“Only Allah can judge me”
This phrase is thrown around quite often, mostly by those wanting to find a loophole to justify their questionable actions. In a time where there is a boom of knowledge on the Internet and many people are starting to learn and practice their Deen, there are many still entangled in the web of desires. Many Muslims today are using statements like “Don’t judge me” or “Only God can judge me” to run away from advice.
The Sahaba when advised to fear Allah would thank the person and have tears in their eyes. Today if someone tells us that, we feel we are being accused or worse insulted. In turn, we start to retort by finding the faults of the person advising us and saying, “Hey! You aren’t perfect, you can’t tell me what to do”. Well if that was the case no one on the face of the Earth, across time could advise another save the Prophet of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم himself. These are feeble excuses fit to be given by kids. The companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم sinned, so who are we in comparison? We need to embrace that we have done something wrong and actually be thankful that we have someone as a friend or family who has taken the time out to come and advise us. If not for love and care towards us, why would someone else care what we do? Think about it.
When we utter these words, do we even pause to think of the implication? Allah, the One from whom nothing is hidden, the All Seeing, All Hearing is being called upon to judge. This is where the mushkila comes in where we think that ‘Oh Allah is ArRahman and ArRahim, He’ll forgive me.’ Yes He might, but not if we show arrogance *whilst* sinning. We also need to remember that Allah is Shadid ul Iqab.
Why should we bother as to what others do?
Firstly, because Allah tells us to: “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful” [Surah Aal ‘Imran, 104]
Secondly because if I someone sins, then yes it does have an impact on ME. If one part of the body is infected it weakens the whole body. We have the story of how the People of Musa were denied rain just because of the actions of one man. Allah tells us
“Corruption has appeared on land and in the sea for what men’s hands have earned, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, that they may return.” [Surah Ar-Rum, 41]
If the ummah fails to do its duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, wrongdoing and corruption will spread throughout the ummah, and it will deserve the curse of Allah. For Allah cursed those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved because they failed in this important duty.
Allah tells us, “Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawood (David) and Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do. [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 78]
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq رضي الله عنه narrates, “I heard Allah’s Messengerصلى الله عليه وسلمsay, “When people see something objectionable and do not change it, Allah will soon include them all in His punishment.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said “If you see a munkar (unislamic act), you change it with your hand; and if you cannot do that, then change it with your mouth (speak out against it); and if you cannot do that, then forbid it in your heart; and that is the least of belief.”
Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم in a Hadith Qudsi tells us, “Let not any one of you belittle himself. They said: O Messenger of Allah, how can any one of us belittle himself? He said: He finds a matter concerning Allah about which he should say something, and he does not say [it], so Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says to him on the Day of Resurrection: What prevented you from saying something about such-and-such and such-and-such? He say: [It was] out of fear of people. Then He says: Rather it is I whom you should more properly fear.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]*
Can WE judge?
We have numerous examples throughout our history of giving naseeha and judging people based on their actions. Many of the collectors of Hadith like Imam Bukhari used to judge the reliability of the person narrating the hadith by their outward actions and not “what’s in the heart, Allah knows.”
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab رضي الله عنه said, “Verily, in the time of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, the people would be judged by revelation, but the revelation has ended. Now we judge you according to your outward deeds. Whoever shows us good, we will trust him and favor him and it is not for us to judge his inner secrets, for Allah will hold him accountable for those. Whoever shows us evil, then we will not trust him or believe in him even if he claims his intention is good.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Abdullah Ibn Umar رضي الله عنه said: “When we noticed that a man was not present at Fajr and ‘Isha’ prayer, we would think badly of him.” [Sahih]
How to Judge?
Allah tells us in the Quran, “But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.” [Surah An-Nisa, 42]
Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which Allah has shown you. And do not be for the deceitful an advocate. [Surah An-Nisa, 79]
And judge, between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations and beware of them, lest they tempt you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away – then know that Allah only intends to afflict them with some of their [own] sins. And indeed, many among the people are defiantly disobedient. [Surah Al-Maidah, 49]
All this goes to show that the criterion that we are supposed to judge between ourselves is what Allah has revealed and the teachings of His Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. We don’t let personal bias or hidden grudges take reign of our advice and actions in enjoining good and forbidding evil. Yes there are also those who just question and judge unnecessarily without any intention of helping, but rather just to show themselves as superior or its likes. Positive criticism people! Care for the one you are advising just as if they were your own brother or sister.
Some say that they have good intentions but their actions are quite contrary to it. Ends don’t justify the means so good intentions but with reprehensible actions become redundant. Simply saying something doesn’t work, we have to walk the talk.
Here’s what we DO:
- Make as many excuses as possible for the sake of your brother/sister by giving them the benefit of doubt. Understand the scenario of the action and the situation of the doer whilst committing that action.
- Practice extreme patience. As my grandmother says, “People who start practicing the Deen anew are generally very strict and go to extremes. They forget that they themselves were once sinners and at the edge of the cliff. Had not Allah saved them where would they be? How would they feel if they themselves were so harshly reprimanded?”
- Keep a calm tone, that doesn’t sound accusatory and with a smile on the face – Advice. Take them aside and make it clear that you do this only out of love and care for the person.
- Speak to their parents or someone close to them whom they trust or at-least respect enough to take advice from.
- Advice privately first but if the person keeps committing the sin and inviting people to it in public, then such people deserve to be spoken and warned against. Exhaust yourself in advising privately and having husn ud dhan (good thoughts and excuses) first before even thinking of going to the next step.
Here’s what we DON’T:
- “YOU are going to HELL!” Umm, did Allah tell you His judgement?
- We don’t single out people marking them for Hell or Heaven. THAT is solely up to Allah. What we say in advice is that these actions, or continuing them without repentance will lead to Hell.
- We DON’T shame or call people out in public for their sins unless a host of criteria are met. For all we know, the person didn’t know what they were doing is wrong or were just plain ignorant about it.
- We DON’T become accusatory and take the ‘holier than thou’ route because then that would be of no help other than just putting the person on defensive mode and all your well intended “naseeha” will fall on deaf ears. Humility and the adab of giving naseeha or even differing over something needs to be learnt.
The most hated speech to Allah is when a man says to another man, ‘Fear Allah!’ and he replies, ‘Worry about your own self!’”
Allah says “So admonish/remind them that maybe the reminder will be of benefit and as for him who fears Allah he will be reminded but as for the wretched one he will turn away” [Surah Al A’la, 9-11]
*The chain of narration is weak.
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