as today.
The asabiyyah, in Jahiliyya time before Islam
turned the Arab tribes into enemies and made from their Arabian peninsula
a battle field. Allah (S.W.T.) told us about their situation before Islam
in surat Al-Imran, (verse 103), what can be translated as, "And hold fast,
all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among
yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favor on you, for you were enemies one to
another, but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you
became brethren (in Islamic Faith)…" This kind of situation is not
restricted to the Arabs, it actually plagued all nations that were
disunited because of asabiyyah.
The different kinds of Asabiyyah:
The first kind is the asabiyyah of relatives
relationship and ethnic discent: it is the most ancient and the strongest
kind of asabiyyah. The closer the relationship is, the stronger the
asabiyyah. The further away the relationship is, the weaker the asabiyyah.
Tribalism, ethnicism, and nationalism are of this kind of asabiyyah. From
this comes a Jahili (unIslamic) slogan, "Support your brother whether he
is oppressing or oppressed."
The second kind is the asabiyyah of principles
and mathaahib schools of Islamic laws: This kind of asabiyyah grows
amongst a group of people who are binded by one thought or one principle,
be it religious or not, or the followers of a certain math’hab school of
Islamic law. The individual in this group of people strongly supports his
group or the followers of his math’hab whether they are right or wrong.
The third kind of asabiyyah is regionalism: It
is formed amongst a group of people who live in one region. They think
that just because they are living together in one region, that by itself
will give them better qualifications than others. So they look down on
others and think highly of their own selves even if those other people
have lived with them for tens of years and even if they were born in their
region but they are not originally from them. This kind of asabiyyah has
grown in intensity within the Muslim ummah after the fall of the Islamic
This regionalism was a goal that was sought by
the enemies of Islam, so they planted this deadly thought and nourished it
with all means, and people ended up victims of this deadly asabiyyah that
only benefited the opportunistic people by keeping and strengthening their
In the past, this kind of asabiyyah
(regionalism) was the reason behind losing Andalousiah (Al-Andalous).
The fourth kind of asabiyyah is racism: It is
formed amongst people with the same color of skin, thinking that their
skin color by itself makes them better than other people of different skin
color. This kind of asabiyyah did not exist in the Muslim ummah
(walhamdulillah), but it is deep rooted in the west; the people of dark
color skin were deeply hurt and oppressed because of their color in these
countries which claim to be advanced and civilized for a very long time.
So much blood was shed, they were dishonored, and stripped from their
human rights because of their skin color and we know many details about
that in this society that we live in. This oppressive situation gave birth
to a violent reaction that manifested itself in many rebellions, violent
acts and hate crimes that are initiated by different people out of
asabiyyah for their own color at different times and different places.
Islam rejects all kinds of asabiyyah, because
all these kinds of asabiyyah are not suitable to be a fair and just
framework for the human societies; they are in fact manifestations of
oppression, corruption and transgression on the earth.
Allah (S.W.T.) proclaimed that he created the
differences amongst people to be a reason for them to get to know each
other, and live together in cohesion and collaboration and not a reason
for them to look down on one another. In reality, the scale of being
better than others is at-taqwa (rightousness) and the good deeds. Allah
(S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Hujurat, (verse 13), what can be translated as,
"O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you
into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most
honorable of you in the sight of Allah is those who has most taqwa…"
Allah (S.W.T.) also says in another verse, that
the differences amongst people are a sign that indicates the greatness of
Allah's creation and his power like the sign of the creation of the earth
and the sky. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Rum, (verse 22), what can be
translated as, "And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the
earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Verily, in that
are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge."
We all as Muslims, those who inherited Islam and
those who converted cannot be true Muslims if we still carry any kind of
asabiyyah. When we accept Islam we have to leave and throw away all kinds
of Jahiliyya beliefs, thinking, mentality, and behavior. This is how we
will accept Islam as a complete way of life.
In this part of the Khutbah, we shall explore
the stance of Islam toward asabiyyah, why Islam has fought it and warned
us against it. We will also present how we can rid ourselves of it.
So what is the stance of Islam toward asabiyyah?
There are many authentic ahadith that warn us
against the ignorant asabiyyah with all its types and forms.... all of
these are strong warnings from which the heart of a believer trembles
because he believes that he will stand accountable before Allah (S.W.T.)
on the Day of Judgment. Among these ahadith are: Imam Muslim reported that
the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "and whosoever fights under a blind (rayah)
flag (it is not known whether this flag represents the truth or
falsehood), gets angry along with his group of people, or calls to a group
of people, or supports a group of people, and is subsequently killed
because of that, then this killing is a jahili (sinful) killing." In
another narration by Imam Muslim, "......and whosoever is killed under a
blind (rayah) flag, gets angry along with his group of people, and fights
for the sake of his group of people, then he is not from my ummah." In
both narrations, there is a strong warning from the prophet (S.A.W.) to
the one who is triggered by asabiyyah to call for it, or to get angry for
it, or to support it. In the first narration, it clarifies to us that if
he gets killed because of asabiyyah, then his killing is a jahili (sinful)
killing. In the second narration, the prophet (S.A.W.) excludes the one
who carries asabiyyah from his ummah. Both of these warnings indicate how
serious and great the sin of asabiyyah is. Imam Abu-Dawud reported that
the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "He is not of us if he calls to asabiyyah, and
he is not one of us if he fights for the sake of asabiyyah, and not one of
us if he dies on asabiyyah."
Also when two men one from Muhajireen and one
from Ansaar differed, each one called to his group for help, so each group
got ready to support their man, then the prophet (S.A.W.) said what was
reported by Imam Muslim, "What is this? Are you calling the call of the
people of Jahiliyyah? Leave it, for surely it is filthy."
Imam Abu-Dawud reported in an authentic hadith
that the prophet Mohammed (S.A.W.) said, "Whosoever supports his group of
people not on the truth, he is like a camel that fell from a high peak
into a deep valley where it only could move its tail." The prophet
(S.A.W.) gave the example of the one who fights wrongfully for the sake of
his group of people with the camel that fell from a high peak into a deep
valley; it is helpless, scolded, humiliated, and can not do anything
except move its tail uselessly at the bottom of the valley.
In another authentic narration by Imam
Abu-Dawud, the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Allah (S.W.T.) took away the
asabiyyah of jahiliyyah from you, and your boasting about your fathers.
So, man is either a righteous believer or a corrupted non-believer. You
are the children of Adam, and Adam is from dirt; let men quit their
boasting of their own people, they are nothing but coal from the coal of
Hell or they will be more humiliated in the sight of Allah more than the
dung beetle that pushes dung with its nose."
We need to ask ourselves, why Islam has fought
asabiyyah and warned us against it?
Simply because gathering and mutual support on
the basis of asabiyyah contradicts the fundamentals of Islam and its
teachings. The Muslim who believes in Allah (S.W.T.) has his heart filled
with love of Allah and love toward those who are loved by Allah, and
hatred toward those who are hated by Allah. The relationship between true
Muslims and other people is based on this perspective only; he supports
and allies himself with those who are loved by Allah and supports them
when they are right even if they are the farthest people from him (in
blood, ethnic background, race, birth place, or nationality….). And on the
other hand, a true Muslim hates the enemies of Allah and shows animosity
towards them even if they are the closest people to him (in blood, ethnic
background, race, birth place, or nationality….)
This is the true stance of a believer and he
adopts no other stance.
Allah (S.W.T.) gave us a good example of this
kind of believer in Ibraheem (S.A.W.). Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat
Al-Mumtahinah, (verse 4), what can be translated as, "Indeed there has
been an excellent example for you in Abraham and those who believe with
him, when they said to their people: "Verily, we are free from you and
whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has
started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever, until you
believe in Allah alone."
The society that Islam wants is the kind of
society where people gather on the basis of Islam and Islam alone. So that
the believers will have one united ummah despite their differing colors,
languages, ethnic backgrounds, tribes, so that this one ummah becomes like
one body. We must keep in mind that Islam does not cancel races,
languages, and regions, but makes them members and parts within this one
body; they move when the body moves towards a common goal, in a way that
none of the roles of any parts of the body is canceled.
The scale of being better in this society is not
the race, language, national origin, ...; it is righteousness and good
deeds, Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Hujurat, (verse 13), what can be
translated as, "Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is
that (believer) who has At-Taqwa"
So how do we rid ourselves of Asabiyyah?
This is clarified in the Qur'an. Allah (S.W.T.)
commanded us in surat Al-Emran, (verse 103), what can be translated as,
"And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, (Islam) and do
not be divided among yourselves." Holding tight and assimilating on the
deen of Allah (S.W.T.) and no other deen, and assimilation on the basis of
anything else is an unIslamic, ignorant, and a rejected assimilation. This
holding tight and assimilation on the deen of Allah should be done by all
Muslims with no exception. If some do not do this, the cure will not be
Also, it is a must that Muslims unite regardless
of the factors that suggest differences, like skin color, languages,
regions, national origins...... because unity is obligatory.
The cure is also with purifying the soul from
the traces of jahiliyah and purifying it from arrogance, and looking down
on people and planting the virtue of humility and respect of others.
The cure is also with the total awareness that
asabiyyah is from the works of Iblees and a means of destruction in the
hands of the enemies of the Muslim ummah from within and from outside.
Asabiyyah is a sharp knife that has cut the veins of the Muslim ummah and
is still bleeding and dying.
We ask Allah (S.W.T.) to protect us all from all
forms of Al-asabiyyah Al-Jahiliyah and make us true believers. ( Ameen )