Judging others and being judged seem to be very common issues that are frustrating many people, troubling their hearts and disturbing their peace.
You might have witnessed this one way or the other. You might have also been in a situation where you’ve judged others or been judged by them…and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience!
So what are we going to do about this?
There isn’t a way to change all people overnight. But we can at least educate our own selves and better our own selves; hopefully this will impact those whose hearts are sincere and are truly seeking truth and goodness.
As Muslims, we are in fact encouraged to enjoin what’s right, good and pure, and to speak up against all forms of evil, injustice and immorality…etc.
As Allah Almighty says:
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah….” (Qur’an 3: 110)
This doesn’t mean that we’re automatically better than anyone else by default. It is not like it’s in our genes or something. Being the best nation is essentially linked to sincerely wanting goodness and calling for goodness to all mankind and having deep concern for others. It is linked to standing up against all evil, harm and corruption. It is linked to true belief and commitment to the Creator who knows what is best for those whom He created. So, it is essentially about believing in the Creator and collectively serving His creation sincerely and persistently.
But who cares? Why is this essential?
Imagine living in a neighborhood, for example, and there is a man who decided to throw dirt in the streets every day. As someone who has concern for others, you’ll go and speak kindly and gently to this man asking him to stop this practice that will harm him and everyone else. If you didn’t do that and you remained silent, eventually more corruption will spread; diseases will spread, chronic harm among the young and old, unpleasant scenes, ugliness, frustrations…etc.
So basically, you speak because your silence causes more harm.
Now, there is a fine line between the unpleasant attitude of judging others arrogantly and the sincere and beautiful desire to give advice for the sake of spreading goodness.
We are encouraged to do the latter for the purpose of:
1- Benefitting others
2- Spreading peace and goodness
3- Bringing people closer to their Creator Allah Almighty
4- Helping people see truths and live a life that brings them all that which is good and pure in this life and the next.
But, if what we say and how we say it doesn’t help us achieve the above, then we should take a step back and really re-evaluate ourselves.
Some people would give advice, but when they get an undesirable response, they’ll start coming back with responses that harm or insult others, spread hate and disagreement, drive people away from Allah and lead them to further indulge in doing what’s wrong.
If this is what we do, then it’s a sign we’re not sincere, and Allah will not accept from hearts that are insincere… even if what we’re doing is right:
“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an 26: 88-89)
So let’s remember a few points to help us deal with this issue a bit more carefully.
If you’re judging others, remember:
1- Check your intentions
Take a minute and really ask yourself honestly and truthfully: “why am I doing/saying this?” Try to get to the bottom of the issue, forget all slogans and honestly think: “What do I want to achieve from this really?”
The bottom line is, Allah will not accept from heedless hearts or hearts that have desires other than the true pleasure of Allah and sincere concern for others.
The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: “The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one from whom the people’s lives and wealth are safe.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
So are we true Muslims and true believers?
If we’re doing something for the sake of Allah, then it has etiquettes and manners to be followed in order to guarantee acceptance and benefit for ourselves and others.
But if we’re doing something for our own selves, egos, desires, then that’s something else…
So what are we doing exactly?
2- Be afraid of arrogance and its implications on your own eternal ending
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.” [Muslim].
So an ant’s weight of arrogance in our hearts could throw us in the worst of places. This is a very serious issue. If you’re giving advice, make sure your heart is devoid of any feelings of arrogance. Make sure you’re not ridiculing others in any way, shape or form. Make sure your heart doesn’t feel or display any forms of despise towards others.
There is no benefit in doing that, even if what you’re saying is right.
If this is something that you can’t control, then silence is better until these issues have been worked on.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) said: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent.” [Al- Bukhari and Muslim]
2- A word you utter casually can throw you in the WORST of places
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A man utters a word pleasing to Allah without considering it of any significance for which Allah exalts his ranks (in Jannah); another one speaks a word displeasing to Allah without considering it of any importance, and for this reason he will sink down into Hell.” [Al-Bukhari].
Sometimes in the heat of debating and retaliating, people say words that they think they won’t be held accountable for. But to Allah, words are very heavy.
Words are extremely heavy, powerful and valuable in Islam.
If you reflect on the Qur’an and prophetic hadiths, you’ll realize how serious words are.
Allah sent us His Words. We enter Islam with a word “kalimah” (the shahada/testimony of faith that is uttered with deep conviction at heart).
Muadh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
“The Messenger of Allah took hold of his tongue and said, “Restrain this.” I said, “O Prophet of Allah, will we be taken to account for what we say with it?” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “May your mother be bereaved of you, O Muadh! Is there anything that throws people into the Hellfire upon their faces — or: on their noses — except the harvests of their tongues?” [It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said it was a good and sound hadith.]
So handle words with caution. Try not to speak mindlessly.
3- Don’t be the friend and ally of Satan
Iblees (Satan/Shaitan) loves to invoke people’s egos and to get them to feel defensive, stubborn and unwilling to accept the truth.
Let’s not aid him.
How to do that? Just follow what Allah Almighty says
“And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.” (Qur’an 17: 53)
We need to pay attention to each and every single word of this verse.
1- “And tell My servants” this is a direct order. It’s not a suggestion or a recommendation. Allah is ordering us to do something that He knows is best for us.
2- “To say that which is best” this is an excellent exercise. Every single time you feel inclined to tell something to someone, take a minute and think “how can I phrase this in a way that is better than my most immediate reaction? How can I say it in a way that is more excellent?”
If we didn’t do that, then we are deliberately allowing Shaitan to create animosity and disagreement amongst us.
3- “Indeed Satan induces dissension among them” and Satan is not doing that and creating all this conflict/argumentation out of sincere concern for us or desire for the truth, rather it’s out of hatred to see us live in peace…
4- “Indeed Satan is ever to mankind a clean enemy” Allah’s Name is AsSalam (The Ultimate Peace), if we follow what He says, then we’ll get closer and closer to achieving peace and attaining peace. If we don’t follow what He says and instead follow desires or temptations, then we will live in hatred, animosity, disagreements and conflict… which is a state that depresses human beings and makes them lose hope and faith in humanity and in life—and this is exactly what Shaitan wants to achieve.
Let’s not give him that.
We’re stronger and smarter with the Help of Allah.
4- Seize the golden opportunity that is presenting itself to you
Imagine someone telling you “I guarantee you a castle by the ocean if you follow this one command.”
Isn’t this a great opportunity that you’d want to seek and do everything to get?
Well, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.” [Abu Dawud].
A guaranteed house in eternal Jannah that is better than anything on the surface of this earth is offered to us if we are able to restrain ourselves from indulging in argumentation!
Often times we see people going on and on while arguing online, you’ll see extremely long threads that show people arguing to prove themselves right and/or to have the final say in something.
The thing is: this will never earn us real peace of mind. On the contrary, it will swallow us in a vicious cycle of anxiousness, anger, revenge…it’ll waste our times/life unnecessarily.
The rule is: if you have sincere intentions and sincere concern for the goodness of others, and you’ve already delivered your message, then that’s it. Leave it at that!
Allah Almighty says:
“…upon you is only the [duty of] notification, and upon Us is the account.” (Qur’an 13: 40)
5- Say it the same way you’d want to hear it
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to be scolded in public. Nobody wants to be there.
The attitude of “how are you doing that? Are you even a Muslim! Are you even a human being?” THIS will not get us anywhere!
Do we really expect that people would hear that and say: “Oh My God, it’s true, you are right! I’m not really a Muslim. I’m not a decent human being. Thank you so much, I’m gonna go do tawabah (repentance) right now.”
Really unlikely! So let’s be wise.
Allah Almighty says:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” (Qur’an 16: 125)
Such a beautiful verse. Brilliant. It’s exactly what we need to do: wisdom in choosing the right time and place to invite others to what’s more right. Choosing the best ways to express what we want to say. And remembering that it is Allah who is most knowing of His people, so leave it to Him if there is no result after you’ve followed the right instructions.
Simply put, no one loves or accepts to be humiliated in public, so let’s not do that to others.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “No one of you becomes a true believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
6- There is always goodness in people. Do what you can to bring the light in them.
Even if people are doing something that is absolutely outrageous, there might still be goodness in them; with the right technique, you can help bring the light in them.
For example, imagine someone who entered your house, then urinated in it.
Now imagine someone urinating in a House of Allah, one of the most sacred and purest places of worship. How would you feel/react?
This is how our Prophet reacted:
“A Bedouin came to the Masjid and urinated, and the people yelled at him, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Leave him alone.’ So they left him alone. When he had finished urinating, he ordered that a bucket (be brought) and poured over it.”
Peace, mercy and wisdom.
Handle matters with peace, and people will be affected and their hearts will soften by your mercy.
If you’re being judged, remember:
1- Yes, no one likes to be judged. But sometimes, this whole situation might be in your own benefit.
Take a minute and completely forget about the identity of who talked to you/judged you. Think only of the message. ONLY analyze what he/she said.
Do not take it personal at all. Ignore who that person is completely for a minute, and see if there is benefit for you in what is being said.
If there is benefit, then this is actually khair and rizq (goodness and beneficial sustenance) for you from Allah.
Often times we get angry at some people for how they spoke to us, we might not even have high regard for them and we feel that it is outrageous that they would judge us. But if we put our egos aside, we’ll realize that sometimes, there is actually immense goodness in what is being said. If we actually follow what is being said, it will be in our own ultimate benefit.
So don’t waste this opportunity and be smart enough to extract gems even if they’re in the midst of dirt.
2- Make sure you’re not actually causing harm. Often times, we feel inclined to tell others: “Mind your own business! This is MY life. This is MY personal freedom.” Well, the only problem is that we’re not living in this universe on our own. We’re living among people and what we do has implications on others. Sometimes, there is in fact harm that we may be spreading or inflicting on others, but we’re unable to see that because of ego or stubbornness.
So be humble and more eager to accept truth wherever it may be. That’s ultimately in our own benefit.
3- Do NOT respond immediately.
Don’t do it! Do everything you can to not respond immediately.
Sometimes people would give us advice in a way that infuriates us and makes us feel that we should come back with an epic response that just destroys them… Right?
Well, this is from the Shaitan, this is fire and Shaitan is made of fire. This is him inflicting our egos…
So completely put this whole issue aside for a day or two—or even several days- until you completely calm down.
Then, go back and read the message or assess the words that were said. Believe me, most often than not, you’ll find that it wasn’t that bad or offensive after all.
Always have peace and clarity before assessing matters or before responding.
Finally, let us remember: who was the first one to judge others by their external appearance?
“And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated. [Allah] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” (Qur’an 7: 11-12)
What exactly was his problem?
“He said, “Never would I prostrate to a human whom You created out of clay from an altered black mud.” (Qur’an 15: 33)
This is arrogance, lack of patience to see Allah’s Wisdom in His commands and it is a misleading feeling of self-righteousness.
We are not better than others because of something that we have or are currently doing. If we have something good, it is ultimately the mercy of Allah and His grace. We are all in poverty to His Mercy and His Aid. We never know what might be people’s rank with Allah, and what might be our own rank with Him.
On the one hand, if you’re judging, remember that we only give advice out of sincere concern, but we’re still in dire need for Allah’s acceptance and His help for us to have a good ending and die upon righteousness. We’re not there yet.
And if you’re being judged, don’t adopt the attitude of Shaitan and disobey Allah’s commands out of despise for the person who is giving you advice.
Let’s just be sincere, reasonable and seek goodness for ourselves and others.
And be kind. Allah loves kindness. Maybe when we practice kindness more, His own Kindness will descend upon us and replace all those feelings of hate, disagreement and animosity amongst us.
Just like the Prophet said…
“The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]