Bismillahi ar-rahman ar-rahim
I heard of this narration that I felt the need to share about the time the Prophet Muhammad asked about the person who used to sweep the floor of the mosque (who was either a black man or woman though when Hamza Yusuf mentioned it he related it was a woman).
حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَبِي رَافِعٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، أَسْوَدَ ـ أَوِ امْرَأَةً سَوْدَاءَ ـ كَانَ يَقُمُّ الْمَسْجِدَ، فَمَاتَ، فَسَأَلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْهُ فَقَالُوا مَاتَ. قَالَ
“ أَفَلاَ كُنْتُمْ آذَنْتُمُونِي بِهِ دُلُّونِي عَلَى قَبْرِهِ ”
. ـ أَوْ قَالَ قَبْرِهَا ـ فَأَتَى قَبْرَهُ فَصَلَّى عَلَيْهِ.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
A black man or a black woman used to sweep the mosque and he or she died. The Prophet (ﷺ) asked about her (or him). He was told that she (or he) had died. He said, “Why did you not inform me? Show me his grave (or her grave).” So he went to her (his) grave and offered her (his) funeral prayer.”
Dar-us-Salam reference Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 458
In-book reference Book 8, Hadith 106
USC-MSA web (English) reference Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith 448
This was a “nobody” to the companions but spiritually this woman had a high station with Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) and the Messenger (peace be upon him) and he was aware of her. Look how the Prophet raises people up and doesn’t denigrate them (unless they deliberately denigrated Allah and His Message).
Contrast this with the racism that is rampant in white christian America. The racist ones amongst them who claim to believe in Jesus as their God are ignorant of the colour of Jesus’s blessed skin (peace be upon him), as he was of a dark complexion, and yet they denigrate the blacks when people of African origin were and are far more spiritually enlightened than the average Anglo-saxon. Look how people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela changed their unjust societies to something more just and they did in a few decades what Abraham Lincoln failed to do with the Civil war: change the hearts and minds of the people, change their outlook and perspective.
A person should not be praised for the colour of his skin, and we should not praise ourselves for electing a black president or electing a female president. Why are we so focused on an outer show of “tolerance”? Indeed why are we “tolerating” different races as if we grudgingly accept their existencee. No, I advocate we use a different word: we “embrace” each other. We love and understand each, genuinely. Let each one of his own group embrace the people in other groups.
This does not mean we embrace all actions of all peoples, no. We have to distinguish between actions that lead to harmony and goodness, and actions that don’t but we love the people despite their actions and embrace them as friends with the mindset that they are the loved creation of the Creator for who are you to say that they are the ones that have earned God’s displeasure unless you see blatant evidence of their disobedience? And even the disobedient ones, we must embrace them, for who else have they to turn to in the dark world they see themselves in, with depression over them, and suicide looking like an appealing option in front of them, and confusion all around them?
Again let’s embrace each other and not feel like we have to tolerate each other.