Real Talk: Is Islam a Religion for Arabs Only?

18 December, 2017
Q Hello Ask about Islam people, I wish to know more about Islam and Muslims. Is this religion only for Arabs? It seems to me that all Muslims are Arabs and that the history of this religion is simply the history of the Arabs. Is it a pan-Arab religion?


Short Answer: Of course not. God describes Himself as the Lord of all the Worlds! He is Lord of all humanity, and even of all living things, so how could he deliver a message only meant for one tiny fraction of creation? Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is considered God’s final messenger to all mankind, not to Arabs or people of the Prophet’s time only. For Allah, all people are equal. There is no distinction between an Arab and a non-Arab except according to the piety of the believer.

Salam (Peace) Dearest Julia,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I start my answer with the word “salam” which means “peace”, though your simple and direct question caused my heart to ache!

The pain I felt when I read your question was because I was surprised that some would think that God would limit his generous gift to a certain sect of humanity or a specific race. Allah, the Most Merciful, is much greater than such a “discriminative” idea.

God is the God Of All The Worlds

Julia, Islam is the universal religion addressing all mankind.

The meaning of Islam is actually the unconditional and peaceful submission to the One and Only God, Who is the Creator of existence.

When God refers to Himself in the Quran, He does not limit His divinity to a certain category or sect of humanity.

On the contrary, He declares Himself to be God of all beings and worlds:

Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds (Quran 1:2)

He never defines himself as the God of all Arabs or even the God of all Muslims only, but He is God of all things, including all mankind:

God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. (Quran 39:62 )

On the other hand, Islam regards any person who submits to the Creator and who calls to this submission as a true Muslim.

Prophets Came from All Over the World

According to the Quran, all prophets who called to the idea of submitting to God, throughout the history of humanity, are true Muslims:

Say: “We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam).” (Quran 3:84)

Prophets and messengers sent by God to call mankind to Islam were not mostly Arabs, but they were from different nations, backgrounds and races.

Among the Arab ones were Prophet Salih and Messenger Muhammad, the last of all prophets (peace be upon them all).

Muhammad: A Blessing to All Mankind

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is considered God’s final messenger to all mankind, not to Arabs or people of the Prophet’s time only.

God has declared this repetitively and explicitly in the Quran, when He addressed or mentioned Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. (Quran 21:107)

Say: “O mankind! I am sent unto you all, as the Apostle of God, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in God and His Apostle, the Unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.” (Quran 7:158)

Islam Teaches All People Are Equal

I would also like to add that since Islam is God’s last universal message to all His servants, conveyed through His final messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), its principles strongly support the concept of equality between all mankind.

Islam emphasizes that the criterion that ranks one person higher than another is never his race, color, kind, nationality or wealth, but rather, it is his devotion, piety, and strength of faith.

For Allah, there is no distinction between an Arab and a non-Arab except according to the piety of the believer. In addition, the Quran also confirms this principle:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran 49:13)

This principle was always fulfilled and proved throughout the history of Islam.

Important Non-Arabs In Islam’s History

Numerous non-Arab figures played fundamental roles in supporting the foundation of the Islamic civilization throughout its history.

Worth mentioning are the great companions of the Prophet like Salman the Persian, Sohaib the Roman and Bilal the African, along with others.

Those great companions played fundamental roles in spreading Islam when it was still in its early ages.

They were also known to be of great devotion and piety among the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Later, in the history of the Islamic civilization, among the greatest scholars specialized in the different disciplines of Islamic studies, were many non-Arab figures.

Among the numerous great Islamic empires, there were many non-Arab rulers. An important example is the Ottoman Empire.

It was a powerful Muslim Turkish empire, that dominated the Muslim world since the mid of the 16th century till the beginning of the 20th century.

The bond between the individuals of the Muslim nation is not based on their race, but rather, it is their sincere belief and submission to the One and Only God.

Arabs: Only 20% Of All Muslims

Yes, it is a fact that Arabs played a major role in the history of Islam, especially in its early ages, for they served as a means for communicating this great religion to all mankind.

This is due to more than one reason, among which is that God’s final messenger was an Arab.

If he was not so, and if he was from any other race, his people would have played the same role carried out by the Arabs.

Actually, statistics prove that Islam has spread enormously among non-Arabs and that Arabs make up only 20% of the Muslim nation today.

To conclude, what I am trying to clarify is that Islam is the final message from our Beloved Great Creator, calling upon all mankind to submit peacefully to Him and to His divine doctrine.

It is the divine message that teaches equality between mankind and that God judges any person only according to his honest sincerity and nothing else.

Salam, I hope to hear from you again.

(From AboutIslam’s archives)

Read more…

Why Did Muhammad Only Spread Islam to Arabs?

Were All Prophets Arab? Arabic the “Language of Heaven?”

Why Do Arab Muslims Feel Superior to Non-Arab Muslims?

An Arab Religion, Right?

About Sister Dalia Salaheldin
Sister Dalia Salaheldin is: - An instructor and consultant of interfaith & intercultural Dialogue - A speaker and orator on interfaith and intercultural discourse - An instructor of Arabic and Quranic language at the American University in Cairo - A trainer of interfaith and intercultural discourse and dialogue - A founder of Reading Islam Website - A bilingual writer and proem poet - A social and political activist who has traveled through the world widely - A human development adviser and alternative medicine practitioner