How do you identify yourself? That is a question that each person faces on a daily basis. There are many different ways we can identify ourselves by. The first type of identity is the family. When we are born, we first identify with family.
The next kind of identity we learn is our tribe. This involves creating social and personal associations with our extended families and community members.
The third kind of identity can be where you came from or where you live currently.
What is the Islamic perspective on these identities?
Islam does not shun these types of identity markers. On the contrary, Islam acknowledges them and says that they can be important.
The family and tribal identity for instance is not ignored by the Quran. In chapter 49 verse 13 God says
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”
These identities are extremely important because they allow us to engage and form relationships with other people and communities. Accordingly, we can communicate and learn from each other more easily.
However, the most important identity is the spiritual identity. More specifically the faith in Islam. This identity is carried in this world and the hereafter.
The spiritual identity is more important than the physical identities because of one major characteristic. When we look into the physical identity, we see that we have no control over it. We do not decide where we are born or to whom we are born to. God has complete control over that. However, when we look into the spiritual identity, we see that indeed we have more control over our spirituality. We have the power to choose Islam as our faith and the level of spirituality we want to achieve. The decision is up to you.