It is never fair to compare the best of ourselves to the worst of others, lest we fall into the destructive sin of arrogance.

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.

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 supremacists, and the purveyors of racism claim dark skinned people are natural criminals. In every case, the tribalists construct a false caricature of their victims to be the straw man for 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 said:

لَيْسُوا سَوَاءً ۗ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ وَمَا يَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَن يُكْفَرُوهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُتَّقِينَ

They are not all the same. Among the people of the Book 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.

Surat Ali Imran 3:113-115

It would be wrong to negatively stereotype an entire religious group with all its unique individuals and diverse interpretations. For this reason, the Prophet, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, firmly censured the poets of his time who had a habit of excoriating entire tribes.

Aisha, RadiyAllahu Anha, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:

إِنَّ أَعْظَمَ النَّاسِ فِرْيَةً لَرَجُلٌ هَاجَى رَجُلًا فَهَجَا الْقَبِيلَةَ بِأَسْرِهَا

Verily, the greatest of people in falsehood is a man who insults another man by disparaging the entire tribe.

Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 3761, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:

إِنَّ أَعْظَمَ النَّاسِ جُرْمًا إِنْسَانٌ شَاعِرٌ يَهْجُو الْقَبِيلَةَ مِنْ أَسْرِهَا

Verily, the greatest criminal among people is a poet who disparages the entire tribe.

Source: al-Adab al-Mufrad 870, Grade: Sahih

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 said:

وَلَا تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ إِلَّا عَلَيْهَا وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ

No soul earns anything except it is upon itself, and none shall bear the burdens of another.

Surat Al-An’am 6:164

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:

وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ الرَّجُلُ بِجَرِيرَةِ أَبِيهِ وَلَا بِجَرِيرَةِ أَخِيهِ

No man is to be punished for the crimes of his father or his brother.

Source: Sunan An-Nasa’i 4131, Grade: Sahih

Hence, tribalism is the ideological core of all militant terrorists, regardless of whether they support state terrorism or renegade terrorism. The Prophet renounced anyone who fights for tribalistic reasons and who eschews the principle of non-combatant distinction in war.

Abu Huraira, RadiyAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, said:

وَمَنْ قَاتَلَ تَحْتَ رَايَةٍ عُمِّيَّةٍ يَغْضَبُ لِعَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَدْعُو إِلَى عَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَنْصُرُ عَصَبَةً فَقُتِلَ فَقِتْلَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ عَلَى أُمَّتِي يَضْرِبُ بَرَّهَا وَفَاجِرَهَا وَلاَ يَتَحَاشَ مِنْ مُؤْمِنِهَا وَلاَ يَفِي لِذِي عَهْدٍ عَهْدَهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَلَسْتُ مِنْهُ

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. Whoever rebels against my nation, striking the righteous and wicked alike and sparing not even 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.

Source: Sahih Muslim 1848, Grade: Sahih

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 though 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 Muslims, but of all human beings.