Travelers on the Path of Knowledge

Knowledge is an ocean and a few drops just aren’t enough. -Unknown

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover September 9, 2006

Filed under: Islam,Reflections — musaafir @ 11:15 am


The title of this article seems to be trite and cliché, but it’s very true. I was thinking about this recently at a conference I went to. I think this topic is pertinent especially in light of the many divisions in our Ummah that seem to take us away from our ultimate purpose in life. Now regardless of what school of fiqh (jurisprudence) we follow, or what scholars we admire, or what we think about group dhikr, we all have one thing (at least) in common. We all say the Shahadah. We all bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad (SAWS) is His Messenger. At the very least, this is what unites us.


We should really get away from arguing with one another and trying to “convert” each other into our way of thinking. It can cause disputes or even make people turn away from Islam. Is this what we desire? Imam Malik said that argumentation is not part of our religion. Even when we study the Seerah of the Prophet (SAWS) we see that he had the best of ikhlaq (manners) when he dealt with people. He (SAWS) is our example. We should learn from him in our manners of speaking.


Anyhow, back to taking things for face value. There is a Hadith in Bukhari that states:

Allah’s Apostle (SAWS) 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 her because of that.”

Now, bear in mind that I am no scholar. One of the things I take from that Hadith however is that a prostitute is someone who is looked down upon by society. Obviously, she is doing something that is haram. Yet, upon seeing this thirsty dog, her mercy became prevalent. She gave it water because she felt for the dog. She had compassion and for this one tiny thing, Allah forgave her of her sins. Allahu Alim what her intention was or if she went back to sin or whatnot. But think of it this way: How many of us see a person like this girl and turn our noses up at them? How many of us roll our eyes or treat them poorly? How many of us pass judgment on them immediately? We are not in the position to judge others. Only Allah is the Judge. We do not know where we stand before Allah and if we claim to do so then we should fear being arrogant.


It is also narrated in Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said:


I swear by the One other than whom there is no deity, one of you may do the works of the people of paradise right up until there is only an arm’s length between him and paradise, but his destiny overtakes him, so he does the actions of the people of the fire and enters it. And, verily, one of you may do the works of the people of hell until there is nothing between them and hell except for one arm’s length, but his destiny overtakes him, and so he does the works of the people of paradise, and enters it.


This is the crux of this article. We cannot determine who is a person of Heaven or Hell. Only Allah can and we should not hastily jump to conclusions. Why should it matter if someone is going to Heaven or Hell in our eyes? We don’t know our own fortunes and don’t do enough to secure a good place in the Aakhirah. Yet, we are so quick to think ourselves better than others.


Even if our ideologies differ from those around us, the least we can do is respect one another. I mean, often times, we see someone and in our minds discredit them because they don’t follow our scholars or our way of thinking. Is this how we are supposed to act? Just because someone doesn’t think the way we do doesn’t mean we shun them. It doesn’t mean that they cannot become our friends or that we cannot learn what is good from them.


As this is the first issue of the Minaret this semester, I strongly urge you to break down the intellectual and ideological barriers that divide us. We should come together and unite. Not only is it important in our current times, but it is part of the Sunnah not to judge and alienate others. Whether the person next to you is a Hanafi or Maliki, Sunni or Shia, Salafi or Sufi, it ultimately doesn’t matter. All of these people are ultimately people of Heaven if they follow the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is up to Allah to decide who goes where and not us. He is the Just and the best of planners. Shouldn’t we lay down our differences and come together in the name of Allah? Our ultimate goals in life are the same and we can help each other get there if we stop spreading seeds of intolerance amongst ourselves.


May Allah guide us and unite us. May we all be people who are destined for Jannah. Ameen.


One Response to “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”

  1. Din Says:


    Nicely put bajee!

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