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Nov 20, 2021

Equality in the Ancient World

Equality in the Ancient World

Juan Cole and Ubaydullah Evans

What kind of equality could be universal? A scan of history shows that our modern ideal of equality is more fiction than fact. In this episode, Ubaydullah Evans interviews the historian Juan Cole on his forthcoming article for Renovatio that addresses the issue of equality by examining the text and context of the Qur’an. The two discuss how equality is one of the great unquestioned values of our time, one that has always existed as an area of great concern throughout history. They talk about the Qur’an’s explicit characterization of diversity as a manifestation of God’s creative power, an affront to the dangerous human tendency to view difference as an aberration from the norm. They exchange ideas about the Qur’anic focus on the virtue of an individual and, in doing so, highlight what made for a radical notion during the time of the Arab antiquity—that a person’s worth is not tied to her group identity but rather exists as a bestowal from God.