Islam views community as the bedrock of society.
It is a Muslim’s responsibility to ensure there is justice for all as this will lead to a fairer and stronger civilisation.
Prophet Muhammad emphasised that all humans should have the same basic rights. He declared that: “People are as equal as the teeth of a comb”. Prophet Muhammad was a social activist of his time.
He empowered the underprivileged by advocating equal dignity and opportunity for all.
He fought against the mistreatment of vulnerable people in society and allowed no room for prejudice or bigotry.
The Abyssinian slave, Bilal, who was tortured by his pagan owners for converting to Islam, was appoin- ted by Prophet Muhammad to the respected position of the first man to call people to prayer. Such an act of social equality sent a strong message to the pagan Arabs.
Across Muslim lands now known as Egypt, Syria and Turkey, there were trust systems that provided support to people in all levels of society. There were schools and hospitals where the poor could receive free education and healthcare. There were centres for blind and disabled people where they were given shelter and training.
In Ottoman times, public soup kitchens provided free food daily. There was also support for mothers and young children.
In Damascus, the sultan and general Salahuddin, or Saladin, established two reservoirs by the gate of his fort, one of milk and one of fresh drinking water for mothers to take freely. As Prophet Muhammad said: “He is not a believer whose stomach is full while his neighbour goes hungry”.
Compassion, community and equality are the foundation of social action. Today, Muslims continue to champion the call for social justice by contributing to various endeavours that include raising people out of poverty, calling for greater equality and fairness in society, and creating spaces for community empowerment.