“Too often, Islam is portrayed as something like a religious country club – exclusive, like it’s a religion only for the ‘perfect’ people. It’s not. Islam is for broken people. To mend hearts and heal souls.”
– Abdel-Rahman Murphy
Think of a good Muslim: what do you picture? A hijab? Full beard? Most of you can already see what’s coming next; it’s a tired old cliché – don’t judge a book by its cover. But what about the title of the book? Do we judge by that?
Our community seems to assign judgement based on titles and labels just as easily as we do appearances. Ramadan Muslim. Hoejabi. Masjid Muslim.
The ‘exclusive country club’ Murphy talks about evidently comes with its own levels of membership. With these arbitrary levels and labels come standards; seen in the all too familiar judgemental gossip that’s heard in whispers and disguised as naseeha.
“How can she act like that and still be a hijabi – girl, do it right or not at all.”
“He doesn’t really pray but he doesn’t date either, so he’s a Muslim but not like, a Muslim Muslim.”
When did random attributes define your relationship with God? Why are there preconceived notions about characteristics of people we place into subjective categories?
At first, much of this seems speculative and irrelevant, but passing judgement has become so ingrained that it is hard to recognize it underlying many issues. Simple disagreements become attacks on character, because such a stance could only be held by someone who doesn’t understand the religion enough; supporters of side x can’t be proper Muslims to think that’s okay; the list goes on.
Of course, your actions should reflect your deen, and there is a key difference between negative judgement and genuine advice – judgement in this context refers to the former. There is always room for improvement, but tearing others down for not meeting circumstantial standards does nothing but bolster the existence of the elite ‘Muslim Muslim’ club.
Identifying as a Muslim does not automatically give anyone license to judge your religiousness based on outward qualities. Suffice it to say, if communities continue to perpetuate baseless judgements, our standards will mean that no one will ever be Muslim enough.