Judge Me, Judge Me Not

5

A reminder to take ourselves to account first before we look towards others.

I’m standing inside the train, trying to stay steady as the vehicle swerves swiftly across the tracks.  From the periphery, I notice the glances and stares from the mostly Caucasian passengers.  No matter how many times I’ve been through this, I guess I’m still not used to it.

They’re just curious, I think to myself. They’re not judging me. They’re not judging me for what I’m wearing, for how I look to them. They don’t even know me.

And yet, we do this all the time –to each other.

Woah, do you see what she’s wearing?  Those tight jeans show her shape, astaghfirullah and she thinks she’s practicing hijab.

She’s always hanging out with guys, no matter when I see her.  Laughing, flirting, you name it, with the hijab on. You have to stay away from her—she’s a really bad influence.

Um like, doesn’t she know you can’t pray Salaat with nail polish and see-through tights on? Hello?

So I ask: what’s the difference between an observer judging us for being hijabis and a Muslim sister judging another Muslim sister?  If we can’t tolerate non-Muslims judging our religion for being extremist, violent, and all the other derogatory terms we’re fed up with, how come we can tolerate judging our own Muslim sisters?

I remember this one instance years ago when I saw a hijabi talking and laughing with a boy.  I couldn’t help but think ill thoughts of her.  Later I came to know that the boy was actually her brother, though they did not look alike at all.  I narrate this experience to show that we are so quick to judge others, to point out the faults in others without realizing that not only are we committing a very serious sin but more often than not, we may be drawing incorrect conclusions to begin with.

Just like it upsets us when others perceive us as “being forced to wear the hijab” or associated with “terrorists and extremists,” it should disturb us to judge our own fellow Muslims for being “too liberal” or “not following the Sunnah” or “the girl who talks to guys” and whatever else our minds are quick to conjure up.

We should remember that Allah alone is the judge, the Ultimate Judge, because we do not even know an ounce of what a person’s heart contains.  You may look at a sister and think—I am better than her, I pray five times a day, I fast, I don’t talk to guys, I listen to my parents, etc.—while she does the exact opposite.  But does that really make her inferior to you, a weaker Muslim?  How can you be so sure?  All I ask is, who are we to judge when we know so little?

Maybe she repented, cried to Allah for forgiveness the night before and today she has a clean slate.  For all we know, a pile of her small, but abundant amount of good deeds, may have tipped the scale in her favor.

Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) narrated that “should you become eager to mention another’s faults, recall your own” (Ar-Rafi’i).

So when you perceive others, this hadith should serve as a reminder to reflect upon yourself and to see how you can improve as a Muslim.   Each and every one of us has weaknesses and imperfections so it would be more productive if we would focus on ourselves first.

Well, you might ask, shouldn’t I help my fellow sister out if she’s in trouble?  Well, of course, but you should seek to do so in the best way possible.  Thinking in the aforementioned way and gossiping about these conclusions isn’t going to help anybody.  Make du’a for the sister and sincerely pray to Allah to guide her.  You can take the initiative, approach the sister, and politely inform her of what she is doing incorrectly.  Maybe she will realize her mistake and thank you.  Maybe she might be hurt or angry and tell you not to interfere in her matters.  Either way, it’s up to her now and you have done what you could.  But never think she is any less than you, because again, it is between her and Allah and that relationship is sacred and unbeknownst to anyone else.

I remind myself before anyone else.  We’re humans—seeking faults in others comforts us in a way, helps us feel good about ourselves because we think, thank God I’m not like that.  But Islam is what bonds all of us together so we should not be happy when a sister is struggling.  We should pray and remember that all of us are inherently weak but together can strive to become better Muslims, and thus a stronger Ummah.

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