The prohibition of tribalism in Islam

Abuu Mus’ab

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All perfect praise be to Allah, we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and he whom He leaves astray there is none to guide him!

I bear witness that none is worthy of Worship but Allah, who is alone without partners and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His Slave and Messenger.
“O you who have believe! Fear Allah, (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared, [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Surah Ali-‘Imraan, 3: 102]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:1]
“O you who have believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a greater achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).” [Surah Al-Ahzaab, 33: 70-71]
Verily the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW).  And the worst matters are the newly invented matters, and ALL new matters (in Religion) are innovations into the religion, and all the innovations are misguidance, and all the misguidance lead to the fire.

Tribalism is the pernicious and deleterious ideology that afflicts all human societies in every time period, originating in the worship of idols and reconstructing itself into many forms throughout the ages. In modern times, we know it as the specters of racism, xenophobia, supremacism, imperialism, slavery, fascism, genocide and ethnic cleansing. In practice, it rears its ugly head in the shape of prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination.
Allah has commanded us to uphold justice with all other human beings regardless of their race, religion, or identity.
Allah the Most High said:

“O you, who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. Follow not your desires, lest you not be just.” (Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:135)
Brothers and Sisters!
Tribalists, by contrast, reject universal standards of justice. They divide the world into the privileged in-group and the demonized out-groups, holding to the slogan “my people, right or wrong.” Their love of their own people and hatred of different people causes them to rationalize and justify the unjustifiable.
Wathila ibn Al-Asqa’ reported: I said,
“O Messenger of Allah is it part of tribalism that a man loves his people?” the Prophet said: “No, rather it is tribalism that he supports his people in wrongdoing.” (See Sunan ibn Majah, 3949)

Love for one’s people is normal and healthy if it leads to good deeds, but such love that comes at the expense of justice is not true love at all.
Tribalism by this definition has been rejected by Islam in the harshest terms. Tribalism is a form of “blind following” whose adherents live in “ignorance,” an allusion to the pre-Islamic worship of idols.
Jundab ibn Abdullah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever is killed under the banner of blind following, which calls to tribalism or supports tribalism, then he has died upon ignorance.” (See Sahih Muslim, 1850)
The Prophet Peace and blessings be upon him disowned anyone who lives by the ideology of tribalism or supports it in any way. Tribalists might be outwardly Muslims, but in reality Allah will not count them among the true believers.
Jubair ibn mut’im reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“He is not one of us who calls to tribalism. He is not one of us who fights for the sake of tribalism. He is not one of us who dies following the way of tribalism.” (See Sunan Abu Dawud, 5121)
The Prophet delivered an instructive parable to use about the likeness of one who adheres to tribalism:
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever supports his people in oppression is like a dead camel that falls into a well and is pulled out by its tail.”(See Musnad Ahmad, 4141)
In another narration, the Prophet said:
“The parable of the one who supports his people upon other than the truth is that of a dead camel that falls into a well and is pulled out by its tail. (Musnad Ahmad, 3670)

The Tribalist who falls into this sin is destroyed, just like a camel that plunges to his death inside a well. The corpse of his sin will poison the well for an entire town, while the townspeople must endure the hideous sight and stench as they remove his carcass from their drinking water. Like the rotting camel, all throughout history we have seen the deadly presence of tribalism justify oppression, murder, and genocide.
Tribalism takes many different forms, but the mindset is always the same. When Tribalists justify themselves in terms of race, this is classic biological racism. Sometimes Tribalists justify themselves in terms of culture, claiming their culture must dominate others, in which case they are simply practicing cultural racism.
Even religion itself can be used to construct and justify an ideology of tribalism.

If religion is used to violate the human rights of others and rationalize injustice against out-groups, it has become nothing more than religious racism.
Rather, the religion of Islam teaches us to uphold the rights of all human beings, to walk with humility, and to leave the divine judgment to Allah alone. We would do well to remember the fates of the humble sinner and the arrogant worshipper.
Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Two men among the children of Israel were the opposite of each other. One of them was a sinner and the other would strive in worship.

The worshiper would see the sinner and tell him to stop. One day he found him sinning so he said: Stop! The sinner said: leave me alone, by my Lord, have you been sent as a watchman over me? The worshiper said: by Allah, Allah will not forgive you or admit you into paradise. Later their souls were taken and they met in the presence of the Lord of the worlds. Allah said to the worshiper: Did you have knowledge of me or power over what is in my hand? Allah said to the sinner: Enter Paradise by my mercy. And Allah said to the worshiper: Take him to the Hellfire.”(See Sunan Abu Dawud, 4901)
In other words, it is never fair to compare the best of ourselves to the worst of others, lest we fall into the destructive sin of arrogance and braggadocio.

No matter what scheme is used to justify tribalism, whether race, culture, or religion, the outcome is always the same: racist practice. Whoever the Tribalists designate as the out-group will suffer prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination meant to enhance the Tribalists own privilege at the expense of those they deem inferior. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun!
The method of tribalism is to issue blanket indictments of an entire race, culture, religion, or group of people. They will condemn an entire group for the crimes of a few, or misrepresent an entire group by only examining its worst elements. Thus, the purveyors of Islamophobia claim all Muslims are terrorists, the purveyors of anti-Semitism claim all Jews are greedy, and the purveyors of racism claim black people are natural criminals and parasites. In every case, the Tribalists construct a false caricature of their victims to be the straw man of their vicious attacks.

Islam teaches us to reject such blanket indictments and false generalizations. Some of the Prophet’s companions began to have bad thoughts about all of the Jews and Christians, but verses were revealed making clear distinctions the righteous and unrighteous.
Allah the Most High said:
“They are not all the same. Among the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) is a community standing in obedience, reciting the verses of Allah during the night and prostrating in prayer.

They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to do good deeds. Those are among the righteous. Whatever good deeds they do will never be denied, for Allah knows well the righteous.” (Surah Ali Imran, 3:113-115)
It would be wrong to negatively characterize an entire religious group with all its unique individuals and diverse interpretations. For this reason, the Prophet firmly censured the poets of his time who had a habit of excoriating entire tribes.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, the greatest of people in falsehood is a man who insults another man by disparaging the entire tribe.” (See Sunan Ibn Majah, 3761)
In another narration, the Prophet said:
“Verily, the greatest criminal among people is a poet who disparages the entire tribe.” (See al-Adab al-Mufrad, 870)

If we accept blanket indictments of an entire group, then we are making a claim of collective guilt that will ultimately lead to collective punishment, and collective punishment is a crime of war. Islam rejects collective guilt and punishment, in word and deed, as innocent people may never be held accountable for the crimes of others.
Allah the Most High said:
“No soul earns anything except it is upon itself, and none shall bear the burdens of another.” (Surah Al-An’am, 6:164)
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“No man is to be punishment for the crimes of his father or his brother.” (See Sunan An-Nasa’i, 4131)

Hence, tribalism is the ideological core of all militant terrorists and criminals, regardless of whether they support state terrorism or renegade terrorism. The Prophet renounce anyone who fights for tribalistic reasons and who eschews the principle of non-combatant distinction in war.
Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever fights under the banner of one who is blind, raging for the sake of tribalism, or calling to tribalism, or supporting tribalism, and is killed in this state will have died upon ignorance (Jahiliyyah). Whoever rebels against my nation, striking the righteous and wicked alike and sparing not evens the believers and he does not fulfill the pledge of security, then he has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with him.” (See Sahih Muslim, 1848)

When the connection between tribalism and terrorism is understood, it will not be difficult for you to see that every violent extremist group, whether white supremacists or kharijite terrorists or others, all share the same basic tribalist ideology even thought they express it in different terms.
In sum, Islam rejects all forms of tribalism, racism, and bigotry. We must not construct a false caricature of other groups in order to justify oppression, blanket indictments, and collective punishment against them. We must take the lead in upholding justice and the natural rights of not only Muslim, but of all human beings.
Remember, whether you are Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Kanuri, Nupe, Ebira, Igala, Okun etc., first thing is we are all Nigerians and Allah the Almighty created us to live together and benefit from each other’s gift, wisdom and experience. Further, no group or tribe can claim ownership of the Nigerian state; being different in tribes isn’t a reason why others will be maligned, belittled, vilified, denigrated, bad-mouthed, aspersed, dress downed and demonized. Therefore we must fear Allah and avoid any tribalistic behavious that will jeopardize our peaceful co-existence.
Let’s join hands together to move the country forward, in order to have the blessing of sustainable peace, unity and progress.

The Black, White, Yellow, Africans, Americans, Arabs, Europeans, Asians, northerners, southerners, westerners, easterners, etc. are all the same in the eyes of Allah. We should not be deceived by our colour, tribe or anything.
Servants of Allah!
The inauguration of the new Governor of Kogi State His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello (Fair Plus) took place peacefully by the Grace of Allah on Wednesday, 27th January, 2016.
The Governor is taking over a state that has been so polarized along tribal lines that it will take the wisdom of Prophet Sulayman for the Governor to succeed.
The debt profile of the state is equally frightening. This is therefore as I see it not a time for celebration but one that requires serious prayers for the Governor.

All persons of goodwill must therefore join in prayers for him and members of his team. Let us be part of the solution and not part of the Governor’s problems. No violence, no vilifying, no taunting of other tribes.
O Allah! Make us among those who earn your forgiveness and acquire safety from the Hell fire, Ameen.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Prayers, peace and mercy are upon our beloved master, Muhammad, the son of Abdullah (SAW), his family and Companions.
And success comes from Allah, and He the Most High knows best.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Raby’ al-Thaany 19, 1437 AH (29 January, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached for advice and corrections via: +2348038289761

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