What do you think of when you see a sister who isn’t wearing hijab? How about a brother who is laughing with many girls?
Ever look down on them? Think you’re better than them? It’s easy to be self-righteous. It’s even easier to fall prey to this attitude if you sport the ‘righteous’ look.
But let’s ask ourselves this question: has Allah written us amongst His righteous servants? Or is that a title we have only given ourselves?
I was once sitting at the table for my on-campus Muslim Students Association (MSA) and a female student, dressed in typical jeans and a t-shirt approached me. I was decked out in my hijab and jilbab and I really had no idea what she was thinking as she made the move to speak to me. She asked if she could have a Qur’an, and of course, I was happy to give one to her. Then she said, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” I answered. The question sounded kind of deep, so I invited her to sit next to me on the empty chair. She took up the offer.
“Please don’t judge me,” she began. Allah Akbar (God is the greatest)! I had a feeling this was a Muslim sister. SubhanAllah, the courage it must have taken for her to come and speak to me, considering that we were dressed so differently from each other.
After reassuring her, how could I judge her?, she began—
She told me that she became involved in a relationship for the first time in her life with a Muslim guy. Her intention was to eventually get married, but she felt so terrible doing it, even though she was supposed to feel good. She told me that she knew her relationship was a big sin and that she wanted to stop, but she explained that it was just too hard. And she asked me…Can Allah forgive me? Subhan’Allah (glorified is Allah).
While this girl was speaking, I was looking at her thinking: look at the jihad (struggle) she is going through for Allah. She hates what she is doing, she asks Allah to forgive her, but it is so hard for her to leave the sin. Her desire to repent became so intense that she came to a girl she has never met before, who could easily judge her, and poured out her heart. And the most amazing part is that she wanted to know, can Allah forgive her? Could He subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorious and exalted is He) really forgive such a sin?
I told her, Allah is Ghafurun Raheem! Allah is the Most Forgiving and Especially Merciful! He will forgive ANYTHING. Even if a person commits fornication Allah will forgive this person if they repent and leave it. I kept telling her about Allah’s Mercy, about how Allah is so, so happy to turn and accept the repentance of His slaves.
We kept talking about how Allah must be pleased with her struggle – that she was making jihad (inner struggle) everyday. She was like, YEAH! What I loved so much from this conversation is that we looked at Sayyidul Istighfar (the chief du`a’ (supplication) for seeking forgiveness). This is the du`a’ in which the Prophet ﷺ has told us, “If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it and dies before the morning he will be from the people of Paradise.”
Allahumma anta rabbee la ilaha illa ant, khalaqtanee wa-ana `abduk, wa-ana `ala `ahdika wawa`dika mas-tata`t, `Aoothu bika min sharri ma sana`t, aboo-o laka bini`matika `alay, wa-aboo-o bithanbee, faghfir lee fa-innahu la yaghfiruth-thunooba illa ant.
‘O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am Your servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favor upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You.’
I told her to keep strong with her salah (prayer), because of course, Allah is Forgiving, but He is also strong in punishment, and we have to be careful not to do things that make us eligible to be punished. After some time we departed and I’m still in wonderment. I was not supposed to be at the da`wah table at that time; we were looking for someone to sit there but no one was available, so we pushed back what we had planned to do and Allah destined for me to be there. How Allah knows, while we know not.
While the sister and I were sitting and talking, another female student walked up to the da`wah table. She was considerably unclothed, and she came up and asked for a copy of the Qur’an. “I’m Muslim,” she told me. ALLAHU AKBAR. Look at the good in the Muslims. Look at how intensely the Muslims desire, seek, need and want Allah; the woman who comes to the MSA table could be wearing practically nothing but is still affirming her identity as a Muslim woman, as an individual – albeit struggling, just like all of us—who submits to Allah. Before she left she asked me, “Does Ramadan start on this date?” Look how the people are seeking this Month of Mercy.
Let us go back to the original question. What would you think of a Muslim brother or sister who is wearing basically nothing? What about a brother or sister who is hanging out with a bunch of people from the opposite gender?
Perhaps an individual may be outwardly committing mistakes, but perhaps internally such an individual is struggling and fighting every time he or she makes those errors. Perhaps in some people’s eyes, such individuals are ‘sinners.’ But perhaps in the Sight of Allah, these individuals are more beloved to Allah because of their struggle; more beloved to Him than of us who can easily fall into feeling arrogant about our Islamic activism, our Islamic appearance, or our ‘hard-core’ connection with the Rabb al-`alameen (Lord, Master, Provider and Sustainer of all the worlds). We need to be careful. Are we really connected? Am I really connected?
And do not get me wrong: the struggle of those who are trying to stay straight, to dress properly, to please Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is a weighty, honorable and noble one. May Allah make us amongst those He uses to spread His deen (way of life), those whom He guides and keeps guided, and those who wear the dress that pleases Him, both externally and internally, ameen.
But for those of us who might have ‘been there’ and left it, and then feel arrogant that we’re no longer involved in the “ways of the sinners,” and perhaps even might feel better than others because we’re so pure and special, then my advice to myself is what Umar ibn al Khattab used to say, “Take account of yourselves before you are audited.”
Put in our language it is what I’ve heard Ustadh Suhaib say numerous times:
“Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
May Allah help us and guide us to perpetually, continually, sincerely, and endlessly please Him, and may He make it easy for all of us to eagerly and continually turn back to Him, and leave whatever sins we are committing and replace them with good works for His Sake. Ameen.
The author would greatly appreciate if you all would give some advice on how we can humble ourselves [in our hearts] and renew our sincerity for His Sake.
I love, love, love this article and will share it with many. Thank you for the reminder, it is so easy to fall prey to this behaviour.
Wow this was a great article and got me emotional for a little bit.
It is true.
I think its all about meeting people where they are and not coming from a point of judgments. As the new wave of American Muslims, we should be more understanding of this and not make snap second judgements about people.
It is like that haidth which says something along the lines that, Allah loves those who read the Quran smoothly without stuttering, but loves even more those who read the Qran but make mistakes and struggle through the whole thing, but are persistent.
Jazaki Allahu Khayran Ya Maryam for writing this post.
Your comments are so well taken. I specifically appreciate the following statement But let’s ask ourselves this question: has Allah written us amongst His righteous servants? Or is that a title we have only given ourselves? – I like to rephrase this comment by adding has Allah(swt) granted us to be enforcers of the rules of the law specifically in regards to Hejab and outer coverings of a sister, or the length of beard of a brother? At my community I often see sisters who are mashaAllah dressed in the most modest of garments but dont hesitate to approach others who are less appropriately covered and are quick to judge others. Unfortunately often those targeted are either among the youth who may happen to attend a prayer accompanied by a parent or a troubled person who just stepped in the masjid for the first time in the midst of trouble to seek help from the divine. I remember once a would be sister walked in our masjid wearing shorts during a juma prayer because she had just finished reading the book Islam for Dummies and excitedly wanted to declare her shehada. Well, the rest is a story by itself. May Allah(swt) guide us all to be among those that are loved by Him(swt) and grant us forgiveness and mercy and replace our mistakes with good character. Ameen!
It feels as if I’ve read this before, but with slight modifications. Regardless, it’s a good reminder. Jazak Allah
Jazakhallah khair! Such a great and reminding post that we can all look in ourselves and reflect.
Da’wah to ourselves,
then Da’wah to our brothers and sisters,
then Da’wah to the nonmuslims.
Masha’Allah that’s nice and very humbling especially that you want advice on how to humble our hearts.
That’s a hard one and what works for some may not work for others so what follows are some tips that work for me:
a) I reflect on my sins A LOT (esp in salat) . The list is endless really, even with what just emits from our tongues.
b) reflect on how little I may have thanked Allah that day as opposed asking for things then rectify that by thanking him for all the ni’am..i go through a long list of things.
c) reflect on all the duaas that you have made that Allah in His mercy has already answered for you..that time you sincerely called on Him and He (swt )responded.
d) turn away from praise..in fact walk away and dont hang around with those who praise too much
e) hang around with those who are humble
f) reflect on the fact that just because you are upon islam now, still no guarantee as to what state you will die in
g) seek recognition from Allah alone–this makes you less likely to mention or let slip your good deeds.
h) ask people for criticism of you
i) question whether you have fulfilled everyone’s rights upon you that day and what amendments you will make tomorrow if you live that long
j) hang around with people whose imaan is buzzing so you have higher aspirations and don’t become complacent
k) remember that even if you are doing 101 good deeds, if the intention isn’t pure then you could be like those who enter hell for riyaa (learning quran, dying a shaheed, spending charity so it could be said of you)Try to hide your good deeds as fearfully as you hide your sins.
l) study, study and study..quraan always softens the hearts alhamdulillah, seerah, stories of the companions
m) visit people less fortunate than you
n) good lectures by humble speakers help
To be honest the list is endless and at the risk of boring anyone I’ll stop.
In closing..death is the best reminder. Yesterday on my way to work I passed by the cemetry which I like to do and saw the grave diggers..and thought ” I am actually a bit jealous of them..what a fantastic reminder ….digging someone’s grave.”
ASA Beautiful Article! This article is so true, no one but Allah knows the content of a person’s heart, so we must be very careful not to be judgemental if they do not dress in a modest way. Furthermore, just because a Musim dresses with modesty does not make them a modest person, Only Allah (SWT) knows best. WS
mashallah! Islam is not just for hijabis and men with beard, I always thought it’s for everyone? How can we reach out if we keep excluding people that don’t look islamic and look down on them? I loved the article! (And i’m somewhat tired of hearing that Islam is about wearing hijab and disapproving looks by fellow muslims)
SubHaan Allah, I also went through a process similar to this. I remember the days when I was in high school, I used to scoff at people who were non-practicing. One day I overheard somebody say of a particular Muslim person “as least he/she prays” and I was shocked! How could somebody say that when the person committed so many un-Islamic acts! Fast forward to college, when I met many more types of Muslims than I ever had. I was sitting in the campus prayer room and I saw a brother run into the room, badly dressed, do an awful bang-up job of a “prayer” and then leave and I thought to myself “at least he came here to pray at all”. The significance of my thought hit me as soon as I thought it and I realized my consciousness of these issues had evolved.
I once read somebody, I believe it was in a comment on a blog somewhere, that the Salah is really a miracle. Non-Muslims always look at it as being something so incredible and difficult to pray 5 times a day, and yet we have so many Muslims who may not observe Islam outwardly otherwise but they pray. Allahu akbar! Or they fast in Ramadhan. But even people who don’t do that much, if they have enough imaan somewhere in their hearts that they come to the masjid, they deserve our love and support in whatever level they are at. We don’t need to condone wrong behavior, but we also don’t need to focus on it. We can seize on their (and our own) strengths and work from there.
I absolutely love this article. Ma sha Allah. Its so easy for us to judge. I dont agree with Plato on many things….but one thing I agree with him on is this: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
I remember a sister had come to pray Jumua at the MSA one year…she had nail polish on and wasnt properly covered for prayer. There were sisters who want to jump at her with criticism. I went and asked her about herself and her name—turns out she decided to start praying that morning and thought she would give jumua a shot. Imagine…if the first day she starts praying someone jumps down her back and gives her a nice yelling. SubhanAllah.
Barak Allahu feeki sister 🙂
This reminds me of something our dear Imam Suhaib taught us in a khutba in Houston. He talked about this framework of saying we have “practicing” and “non-practicing” Muslims, and how arrogant it is to look at people in this way. One person may be practicing some things, and another person may be practicing different things, so bi idhnillah we’re all practicing and striving towards Him.
Of course it’s interesting that we usually only see this framework being used by those of us who like to consider ourselves as “practicing”.
This was a really good reminder of the need for humility in dealing with all other people, no matter who they might be. Most of us have, at one time or another, experienced a time when our imaan was low and we struggled with our own behavior and our lack of spiritual motivation. Let’s remember what that was like, and then look at another person who is struggling and see ourselves in them, and ask ourselves what would have helped us back then, and therefore what will help this struggling person.
Jazak Allah khayr, sister Maryam.
Just want to add that I know there have been times when I have been spiritually low and have struggled with that, knowing that I needed to get back to the deen but not sure how. No doubt it would have benefited me greatly to talk to someone who was understanding and non-judgmental, and who could point the way with love, maybe even as a friend. It would have changed my life, and in fact it still could.
Masha’Allah, this was a great piece of advice. Now something to humble ourselves:
It is said that imam al-Junyad used to renew his intentions more than 40 times a day. This says something about sincerity.
And in the Muwatta’ of imam Malik we can find the following statement: “Do not examine the faults of people as if you were a Lord, but rather examine your own faults as though you were a slave.” This should make us feel humble and non-judgmental.
This is more than enough to reflect on, probably for the rest of our lives.
Salam aleikoem wr wb,
Nice writing, but it misses something. Its not that the people that are struggling to uphold the basics in Islam are judging others. But it is a duty to all practising Muslims to hate what is unlawful. So if Allah tells the believing women to put on a Hidjaab or not come close to Zina or not to steal. it is an command to hate the act of wrongdoing. We don’t hate the wrongdoers but the wrong they are doing. Even so if we are all bin there. There are more than enough Muslims that started out as a gangster and ended up as a faithful Muslim, but we hate the act of the gangster. If a girl is wearing just a top to show off all her special goods. We don’t hate the girl or judge the girl, but we condemn the act of the girl. The girl leads to haram and indecent world. If the prophet commanded the man to wear a beard, than we have to follow it up by action.
Any body is free to follow the commandments of Allah and the Prophet, but there will be consequences. The problem is here not in the practising Muslims, but with the Non-practising Muslims. And the reason for this is that they feel that the practising Muslims are looking down upon them, because of arrogance. But where is the arrogance in you as a non-outwardly practising Muslim to not follow the commandments of your God, Allah.
Before I was a practising Muslim I started to struggle with my faith. When I did something wrong or sinned I felt just like all the eyes where upon me. May Allah keep my heart on the right please. Its upon you to struggle to uphold your deen. Don’t walk like a Non-Muslim an expect that Muslims will recognise you as a Muslim and the good inside of you. If You are a Muslim, Show it so that there will be no doubt that you are a Muslim. Put on the Hidjaab, Put on your thick Clothes, let your beard grow. Be like a Muslim. Don’t hide wear the clothes of a Zania or Zani. Believe me the practising Muslims are still struggling with them self and making sins, but they have already changed their outwardly garments. They put on the Islamic garment, so put it on and don’t make excuses. Its to easy to put the blame on others, but the blame and the shame is upon you.
Its a duty for every Muslim to hate haram, and its in no way an excuse for him to not hate it because he has done it in the past.
Invite people to good deeds and make them stop committing the acts that you know are wrong.
A few reminders for me and you.
On the authority of Abu Sa`id (radhiallahu `anhu) that the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot do even that, then in his heart. That is the weakest degree of faith.” (muslim)
on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,
“There was not a single Prophet among those who were sent before me who did not have apostles and companions and followed his Sunna and obeyed his commands. But afterwards other generations came whose words belied their deeds, and whose deeds were not in accordance with what they commanded others to do. Whoever struggles against the with his hand is a believer. Whoever struggles against them with his tongue is a believer. And whoever struggles against them with his heart is a believer. But when none of these things are done, then not a single mustard’s seed weight of faith is present.” (muslim)
Zaynab (radhiallahu `anha), the wife of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,
“The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) once awoke, and his face was dark, as he said three times, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah! Woe betide the Arabs, because of an evil which will soon come! Today, the barrier of Juj and Ma`juj has been breached by so much,’ and he made a circle with his thumb and forefinger.” And Zaynab remarked, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Even when the righteous still dwell amongst us?’ and he said, ‘Yes, when khubth (moral degradation) becomes widespread.’”
The Prophet(SAW) said:
“We have become accustomed to loving the world, so that we do not enjoin good or forbid evil to one another. Allah the Most High will certainly not permit us to continue doing this, but would that I knew what kind of punishment shall befall us!” Bukhari
`Umar ibn `Abdul `Aziz said,
“It used to be that Allah the Most High does not punish the common people for the sins of the elite; but when the evil is done openly, and they do not repudiate it, they all become deserving of His punishment.” (bukhari)
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah The Prophet said,
“Enjoining all that is good is a Sadaqa.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet (saaws) said:
If the people see an evil and they do not change it, soon Allah will inflict them all with His Punishment. (Ahmed, graded authentic by Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (1/398)
Abu Adam, Ibrahim
Subhannallah. I’m visiting a “muslim” country at the moment, visiting family. All week I have been commenting on and sneering at the hijab as it is sometimes worn in this region…full makeup, hair out, abaya open in front so all you notice is the leggings underneath. This is a wonderful reminder to me that I am far from perfect and rather than pointing out the faults of others, I should be correcting the faults within myself….there are many! I was also a girl that came to the masjid the first time as a convert wearing nail polish, and was chided and warned that if I did not wear socks, or a single strand of hair was showing my prayers would not be accepted. I always remember how embarrassed and inappropriate I felt then…and now I find myself doing it, but worse, because I am not saying it to their face. Again, thank you for the wonderful reminder for us to see the good in people.
Masha’Allah. This really was a deep and beautiful article.
I just recently started wearing hijab myself. Before that, I was dressed the same as the girls you described in your article. Alhumdulillah, I have changed greatly and learning more and more about religion daily.
But hearing others go through the same struggle I went through, it touches me. And I pray for them. May Allah give them strength to better themselves and make it easy on them. May they be surrounded by those who appreciate and encourage their good deeds.
And may Allah bless you for writing such an article! Jazak Allah khayr
What a great reminder. Someone immediately came to mind and now I’m regretting how I initially judged her.
barak Allahu fiki Maryam!
O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am Your servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favor upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You
Where in the Quran is this supplication from?
This tremendous hadeeth of Shaddaad ibn Aws (radhi Allahu anhu) is reported by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh in the Book of Supplications, under the title: “Chapter: the most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness.” He also quotes it in second place in the same Book under the title: “Chapter: what to say when one gets up in the (early) morning”. This shows that Imaam al-Bukharee (rahimullah) holds that, in the saying of the Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam), “THE most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness …” to the end of hadeeth, there is proof that this is indeed the best wording for seeking forgiveness and the wording that is most complete from the Prophet (May Allah honour him and grant him peace).
When I read the detailed explanation of prophet Adam alahisalam from sura Baqarah ..I learned this lesson..Never ,ever underestimate anyone like the angels who asked why do Allah has to create the humanbeings who will do mischief things in the duniya?
Fast Forward to Ibrahim alahisalam Lesson learned Yah Allah accept our deeds first…Rabbana takkabal minna ..Subahanallah doing the Allah`s work, yet humbleness ..This is the most beautiful dua for me to protect myself from riya.
Eynar – Thank you
I found reading the Arabic text in the article a bit difficult so was hoping to find it in the Quran or elsewhere so that I could read it in Arabic.
It’s sad that so many Muslims are told all about the negative aspects of Islam, without understanding what Ar-rahman, Ar-raheem really means.
Imam Suhaib might have been quoting Chuck D from Public Enemy: So check yourself before you wreck yourself, respect yourself, you got to give it up.”
Thank you for this excellent reminder =)
This was a wonderful article. You see I am not a hijabbi and always felt hijabbis judge me and appreciate that not all are like that. It;s very difficult for those who are not into the deen as much as yourself or another sister or brother to approach Muslims such as your self because we feel judged. But you hit it on the nail, I have my reasons for not wearing the Hijab, but there are other things that i fall prey to but struggle internally everyday. Sincerely, trying to be a better Muslim.
Ma’sha’allah, this was a very useful and relevant article for all of us. We are all at different stages in our journey, each of us face our own struggles in different aspects of the Faith, so I think this is a good reminder for us to recall our own struggles and realize that others, regardless of how they may appear to us on the outside, that we are facing struggles whether they may be obvious to the naked eye or not. Jazak’Allahu Khairan. Onto Part 2 🙂
MashaAllah,this article is awesome, and as Muslims in the West we need this such reminders. I think the fact that we come from such backgrounds, is a good enough reason to know how it feels like.
As you have to look at the bigger picture, and if Allah waits till the day of Judgement to judge someone, I have no idea why we do it so early on, subhanAllah.
It reminded of this;
“If you’re protected from a sin it’s only by the guidance of Allah ‘azza wa jal – and many a times we see people sinning, perhaps Allah puts them through these trials where they fail and then strive to pass, because Allah is testing them as He knows they will get through it.
…And perhaps Allah is not putting you through this test, because He knows you won’t be able to pass it.
Hence, people are being tested and this is between them and Allah, it is your job to hate the sin and not judge them based on it, as perhaps Allah really does love them more than you – even though they’re state is worser than yours on the onset.
…in regards to you – it’s all that goes on the inside”
This is a reminder of a dear sister of mine – alhamdulillah.
[…] Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself – A compelling reminder on the importance of not judging others, humbling ourselves [in our hearts] and renewing our sincerity in all things. […]
[…] Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself – A compelling reminder on the importance of not judging others, humbling ourselves [in our hearts] and renewing our sincerity in all things. […]
SubhanAllah an amazing article with wonderful language, May Allah forgive our sins and make us stronger in faith. Ameen.
wow this article made me cry…it is so true..just because you wear a hijab dosn’t make you better then the one who dosn’t..i am just speechless from this article. Thank you for sharing..we need more open minded people like this!
Maulana Shah Hakeem Akhtar Saheb (HA), a Pakistani scholar very knowledgeable in the science of the purification of the heart, gave this advice: I consider myself the lowest amongst all Muslims, because I don’t know what good action they did that was accepted by Allah (SWT). And, in terms of the end, I consider myself lower than non-Muslims, since maybe they will be guided and enter Paradise, and my own destination is not guaranteed.
Therefore, whenever we see another Muslim, we should think of him/her to be better than us, because we don’t know what he/she did that was accepted by Allah (SWT). (We also don’t know if Allah SWT has accepted any of our actions – there’s no guarantee for this.) Also, whenever we see a non-Muslim, we should think of him/her to be better than us in terms of the end, since maybe he/she will be guided and enter Jannat, whereas there’s no guarantee we will enter Jannat.
As a brother who went to college wearing a thobe and kufi (Islamic cap), I know what you mean, sister. However, the decision to start representing myself Islamically actually made me fear arrogance and riyaa’ (showing off) even more. It made me make du’aa that Allah (SWT) forgives me for not representing Islam in the best possible manner. In fact, the decision to change my outside actually had the effect of changing my inside more than my outside. (I never realized how much changing one’s outer appearance to conform to the sunnah can have an impact on one’s inside.) Ultimately, I’ve concluded that improving one’s outside can have a positive effect on one’s inside. However, the decision to improve one’s outside should be with complete sincerity (ikhlaas) and should come completely and unquestionably from one’s inside.
[…] 3. Check yourself before you wreck yourself […]