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Guides Are for Guidance…

Question and answer details
If Allah created all people equal, then why do we have people telling people what to do and how to do it?
Shahul Hameed
Salaam Sue,

Thank you for your question.

We need to understand that the word ‘equal’ - in the case of humans - does not mean equal in all respects. If so, it would suggest that all humans have the same color, the same weight, the same appearance, the same intellectual abilities etc.

The Qur’an declares human equality in Surah 49, verse 13:

*{O Mankind, We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you.}*

After ‘the single pair’ is mentioned, Allah speaks about nations and tribes, and then of the greater degree of honor that goes to the most righteous. The ‘nations and tribes’ speak of the diversity of the race. Hence, diversity is a fact of nature, which enhances the beauty of nature.

Allah says in Surah 35, verses 27 - 28:

*{See you not that Allah sends down rain from the sky? With it We then bring out produce of various colors. And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of various shades of color, and black intense in hue. And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colors. Those truly fear Allah, among His servants who have knowledge: for Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.}*

Again, Allah (swt) says in Surah 49, verse 13:

*{O people, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other. Surely the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous of you.}*

Human diversity is a part of the general diversity visible in creation. Think of the variety of colors and languages, races and tribes. All these are indicative of God’s creative power and wisdom. They endow human life with richness and beauty. They are not meant as barriers to generate hostilities, but as a means of mutual recognition and interaction for the greater benefit of all.

Beside these natural differences, there are others that are basic to human societies and cultures. These are reflected in the variation of beliefs and practices.
The Qur’an recognizes the individuality of each human being, as well as the individuality of different groups and communities.

The Qur’an says in Surah 5, verse 48:

*{… to each among you have We prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but [His plan is] to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.}*

It is part of the diversity of humans that people differ in their tastes, talents, intellectual caliber, etc. Yet, it is rare – through the history of humanity - that we meet a Homer, a Socrates, a Moses or an Einstein. There are thinkers and doers. There are philosophers and engineers. This fact does not detract from the equality of humans, which is emphasized by God’s scripture.

This is because human equality essentially means equal opportunity for life, resources and for self-fulfillment. And such equality is a social value that should be attained, as it is not a fact of nature. The principle of equality is a noble ideal we should cherish and honor. And we must sincerely and dedicatedly strive for its realization in society.

Man is a social being, and his progress - as well as prosperity - depends as much on his individual freedom as on his ability to cope with others in society. Most of the work necessary for Man’s progress can be done only collectively, and not individually. Thus, Man has to use the best methods of social organization and group dynamics to achieve progress.

This is where the question of leadership arises. Not everyone can be a leader or a guide.
There are natural leaders and there are those who work most efficiently when they are spared of the trouble of deciding for themselves… Those who are not leaders, by nature, need to follow the leader-character for their own welfare, for the welfare of all. That is why there are Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries, commanders of armies and CEOs of companies… etc.

Among the essential characters, who are to be followed as leaders and guides, are prophets and messengers. The purpose of God behind sending prophets also is essentially the same as mentioned above. This is though it covers a more comprehensive area and is much larger in scope.

This is because it is related to the very destiny of Man in this world and the next, as well. Prophets teach humans what to believe and how to live here. You might ask: “then why do they tell us that, we can simply do it on our own.” The answer is that only God decides how to be worshiped and He teaches that to His prophets and messengers. Having the innate traits of leadership and knowledge given by Allah (
swt), they can help us with our path in this life to the coming one.

For the above reasons, there cannot but be people who tell others what to do and how to do it. Others follow them, not because they are lesser beings, but because they want to contribute their share to the welfare of all. We should understand that the leader in an ideal society is the first among equals, and not a “master” or a “lord”.

Another important point – even more important – is that Islam never orders people to follow without knowledge or out of ignorance. On the contrary, Islam calls for thinking and searching. Don’t ever forget that the first revelation was: *{Read!}*

I hope the foregoing answers your question.

May God guide us all to the truth!

Thank you and please keep in touch.

Useful Links:

Prophet Mohammed: A Pioneer of the Environment

The Seal of Prophets