Judging Others in Islam

What does it mean to judge someone?

To judge someone is to form an opinion or conclusion about them.

Is it right to judge someone?

Technically speaking, no.

We should never judge a person as judgement is for Allah and Allah alone. We are also told in the Quran to stay away from suspicion

“O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins.”
[Surah Hujurat:12]

Most judgements that people make are largely based on speculation and suspicion as we are never really 100% sure about the judgements we have made. This is because we only judge from what it is that we observe and know, but we should also appreciate that we actually don’t know the full series of events that have occured in a person’s life prior to the point that we are judging them on. Within that entire chain of events there will be so many factors that would have lead to the person doing what they are being judged on. So unless we know all of these things, it is very unfair to judge someone.

Let’s take an example:

There is a man who always prays in congregation at the mosque and there is a second man who comes to the mosque once a month. In the eyes of an independent bystander when presented with this information would instantly assume that the first man who is always at the mosque must undoubtedly be a “better” person or at least a more practicing muslim than the second man. However if we take a step back and look into the reason for why the second person only attends the mosque once a month, our judgement may change.

It turns out that in fact the second man has elderly parents who are dependent on him to look after them. It is also the case that the mosque is very far away from his house and the man has no car. Whereas the first man, although he is always at the mosque, it turns out that he lives in the building next to the mosque but on top of that he is someone who likes to attend the prayer and then stay behind to spread gossip.

Suddenly, the tables have turned. This example is not about anyone in particular but hopefully this illustrates why exactly it is so important to never judge anyone.

We can also take a more real example if we refer to Surah Kahf where the Prophet Musa is following Al-Khidr and questions his actions as Musa is unable to understand the rationale for why he did what he did. As on the surface, the actions of Al-Khdir seemed to be rather harsh and unjustified but once he explained it became evident that these decisions were appropriate and correct.

What should you do instead of judging someone?

We judge people based on our perception of reality but we should take a moment to reflect and appreciate that not everyone may have had the same journey as yourself and thus it is unfair to judge them by the same rule that you judge yourself. As it may just be the case that you sin in a different way to the person you are judging.

Instead we should :

  • Make excuses for people
  • Assume the best about them
  • Think that they might have had a really rough experience recently hence the reason for their behaviour
  • Offer your own advice and support to help them rather than judge them
  • Make an effort to hide their sins rather than judge and expose them

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever removes a worldly hardship from a believer, Allah will remove one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection from him. Whoever grants respite to (a debtor) who is in difficulty, Allah will grant him relief in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals (the fault of) a Muslim in this world, Allah will conceal him (his faults) in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah will help a person so long as he is helping his brother.” Narrated by Muslim (2699)

This prophetic saying should be sufficient incentive for a muslim to focus on hiding the mistakes of others rather than judging them. As it is clear that we will also be judged and our sins will also be exposed, so if we wish for God’s mercy then we should exhibit that same mercy across to others in our own actions.

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