Criticize, but not the Individual
Would we care less for our son who is physically challenged? Never! We not only give him extra care; but will be more compassionate towards him than other children also. We would accept him with all imperfections, love him wholeheartedly and won’t be hesitated to take care of him.
Well, what if we have a friend, relative, spouse or a child with imperfect attitudes? Do we really accept him with love and compassion? Often not! The fact is, we hardly acknowledge that every other individual may have some shortfalls like ourselves. Such an inclusive living should not be alien to a follower of the Prophet (PBUH) who lived harmoniously with people with imperfections and shortfalls. We can easily fix this problem of being judgmental of our brothers if we are ready to stay away from their personal affairs and avoid doubting their personal integrity. Every individual has his or her own perception and privacy of life, which we are obliged to respect. If we can convince ourselves that the life of a person away from our sight is his personal affair with his Lord, we can check our heart from so many unwanted worries and evil thoughts.
Let us look at some Hadeeths, which require some serious pondering:
Ibn Abbas (RA) transmits : Prophet (PBUH) made a speech loud enough for ladies inside the house could hear. He said : “O those of you who have not believed except with your tongues, do not trouble the believers and do not go after their personal affairs, because who ever went about looking for the shortfalls of others, Allah will look for his shortfalls. And if Allah looks for anyone’s secrets, he will be defamed even if he be hiding inside his house [Tabrani Kabeer 11444]
“Whoever listens in on other people’s conversations when they do not like that, will have molten lead poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection” [Bukhaari (7042)]
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, Prophet (saws) said: ” He who sees the (personal) letter of his brother without his permission, sees Hell-fire!” [Abu-Dawud 1485]
Abu Huraira said: “If a man looks at you in your house without permission, (meaning you are covering the curtains and he still looks) and you throw a stone at him and damage his eye you are not sinful and he has no blood money.” [Bukhari 6888]
Prophet (PBUH) was very particular to teach us that going around looking for others’ fault is a sin. He taught us to think good about others, to interact gently, to correct compassionately, to talk respectfully and to face every one with a smile. Through his life, He taught us that, being judgmental in talking to others and keeping presumptions in interactions are against Islamic values. He did not lose the brightness of his face even in front of the enemy. We are repeatedly reminded not to lose the mutual respect and benevolence even for a while. He set the example of loving every human being the way he/she is.
Our own life and that of others around us are flooded with plenty of shortfalls. Each of us has faults that are to be rectified. And they are quite natural to have them as long as we remain as human beings. Being the servants of the One who is oft-forgiving and Most Merciful, shouldn’t we be able to show similar values in our own lives?
Zayd ibn Wahb said: A man was brought to Ibn Mas’ud. He was told: This is so and so, and wine was dropping from his beard. Abdullah thereupon said: We have been prohibited to seek out (faults). If anything becomes manifest to us, we shall seize it.[Abu Dawud; 4890]
In short, it is clearly not Islamic to look for secrets of others, find faults, criticize shortcomings publicly or turn differences of opinions in to verbal attacks owing to our opposition to their persons, families or affiliations. Even though we might earn people’s praise for a personal criticism rather than for an ideological one, that will seldom earn Allah’s pleasure! For the followers of a Prophet(PBUH) who was careful not to mention names even when referring to enemies, it would be enough a favor on the society to adopt this respectable methodology while referring to fellow Muslims, to the least. When it is a sign of high values and great personality of a criticizing individual to be referring to a belief system and not its proponents personally, isn’t it much more important for Islamic organizations and bodies to be respectful of others?!
English rendering of article written by Abdul Wadud!