Who Are We to Judge?

Who Are We to Judge?

Do we  shy away from our responsibility to enjoin good?At least one of the friends of the group has to be the conscience, the reminder, or in these days, known as the “mullah”. We are all human beings and need constant reminders that most forms of music are prohibited, or that we have to make sure meat is slaughtered properly before we eat it, or that lying won’t get us anywhere. This does not make one “judgmental”. In order to do right and wrong, we must judge right from wrong and guide others accordingly. Do we shy away from our responsibility to enjoin good? We’ve all been put in that situation at least once – the one with the friend or family member who does something one more time, and you think, he or she just can’t get it right. It can vary from anywhere to an etiquette problem, drugs, stealing, blatant lying, or even just issues with facing reality.

The beauty of Islam is the rights it gives us as human beings, as blood relatives, as husband and wife, and even better, as brothers and sisters in faith. The importance of our faith uniting us as family allows us to watch each others’ backs, be there for one another, and sometimes give guidance, or even to take constructive criticism.

Throughout the Holy Qur’an, Allah instructs us over and over to “enjoin good and forbid wrong.” Take a look through the translation of the Holy Qur’an, and see how many times it is mentioned that as brothers and sisters in faith, we should constantly be helping and reminding each other what to do, and what not to. (See 3:104, 3:110, etc.)

As we celebrate his birthday this week, let us see what our beloved Imam Zainul Abideen (peace be upon him) has to say in this regard. In his Treatise of Rights, we find under “The Rights of Others”:

“The right of the companion (sahib) is that you act as his companion with bounty and in fairness. You honor him as he honors you, and you do not let him be the first to act with generosity. If he is the first, you repay him. You wish for him as he wishes for you, and you restrain him from any act of disobedience he might attempt. Be a mercy for him, not a chastisement. And there is no strength save in God.”

Not only do you forbid, you restrain! It really is that important to stop our fellow brothers and sisters from doing things they know they shouldn’t be doing. Today, we often find ourselves saying, “Who am I to judge?” or “It’s not my place.” When will we take our place as brothers and sisters in faith who are living Islam and practicing it the way our Holy Guides (peace be upon them) have taught us?

Let’s think hypothetically here. So, your brother gets caught up in drugs, your sister quits wearing Hijab in public but puts it on before coming home, and all of this while your mother is having extra-marital affairs because your dad doesn’t spend any time at home with the family. (God forbid this happens to anybody’s family). Would it then make sense for you to sit back and say, “Who am I to judge? To each his own!” And let’s say one of your friends knew all along and later told you he or she felt “it wasn’t my place” to say anything. Is this what brothers and sisters in faith do for each other?

There is a well-known tradition that says a friend is the one who tells us our shortcomings. This is what a true friend is. It is not right, or spiritually healthy, to have discussions and talks with your buddies about how you know what you are doing is wrong, and you want to change, but then never do it. At least one of the friends of the group has to be the conscience, the reminder, or in these days, known as the “mullah”.

We are all human and need constant reminders that most forms of music are prohibited, or that we have to make sure meat is slaughtered properly before we eat it, or that lying won’t get us anywhere. This does not make one “judgmental”. In order to do right and wrong, we must judge right from wrong and guide others accordingly. That does not mean we are condemning them to hell.

We have to try our best as an Ummah to help each other be successful in performing our duties as Muslims so that we can take Islam to a higher level in the world. We are still on step one. We should be past petty issues and small talks, and we should be looking at the larger picture – like our plan of action at Hajj, how are we going to unite with other sects and find common grounds and goals? Unfortunately, we are too busy simply watching our friends and families fall apart because they are addicted to weed and love going to concerts and clubs.

It is all about our approach. We need to find ways to motivate, guide, and educate our brothers and sisters on why Allah is so Great, on why Islam is freedom for the soul, and on how much happier we will all be by following the instructions of our teachers – Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). Each of us needs to be brave and take the initiative, and be the one to make the first move. If we continue putting the job on others, we will get nowhere.

As times get worse, keeping faith gets harder, but we must remember that God does not put on us any difficulty we cannot handle. This means that we can tell our friends to pray, or to eat Halal, or to keep up the Hijab, and there is nothing wrong with finding a nice way to promote good Islamic values. But there is something wrong with going against the instructions of the One who gave us life. As the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said:

“The time when my followers merely count on others to enjoin right and forbid wrong is when, in fact, they have declared a fight against Allah, the Exalted.” (Bihar al-Anwar)

Are we declaring a fight against Allah?

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Arsalan Rizvi

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2 Comments

  1. Raza
    July 13, 02:09
    Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said, ‘Verily the one who enjoins good and prohibits wrong should possess three qualities: he should act upon that which he enjoins and abstain from that which he prohibits; he must be just with regards to what he enjoins and just with regards to what he prohibits; and he must be gentle in what he enjoins and gentle in what he prohibits.’[al-Khisal, p. 109, no. 79]
  2. FK
    January 08, 02:58
    Salam and thank you for this wonderful article. It is something that is often a grey area especially in the society we live in. I suppose the key is to condemn the action and not the person - and try to guide them without judging them because we can never really know the reasoning behind someone's action and thus can never judge someone correctly - and for this reason there is a wisdom in the hadith that directs us to give a believer 70 excuses before judging htem..that is God's job not ours.<br />For example, take a lady who appeared to be pious and wore hijab. Then suddenly she takes it off and appears to be going off the rails. Immediate reaction is to judge HER: what a bad lady, how can she do such a thing. she was pretending to be religious all that time now look.. etc.. <br />But now if i tell you this same lady was being bullied and harassed constantly for her hijab, to the extent she was scared. if i told you her husband insulted and always criticised her for being ugly with hijab, shattering her confidence completely.. suddenly you dont feel like she's a hippocritical kafir!! - you feel sympathetic to her. But still her action is wrong, that is the key - condemn the action, not the person. If you can do this, then you will be able to guide the person in a way that will probably be more effective and successful because you won't be coming across judgemental, but will come across understanding and empthathetic. This is how the Holy Prophet taught and guided - it demonstrated his perfect akhlaq.<br />We never know other peoples struggles, and we never know what leads someone to do things. It isnt our place to know because it isnt our place to judge. It is only our role to help and guide.

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