Diversity: It’s not my fault that I’m different

She’s wearing to much colour, she’s probably not that practising.

His beard’s too short, how can he be a Shaykh? 

What happened to her niqaab? She must be going through a rough patch in her eman!

She’s getting too old, who’s going to marry her if she delays marriage?

She’s working with him; they’re probably checking each other out!

This leads me to an important point and a reflection; how many a times have great organisations and communities been destroyed when those within them forgot the beauty of diversity? When we forgot that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created us differently?

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) establishes principles for us to live by, principles to make our life easier and more blissful. Through the example of this beautiful revelation we learn that all humans were created from one being, Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and are united under one common origin.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“O mankind, be mindful of your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another; and beware of severing the ties of kinship: God is always watching over you.” An-Nisaa; 4:1

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said:

“All people are children of Adam, and Adam was created from dust.” Sunan Abu Dawud 331/4, al-Tirmidhi 735/5

Here is a question for you; what lesson do you think we’re being taught here? From the Islamic perspective we learn; everyone has a right to live honourably, without distinction or discrimination from anyone. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) honours His creation, irrespective of religion, colour, or race.

As Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says;

“Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and justly with those who have not fought you in your religion or driven you out of your homes. Indeed, Allah loves those who are just.” Al-Mumtahanah; 60:8

This is directed to those who not Muslim and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in this ayah defines the basis of one’s interaction with others, which is rooted in tolerance. We are taught to be deeply connected to pardoning others by overlooking their mistakes, pursuing excellence in our conduct, and increasing righteous deeds. This is the Qur’anic attitude towards non-Muslims, now Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) expects us to treat the believers beautifully, and these are those equal to us in faith, loved by us due to their conviction to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has created us all differently, as long as we remain with the framework of Islam, diversity is acceptable and in some ways beautiful. As contemplation took over, I could not help but write a reflection.

That… I cannot be you and you cannot be me?

We may not be alike,
We may not see the world the same way,
What might be fun for me, for you it may be cliché,
We may not look the same.
What may be right for you, for me it may cause shame.

Neither do we all feel the same emotions as the other,
I may be a sister, and you may be a brother.
We may not respond the same way to a trial or a moment of happiness,
As you may persist and I may lose focus…

You may pass in one trial and me in another,
And guess what – Something may annoy you, but for me it causes no bother…

Neither do we come from the same backgrounds,
You may be loud, whereas I usually don’t make a sound.

Yes, our standards of what is right and wrong may differ in specifics,
I may go with the flow, whereas you may be a critic.
Or the way we carry ourselves is unique to us,
You may be an actor! And I may be an actress!
The response to an email or the coolness of oneself on a call,
It may make me say wow, whereas when you receive it, it causes you to… Stall!

I may not do what you envision me to do,
And at times I may stop, but you continue to argue.
Nor may you do what I believe you should do,
You may be great! But me, I need to constantly review…
I may not agree with how you work,
…So you may be patient, yet I go berserk…

But one thing stands…

We all love Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)!

Hence, regardless of what happens – we should be there for each other no matter what! Whether this is a helping hand, advice or just offering support and more importantly we should be protected from each other’s tongues, actions and negative thoughts.

Because… I cannot be you and you cannot be me.

Our communities are built on thinking good of each other, whether it’s a local community, an Islamic organisation (ISOC/MSA) or even a Masjid setting. We have to be careful as our thoughts become our actions and the way we treat each other is a reflection of how we perceive one another. So if we don’t keep our perceptions under control, it can affect the productivity of the organisation you’re involved in.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or your possessions; rather He looks at your heart and your deeds.” [4. Sahih Muslim]

Judge as you wish, think as you will, but don’t forget; strangely enough we judge others by their behaviour, yet when it comes to ourselves we make a point to judge ourselves by our intentions.

The truth is we can never judge the lives and actions of others, nor can you say or believe they can’t do it, because each person understands their own troubles and the extent of what they’re facing and they are ultimately responsible to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Unless you go through it, you can never understand what made them do it and what led them to it… May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) protect me and you, aameen. However, as I will expand on later, this doesn’t mean we allow an oppressive action take place, rather we deal with it sensibly, in a manner that is better.

Now we all judge, whether we like it or not, so the question is…

What should you do when you feel like you’re judging someone?

1. Analyse your own self and contemplate your imperfections.

If you’re protected from a sin it’s only by the guidance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). At times we see people sinning, perhaps Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) puts them through these trials and they fail, but then they strive to pass, because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is testing them as He knows they will get through it. And perhaps Allah is saving you from this test, because He knows you won’t be able to pass it.

Hence, people are being tested and this is between them and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), it is your job to hate the sin, and help them actively to get through it and not judge them based on it, as perhaps Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) really does love them more than you – even though their state is worse than yours on the outset. In regards to you – it’s all that goes on in the inside and your perception of others.

This doesn’t mean a sinner, is more loved to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), rather don’t judge their future, as where they’re headed is only known to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Who would have thought the likes of ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), Khalid bin Waleed raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Hind raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) would have ever become Muslim? And I’m sure those around you, have been protected from the what these companions were involved with in their past. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can guide them, and He can guide anyone whom He wills.

2. Talk it out.

Islam encourages us to be honest with each other, in fact I was listening to a lecture by a prominent Shaykh and he mentioned, if the Sahabah radiAllahu ‘anhum disagreed with someone; they discussed it intellectually with good adhab. They weren’t two faced, if they had an emotion towards someone – they made it clear. Hence, at times there may be a misunderstanding and both parties may be unable to reach a solution, unless they don’t be honest with each other or discuss it. What’s the worst that can happen? Yes, they may not talk to you again! :Pun intended: Though, if action pertains to the disobedience of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), then you need to enjoin the good and forbid the evil in a manner that is beautiful.

If you do not agree with something they do, you have various options:

  • Advise them directly with wisdom, care and concern.
  • Advise someone who is close to them and knows about what you may disagree with. If you do this, you have to ensure you’re sincere and the person knows, as you have to be wary of falling into backbiting.
  • Not say anything, but make sincere du’a for them.
  • Understand that you’re both diverse and the individual may hold a different opinion to you, as long as it’s not a major or minor sin.
  • The purpose is to see them become better, so treat them with care. Even if they don’t change, then your character will help them appreciate your concern.

3. You need to be a beautiful mirror.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“A believer is a mirror for a believer.” Abu Da’wud

A mirror is so wondrous, as it has to be clean and clear to give a clear reflection, hence when it is full of stains, the reflection at times is imperfect. You need an external force to come and clear it and in this case it was the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) through the Qur’an and his Sunnah.

Turn to the Qur’an and Sunnah and use this as a means of gaining more knowledge and understanding the diversity permitted in Islam, as this is a means of stepping up!

What do you do if you feel like you’re being judged?

Simple… When people criticise you, it’s not about stepping down! Rather it’s about stepping up! …Not by retaliation, rather by the determination in your ‘ibadah!

So insha’Allah when someone does something we may not approve of, hurts us, let us try to meet their difference or at times oppression with kindness and forgive them, even if they remain in their ways, or are happy with their current state.



The Author

Alima Ashfaq is the founder of I am Alima and hopes to transform it into the forefront of assisting women come closer to Allah (swt). She is the author of a number of publications, most notably Du’as of the Superstars.

2 Responses

  1. Mishmachowdhury53 August 28, 2012 / 10:36 am

     jazakillaahu khyran sis..
    May Allaah Bless u in abundance :)

  2. Alima Ashfaq August 29, 2012 / 1:34 am

    BarakAllahu feeki Mishma :) It’s an issue with the community I feel quite passionate about, so glad it helped alhamdulillah :)

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