The Innovation of Shu’oobism: Deciphering Between Nobility and Racism and The Common Miscontruence of the Two

The Bid’ah of Shu’oobism (الشعوبية).

Research provided by Haitham Hamdaan

Editing and Additional Commentary by al-boriqee

Source: Multaqa Ahlul-Hadeeth Forum

Where did the term Shu’oobism come from:
The term Shu’oobism was first used by one of the greatest Arab linguist, Amr bin Bahr al-Kinani al-Basri, famously known as al-Jahith.

He developed this term based on the Quranic verse: 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 honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full Knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).

The word nations above is the translation of the word Shu’ooban (شعوباً). Allah SWT generally categorized mankind into tribes and nations. Tribes are a reference to Arabs, and nations are a reference to non Arabs.

An Analogy:

Let us start with something which we all know and accept …

The essence of the offspring of the Prophet ASWS is of a higher status than the essence of any other offspring.

This is with respect to the essence. So it does not mean that someone who is NOT from the offspring of the Prophet ASWS could not be less pious and, therefore, less loved by Allah SWT than someone who is.

Nevertheless, we have to believe that the essence of the offspring of the Prophet ASWS is of a higher status.

Another analogy is: gold vs. silver. Gold in essence is more valuable than silver. But this does not mean that there cannot be a silver piece that is more precious than a gold piece.

The Arab Essence vs. Non-Arab Essence:
In the same manner, it is the ‘Aqeedah of Ahlus-sunnah that the Arab essence is of a higher status than non-Arab essence.

The Prophet Muhammad salallahu alaihi wa sallam said: Allah SWT has chosen Kinanah from among the son’s of Adam, and has chosen Quraish from Kinanah, and chose Bani Hashim from Quraish, and chose me from Bani Hashim.[1]

Once again, this does not mean that Arabs are more beloved to Allah SWT than non-Arabs just because of their race. It is Taqwaa which counts. But just as the offspring of the Prophet alaihi salatu salam has an essence which is of a higher status than everyone else, we are to believe that the Arab essence is of a higher status than other races.

What is Shu’oobism?

Shu’oobism has two levels:

1) The first level is to believe that the Arab essence is not different than any other essence. Many people, including some Arabs, propagate this in an attempt to refute racism.

2) The second level is to believe that the Arab essence is inferior.

Al-Albanee said in As-Silsilah Ad-Da’eefah 163:

“The (جنس) of Arabs is better than the (جنس) of the rest of nations. This is what I believe, adopt as creed and consider as part of religion.
Even though I am Albanian, I am a Muslim, praise to Allah.
The virtue of the (
جنس) of Arabs is the position of Ahlussunnah Wal-jamaa’ah. It is proven by many Hadeeths.”

Then he added RA:

“But this should not make an Arab proud of his (جنس). Because it is from the matters of Jahiliyyah which our Prophet Muhammad salallahu alaihi wa sallm abolished.
We should not forget the reason why Arabs deserved this virtue. It is because of their intellect, speech ability, manners and deeds, which made them eligible to carry the Islamic Dawah to other nations.”[2]

Shaikhul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah said in Iqtidaa’ As-Siraat al-Mustaqeem:

The belief of Ahlussunnati waJamaa’ah is that the essence of Arabs is better than that of ‘Ajam, whether the ‘Ajam are Hebrew, Assyrians, Romans, Persians or others.

Quraish is the best of Arabs, Bani Hashim are the best of Quaish, and Muhammad ASWS is the best of Bani Hashim. Therefore, Muhammad ASWS is the best of humanity, both in person and in lineage.

The virtue of Arabs, Quraish and then Bani Hashim is not just because the Prophet ASWS was from them, even though this is a part of virtue. Arabs are in themselves better. This is how it is proven that the Prophet ASWS is the best in person and lineage. Otherwise, a revolving argument will generate.[3]

Abu Muhammad Harb bin Ismail al-Kirmaani, the companion of Imam Ahmad, described his book of Sunnah by saying:

“This is the belief of Imaams of knowledge, those of Athar and well known people of Sunnah, which have been taken as examples. It is the belief of scholars of Iraq, Hijaaz, Sham and others.

Whomever goes against any of these Madhaahib, attacks them or despises those adopting them is a person of Bid’ah, he would be outside of Jamaa’ah, and inconsistent with the way of Sunnah and path of truth.

It is the Madhab of Ahmad, Ishaaq bin Ibrahim bin Makhlad, Abdullah bin Az-zubair, al-Humaidee, Sa’eed bin Mansoor, and others with whom we have sat and from whom we have acquired knowledge.

Among their sayings were: Imaan is to say, do and believe …

We are to realize for Arabs their right, virtue and early acceptance of Islam. We are to love them because the Prophet ASWS said: loving Arabs is Imaan, and disliking them is hypocrisy. Shu’oobis and low Mawaale dislike Arabs and do not admit to their virtue. This is a Bid’ah and an inconsistency with the correct way. We do not say that which they say.”

This was also narrated by Ahmad himself, in the book of Ahmad bin Sa’eed al-Istakhree –if it is authentic-. It is the opinion of the general group of scholars.

Shaikhul Islaam continues to say:

“A group of people said that there is no virtue for the Arab essence over the non-Arab essence. Those are called: Shu’oobis, because they wanted to bring victory to the Shu’oob, the opposite of tribes. Tribes are for Arabs, and Shu’oob are for ‘Ajam.”

Some people might claim that some non-Arab nations are better than Arabs.

Usually, such talk is produced due to hypocrisy, either in belief or in actions resulting from self desires and some doubts.

Shaikh Mar’ee al-Karmee’s (مرعي الكرمي) wonderful book:

مسبوك الذهب في فضل العرب وشرف العلم على شرفالنسب

Translation of the title: (Blocks of Gold in Demonstrating the Virtue of Arabs, and that the Nobility of Knowledge is Higher than that of Lineage):

Although the title says it all … here are excerpts from the book:

He said after establishing the virtue of the Arabs in (
جنس) essence:

“There were non-Arabs who were better than thousands of Arabs. Suhaib the Rumi, Bilaal the Abyssinian, and others were each better than thousands of Arabs. In fact they were better than thousands from Quraish, Bani Al-Abbaass and the family f the Prophet ASWS.”

“The virtue of the essence (جنس) does not mean the virtue of the individual in religion, which is the main objective. This is an area where feet slip. Many wrongly assume that the virtue of lineage is better than the virtue of having knowledge.”

“The honor which should be relied on is the earned honor, such as knowledge and Taqwa. This is true virtue. Not the inherit virtue which is the virtue due to lineage. The Quran, Sunnah and intelligent people have attested to this”.

“It is clear ignorance, and an embarrassing stupidity for an Arab to feel proud over a non-Arab because of lineage. Whomever does this is ignorant, arrogant and wrong.”

“Yes, if an Arab fears Allah then he will attain the virtue of Taqwaa and that of lineage. And if he does not fear Allah, then he is closer to animals … true virtue is in adhering to that which Allah SWT sent Muhammad ASWS with, not in being Arab, ‘Ajam, black, white, Bidwyn or a villager.”

Manifestations of Shu’oobism:

A) Rafidah:

The less extreme sects of Shi’a denounce Shu’oobism. In fact they make a distinction between ‘Alawee Shiasm and Safawee (Rafidy) Shiasm.

Rafidah, on the other hand, incorporate Shu’oobism as a strong element in promoting their religion. They are strong believers in the virtue of the Persian blood over all other blood, including Arab blood.

This lead them to consider the killing of Omar RAA at the hands of Abu Lu’luah as the first holy act by a Persian person against forces of evil.

Dr. Ali Sharee’ati (who is an Iranian Shee’ah) said:

“For the purpose of affirming its thoughts and goals in the consciousness of people, and mixing them with their beliefs, Safawis attempted to give a religious flavor to their main personalities. They “dragged” them into the Prophetic household in order to increase in deviation. The result was a Shiaite Shu’oobi movement. It used Shiasm to give Shu’oobism a hot spiritual flavor and a touch of religious holiness. This smart goal was only attainable by converting Islam and the personality of Muhammad and Ali into a racist cult and fascist personalities, who believe in the virtue of the Persian sand and blood.”

Dr. Moosa alMoosawee, another Shiee intellect, referred in his excellent book “alThawrah alBaisah” to Khumainy’s promotion of the degradation of Arabs. Arabs were portrayed by Khomanism as a backward nation which does not keep promises and treaties.

In addition, let us not forget that Rafidah assisted the army of the Mugul to invade Baghdad. This lead to ending the ‘Abbassee Khilafah. We see how history is repeating itself these days!

B) Extremist Sufis:

AlJazeerah Channel made a documentary on Sufism. It revealed the degree of hearted which extreme Sufis have towards Arabs. Listen to part 6 of the documentary:

The documentary is in Arabic, but you can barely hear an English translator in the back ground. =False&gate_id=0

C) Wallace (Waruthuddeen) Muhammad group:

Over emphasize Arabs’ mixing of culture with religion.

– Condemn African Americans who attempt to wear Thoubs and Kufi as: blacks who are trying to be too Arab.

Exaggerate promoting that you can be a Muslim without being an Arab. This is a fact, however, if you listen/read the way in which they present this idea, you will see clearly that they have a problem with Arabs!

– Reduce the significance of the “type of Islam” which has arrived to the West from the East. Whether by Arabs or by Muslims from the ISC.

– Promote the idea that African Americans are the ones who have the correct understanding of Islam.

D) Many Muslim Activists:
– Emphasize that Arabs lost their religion.
– Emphasize that Arabs lost their language.
– Claim (to Western media) that Arabs are anti-Semite.
– Shove the issue of unislamic Arab culture whenever he has a chance.

A well known Californian Shaikh, who lived among Arabs for 10 years often rides this Shu’oobi wagon.

E) Many African American students of knowledge who are followers of the way of Ahlussunnah in general.

F) Many students of knowledge from the ISC who are followers of the way of Ahlussunnah in general.

(E) and (F) are more subtle. And I only mentioned them as an eye opener.

Final Words from ibn Taymiyyah’s Iqtidaa’:

“This is proof that disliking Arab’s and taking them as enemies is Kufr, or a reason for Kufr. Arabs are better than others, loving them is a reason for increasing Imaan. Had the prohibition of disliking Arabs been just like that of disliking other nations then disliking Arabs would not have been characterized as a reason to depart religion and dislike the Prophet ASWS. This proves that disliking them is worse than disliking others (1) …

What a Muslim should do when contemplating or discussing such virtues is to act like a wise religious person, whose goal is to know what is good, and to stick to it. His objective should not to be proud over anyone. Imam Muslim narrated in his Saheeh that the Prophet ASWS said: It has been revealed to me that you should be humble so that none of you becomes proud over another, or oppress another.

So Allah SWT prohibited, by means of His Prophet, both types of transgression: Pride and oppression … so if someone is from a virtuous group, such as being a Hashimite, a Quraishen or an Arab, let him not feel that he is virtuous. If he did, then he would be wrong. Because virtue of essence does not necessitate virtue of the individual … there could be an Abyssinian who is better in the eyes of Allah than most of Quraish. Just having this believe (believing that you are virtuous because you belong to a virtuous group) necessitates that you exit the status of virtue.

If a person is a non Arab, non Quraishi or non Hashimite, let him know that his belief in what the Prophet ASWS said, following Him in what he ordered, loving that which Allah SWT loves, imitating those whom Allah made virtues and establishing the true religion with which Muhammad was sent, all of this commands that he is better than the majority of the virtues groups, and this is true virtue.

(1) When “Arabs” are mentioned then the first thing which should come to your mind is something positive. Not a list of negative things like in the case of Shu’oobis.

والله أعلم، وصلى اللهوسلم على نبينا محمد وآله وصحبه

Preliminary Remarks

The Hadith in Arabic used the word ( اصطفى ) which is a verb that means chose the best of ….. [ Refer to any dictionary i.e. Taj al-a’roos and others].

The hadiths that talks about no Arab is better than non Arab and vice versa is referring to their status before Allah’s sight in terms of their good deeds and piety which what distinguish the good and the bad amongst them regardless if they are Arabs or not, because as we said that status does not give Arabs any immunity at all.

In other words from a western perspective it is like one who is a prime minister and another who is a trader. The prime minister has higher ran by people and is favored by them more BUT if anyone of them violate the law then both will be questioned regardless what status they have.

Rabi’e narrated the prophet said: O’ people, Allah created his creation and made them into two groups. He placed me in the best group then he made this group into tribes and placed me in the best tribe” [ Al-Mustadrak: 5077] This has been authenticated by Al-hakim, adh-dhahabi who was silent about it and ShaykhShu’ayb Arna’oot.

There is another athar that was narrated by Salman Al-Faresi ( رضيالله عنه ) when he said: O’ Arabs Allah has favored you over us….” [ Musnad Al-bazar and Sunan Abi sa’ed] This Hadith has been authentciated by Al-Bazzar and Ibn Taymiyyah.

I think this hadith alone is more than enough to show that Arabs have this status over others yet keep in mind do not confuse this with superiority that the west advocate!! Because racism is not acceptable in Islam

So from a basic gist of the above we should get the following deduction


Nobility……means……..Superiority……which means……. An Elite with special privileges that others do not have at all like exclusive rights that others do not have access to i.e. VIP places, Tax discounts, Access to specific facilities and etc……… In other words this superiority put people in a status above the law i.e. red necks, Nazi, colonialism regimes and so forth


Nobility…… means……. superiority (although I do not think it is correct translation here as the word is fadl means virtue)……which means….A group who are respected and honored by people And do not have any privileges more than others in daily life. In other words, they are respected due to their status but not above the law since they are equal to everyone else in their rights and duties.

What further established the nobility of the Arabs over all within the Islamic definition above in contrast to the western outlook is the following tradition narrated in at-Tirmidhee

Allah created mankind and chose me from the best whereof, He chose the tribes and selected me from the best whereof, and He chose families and selected me from the best whereof. I am the very best in person and family”[4]

At-Tirmidhee commented saying:

هذا حديث صحيح وهذا يقتضي أن إسماعيل وذريته صفوة ولد إبراهيم، فيقتضي أنهم أفضل من ولد إسحق، ومعلوم أن ولد إسحق الذين هم بنو إسرائيل أفضل العجم، لما فيهم من النبوة والكتاب

This Hadeeth is Saheeh and this shows that Ismaa’eel and his offspring are the preferred children of Ibraaheem and this shows that they are better than the children of Ishaaq, and it is known that the children of Ishaaq, those who are Banee Israa’eel are the best of the ‘Ajam (foreigners), because of what they have from the prophethood and the Books.”

Secondly the hadeeth shows that of all mankind, the first best were the Arabs as the statement is “the best of all of them i.e. the Arabs.
The second best were the tribe of quraish
the third best was the family of hashim
and he was the best of hashim.

[1] At-Tirmidhi has narrated this tradition from Wathilah ibn al-Asqa’ and has said that this tradition is sahih in his sunan.

[2] Note: translation of the word (جنس) is essence.

[3] A revolving argument is to say: “A” depends on “B” while “B” depends on “A” which is unacceptable logically.

[4] tirmidhee 2/201

Download the Full e-book with extended discussion about G.F al-Haddad’s statements on the topic in contrast to the orthodox position Bida of Shu’oobism