By Dr Khalid A Al-Saleh
The entire world is fighting all forms of discrimination against others. All are fighting racial discrimination because of skin color, and many people have paid a heavy price due to religious and sectarian discrimination. Wars took place and millions have been killed due to populist and tribal discrimination. Because people always fall victim to negligence, the most dangerous forms of discrimination have passed without them noticing it, and they did not fight it with the same force with which they fought others. It is class discrimination that is different from other forms of discrimination.
Heavenly and human legislations have recognized class differences and made them among the positive factors for human development and stimulating a person’s abilities. Islam mentions social class in the Holy Quran. Allah Almighty says in Surat Al-Zukhruf: “Is it they who would portion out the Mercy of your Lord? It is we who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and we raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the Mercy (Paradise) of your Lord (O Muhammad PBUH) is better than the (wealth of this world) which they amass” (43:32)
People are not equal in abilities, and this creates a disparity in achievements and this calls for recognition of differences. If class is a natural part of human society, then class discrimination and spreading a culture of contempt between classes is what confused people because of their ignorance of the difference between class and classism, especially in our Arab World.
Two years ago, a young Moroccan girl committed suicide, leaving behind a letter in which she complained about class contempt she faced in her school. The e-magazine Psychology published a study, the first of its kind, which links physiological changes with class discrimination in young people. Dr Thomas Fuller-Rowell of the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed the harms of class discrimination on human health. He said the study showed that there are disturbances in the physiological condition of lower classes and a decline in their health.
So, classism not only has devastating psychological effects, but it differs from other types by being harmful to human health, so it is not a surprise that diseases spread in some of our Arab countries among lower classes, who die at a younger age. While in the past we used to hold poverty alone responsible, and we discovered that poverty bears the least part, while oppression bears the greater part.
Today, in some Arab countries, we see unprecedented discrimination. There are classes that do not come in contact with others. Even if they have to deal with lower classes, they create a psychological barrier that prevents them from communicating. There are Arab societies today that are run by classes that do not see or hear anything but themselves. We are in need of fighting classism, which is rising, before the day comes when the poor disappear from the eyes of the rich and they will not see them.