Troublesome Traditions #1: Love the Arabs for Three Reasons

The question of racist and misogynistic hadith is one that immensely bothers not only Muslim feminists but non-Muslims, Muslim women, and anyone who encounters these hadith believing Islam to be a religion of liberation and justice.  I’ve been recently endeavoring to study the Sunnah and have seen these provocative traditions and the scholarly responses to them. I want to share what I’ve learned to ease the concerns of others.

Love the Arabs for three reasons; because I Muhammad am an Arab, the Holy Qur’an was revealed in Arabic and the language of Jannah will be Arabic.

Mustadrak al-Hakim (vol. 4 pg. 87)

The scholarly opinions are this hadith is weak, false, and/or fabricated.

    • Abu Hatim in his Jarh wa Ta’deel (Vol. 3 pg. 359) declared this hadith false
    • Ibn al-Jawzi stated this tradition is fabricated [1]
    • Al-Dhahabi said he believed this hadith was fabricated [1]
    • Al-Albani in his Silsilah Ahadith al-Da’ifah wa al-Mawdu’ah listed this hadith as fabricated [2]
    • Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz characterized this hadith as “fabricated” and “not authentically reported from the Messenger of Allah as pointed out by Hadith [sic] scholars” [3]

Al-Albani noted the chain of this hadith and scholarly opinions on it.  According to him, Al-Suyuti said one of the narrators of this hadith, Shbil b. ‘Ala, reported strange hadith according to Ibn ‘Adiyy.  Al-Haythami rejected the narrator ‘Abdul ‘Aziz b. ‘Imran and this narrator was questioned by Ibn Ma’in and al-Hafiz al-‘Iraqi. [4]

It is stated in the Qur’an God loves acts of goodness and the people who do acts of goodness.

So do good for God loves those who do good. (v. 2:195)

 For God loves those who seek pardon, and those who are clean. (v. 2:222)

Verily God loves those who are just. (v. 49:9)

The Qur’an also specifies the behavior God dislikes.

Fight those in the way of God who fight you, but do not be aggressive: God does not like aggressors. (v. 2:190)

O sons of Adam, attire yourselves at every time of worship; eat and drink, but do not be wasteful, for God does not like the prodigals. (v. 7:31)

Do not hold men in contempt, and do not walk with hauteur on the earth. Verily God does not like the proud and boastful. (v. 31:18)

 It is not said in the Qur’an God loves individuals for their ethnic origin or they deserve more love than others for their ethnicity. In the clearest words, the Qur’an says God created different groups of people deliberately and there is only distinguishment in virtue.

O men, We created you from a male and female, and formed you into nations and tribes that you may recognise each other. He who has more integrity has indeed greater honour with God. Surely God is all-knowing and well-informed. (v. 49:13)

Muhammad Asad commented on the nature of this verse in establishing the equality of humanity beyond ethnic or racial boundaries.

[To] know that all belong to one human family, without any inherent superiority of one over another (Zamakhshari). This connects with the exhortation, in the preceding two verses, to respect and safeguard each other’s dignity. In other words, men’s evolution into “nations and tribes” is meant to foster rather than to diminish their mutual desire to understand and appreciate the essential human oneness underlying their outward differentiations; and, correspondingly, all racial, national or tribal prejudice (‘as abiyyah) is condemned – implicitly in the Qur’an, and most explicitly by the Prophet (see second half of note 15 on 28:15).

In addition, speaking of people’s boasting of their national or tribal past, the Prophet said: “Behold, God has removed from you the arrogance of pagan ignorance (jahiliyyah) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but a God-conscious believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.” (Fragment of a hadith quoted by Tirmidhi and Abu Da’ud, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah.)

As Muslims, we observe love for what God loves and dislike what God dislikes. This is the natural progression of faith in Islam.  We’ll love what Allah loves like modesty, piety, kindness, faith, and justice and hate aggression, meanness, haughtiness, and cruelty.

In a hadith, it is said, “Whoever loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, gives for the sake of Allah, and withholds for the sake of Allah has perfected the faith.” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4681).

It is clear that we cannot love someone only for their ethnicity. We love acts of goodness and dislike acts of evil.  We love for a person, even if he sins, to have goodness in his life as we strive to have in ours and we hate their sin as we hate our sin. [5] We love for an Arab person the goodness and piety we love for ourselves just as we love for a German, a Kurd, or a Swede. We love the Arabs as our brothers and sisters in humanity or in the Ummah just like we love the non-Arabs the same.

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? [6]

  1. “Is Arabic the language of the people of Paradise?” 
  2. Nasiruddin Al-Albani quoted in Syed Iqbal Zaheer’s Fake Pearls, pg. 91
  3. The Hadith “Love Arabs for three reasons” 
  4. Nasiruddin Al-Albani quoted in Syed Iqbal Zaheer’s Fake Pearls, pg. 91
  5. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” 
  6. Musnad Ahmad 22978



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