I was in a situation recently that made me put my eman in perspective. It made me question exactly where I stood, in terms of deeds based on the knowledge I had gained. And then it made me realise that this is a chronic problem – not only amongst students of ‘ilm, but the world in general: we are all a very judgy lot. And to deny that fact is going to require a lot of proof.
We have been brought up in a world where skinny is better, and anyone otherwise has issues accepting the fact that they are not beautiful; where, in order to be eligible, you have to hold a good job, or have enough money to support your family. I am not denying that fact, I just think we have forgotten that all rizq comes from Allah, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.
We have been brought up in societies that have their own different perceptions of the hijab – some prefer it because it means the girl is more conservative, ie: modest, good, etc, others frown upon it because it means the girl is more conservative, ie: oppressed, forced, etc.
And now the more modern form of criticising people is of course, stalking people on Facebook and gawking at their pictures. Never judge people by what you see.
We form our opinions of people based on what we see of them – how they dress, where they go, who they hang out with – and while these might seem like very valid ways to assess someone, we are in no position to judge. We are never in any position to judge.
There is such a danger in acquiring knowledge or doing more ‘ibadah, and that is the satisfaction that we are doing enough, the pride that we are now better than others, and the convenient forgetfulness of the people we used to be.
While it is important to not be stuck in a wheel of regret and not move forward, based on all the sins we have committed and the wrong we have done, I think it is so important to remember that phase of our lives, because when we see others doing the same things now, our initial reaction is to look down on those who err, who sin, or in other words, who don’t do good like us. Astaghfirullah.
This pride does not even seem like pride to us, this judgmental attitude does not pass through our filters and set off warning alarms, and that is why we don’t hear ourselves like maybe others do – people who might want to correct us and our attitude, but people whose opinion we may not accept because of our pride. We have to remember that once upon a time, we were doing things we were not entirely proud of either. We we guided though, weren’t we, Alhamdulillah, by the Grace of Allah.
However, this assumption in one’s heart that one is righteous is what leads to pride and arrogance. The same reason for Shaytan being thrown out of Paradise and into Hell.
This brings to mind the story of two people: one who was righteous and did lots of ‘ibadah, and one who kept sinning and repenting in a continuous cycle. One day, the righteous man told the sinner, “Allah will never forgive you, you will go to Hell!” When they died, Allah ordered the righteous man to be thrown into the Fire, and the sinner entered Paradise, simply because of a statement – an action that showed what was truly in his heart.
SubhanAllah! A whole lifetime of worship, for what?
Allah (swt) says: “Have you not seen those who speak very highly of their purity? In fact, Allah purifies whom He Wills, and they shall not be wronged in the least, even to the measure of a thread on the date stone. See how they fabricate a lie against Allah, and it is enough to be an open sin.” (4:49-50)
To claim purity to oneself is a manifest sin. And to think one has the power to judge a person, to decide where he ends up, is to think one has power over Allah. Astaghfirullah!
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” [Sahīh Muslim (2687)]
This does not mean we take this as a ticket to sin. But we are humans, we err, and Allah loves that when we do, we repent, and He forgives. If repentance is something only between the person and Allah, who are we to be prejudiced based on something we cannot see?
There are so many people who have been so astray until their time came. And then, SubhanAllah, they become Muslims such that no one in their previous life would have thought possible.
Guidance comes from Allah. We don’t know where their roads will lead them, even if now they mix with a bad crowd, and go partying and drinking.
We don’t know if maybe their regret of it will bring them closer to Allah in a way that we won’t be, or that if maybe they will change later on. We don’t know if some people do an act of ‘ibadah out of habit, just because they were forced to, and thus do it half-heartedly, that maybe their heart may grow into it with time and they become better Muslims because of it.
And as hard as it may be to imagine, we don’t know what they might be doing in secret, simply for the sake of Allah, not to be seen by people. We just don’t know. And that is why we absolutely cannot go by what we see or hear, even if they may be fact. Allah doesn’t care about what we look like, He only wants our hearts.
So the next time we see someone we would normally look down on, we need to:
1) Ask ourselves if we do the same deed, or worse. Or did we do the same action? Alhamdulillah for guidance
2) Ask du’a for that person’s guidance
3) Ask du’a that we don’t fall into that sin again – or worse
And remember: Always give anyone the benefit of the doubt. It is never your call to pass judgment