A Matter of Pride
A group of ladies walk into a mosque. They are all beautiful physical examples of Muslim women. They are fully covered, some even in face veils with gloves with Jilbabs, Khymars and even abiyas over. They are the perfect picture of Islam. They make beautiful salat, and even more beautiful recitation. As they are about to leave, one of them looks to a sister who is praying in the masjid and thinks, "So and so should not call herself Muslim, for she does not even wear hijab, except when she comes to masjid."
This woman has harmed herself. Islam is certainly the physical - outward appearance. It is a very valid and significant part of the deen, but it is also the heart and the behavior and the soul. This woman may not have backbitten the woman who was not a muhajibah, because she did not actually say anything, but she has done something much more dangerous, much worse.
Arrogance and pride have affected her. She has allowed the practices that she does, for Allah's sake, to make her feel she is superior or even safe. No one has a guarantee. We do our best to please Allah, but we all have to rely on Allah's Mercy. Also, we can not judge who is going to be saved from the fire. We do not know what Allah will do, so to look down on one who does not practice as we do is arrogance, and we must avoid it.
Our Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) observed:
He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.
A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (the Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.
[Sahih Muslim; 1: #164].
Some of our beloved Prophet's companions (radiAllahu anhum) used to fear so much that they were not doing enough that they would sometimes faint from fear of Allah, while they were spending the nights praying and the days fasting and devoting their lives to Allah. Who are we to think we have a guarantee?
In the previous hadith, Rasul-Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) is clearly warning us that we have no right to look down on one another. No matter what. Even if the person is a sinner, we have no right. Look to the example of the adulterous man being punished. The man had confessed and been stoned to death.
"...Then the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) heard one of his companions saying to another: Look at this man whose fault was concealed by Allah but who would not leave the matter alone, so that he was stoned like a dog. He said nothing to them but walked on for a time till he came to the corpse of an ass with its legs in the air.
He asked: Where are so and so? They said: Here we are, Apostle of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)! He said: Go down and eat some of this ass's corpse. They replied: Apostle of Allah! Who can eat any of this? He said:
The dishonor you have just shown to your brother is more serious than eating some of it. By Him in Whose hand my soul is, he is now among the rivers of Paradise and plunging into them.
Sunan Abu Dawud; 38; # 4414].
Look to this example. The man had committed a major sin. He had confessed to the sin. Yet, his repentance for that sin was sincere. We must not judge others because they sin, for that is for Allah Only. We can give out the punishments that Allah has mandated, and then leave it to Allah to forgive them or not. We can not decide. We are not privy to what is in the heart. We can talk to the one who is not doing something Islam mandates, like hijab or beard or avoiding music or whatever, but we can not even try to believe that we are better than they are. For we do not know their circumstances or what is in their hearts or even their fates. That is for Allah.
Look to the example of the prostitute. If we had seen her in the street, what would we have thought of her? Yet she was granted Paradise for a small deed she did.
Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) narrated: Allah's Apostle said,
"A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave he because of that."
[Sahih al-Bukhari; 4: 54 #538].
We can not be happy with her sins, but we must teach her, maybe punish her, but we should not abuse her, nor should we be certain that we are so much better than her. Furthermore, we should take the time to befriend those who we see committing sins, if we can. The person may simply be ignorant of the correct Islamic practices. We should try to teach them and maybe gain something ourselves from this effort. It may be that this person has something to offer you in the way of goodness.
Let me add, I am constantly shocked by stories of Muslims looking down on others because of factors like race and national origin or because they are poor or even because they are rich.
I have seen some Arab women looking down on the convert Americans because, perhaps, they were not virgins before accepting Islam. Yet, many of these same women are stronger in their faith after accepting Islam than the women who look down upon them. I have seen some Pakistani's look down to a Muslim because he is black. Yet this black man is more Allah-fearing than those looking down on him.
I have seen American Muslims looking to the rich Arabs and Pakistani's and reviling them because they not SEE them giving money to those in need, yet none of us knows what is secretly done by them. We have to stop being so self - righteous. We, as Muslims, are consistently seeking ways to alienate each other, when we should be seeking to help one another Allah says:
"... help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil)."
When we are harsh with one another, when we look down on one another, we may be pushing the weaker of us to commit more sin.
Think about it. Would you accept advice from one that looks down on you or insults you? Of course not. We must respect and like someone to take advice from him or her. No matter how bad the actions of the Muslim seem to us, we must never think we are so much better that we have the right to insult or even look down upon anyone. Look to the example of our merciful Prophet:
A Bedouin came and passed urine in one corner of the mosque. The people shouted at him but the Prophet stopped them till he finished urinating. The Prophet ordered them to spill a bucket of water over that place and they did so.
[Sahih al-Bukhari; 1; 4 #221].
The Muslims shouted at him, they were abusive, but the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) in his great mercy and wisdom, knew that this is not the way to teach.
My old teacher, Ghassan Al Baraqawi, once told me, "Teach, do not preach for the people like explanation, not confrontation." These are wise words. We need to think about what we think and say so that we can actually help each other, not tear each other down. There is none amongst us who can claim to be perfect. There is none amongst us who can guarantee that he/she will enter Jannah with no trial or punishment. We must not try to usurp the role of Allah by passing judgement on one another.
Pride is dangerous. Look to the caution of rasul-Allah. We have to avoid feeling proud, even of our Islam.
Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,
"Allah will not look on the Day of Judgment at him who drags his robe (behind him) out of pride." Abu Bakr said "One side of my robe slacks down unless I get very cautious about it." Allah's Apostle said, "But you do not do that with a pride."
[Sahih al-Bukhari; 5, 57 #17].
Pride and arrogance are the tools of Shaytan. When he was told to prostrate to Adam, and he refused, it became his undoing. Allah (awj) says,
"And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith."
Also, if you see this in you, beware of trying to justify yourself. Look to the example of Shaytan and his justifications when Allah questioned him about his refusal to prostrate
He (Allah) said:
"What hindered you so that you did not prostrate when I commanded you? He said: I am better than he: You have created me of fire, while him You create of dust. He said: Then get forth from this (state), for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein. Go forth, therefore, surely you are of those degraded."
We can not allow ourselves to fall into this horrible trap from Shaytan. We can not allow ourselves to think we are better, for the sin of pride is great. Allah says,
"And when it is said to him, guard against (the punishment of) Allah; pride carries him off to sin, therefore hell is sufficient for him; and certainly it is an evil resting place."
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So, brothers and sisters: Next time you see someone who is doing wrong, either in appearance or action, think twice before you think you are better.
Go to the person, if you can, with friendship and gentleness. Advise. Do not assume the worst. Give him or her seventy excuses for the sin, and try to help him/her to understand the evil involved. Do not expect a change. Just advise. Leave any changes to Allah. The person may get angry or try to dispute with you. Do not fall to this trick of Shaytan. Just leave him/her with the evidences from Allah's book and the authentic sunnah, and let it be. It is for them to accept or reject, and your job will be done. But do not leave them thinking yourself superior.
Also, next time you see someone from another culture or background, do not judge them based on your preconceived notions about that group. See the individual. Talk to him/her. It may be that they will have some advice that will benefit you. It may be that while you may dress more Islamicly, they have better Islamic manners than you do.
Do not assume that because you look more like a Muslim that you are the better Muslim. This pride and haughtiness you feel, may be your undoing. Fear Allah, brothers and sisters. Fear Allah, and give each Muslim his due. As I have said many times before, the most evil and wretched amongst us is better than the best of the non-Muslims, and it is our job to advise each other to bring each other up from the darkness and filth of sin to the light and cleanliness of obeying Allah.
O Allah make us love one another.
O Allah, make us help one another.
O Allah prevent us from hurting one another.
O Allah make us truly brothers and sisters.
Make us one body, one heart.