Youâ€™ve felt it before, Iâ€™m sure: that unwelcomed feeling when you enter a new group of Muslimahs. You give the greetings and they give them back, but still thereâ€™s that feeling. You smile and act as if nothing is wrong, but you really feel like leaving and going back wherever you came from.
Have I described a familiar feeling?
I wish Islam gave all Muslims an automatic immunity to the disease of judgment and cliquishness, but the perfection of the religion isnâ€™t something we inherit. Just wasnâ€™t part of the Master plan for us. In the end, some of us are left feeling rejected by the very people who should embrace us the most. There are 1.6 billion (yes, billion, with a â€œbâ€) Muslims worldwide, and, according to many sources, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Given that information, we have the potential to be great, amazing, awe-inspiring, world-changing, but we arenâ€™t.
Imagine the sound and effect of 1.6 billion Muslims working together in the name of Allah (swt), loving one another as we love ourselves. What would that look like? How would the world respond? What would we be able to accomplish? Or better yet, what wouldnâ€™t we be able to accomplish? The possibilities would be endless, but thatâ€™s not the reality.
The reality is that there are 1.6 billion Muslims divided into 1.6 billion groups, diluting our power by cordoning it off into tiny, less-effective assemblies. Though we all accept the same five pillars, pray in the same direction and believe in the same all-powerful One, we judge each other based on minute details that were meant only as guidance, not as judging criteria.
â€œThat sister doesnâ€™t observe hijab properly.â€ â€œThat brotherâ€™s beard isnâ€™t long enough.â€ â€œThat brotherâ€™s always wearing thobes.â€ â€œThat family doesnâ€™t attend the right masjid.â€ â€œThat group doesnâ€™t follow my imam.â€ â€œThose sisters wear too much color.â€ â€œThose sisters wear all that black.â€
Or maybe itâ€™s not an issue of dress. Maybe itâ€™s an issue of skin tone or country of origin. (Yes, I went there.) We are always ready, at a momentâ€™s notice, to critique the look of another Muslim and let them know exactly what theyâ€™re doing wrong, as if this honed ability to spot a flaw somehow increases our own iman. Hushed words said out of genuine concern are one thing, but the way we attack each other is far from Islamic. If you have a problem with what someone is doing or wearing, talking behind their back, cutting your eyes or refusing to give the greetings isnâ€™t going to help them. It isnâ€™t going to help you either. In fact, it hurts you because youâ€™re removing yourself from the peaceful nature of Islam. It is not our duty to find flaws in others, but to seek them out in ourselves in an effort to get closer to Allah (swt).
Abd Allah reported that the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, said, â€œA believer is not a fault finder and is not abusive, obscene, or courseâ€ (Bukhari, 313). This is a rather common hadith. Most have heard it before, but still we are abusive, obscene and course in the way we speak to and about each other. I guess we forget all about it when we feel the rush of excitement brought about by the opportunity of judgment. The chance to highlight ourselves by putting someone else down seems too good to pass up. The insecure parts of us jump at the chance.
Shaitan wants us to be divided, segmented into groups. Every time we give another sister the cold shoulder, he laughs. Every time we backbite and think mean thoughts about others, he gets happy. This is the behavior he wants from us because it weakens our connections with each other. A community full of mean-spirited sisters who take joy from criticism is no community at all. We are the community makers, the ones who set the tone. If a masjid or a community is welcoming, it is the sisters that make it that way. If it is cold and unfriendly, it is the sisters that make it that way. How can we claim to be believers in Allah (swt) and followers of the holy Prophet Muhammed (s) and our hearts are cold and closed to each other? It doesnâ€™t add up. Open your heart to your fellow sister. Forget about how she looks and get to know who she is.
Nadirah Angail–â€œEmpowering women- through knowledge, recognition & guidanceâ€